Bagua Zhang(Zhang = Palm) is an esoteric style, a lesser known sister art to Tai Chi. It is characterized by its unique circular footwork, twisting body and spiralling arms and sudden changes in direction that make it very appropriate as a self defence that deals effectively with a multiple attacker threat situation. As a pure Taoist martial art with ancient origins, Bagua fighting began to be accessible to the public in 1860 when it was transmitted to Dong Hai Chuan by two Taoist priests. For the next 40 years it was taught to only a select few and imperial bodyguards of the Manchu emperor.

After the fall of the Manchu empire in early 1900’s, BaguaZhang remained largely a secret martial art till 1911 when it was finally revealed to the general public. Master Ho, whose teacher was the famed Jiang Rong Qiao aka JRQ, is regarded by many as one of few authentic Bagua teachers in Australia. He strives to preserve the original simplicity and authenticity of the techniques he was taught. Bagua is a practical and complete internal martial art, its fighting techniques cover hand strikes, kicks, grappling, joint locks & lock escapes(Qin Na), evasive footwork and throws. It has been described as a beautiful martial art employing spiral movements and sophisticated footwork .

Bagua training makes the body flexible and allowing movement with grace, speed and power. This is attributed to thorough control of balance in movements of both sides of the body. An additional advantage is enhancing the balance of left and right sides of the brain and the nervous system. Experience indicates that old and aging people who practice Bagua regularly are more likely to remain physically and mentally healthy and less likely to suffer degenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.

Introduction to the interlinked Ba Gua Zhang (Pa Kua Chang, Ba Gua Palms, Eight Diagram Palm)

The bagua ( Chinese : 八卦 ; Pinyin : bā guà; Wade-Giles : pa kua ; literally “eight symbols”) is a fundamental philosophical concept in ancient China . It is generally represented with an octagonal diagram with one trigram on each side. The concept of bagua is applied not only to Chinese Taoist thought and the I Ching , but is also used in other domains of Chinese culture, such as fengshui , martial arts , navigation , and so on.

The Ba Gua Zhang kung-fu is a practical representation of the ancient Chinese Taoist “Yi Jing” (also called I Ching, I Jing, Yi Ching, Yi King, Book of Changes ), has been an achievement from the long lasting researches taken by many Taoist practitioners over the past several thousand years, and it has been well regarded as an very useful kung fu for prevention against illness and preservation of longevity, healthy fitness and self defense. Tracing down back in the history it still can not be ascertained that the originating era of the Ba Gua Zhang kung-fu, however the diagram of Yi Jing, a traditional Chinese cultural achievement, is the Ba-gua Tu (Eight Diagram Emblem), in fact it is well recognized across the world at all times.

There are a variety of forms (Tao-lu in pinyin) for the current Ba Gua Zhang kung-fu, however in comparison, only one form among them has a strict accordance with the theories of Yi Jing and the description embodied in Ba Gua Tu (the Eight Diagram Emblem). Either from all of practicing styles, or to the sequential order of palm moving pattern, or to the criteria on stepping and body motion for practicing, they are all related to the standard pattern namely “Interlinked Ba Gua”. Where the “Interlinked” term refers to the natural environment of the universe that exists infinitely in an endless rotating manner, the growth of all creatures and the death is all in this progression according to this set of rules. There are uncountable variations of all things and in this world, and their conformations or forms are like the ever changing statuses of passing clouds or flowing water. This nature which can be applied in the techniques of Ba Gua Zhang, becomes the foundation for the varieties of the techniques the in kung fu.

This model set of Ba Gua Zhang comprises the forms of motional patterns and physical body moves that are entirely based on the moving direction and routes that are described in the Eight Diagram Emblem, personal meditation practicing strictly accords to the theories of “Yi Jing” and “The Art of Law” (Sun Zi Bing Fa) , as well as the laws of the “physics”, which combines the lasting essence of the Chinese culture over the several thousand years with the modern science. Therefore, the same aspect as the tai chi chuan, Ba Gua Zhang now has become a widely recognised superior kung-fu.

The unique feature of the Interlinked Ba Gua Zhang is about that all moves are finished in the form of walking in a cycle, and the cycle would be getting smaller and smaller as the practicing is progressing from a beginning level to an advanced level, even be capable of cycling at the original center point. The type of kung fu in which different moving patterns and hands techniques can be applied in consecutive cycling that makes combating possible in a very small place, and also it makes one feel free to handle confidently in a situation of multiple attacks from a few persons, especially since the era that modern technology in the contemporary times has created gun and bullet, those types of distant moving kung-fu are no longer adaptable to the attacks from their enemies who would gun down you at a distance, while if a situation is two parties getting close to each other, long range punching forms of kung-fu is not applicable again. But as at the time, Tai Chi and Ba Gua kung-fus are relatively much more practical. Therefore, since the creation of gun and bullet, the body guards staying aside some high ranking officials of ancient Chinese loyal empires were gradually to be taken on by the Tai Chi and Ba Gua maters. This fashion has continued till the modern society, and even has been known by those paramount leaders of the Western countries. Any one who practices Chinese kung-fu knows that superior skills of body moving pattern and stepping pace would be dominant factor in a kind of body to body combating.

Especially the striking forms of Ba Gua Palm contain the application of simultaneous reacting skill in multiple directions, which indicates that defense could be carried out simultaneously in all dimensions, that is the reason why today almost all height weighted persons prefer this kind of personal security guards who would be able to turn around at extreme fast speed to keep off any sudden shooting, and at the same time they are capable of handling the attacks from different directions.

It is more difficulty to learn the Ba Gua Palm kung-fu than some general ones, mainly for the reason of non stop cycle walking and turning around, and at the same time need to finish moves, it seems to be out of control for most beginners, not easy to undertake. So the skill of walking cycle, the patterns of various stepping and foot moving techniques, as well as turning the body about and bending etc basic movements are to be learned firstly, then finally whole parts are coordinated for learning applied technical patterns. Because it is distinguished as a high level of difficulty above Tai Chi, many people would start to learn Ba Gua Palm after completion of their Tai Chi Chuan learning. In case of the experiences from my disciples, the majority of them have conducted their learning in this way. The reason is just the high level of difficulty, which has been approved to be very effective in the fitness improvement and self protection training. Its unique practicing of moving patterns in both right and left directions are more effective for balancing function of all parts of the body and the operation of nerves in the brain than Tai Chi Quan. According to the records in the contemporary adversaria, prominent figures Tai Chi Master Mr. Wu Tu-nan ( 吴图南 ) has a longevity of 106 and Ba Gua Palm Master Liu Zi Jian ( 吕紫剑 ) is still living well at his age of11 5 . Amazingly enough, they still taught martial arts at their very high ages. The case is rear in China ’s Wushu world, on the contrary, which testifies the effectiveness of the “Longevity of Life” gained from the Tai Chi and Ba Gua kung-fu if compared with the situation of anilities at an age around 80s or 90s among many so called kung-fu masters.

Bagua Stance

169 - Liu Hai plays with toad

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