Ba gua Zhang

What is Ba gua zhang ?
ba gua zhang

Ba gua Zhang is recognized as one of the three orthodox "internal" styles of Chinese martial art (the other two being Xing Yi Quan and Tai Ji Quan). Ba Gua literally translates to Eight trigrams. These trigrams are symbols which are used to represent all natural phenomena as described in the ancient Chinese text of divination, the Book of Changes (Yi Jing). Zhang means palm and designates Ba Gua Zhang as a style of martial art, which emphasizes the use of the open hand in preference to the closed fist. Ba Gua Zhang, as a martial art, is based on the theory of continuously changing in response to the situation at hand in order to overcome an opponent with skill rather than brute force.

Ba gua zhang is the basic concept of philosophy China culture, the so-called bagua is eight different hexagrams. 乾qián、坤kūn、震zhèn、巽xùn、坎kǎn、离lí、艮gèn、兑duì .

Although there are several theories as to the Origins of Ba Gua Zhang, recent and exhaustive research by martial scholars in Mainland China conclude without reasonable doubt that the Art is the creation of a single individual, Dong Hai Chuan. Dong was born in Wen An County, Hebei Province about 1813. Dong practiced local martial arts (which reportedly relied heavily upon the use of open hand palm techniques) from his youth and gained some notoriety as a skilled fighter. At about 40 years of age, Dong left home and traveled southward. luodexiub.gifAt some point during his travels, Dong became a member of the Chuan Zhen (Complete Truth) sect of Daoism. The Daoists of this sect practiced a method of walking in a circle white reciting certain mantras. The practice was designed to quiet the mind and focus the intent as a prelude to enlightenment. Dong later combined the circle walking mechanics with the martial arts he had mastered in his youth to create a new style based on mobility and the ability to apply techniques while in constant motion (heretofore unknown in the history of Chinese martial arts).

Origin Stories of Bagua

There are different stories about the origin of Bagua. Some say it originated among the anti-Qing Dynasty cliques while others believe that it was created by the two Taoist priests Bi Yun and Jing Yun on Mount Emei , Sichuan Province, during the late Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty and then passed down through its nine generations of practitioners.
The eight-diagram palm is based on the old Chinese philosophy of eight combinations of three whole and broken lines used in divination. While practising, the practitioner moves according to the eight diagrams. There are eight basic palm plays. A total of 64 palm tricks and moves have come from the original eight basic palm plays. Apart from solo practices, there is also sparring: Sanshou (free sparring) and fighting with weapons, such as Bagua sword play, Bagua sabre play and Bagua cudgel play, and Bagua play of 7 star decorated-shaft etc. While practicing these routines, practitioners rove around like a dragon moving amidst clouds.

Characteristics of Baguazhang

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 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. For a beginner, the circle is six to twelve feet in diameter. 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 Taijiquan, they are distinct in nature.

The basis of the various styles of Ba Gua Zhang, and the practice all styles have in common, is the circle walk. The practitioner literally walks in a circle while holding various static postures with the upper body or while executing "palm changes" (short patterns of movement or "forms" which train the body mechanics and methods of generating power which form the basis of the styles' fighting techniques).

All styles have a variation of a form known as the Single Palm Change. The Single Palm Change is the most basic form and is the nucleus of the remaining palm changes found in the Art. Besides the Single Palm Change, the other forms include the Double Palm Change and the Eight Palm Changes (also known variously as the Eight Mother Palms or the Old Eight Palms).

There is virtually no other martial art system or style, internal or external, that has combined and seamlessly integrated the whole pantheon of martial art fighting techniques in one package as effectively as bagua zhang(ba gua chang/pakua chang). In bagua zhang, you can hit a person with an open hand, a fist or a push.

Training for ba gua zhang

Basic solo training in Baguazhang teaches the student how to control his or her momentum and timing in order to generate power with the entire body mass as a coherent unit (zheng ti jing, “whole body power”), so that force can be issued from any part of the body with the support of all other parts. Whole body power is applied in all categories of Baguazhang techniques: striking, kicking, grappling and throwing. All styles of Baguazhang emphasize complete physical relaxation, correct skeletal alignment, natural movements which are in harmony with the body's inherent reflexes and design, and the direction of every movement by intent.

Training usually begins with practicing basic palm changes in place (stationary practice), or by “walking the circle” while the upper body holds various static postures (Xingzhuang). The purpose of these exercises is to familiarize the student with correct body alignment and the maintenance of mental focus while in motion. As training progresses, the student learns the various palm changes and related forms. The Sixty-Four Palms and other similar patterns are learned after some level of proficiency has been attained with the basic circle walk and palm changes. Some styles practice the Sixty-Four Palms while walking the circle; others practice these forms in a linear fashion.

Most styles of Baguazhang include various two-person forms and drills in preparation for the practice of combat techniques. Many styles of Baguazhang also include training with a variety of weapons. Baguazhang weapons tend to be much larger than standard weapons of the same type, to increase the strength and stamina of the user.

You can hit with your hand, head, shoulder or any other part of your body. You can punch straight ahead, in a round fashion or from every conceivable angle. You can also throw individuals without grabbing their bodies by tripping them through careful placement of your foot or by breaking their balance while controlling their arms and hands. You can use foot sweeps and leg cuts.

In addition, with bagua zhang you can lift an attacking man over your head and throw him on his back or on his face or head. There are also bagua chokes and joint-locks or chin na techniques as well as bagua grabbing techniques in which you seize your attacker's skin and try to rip it off his body.

Yang shen ba gua

Bagua zhang also has a range of kicks both high and low, knee butts and stomping techniques and a full arsenal of traditional weapons.

These forms make up the foundation of the art of Ba Gua Zhang. Ba Gua Zhang movements have a characteristic circular nature and there is a great deal of body spinning, turning, and rapid changes in direction. In addition to the Single, Double and Eight Palm Changes, most but not all styles of Ba Gua Zhang include some variation of the Sixty-Four Palms. The Sixty-Four Palms include forms which teach the mechanics and sequence of the specific fighting techniques included in the style. These forms take the general energies developed during the practice of the Palm Changes and focus them into more exact patterns of movement, which are applied directly to a specific combat technique. Ba Gua Zhang is an art based on evasive footwork and a kind of guerilla warfare strategy applied to personal combat. A Ba Gua fighter relies on strategy and skill, rather than the direct use of force against force or brute strength, in overcoming an opponent. The strategy employed is aggressive in nature and emphasizes constant change in response to the spontaneous and "live" quality of combat.

Bagua is also a container for the 16 neigong or "internal energy components," which is the basis of all Energy Arts programs.

Change is at the heart of life. Bagua zhang practice is about learning to flow with change rather than against it. If you can Master the Art of Change, you will become capable of overcoming obstacles in your life and allow happiness and joy to emerge from within your being.

Whatever your interest, bagua is an amazing practice and one of the greatest gifts from Taoism.

In addition to the above forms and methods, most styles of Ba Gua Zhang include various two-person forms and drills as intermediate steps between solo forms and the practice of combat techniques. Although the techniques of Ba Gua Zhang are many and various, they all adhere to the above mentioned principles of mobility and the skillful application of force. Many styles of Ba Gua Zhang also include the use of a variety of weapons, ranging from the more standard types (straight sword, broadsword, pear) to exotic weapons, used exclusively by practitioners of the Ba Gua Zhang arts.