Chinese Five Arts > Pugilistic Art

Bagua Zhang (Eight-Trigram Palm) 八卦掌


"Ba Gua Zhang is literally translated as Eight Trigram Palm. This style is one of the three Nei Jia Quan or internal styles of China.  The other two styles are Xing Yi Quan and Taiji Quan. As with Xing Yi and Taiji, the practice of Bagua generates Qi (internal energy) for both health and combat purposes. Baguazhang uses palm techniques exclusively, and this is reflected in the name, Eight Trigram Palm. This makes Bagua distinct from Xing Yi and Taiji styles, both of which incorporate fist techniques.

The most distinctive trait of Baguazhang is that movement imitates the Taoist Ba Gua symbol of the Yi Jing (Book of Changes). Techniques are demonstrated while walking low in a static circle.  This technique of circular walking has three intentions: 1) confuse the opponent, 2) exhaust the opponent, and 3) absorb natural Qi evenly from all directions.  The health benefits of this circular Qi cultivation ensures that longtime masters are not only excellent fighters but also live extremely long lives." (Source: What is Baguazhang?)

(source of the image)"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 are also sparrings, Sanshou (free sparring) and fighting with weapons, such as Bagua sword play, Bagua sabre play and Bagua cudgel play, and Bagua play of shaft decorated with seven stars, etc. While practising these routines, practitioners rove around like a dragon moving amidst clouds." (Source: Bagua Zhang (Eight-diagram Palm)).
Footwork method for changing directions
on the circle in the Daoist circle walking practice of the Quan Zhen sect. (source)"A good Ba Gua Zhang practitioner spends a lot of time walking in circles; the question on everyone else's lips is, "Why are you doing that?" (...) The Ba Gua Zhang practitioner will benefit in many ways from the circle walk practice. Health, longevity, body strength, stamina, coordination, balance, Qi cultivation, calming of the mind, mental concentration, mobility in combat, body/mind unity, stillness in motion, etc. - all of these aspects of physical, mental, and spiritual health can be improved through simple circle walking." (From The Circle Walk Practice of Ba Gua Zhang by Dan Miller)
Read the other parts of Dan Miller's article:
Origins of the Circle Walk Practice in Ba Gua Zhang,
The Circle Walking Method,
Why Walk the Circle?,
Circle Walking Variations,
The Benefits of Circle Walking Practice,
"Four Pillars of Training
The eight "mother palms" (also called the "nei gong" palms or the "qi gong" palms) are the foundational static upper body postures which are held while the practitioner is practicing the circle walk. These postures are designed to train certain structural alignments while the practitioner is walking the circle. The upper body is held static while the lower body is continuously moving. In the practice of holding the eight mother palms the practitioner trains structural strengths, internal body connections, internal/external body integration and harmony, development and awareness of muscle groups not usually under conscious control, tendon strength and conditioning, and joint opening and suppleness, in each of the eight postures that are held. (...)

The Philosophical Connection
The art of Ba Gua Zhang was not haphazardly named after the eight trigrams of the Yi Jing. In all areas of practice there is a philosophical connection which has between the Yi Jing theory and the physical movement and training. Sun Lu Tang was the first to write about these connections in this book Ba Gua Quan Xue (The Study of Ba Gua Boxing), which was published in 1916. In his book Sun relates the practice of static standing in preparation for the circle walk practice to the philosophical principle of Wu Ji. He relates the circle walk practice while holding a static upper body posture to the principle of Tai Ji. He then relates the single palm change maneuver to the principle of Liang Yi and the double palm change to the principle of Si Xiang.

Those who have studied this philosophy will know that the belief is that all life, motion, or energy begins from a "void" or Wu Ji. When the Wu Ji begins to manifest movement, the Tai Ji is formed. When the One energy of the Tai Ji begins to reveal its opposite polarities (Yin and Yang), the Liang Yi is formed. When the two polar energies (Yin and Yang) of the Liang Yi combine to form four energies, directions, movements, or principles, the Si Xiang is formed. When the Yin and Yang combine once again to form eight combinations, the Ba Gua is formed." (From A Detailed Study Of Ba Gua Zhang's Single Palm Change, Four Pillars of Training by Dan Miller)


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