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What is Bajiquan?
Bajiquan is a Northern martial art who is unlike most Northern styles in the sense that it does not rely on long fist and high flying kicking techniques. Instead, its few kicks are low and its punches are vertical.
Bajiquan has a long history, through generation of hard grinding, with its unique style and technique, have a unique style, style, continue to carry forward, enduring, generations emerged in many martial arts masters in martial arts, great influence.
Baji Quan, a school of traditional Chinese Marital Arts that features explosive, short range power, was also known as "rake fist" due to the fist being held loosely and slightly open when not striking, resembling a rake and the art involving many downward strike moves, like a rake's movement in the field. The name was considered to sound rather crude in its native tongue and so was changed to Baji Quan. The term baji, which comes from the oldest book in China, signifies “an extension of all directions" In this case, it means “including everything" or “the universe." 'Ba' (Chinese for eight) denotes the eight major points of the body: head, shoulders, elbows, hands, buttocks, kua, knees, and feet and 'Ji' (polar) is extended in the eight polar directions.
Bajiquan is characterized by direct, culminating and powerful fast strikes that will render an opponent unable to continue and is used in close combat, giving attention to elbow, knee, shoulder and hip strikes. When blocking an attack or nearing an opponent, Bajiquan techniques emphasize striking major points of vulnerability, the thorax (trunk of the body), the legs and neck.
The major purpose of Ba Ji training is to develop ultimate snapping power. After gaining this type of power, some very efficient techniques can be performed or applied.
Bajiquan Power generation and expression methods
The essence of Bajiquan lies in jin, or power-issuing methods, particularly fajin (explosive power). The style contains six types of jin, eight different ways to hit and several principles of power usage. Unlike most western forms of martial arts which require swinging motion to create momentum, most of Bajiquan's moves utilize a one-hit push-strike method from very close range. The bulk of the damage is dealt through the momentary acceleration that travels up from the waist to the limb and further magnified by the charging step known as zhen jiao.
The mechanics of jin are developed through many years of practice and Bajiquan is known for its strenuous lower-body training and its emphasis on the horse stance.Its horse stance is higher than that of typical Long Fist styles. Like other styles, there is also "the arrow-bow stance", "the one-leg stance", "the empty stance" (xūbù 虚步), "the drop stance" (pūbù 仆步), etc. There are eight different hand poses, plus different types of breathing and zhen jiao.
The six Major Characteristic Powers are:
- Sinking (Xia Chen 下沉 or Chen Zhui 沉墜)
- Thrusting (Chong 沖)
- Extending (Cheng 撑)
- Entangling (Chan 纏)
- Cross (Shi Zi 十字)
- Inch (Cun 寸).
Baji quan Tactics and strategy
Baji quan opens the opponent's arms forcibly (qiang kai men 強開門) and mount attacks at high, mid, and low levels of the body (san pan lian ji 三盤連擊). It is most useful in close combat, as it focuses on elbow, knee, shoulder and hip strikes. When blocking an attack or nearing an opponent, baji quan techniques emphasize striking major points of vulnerability, namely the thorax (trunk of the body), legs and neck.
holding a typical Baji Quan posture. The sideways-protruding elbow is often used for striking in this art.
The "six big ways of opening" (liu da kai 六大開) are:
- Ding 頂: using the fist, elbow or shoulder to push forward and upward.
- Bao 抱: putting arms together as if hugging someone. It is usually followed by Pi 劈 (splitting).
- Ti 提: elevating the knee to hit the thigh of the opponent, or elevating the foot to hit the shin of the opponent, etc.
- Dan 單: using a single move.
- Kua 胯: using the hip.
- Chan 纏: entanglement with rotation around the wrist, elbow and shoulder.
If I have to describe Bajiquan in three words, it would be fast, direct, and fatal.
In the superficial sense, many people seem to associate the practice of Bajiquan forms and performances with the popular zhenjiao (震脚； zhènjiǎo, stomping/stamping foot on the floor) technique. While this is a distinguishing attribute of Bajiquan forms and training, this is not the only feature of the style, nor is it the main feature of Bajiquan. To be more accurate, I would say that, what distinguishes Bajiquan from other styles of Chinese martial arts, is the clear emphasis of “abrupt” or explosive force and power generation in the majority of its movements, as opposed to the fluid movements and “softness” that are often associated with the popular image of Chinese martial arts. In my experience, many of these movements in forms are often trained with, or in transitions into mabu (马步； mǎbù, horse stance).
The training of Bajiquan, specifically in the sense of Taolu, is vast and varies in curriculum from style to style. Solo, bare hand forms can be divided into dajia (大架； dàjià, literally “big/large frame”) and xiaojia (小架； xiǎojià, literally “small frame”). Dajia forms, one of which is the one Bajiquan form I have learned, contains comparatively bigger and simpler techniques and movements, and is where modern Wushu Bajiquan takes its movements from, whereas xiaojia forms feature comparatively smaller, more intricate techniques and movements. Traditional Bajiquan also has duilian (对练； duìliàn， choreographed fight sets), which emphasize the martial applications and fighting ideas of Bajiquan, such as kao (靠； kào, bumping with various parts of the body). There is also the training of Jingangbashi (金刚八式；Jīngāngbāshì, Buddha’s Warrior Attendant Eight Methods), which is not as well-known, but is still a part of traditional Bajiquan training, and is itself from Shaolin.
In terms of specific techniques, all real Chinese martial arts styles train four specific elements of fighting: kicking (踢； tī)， punching (打； dǎ)， takedowns (摔； shuāi)， and grappling (拿； ná). Kicks in Bajiquan forms are specifically low and limited under the waist level, and do not go above the waist. Bajiquan is also known for its elbow techniques; perhaps the most well-known technique or posture of Bajiquan is mabudingzhou (马步顶肘； mǎbùdǐngzhǒu, horse stance horizontal elbow strike). However, there are also many fist techniques in Bajiquan forms, ranging from straight punches, to swinging fist strikes like “whipping” or hammer fist strikes. Additionally, Bajiquan also contains many openhanded techniques, such as palm strikes and pushes. As with all other styles of Chinese martial arts, throws and takedowns also exist, which are hidden in the stances, and movements into stances within forms. Grappling, or qinna (擒拿； qínná， grappling) techniques in Bajiquan are mainly focused in locking the wrists, hands and/or arms. As far as fighting goes, Bajiquan is observed to be a style focused on infighting and close range, since Bajiquan techniques are focused in this range.