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Bāguàzhăng (八卦掌)
Sun bagua.jpg
Sun Lu-t'ang performing circle-walking
Also known as Bāguà zhăng; Pa Kua Chang
Focus Hybrid
Hardness Internal (nèijiā)
Country of origin People's Republic of China China
Creator Dong Haichuan (董海川)
Olympic sport No
Part of the series on
Chinese martial arts
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Bāguàzhǎng is one of the major "internal" (a.k.a. Nèijiā) Chinese martial arts. Bāguà zhǎng literally means "eight trigram palm," referring to the trigrams of the I Ching (Yijing), one of the canons of Taoism.[1]


The creation of Baguazhang, as a formalised martial art, is attributed to Dong Haichuan (董海川) in the early 19th century, who apparently learned from Taoist, masters in the mountains of rural China.[2] There is evidence to suggest a synthesis of several pre-existing martial arts taught and practised in the region in which he lived, combined with Taoist circle walking. Because of his work as a servant in the Imperial Palace, he impressed the emperor with his graceful movements and his skill at martial arts and became an instructor and a body guard to the court.[3] Dong Haichuan taught for many years in Beijing, eventually earning patronage by the Imperial court.[4]
Famous disciples of Dong to become teachers were Yin Fu (尹福), Cheng Tinghua (程廷華), Song Changrong (宋長榮), Liu Fengchun (劉鳳春), Ma Weiqi (馬維棋), Liu Baozhen(劉 寶珍), Liang Zhenpu (梁振蒲) and Liu Dekuan (劉德寛). Although they were all students of the same teacher, their methods of training and expressions of palm techniques differed.[1] The Cheng and Liu styles are said to specialize in "Pushing" the palms, Yin style is known for "Threading" the palms, Song's followers practice "Plum Flower" (梅花 Mei Hua) palm technique and Ma style palms are known as "Hammers." Some of Dong Haichuan's students, including Cheng Tinghua, participated in the Boxer Rebellion. In general, most Bagua practitioners practice either the Yin (尹), Cheng (程), or Liang (梁) styles of Baguazhang, although Fan (樊), Shi (史), Liu (劉), Fu (傅), and other styles also exist. (The Liu style is a special case, in that it is rarely practiced alone, but as a complement to other styles.) In addition, there are substyles of the above styles as well, such as the Sun (孫), Gao (高), and Jiang (姜) styles, which are substyles of Cheng style.

Modern styles

Common aspects

Internalist Zhang Zhaodong, also known as Zhang Zhankui.
The practice of circle walking, or "Turning the Circle", as it is sometimes called, is baguazhang's characteristic method of stance and movement training. All forms of baguazhang utilize circle walking prevalently as an integral part of training. Practitioners walk around the edge of the circle in various low stances, facing the center, and periodically change direction as they execute forms.[5] For a beginner the circle is six to twelve feet in diameter.[3] Students first learn flexibility and proper body alignment through the basic exercises, then move on to more complex forms and internal power mechanics. Although the internal aspects of baguazhang are similar to those of xingyiquan and tai chi, they are distinct in nature.
Fu Zhensong with a large Bagua broadsword
Many distinctive styles of weapons are contained within baguazhang, some use concealment like the "scholar's pen" or a pair of knives (the most elaborate, which are unique to the style, are the crescent-shaped deer horn knives). Baguazhang is also known for practicing with extremely large weapons, such as the Bāguàjian (八卦劍), or 'Bagua Sword', and Bāguàdāo (八卦刀) or, 'Bagua Broadsword'. Other, more conventional, weapons are also used, such as the staff (gun), the spear (qiang), the crutch (guai), the hook sword (gou) and the straight (double-edged) sword (jian). Baguazhang practitioners are also known for being able to use anything as a weapon using the principles of their art.
Baguazhang contains an extremely wide variety of techniques as well as weapons, including various strikes (with palm, fist, elbow, fingers etc), kicks, joint locking techniques, throws, and distinctively evasive circular footwork. As such, baguazhang is considered neither a purely striking nor a purely grappling martial art. Baguazhang practitioners are known for their ability to "flow" in and out of the way of objects. This is the source of the theory of being able to fight multiple attackers. Baguazhang's evasive nature is also shown by the practice of moving behind an attacker, so that the opponent cannot harm the practitioner.
Although the many branches of baguazhang are often quite different from each other (some, like Cheng style, specialize in close-in wrestling and joint locks, while others, like some of the Yin styles, specialize in quick, long-range striking), all have circle walking, spiraling methodologies, and certain methods and techniques (piercing palms, crashing palms, etc.) in common.
Baguazhang movements employ the whole body with smooth coiling and uncoiling actions, utilizing hand techniques, dynamic footwork, and throws. Rapid-fire movements draw energy from the center of the abdomen.

Baguazhang in popular culture

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