Bagua Zhang

History Of Baguazhang

Ba Gua Zhang translates as eight shapes of the palm. The eight shapes refer specifically to the eight hexagram symbols called Gua comprising the foundation of the three thousand-year-old Yijing or Book of Changes. Zhang means palm and in this instance is used to describe the ever changing shapes of the hands, arms and body.  These flow through a series of eight basic postures which are representative of the eight Mother diagrams of the Yijing.  The Yijing may be the oldest book in the world dating back before 3000 B C. The word Yi means continuous change. In Chinese the origins of the ancient calligraphy of Yi was:

yin yang

Two characters, sun over the moon, symbolized the change of day to night and back again.  This is one of the earliest known references to the concept of the Yin and Yang principle.  Some scholars claimed the lower character of Yi depicts a flag waving in a breeze under the sun as it travels across the sky.  Both ideas represent the concept of continuous change.

A Philosophical System or Psychology 
Yijing expert Knigh Dheigh has called the Yi a system of philosophical psychology and psychological philosophy.  In its present form the Yijing consists of a large body of writings from a number of Chinese sages spanning over three thousand years. The Yijing is an index or almanac of nature’s laws as they apply to the planets, stars and the affairs of all humans, plants and animals in the world.

Other Ba Gua Zhang forms
There are some historical indications that Dong Hai Chuan may not have been the only Ba Gua Zhang teacher in China.  Historical documents indicate that there were numerous although little known variations of Daoist boxing and Dao Yin (Qi Gong) arts based upon the Yijing that predated Dong’s Ba Gua Zhang.  Daoist monks and scholars populating regions throughout China often created their old styles of eight-shape boxing which were seldom taught publicly.
A version of the single palm change, one of the most basic concepts of Ba Gua Zhang, has been practiced as a Qi energy exercise in a particular Daoist Temple for over one thousand years.  Monks at Emei Mountain, where Daoist and Buddhist influences intermingled, also created Ba Gua Zhang forms and exercises.  A Ba Gua Zhang research facility in mainland China has recorded over one hundred separate styles of Ba Gua Zhang in existence today and reports that many others have been lost or have died with their creators.

The Nine Dragon System 
One family style of Ba Gua Zhang was said to have been conceived by Daoist sage Li Ching yuen. Li, a Chinese scholar who died in the early 1930’s lived, according to an article in the New York Times, to be 260 years old. Li always told people that his remarkable strength and health were due to a special diet and the daily practice of an internal Qigong and martial arts style he devised which later came to be named Jiulong Ba Gua Zhang (the nine dragon eight diagram palm method.)  He claimed to have learned the basis of it from a Daoist monk in the Emei mountains of China.  This ancient sage reportedly instructed Li Ching yuen in his own personal style of Ba Gua Zhang based upon the wisdom of the Book of Changes. Mr. Lee claimed that this system of Ba Gua Zhang opened the doorway to internal energy by establishing a relationship of physical postures to mental attitudes which in turn created immense Qi energy for health and self-defense.  Although there are many external similarities, Li’s Daoist 9 dragon Ba Gua Zhang differs from Dong’s version in a number of ways.

Form without form
     Li Ching yuen Nine Dragon Ba Gua Zhang method in the final stages has no forms in the traditional sense.  The core of his art consists of a Wholistic internal and external training compromising meditation, Qigong, basic linear forms, and circle walking holding eight postures.
A study of the meaning and images of each of the eight basic Gua of the Yijing as they relate to attitude, action, tactics and use of each of the basic formations guide the training. Eight Mother palm shapes refer to whole body positions incorporating all of the body’s energies. The shapes become entire attitudes, permitting the entire psychological and physiological makeup of the student.
Each of the eight postures is studied in the context of the shapes they form while walking the circle and changing directions.  The student also studies the changing of a single posture from one palm to another and the positive (yang) and negative (yin) aspects of each palm.  He studies the eight methods of generating Fajing, kinetic power, and the eight methods of Tian Jin, listening power.  Listening power is the ability to feel external force and react to its with any part of the body.  It is used to interpret the intentions of an opponent by listening to his pre-movement through touch
There are also defensive tactics, which comprise the six methods of entering into the opponent’s center of power by the six bridges.  Use of special principles of energy and power from the wedge and ball principles to create dynamic Jin (mind/body biomechanical energy).
In the more advanced stage, palm postures are combined one with the other, for example, using the right hand in heaven palm while the left-hand forms the wind palm.  When a student comes to fully understands the numerous variations of a single shape (posture- stance- action) mentally and physically, how it can be used to generate Qi and how it connects with the stances to generate power or Jin, he is said to have achieved Yizhang De (the virtue of one palm). He has passed through one of the Ba Long Men, eight dragon doors.  After each of the shapes and forms of the eight Mother forms are absorbed has Ba Gua zhang De(eight shapes off palm virtue).
At this level, movement begins to spontaneously generate forms.  As a student comes to know these forms intuitively, they begin to exist or a subconscious level, coming and going as naturally as any other habitual activity.  He has passed through the ninth dragon door.  He is now a nine-dragon Ba Gua Zhang boxer.


Jiulong Baguazhang


Jiulong Ba Gua Zhang consists of a series of palms or postures for the upper body and three basic stances or walking methods for lower body. Each posture is associated with the eight Mother Gua of the Yijing trigram, each palm and stance position reflect the energy nature of the trigram to which it is assigned. The genius of this method is that it creates a dynamic interface of both the right and left brain through guided imagery to create a harmonious mind and body energy for healing and martial power unlike any other system of this type. It some ways is similar to the methods used in Yiquan developed by Wang Hiang Zhai in the 1940’s.
Basic training includes two sections:
1. Qigong, internal power training to develop the inner health and strength. All beginning students of Jiulong Ba Gua start with heaven posture Qigong, a study of the meaning and images and the nine positions associated with the heaven palm. Training begins with standing meditations, Qigong visualization and breathing exercises and proceeds to linear forms and then to walk the circle flowing through the nine heavenly palm postures. Students learn how to circulate internal energy through the acupuncture meridians and create internal connections for specific power points to improve strength, speed and health.

2. Wuyigong, martial art training in the internal martial skills. After the Qigong practice, the student is ready for Heaven Palm Ba Gua Zhang wuyigong. Combat tactics that include pushing hands, power sensing and emitting energies, pressure points, locks and throws as well as palm-striking methods are studied. Once Heaven palm’s principles are grasped each of the seven other palms related to the basic Gua of the Yijing are studied. The depths of each palm are so great that each one can stand alone as a healing and martial arts system in itself. By meditation upon these qualities the mind will transform the internal energies to external power as one performs the postures, first standing meditation and later in moving linear and circle walking forms practice