May 13, 2010

Allen Pittman Bagua DVD's - Review


Allen Pittman is just short of a legend in the Chinese martial community. Being a student of Robert Smith he was one of the first to appear in an English language book on the arts of Xing Yi, and Bagua.

Recently Pittman has produced a series of DVDs on Bagua, two of which offer a survey of the various palm changes found amongst different families of Bagua (Chen Pan Ling, Wang Shu Chin, Gao I Sheng, and others).

The first volume covers 1-5 palm changes, running 52 minutes at costs $45!

The second volume covers the remaining palm changes 6-8, running 26 minutes and is $25!

These DVDs are home made on Mac software and are as clear as one could expect for being filmed with a handheld in a backyard somewhere. The audio offers nothing as Pittman is not miced up.

This is NOT a professionally made instructional DVD, and I do not think that was ever the intent. It seems to me this was made with his students in mind to offer a reference for their studies.

Each of the mother palm changes is shown multiple times, along with a few basic applications for each change. I am certainly no authority on Bagua but one of the main reasons I wanted to check these DVDs out was for his take on Sun Bagua, which I do study. On the DVD Pittman states he learned a "variation" of Sun Bagua via Rose Li. Apparently this "variation" is quite a variation as the Sun Bagua (both form & application) he shows looks NOTHING like the Bagua I have learned from Tim, who learned from the creators daughter Sun Jian Yun.

As for the other systems I cannot comment as I do not study those families of Bagua. In regards to the applications I can say that some were good solid basics illustrating the foundational throws, strikes, kicks, and locks of Bagua. But as is the case with some teachers there were a bevy of applications that would most likely get someone's head stomped in if they attempted said moves.

I must say it was a very interesting idea that few others have done in terms of showing the various similarities and subtle differences each sub art offers. Obviously one will not learn anything from these DVDs, which again I do not think is Pittman's intent (though it would be nice if he stated that on his site), but if you are a student looking for variations, or you want to see what "flavor" fits you best you may want to check these titles out. My only criticism on that note is the cost of these titles. $45 for a DVD of this level and quality is too much in my humble opinion. Your average instructional DVDs professionally produced run $30-60. To charge more than $10-15 for these titles is greedy.

Enjoy,
JAB

1 comment:

  1. Considering the information in the videos, $45 is a bargain. Pittman with his seemingly casual style is weeding out those looking for "sifu's" and those who want rank, belts and silk pants with all the arrogance, oneupmanship, dominance, bullying and the rest of the games and lack of quality instruction that exist in most so-called martial arts schools. He is just Allen to his friends and students.

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