Gathering of the Circle

Learn An Authentic Old School Internal Art 
Health – Longevity – Real World Martial Skills

“Dr. John Painter almost single handedly introduced Baguazhang to the western world through his magazine articles and teachings. His persistence and dedication to promoting this art is a large part of the reason we see the proliferation of so many teachers and schools of all styles of Baguazhang springing up today.”

– Pierce Watters, Editor Internal Arts Magazine

Each year following The Tai Chi Gala, John Painter offers a four day retreat featuring the Li family method of Nine Dragon Baguazhang called The Gathering of The Circle. This event is designed to be applicable to all levels and new students of the internal martial and health arts. Here you will find all the information you need about this great event.


Gathering of The Circle Program For 2018

About Nine Dragon Baguazhang

What Happens At The Gathering of The Circle

History of The Gathering of The Circle

About Dr. John P. Painter

Gathering of The Circle Program For 2018

No matter what style of Baguazhang or other internal arts that one practices or even if a beginner you will find that attending the Gathering of The Circle can add a treasure trove of practical, useful information that will be worth its weight in gold in your own internal practice.

Finding The Eight in The Five

Returning to the Master Key of Li family Baguazhang is our theme this year. We will be making an in depth exploration of five circling rings palms (Wuhuan Zhang五環掌) as used in developing powerful defensive and offensive tactics for martial capabilities and how the same methods can be used to increase longevity and health as a Qigong skill.

The Li family method of Baguazhang contains eight palm formations each of which can be used alone for neutralizing attacks, locking, throwing and striking. One might say that each Nine Dragon Baguazhang Palm is a martial art in itself. When the eight are combined there are literally hundreds of possible combinations. This unique concept evolved from the Li clan method of observing all human motion from a template created by the arts founder called the five rings or circles (Wuhuan五環).

The Square Circle Diagram

The original concept came from studies by a Tibetan Shaman, Lama Zurdwang who had taken the Daoist name of Dao, Ji-Ren after studying Daoism, the Yijing and sword practices for many years in China. He developed the Wuhuan by drawing four connecting lines between a Yijing diagram of the opposite pole design from master Fu Xi.

In Li family Baguazhang these circles became know as, five circling rings palms (Wuhuan Zhang五環掌) which are the template for understanding how to use each of the eight palms for multiple applications. This evolved into the multiple ringed symbol known as The Square Circle Diagram as shown here. When viewed as a three dimensional sphere it contains all circuits of possible human motion.

In this workshop we will study the Wuhuan Zhang as a source of discovery for realistic practical martial applications of neutralization, locking, throwing, projecting and striking within each of Baguazhang eight palm formations both in linear and circular walking and through push-hands games plus practical realistic applications and their use as a superb longevity and healing Qigong method.

This should be one of our most interesting and informative retreats to date exploring the core of all Baguazhang movements under the lens of The Five Circles. We will examine how these moves can be used large, and small to create the eight palms of Baguazhang and how they are used to power neutralizations, strikes, locks, throws and projections. We will be Finding The Eight in The Five.

Students at the Gathering of the Circle


Zurdwang’s Five Circle Baguazhang Sword Tactics

Dr. Yancy Orchard
Shifu Jiulong Baguazhang

As a bonus program Shifu, Painter assisted by Shifu Castaldo and Orchard will present the original method of Dao, Ji-Ren sword tactics derived from his study of the Wuhuan.

The Five Circles Bagua Sword Tactics. This is the core method used by Lama Zurdwang the founder of Daoqiquan to create the concepts of The Five Circles and the Square Circle principles that evolved into all of Daoqiquan methods and tactics.

This is not a  tournament demonstration art, rather it is a practical method of exploring the realistic use of a double edge sword as a martial weapon of defense and offense.


For this program I recommend bringing a wooden or metal unsharpened sword or one of the collapsible double edged swords as they can easily be packed in a checked (not carry on) bag. These can be purchased from While they are not designed for fighting or fencing they will be fine for this class program. This is a link to the best of the collapsible swords we have found, although it may be a bit long for some people.


Finding The Eight in The Five Will Cover This and More…

  • The Nine levels of The Five Circles in Martial Practice
  • The Five Circles as Longevity Qigong
  • Linear Walking with all levels of The Five Circles palms
  • Circle Walking with all levels The Five Circles palms
  • Stepping and direction changes using The Five Circles as palms 
  • Striking with The Five Circles palms
  • Projecting with The Five Circles palms
  • Throwing with The Five Circles palms
  • Neutralizing all attacks using only The Five Circles palms
  • Dao, Ji-Ren sword tactics

                                                      And more……

Please Join Us for This Great Event

The cost to attend The Gathering of The Circle is very, very inexpensive for the time, value and information you will receive. By special arrangement with the Lindenmere and Loretta Wollering those who sign up will receive free food and free lodging during the entire Gathering of The Circle. Please join us.  We guarantee you will not be disappointed.

