Written by Steve Madaffari
Ba Gua Zhang (or Pa Kua Chang) is one of the three famous Chinese Internal martial arts. The other two are Tai Chi Chuan and Hsing I Chuan. Baguazhang is based on the “Eight Trigrams” of the I Ching. It is renowned for its agile and varied footwork and its flexible and graceful body movements. Unlike Tai Chi Chuan and Hsing I Chuan, which use both fist and palm, Baguazhang deals mainly with the use of the palm. The style of Baguazhang instruction offered by Dr. Wu’s Chinese Kung Fu and Tai Chi Chuan Institute is the Guang Hua Mountain Baguazhang.
The lineage of our style of Bagua is as follows. Dr. Wu received private instruction with Sun Xi Kun in 1937 in Nanjing. Sun had been a student of Cheng Ting Hua’s eldest son, Cheng You Lung (Cheng Hai Ting). In 1940, Dr. Wu began studying with his second Bagua teacher, Li Zhuang Fei in Chongqing. Li Zhong Fei was a student of Gao Yi Sheng and Han Mu Xia. Both them were very famous Baguazhang martial artists in the early 20 century in China. Dr. Wu studied Guang Hua Mountain Baguazhang with Li Zhong Fei from 1941 until 1946.
According to his teacher, this style of Bagua originated from the Guang Hua Mountain area of Jiangsi province. The Guang Hua Mountain Bagua consists of basic qi and footwork training, eight circle walking postures, single and double palm changes, pre-heaven Bagua (also known as “eight big body turning Pa Kua”), Wu Long Bai Wei Zhang (“black dragon waves its tail”), post-heaven 64 fighting palms, and weaponry.
In the practice of Bagua, the emphasis is on the footwork. Footwork training includes circle walking patterns, angular stepping patterns, and linear stepping patterns. These stepping patterns acclimate the individual to the key footwork components of the style. Two fundamental methods of stepping are one for power development and one for speed development. With extensive footwork training, the development of stability, mobility, and endurance can be achieved, establishing a solid foundation of Bagua practice.
Exercises that develop flexibility, leg strength and power include moving and stationary drills. Circle forms include one set of 8 circles that hold static postures while walking the circle. The next group of circle forms are the “palm changes.”
Solo techniques of Guang Hua Mountain Bagua include 64 fighting palms, each with its own characteristic principle of application. Two-person sets teach the individual the importance of proper distancing, timing, power, and speed in applying the techniques. After learning individual and two-man sets, weapons are introduced. To conclude the instruction, a history and lineage is presented along with related philosophy of the Guang Hua Mountain Baguazhang.