What is Baguazhang?
What is Baguazhang? Otherwise known as Pa Kua Chang, and often times pronounced “Bagwa Jang” is one of the three primary internal martial arts from China. Baguazhang has spawn a variety of other martial arts including the Japanese art Aikido. One of the oldest practitioners of traditional Karate in the United States has traced back Karate’s roots to Baguazhang. Regardless of the fact that they look very different and the training seems almost polar opposite, he has found the roots.It is really difficult to say where exactly Baguazhang originated because so many schools lay claim to it. In Emei Mountain they claim the original Baguazhang. The Taoists of Wudangshan claim they were the creators. Tevia Feng has trained with one man who claimed Qing Chen Mountain has the original Bagua. What most people do agree on is that Dong Hai Chuan (1797 (or 1813) to 1882) brought it to the forefront in public and was responsible for Bagua becoming famous throughout China when he used Bagua to defeat the Emperor’s top bodyguard. Dong Hai Chuan then became the Emperor’s top bodyguard and Yin Fu, Dong Hai Chuan’s top disciple was the top concubine’s bodyguard. Dong Hai Chuan was said to have learned Bagua from Taoists and Buddhist monks although there are various accounts of how he actually learned it. What is more interesting to me is to look at the principles of what exactly Baguazhang is.
Principles of Baguazhang
In Chinese “Ba” means 8, “Gua” is the name for the trigrams, and “Zhang” means palm. Literally translated it is the Eight Trigram Palm. The Eight Trigrams originates from the I Ching. From the Bagua within the I Ching, we learn the inherent cycles of nature and the universe. For example, according to the King Wen arrangement of the Bagua, Spring gives way to new beginnings and or gives birth to a new idea. When Summer arrives the idea has come to fruition. Fall represents the harvest or maturation of that idea. Winter turns back inward for self-reflection and contemplation.
What comprises Baguazhang Training?
- Internal energy self-defense (Martial Qigong)
- Hand to hand combat
Through understanding these principles not only on an intellectual level, but more importantly expressing a physical understanding, you have the tools to achieve the highest levels on the 3 Paths of Baguazhang. Bagua is one of the most complex and profound of all the martial arts. It can take a lifetime to master, but the benefits and feeling it can bring to your life make it all the worthwhile. Not only will the end result be worthwhile, but also the journey of getting there is challenging, fun and you will grow in ways as a human being you might never have imagined possible.