To register click here (scroll down to “Bagua Circle Gathering”) 

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About Nine Dragon Baguazhang

Shifu Robert Castaldo

Nine Dragon Baguazhang AKA Jiulong Baguazhang is a family martial and health system developed by the Li family of Sichuan Province China for use in their work as bodyguards  (Baobiao) as such it is unique art with some similarities to other systems of Baguazhang and some differences. However, it is most noted for its time tested and proven practical no-nonsense approach to self-defense as well as its powerful healing and stress relieving properties. It is the reason Dr. John Painter has maintained his good health and stamina well into his 70’s.

Nine Dragon Baguazhang is also unique in that it is linked to the Book of Changes (Yijing) by its founder the legendary master Li, Ching-Yuen. Each of the eight palms are more than just hand formations. In truth they are whole body attitudes as described in by Yijing symbol / Gua related to that palm. This is a principle based art with no long memorized forms or routines.

Nine Dragon Baguazhang should not be considered a fancy forms tournament demonstration art but a practical method for mind, body and spirit development you might say a reality based ancient art for modern times. Come join us and find out why Jiulong Baguazhang is one of the fastest growing internal arts with thousands or practitioners world wide. For more of the background visit

What Happens At The Gathering of The Circle

The Gathering of The Circle is an intensive workshop lasting four days. This event features training for up to six to eight hours a day for total emersion in a specific aspect of the Nine Dragon Baguazhang (Jiulong Baguazhang) system.

The Gathering of The Circle is an intensive workshop lasting four days. This event features training for up to six to eight hours a day for total emersion in a specific aspect of the Nine Dragon Baguazhang (Jiulong Baguazhang) system.

Three sessions each day

Zhan Zhuang Internal Practice

Session 1. After breakfast we begin with Quiet Sitting, Qigong, Zhuan Zhuang (standing meditation) and Daoist Yoga (Daoyin) before breakfast. Each of the eight palms have specifically related energy concepts and principles for health and martial art that are the focus of the morning exercises. Unlike forms bases styles of Baguazhang Jiulong is a solely principle based art and each of the eight palms in Jiulong are learned separately. Each is related to an attitude corresponding to the Yijing Gua (symbol) to which it is assigned

Circle Walking Training

Next comes the day’s main lesson which most often focuses on the study of one palm from our art. Students learn basic principles, of Baguazhang movement, linear and circular walking methods rapid turns and evasion tactics used in the study of the featured palm. Each “palm” in Jiulong has more than one method of usage and is capable of neutralizing attacks from fist or foot and able to incorporate locking, throwing and striking from a number of angles. In short if one knows only one palm from this system one has a very formidable martial system at his or her disposal.


Realistic Applications

Session 2. Following lunch the morning’s methods are examined in the light of push-hands games and practical, realistic applications for self-defense comprised of combative scenarios against attacks from various forms of other martial arts such as wrestlers, boxers, Karateka, Kicking styles and MMA type opponents. These are practiced in single and multiple attack medleys. All actions are supervised by three fully certified Shifu of the art for safety and realistic content. 

Session 3. After supper Dr. Painter and his assistant instructors present a course on a classical weapon as related to the method, palm or art being studied that week. like the Baguazhang palms These weapons are studied in the context of their practical usage as defensive combat tools, not fanciful demonstration dance forms.

To register click here (scroll down to “Bagua Circle Gathering”) 

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History of The Gathering of The Circle

Gathering Founded by Master Jou, Tsung-Hwa and Dr. John Painter

Taijiquan Master Jou, Tsung-Hwa a scholar of the Yijing (book of changes) and founder of the famous Zhang San Feng festival in Warwick New York had a dream to preserve all of the traditional Chinese internal martial arts for all of mankind. In 1985 Master Jou and Dr. John Painter met at Pat Rice’s A Taste of China event. Dr. Painter shared his ideas and exhaustive research concerning the connections of the Yijing to Li family Baguazhang. The two men became fast friends. Master Jou often aided Dr. Painter in his research into philosophical concepts that are a part of the Yijing and how they might relate to the martial arts Daoism and Buddhism.

