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Sun Lu-t'ang performing "Lion Embraces the Ball."
|Also known as||Bāguà quăn, Bāguà zhăng, Pakua chang, Pa-kua chang|
|Country of origin||China|
|Creator||Dong Haichuan 董海川 (attributed)|
|Part of a series on|
|Chinese martial arts|
|List of Chinese martial arts|
Bāguàzhǎng (八卦掌) is one of the three main Chinese martial arts of the Wudang school, the other two being Taijiquan and Xingyiquan. It is more broadly grouped as an internal practice (or neijia gong). Bāguà zhǎng literally means "eight trigram palm," referring to the trigrams of the Yijing (I Ching), one of the canons of Taoism.
The creation of Baguazhang, as a formalised martial art, is attributed to Dong Haichuan (董海川), who is said to have learned from Taoist and Buddhist masters in the mountains of rural China during the early 19th century. It must be noted that many Chinese authorities do not accept the Buddhist origin, instead maintaining that those teachers were purely Taoist in origin, in fact they were Taoist priests, the evidence lying in Baguazhang's frequent reference to core concepts central to Taoism, such as Yin and yang theory, I Ching and Taoism's most unique paradigm, the Bagua diagram. The attribution to Buddhist teachers came from the 2nd generation teachers ie. Dong Haichuan's students, some of whom were Buddhist. There is evidence to suggest a synthesis of several pre-existing martial arts taught and practised in the region in which Dong Haichuan lived, combined with Taoist circle walking. Because of his work as a servant in the Imperial Palace he impressed the emperor with his graceful movements and fighting skill, and became an instructor and a bodyguard to the court. Dong Haichuan taught for many years in Beijing, eventually earning patronage by the Imperial court.
Famous disciples of Dong Haichuan to become teachers were Yin Fu (尹福), Cheng Tinghua (程廷華), Ma Gui (马贵), Song Changrong (宋長榮), Liu Fengchun (劉鳳春), Ma Weiqi (馬維棋), Liu Baozhen(劉寶珍), Liang Zhenpu (梁振蒲) and Liu Dekuan (劉德寛). Although they were all students of the same teacher, their methods of training and expressions of palm techniques differed. The Cheng and Liu styles are said to specialize in "pushing" the palms, Yin style is known for "threading" the palms, Song's followers practice "Plum Flower" (梅花 Mei Hua) palm technique and Ma style palms are known as "hammers." Some of Dong Haichuan's students, including Cheng Tinghua, participated in the Boxer Rebellion. In general, most bagua exponents today practice either the Yin (尹), Cheng (程), or Liang (梁) styles, although Fan (樊), Shi (史), Liu (劉), Fu (傅), and other styles also exist. (The Liu style is a special case, in that it is rarely practiced alone, but as a complement to other styles). In addition, there are sub-styles of the above methods as well, such as the Sun (孫), Gao (高), and Jiang (姜) styles, which are sub-styles of Cheng method.
Modern styles 
- Yin Style: Yin Fu 尹福
- Cheng Style: Cheng Tinghua 程廷華
- Liang Style: Liang Zhenpu 梁振蒲
- Gao Style: Gao Yisheng 高義盛
- Jiang Style: Jiang Rong Qiao 姜容樵
- Shi Style: Shi Jidong 史计栋
- Song Style: Song Changrong 宋长荣 & Song Yongxiang 宋永祥
- Fan Family Style: Fan Zhiyong 范志勇
- Liu Style: Liu Baozhen 劉寶珍
- Ma Style: Ma Weiqi 馬維棋
- Ma Gui Style: Ma Gui 马贵
- Gong Baotian Style: Gong Baotian 宮寶田
- Sun Style: Sun Lutang 孫祿堂
- Fu Style: Fu Zhensong 傅振嵩
- Yin Yang Style (Tian Style): Tian Hui 田廻
Common aspects 
The practice of circle walking, or "turning the circle", as it is sometimes called, is Baguazhang's characteristic method of stance and movement training. All forms of Baguazhang utilize circle walking prevalently as an integral part of training. Practitioners walk around the edge of the circle in various low stances, facing the center, and periodically change direction as they execute forms. For a beginner the circle is six to twelve feet in diameter. Students first learn flexibility and proper body alignment through the basic exercises, then move on to more complex forms and internal power mechanics. Although the internal aspects of Baguazhang are similar to those of Xingyiquan and Taijiquan, they are distinct in nature.
Many distinctive styles of weapons are contained within Baguazhang; some use concealment, like the "scholar's pen" or a pair of knives (the most elaborate, which are unique to the style, are the crescent-shaped deer horn knives (Chinese: 鹿角刀; pinyin: Lùjiǎodāo). Baguazhang is also known for practicing with extremely large weapons, such as the bāguà jian (八卦劍), or bagua sword, and the bāguà dāo (八卦刀), or bagua broadsword. Other, more conventional weapons are also used, such as the staff (gun), spear (qiang), crutch (guai), hook sword (gou) and the straight, double-edged sword (jian). Baguazhang practitioners are also known for being able to use anything as a weapon using the principles of their art.
