Ba Gua Zhang (Pa Kua Chang)
Ba Gua Zhang (Eight Trigram Palm) is another of the 3 main internal styles (alongside Xing Yi and Tai Ji). Ba Gua is renowned for its ‘walking the circle’. Techniques are typically very evasive and circular and strikes delivered with the open palm (although other strikes are also taught). The spiralling nature makes it useful for dealing with multiple attackers, armed opponents and overcoming power with skill.
Ba Gua Zhang (also known as Pa Kua) translates as “The Eight Directions.” The definitive exercise of Ba Gua is “Walking the Circle”. Through this exercise, the student learns to seamlessly revolve and rotate their body. By learning the eight directions of the Ba Gua circle, the student learns to attack and defend from any direction. Ba Gua emphasises circular, horizontally-applied strength through the use of an open palm, and continuous movement. The Ba Gua practitioner is always shifting and moving to catch their opponent off balance.
Ba Gua is an Internal Kung Fu system, closely related to Xing Yi. In Internal Kung Fu systems students learn to master Qi; their own internal energy. Internal Kung Fu practitioners know that before you can master others, you must master yourself. Students learn to control their internal energy by first developing their physical strength. But this is not the muscular strength that weight lifters or Western boxers strive for. Rather, this is a strength achieved by muscular flexibility and unhindered circulation. As a Ba Gua student, you will learn to develop this strength. You will begin by learning to “walk the circle.” You will learn the Ba Gua open palm changes and movements, and then the applications, so you may apply these in combat.
There are currently no Ba Gua specific classes while Master Ian Lee is overseas. Our internal class includes Tai Ji, Xing Yi and Qi Gong techniques and forms. Our advanced Tai Ji routines involve Ba Gua elements as well. We hold evening classes around Brisbane in several locations each week. Your instuctors will be Shifu Kevin The and Shifu Richard Nicholls. We cater for all paces and levels, from beginner to advanced. Please click here for our timetable. Your first lesson is free.
The History of Ba Gua
The origins of Ba Gua are unknown. One story holds that Feng Ke-shan learnt it from Wang Hsiang, who had in turn learnt only part of the system in 1796 from a man only known as Shantung. Then in 1810 Feng Ke-shan met another man who also knew part of the system. Thus the different parts of the art were reunited, and what we now know as Ba Gua was born. Another story is that a man named Tung Hai-ch’uan learn it from a Taoist mountain hermit; a story similar to the origins of Xing Yi. In fact after a famous duel between a master of Ba Gua and a master of Xing Yi, the two masters decided by pact to teach the two systems alongside each other.
Some practioners pursue Ba Gua’s metaphysical aspects; That the eight ways of Ba Gua refer not just to the eight directions, but to the eight trigrams in the book of I Ching; “The Book of Changes.” This is an ancient Chinese book of wisdom. Over three thousand years old, it is purported to contain the great secrets of the Universe. Encoded in sixty-four hexagrams, this wisdom is not easy to unlock. Each hexagram defines the relationship between various phenomena, and has its philosophical implications written as a cryptic poem. Through divination I Ching is used to uncover aspects about events; past, present and future. These Ba Gua practitioners take the Internal aspects of Ba Gua, the channelling of one’s Qi, to the highest level.
This history and the above description is based on
Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts, Draeger and Smith, 1980.
Kung Fu Fighting Styles, Hallander, 1985.
Pa Kua: The Gentleman’s Boxing, Vargas, 1983.
The I-Ching diagram is from Vargas.