After examining the Li family Jiulong Baguazhang system very carefully Master Jou invited Dr. Painter to present a series of workshops to introduce this system of Baguazhang to the internal arts community. Master Jou and his friend Master B.P. Chan, a high level Baguazhang player himself became convinced that the Jiulong Baguazhang method was worthy of preserving as it is one of the few remaining “family” systems of Baguazhang that still contained the essence of Daoist concepts along with a linking of Baguazhang to the Yijing. Dr. Painter was to present a series of Baguazhang camps the week following the annual Zhang San Feng Festival. These camps were held in the 150 acre wooded retreat at Tai Chi Farm in Warwick New York.

The first Gathering of The Baguazhang Circle was attended by about fifteen people, the second by twenty+, and the numbers and interest in the art has only increased over the years. Master Jou and Master Chan were very happy that Jiulong Baguazhang had not evolved into a watered down modern sport “performance” martial art similar to the types of Baguazhang that were being promoted for Chinese Wushu tournaments at that time. They both wanted to have Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan continue to contain all the original aspects of health and warrior skills that had been part of the original methods. Today the Gathering of the Baguazhang Circle has grown into one of the largest events of its kind in the Western hemispheres.

“Dr. Painter is one of the most awesome martial artists I have ever interviewed or photographed. He makes it look so easy! His Baguazhang is direct and no-nonsense”

– Dave Cater, Editor, Inside Kung Fu Magazine

The Legend Continues

After the untimely death of Master Jou in an automobile accident his student Loretta Wollering continues to carry on the tradition of the Zhang San Feng Festival through her Tai Chi Gala events. Ms. Wollering also honors her teachers’ wishes and tradition by continuing to sponsor the Jiulong Baguazhang Gathering of The Circle each year following the Tai Chi Gala. Thanks to Master Jou’s support the Li family system of Baguazhang has grown into an international organization with schools in Asia, Canada, Europe, Israel and throughout the united states. At The Gathering many of the teachers, assistants and instructors are in attendance sharing and learning from each other and welcoming new interested students.


Dr. Painter is one of the most sought after seminar instructors in the Western world.”

                                                                                -Editor Karate Kung Fu Magazine

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About Dr. John P. Painter

John P. (Biff) Painter began his studies long before Chinese martial arts was known by Caucasians in the USA. He was taken as a young boy to be the protégé by master Li, Long-dao of Sichuan province, first for the purpose of healing the sickly teen and later as the inheritor of the Li family system of martial arts. John studied with the master from 1957 to 1969 at his boyhood home in Texas, learning the Li family methods of Baobiao Quan (bodyguard realistic fighting), traditional and modern weapons and Qigong for health known as Daoqiquan.

During and after college where he studied psychology and theater John went on to study Chinese traditional medicine, massage and acupressure with Dr. Pao, Sun-Lung of Hong Kong and Tibetan yoga and Dzogchen meditation with Lama Trangu Rinpoche. Today John holds a Ph.D. in Naturopathic medicine with emphasis on mind-body healing and Chinese traditional medicine.

Film Actor and Choreographer

As an actor Dr. Painter appeared in numerous feature films most notably Midnight Cowboy, Benji, For the love of Benji, Learning Curve and Positive ID. He has also worked as a combat choreographer for many stage productions and motions pictures.

Internal Arts Teacher and Author

As a martial arts teacher Dr. Painter has authored hundreds of articles on Chinese martial arts, medicine, healing principles and the internal martial arts for Inside Kung Fu and other health and fitness publications. He has appeared on many martial arts magazine covers and in articles ranging from Inside Kung Fu, Black Belt, Kung Fu Tai Chi and many others and is the author of numerous books and DVD series on the Chinese Internal arts especially Baguazhang.

Dr. Painter is listed in the publications, Who’s Who in the Chinese Martial Arts. Master, Founders and Leaders of the Chinese Martial Arts. He was elected to the Texas Martial Arts Hall of Fame and twice elected to the Inside Kung Fu Magazine Hall of Fame. He has been a body guard for such notables as Jerry Lewis, Craig T. Nelson, Bill Cosby, Phil Donahue and numerous executives and CEO’s.

As a Naturopath Dr. Painter has also been heavily involved in medical and scientific research involving the study of Qi, (Ch’i) life force energy, through work with the Life Sciences Qi Research Institute. He received awards from NASA and other science organizations for his work in explaining through western principles the science and psychology behind these Asian concepts.

Law Enforcement

A Captain in the American Rangers Law Enforcement Martial Training Institute Dr. Painter is considered one of the world’s foremost experts in practical, hand to hand combat, edged weapons and small arms training. His private client list includes members of the Israeli military combat training corp., FBI, DEA, US Army Rangers, Texas Rangers, US Army Special Forces, and US Marine Military Police officers. For more information on Dr. Painter’s teaching click this link

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To register click here (scroll down to “Bagua Circle Gathering”)