Baguazhang contains an extremely wide variety of techniques as well as weapons, including various strikes (with palm, fist, elbow, fingers, etc.), kicks, joint locks, throws, and distinctively evasive circular footwork. As such, Baguazhang is considered neither a purely striking nor a purely grappling martial art. Baguazhang practitioners are known for their ability to "flow" in and out of the way of objects. This is the source of the theory of being able to fight multiple attackers. Baguazhang's evasive nature is also shown by the practice of moving behind an attacker, so that the opponent cannot harm the practitioner.
Although the many branches of Baguazhang are often quite different from each other (some, like Cheng style, specialize in close-in wrestling and joint locks, while others, like some of the Yin styles, specialize in quick, long-range striking), all have circle walking, spiraling methodologies, and certain methods and techniques (piercing palms, crashing palms, etc.) in common.
Baguazhang's movements employ the whole body with smooth coiling and uncoiling actions, utilizing hand techniques, dynamic footwork, and throws. Rapid-fire movements draw energy from the center of the abdomen. The circular stepping pattern also builds up centripetal force, allowing the practitioner to maneuver quickly around an opponent.
In popular culture 
- Jet Li's character in The One uses bagua zhang, while the antagonist version of the character uses xingyi quan.
- Airbending in Avatar: The Last Airbender and Avatar: The Legend of Korra is modeled on bagua zhang.
- Bagua zhang features briefly in the manga History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi.
- The Hyūga clan from Naruto use the Gentle Fist style which is based on bagua. For example, the technique called Eight Trigrams: Sixty Four Palm Strike is derived from bagua zhang terminology.
- Ling Xiaoyu from the Tekken video game series uses bagua zhang.
- Ashrah from Mortal Kombat: Deception and Kitana from Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance use bagua zhang.
- Joscelin Verreuil from Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy series uses a fighting style similar to bagua zhang, which is the fighting style of the Cassiline Brotherhood.
- In Ip Man 2, one of the styles used during the tabletop fight is bagua zhang.
- In the 2010 live-action film Tekken, Jin Kazama says that he is impressed by fellow competitor Christie Monteiro due to her foot placement while practicing bagua zhang.
- In the 2006 movie Jadesoturi (Jade Warrior), in the Pin Yu vs Sintai fight, they used bagua zhang as a sort of courting.
- In the 2000 movie Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon, the police inspector Tsai was duelling with Jade Fox using a pair of deer horn knives, a very typical weapon of the Bagua Zhang system.
See also 
- Bagua—the eight trigrams, used as guiding principles for baguazhang.
- Yi Jing—the Chinese Classic relied on by Taoist thinking.
- Feng Shui—the metaphysical system of interior design based on the bagua.
- Lie, Zhang. “Classical Baguazhang Volume V: Yin Style Baguazhang.” Trans. Joseph Crandall. Pinole, California: Smiling Tiger Martial Arts 1995.
- Yintao, Fei and Yuliang, Fei. “Classical Baguazhang Volume IV: Wudang Baguazhang.” Trans. Joseph Crandall. Pinole, California: Smiling Tiger Martial Arts 1994.
- Liang Shou-yu, Yang Jwing-Ming, Wu Wen-Ching, “Baguazhang: Emei Baguazhang Theory and Applications” 1996.
- Frank Allen, Tina Chunna Zhang, “The Whirling Circles of Ba Gua Zhang: The Art and Legends of the Eight Trigram Palm 2007” .
- Green, Thomas A. "Martial Arts of the World" 2001
- Jingru, Liu and Youqing, Ma. “Classical Baguazhang Volume II: Cheng Shi Baguazhang (Cheng Family Baguazhang).” Trans. Joseph Crandall. Pinole, California: Smiling Tiger Martial Arts 2001.
- Lie, Zhang. Classical Baguazhang Volume V: Yin Style Baguazhang. Trans. Joseph Crandall. Pinole, California: Smiling Tiger Martial Arts 1995.
- "Nickelodeon's Official Avatar: The Last Airbender Flash Site". Nick.com. Archived from the original on 2007-10-23. Retrieved 2006-12-02.
- Robert W. Smith, Chinese Boxing, ISBN 1-55643-085-X
- Bok Nam, Park & Dan Miller, The Fundamentals of Pa Kua Chang: The Methods of Lu Shui-T'ien As Taught by Park Bok Nam, ISBN 0-86568-173-2
- Shou-Yu, Liang, Baguazhang : Emei Baguazhang Theory and Applications, ISBN 0-940871-30-0
- O'Brien, Jess, Nei Jia Quan: Internal Martial Arts Teachers of Tai Ji Quan, Xing Yi Quan, and Ba Gua Zhang, ISBN 1-55643-506-1
- Frantzis, Bruce Kumar, The Power of Internal Martial Arts: Combat Secrets of Ba Gua, Tai Chi, and Hsing-I, ISBN 1-55643-253-4
- The Pa Kua Chang Journal
- ChinaFromInside presents Baguazhang
- Emptyflower Discussion Forum for Baguazhang and other Internal Neijia Arts
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