Bagua Zhang


Dong Hai Chuan

Bagua Zhang or Eight Trigram Palms is one of the three major systems of Chinese Internal Martial Arts. The other two being Taiji Quan and Xing Yi Quan. The eight trigrams refers to Yi Jing or I Ching (Book of Changes). The Yi Jing is a vast subject that goes well beyond what this site can offer, but will make a brief attempt to illustrate the relationship between the martial art and the theory.

Dong Haichuan is recognized as the founder of Bagua. Legend has it that he learned it from Taoist masters although evidence lends itself to it being a synthesis of various styles he studied combined with a meditative circle walking method he learned from the Taoists.

Later in life he worked as a bodygaurd and instructor to the imperial court. He had several well known students who he taught according to their skill and background. As such, there are variations of the art rather than one main system, although they have common characteristics among them. Principally, Bagua is characterized by the use of the palm for various techniques and circular movements with emphasis on foot work for both health practice and application. That is a rather simplified description, however, as the art is rich in its techniques for practice and as an effective martial art.

Wai Lian Jin Gu Pi, Nei Lian Yi Kou Qi = Externally, train tendons, bones, and skin, and internally train one mouthful of Qi

The above means to train both the physical body and the internal energy or Qi, which is related to the breathing.1 Bagua, like Taiji and Xing Yi, is considered an internal sytle and emphasizes the development of internal energy or Qi more so than other styles. Some characteristics of Bagua styles are:

  • Internal Qi development is key to training
  • Fighting emphasizes circular movements: yielding, neutralizing, sticking, adhereing, and coilng cooordinate with the circular
  • Attack and defense movements tend to be rounded to uproot an opponent
  • Effective at all ranges but particularly suited to medium and short-range
1. Shou-Yu Liang, Jwing-Ming Yang. Emei Baguazhang. Jamaica Plain, MA; 1996