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Baji quan (八極拳)
Also known as Kai Men Bajiquan (開門八極拳) – Gate-Opening Eight Extremities Fist
Focus Striking, Throwing
Country of origin China
Creator Unknown; Speculated: Wu Zhong 吳鍾 (1712–1802)
Famous practitioners Li Shuwen, Liu Yunchiao, Adam Hsu, Tony Yang, Wu Xiufeng, Wu LianZhi, Tian Jinzhong, Zhao Fujiang, Shen Jiarui, Zhou Jingxuan. (For sources see inline citations throughout the article next to teachers' names)
Olympic sport No

Bājíquán (Chinese: 八極拳; pinyin: Bājíquán) is a Chinese martial art that features explosive, short-range power and is famous for its elbow strikes.[citation needed] It originated in the Hebei Province in Northern China,[citation needed] but spread to Taiwan and other places. Its full name is kai men baji quan (開門八極拳), which means "open-gate eight-extremities fist".


Baji quan was originally called bazi quan (巴子拳 or 鈀子拳) or "rake fist" because the fists, held loosely and slightly open, are used to strike downwards in a rake-like fashion. The name was considered to be rather crude in its native tongue, so it was changed to baji quan. The term baji comes from the Chinese classic, the Yijing (I-Ching), and signifies an "extension of all directions". In this case, it means "including everything" or "the universe".

The first recorded baji quan teacher was Wu Zhong (吳鍾) (1712–1802). Other notable teachers included Wu Xiufeng (吳秀峰) and Li Shuwen (李書文) (1864–1934). The latter was from Cangzhou (滄州), Hebei, and acquired the nickname "God of Spear Li".[citation needed] A Beijing opera Wu Shen (martial male character) by training, he was also an expert fighter. His most famous quote is, "I do not know what it's like to hit a man twice."[1] Li Shuwen's students included Huo Dian Ge (霍殿閣) (bodyguard to Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China), Li Chenwu (bodyguard to Mao Zedong), and Liu Yun Qiao (劉雲樵) (secret agent for the nationalist Kuomintang and instructor of the Chiang Kai Shek's bodyguards).[citation needed] Baji quan has since acquired a reputation as the "bodyguard style".[citation needed] Ma Feng Tu (馬鳳圖) and Ma Yin Tu (馬英圖) introduced baji into the Central Guoshu Institute (Nanjing Guoshu Guan 南京國術館) where it is required for all students.[2]

Baji quan shares roots with another Hebei martial art, Piguazhang. It is said that Wu Zhong, the oldest traceable master in the baji lineage, taught both arts together as an integrated fighting system.[3] They eventually split apart, only to be recombined by Li Shuwen in the late 18th to early 19th century. As a testament to the complementary nature of these two styles, a proverb states: "When pigua is added to baji, gods and demons will all be terrified. When baji is added to pigua, heroes will sigh knowing they are no match against it." (八極參劈掛,神鬼都害怕。劈掛參八極,英雄嘆莫及)[3]

Branches and lineages[edit]

Prominent branches and lineages of the art survived to modern times, including Han family Baji, Huo family, Ji family, Li family, Ma family, Qiang family, Wu family (from Wu Xiefeng), Wutang Baji Quan and Yin Yang Baji Quan. Each has its unique elements, while sharing core practices. Some lineages are more common or only exist in Mainland China, while others have spread to Western countries.

Wutang Baji[edit]

Wutang Baji is the most common lineage in the West today. Originally from Taiwan, where its founder, Liu Yunchiao, lived. This lineages includes additional arts which are taught alongside Baji, such as Piguaquan and Baguazhang.

Jian Diansheng[4] >> Li Shuwen[5] >> Liu Yunchiao >> Adam Hsu[6] and Tony Yang [7] >> Many students in Taiwan and abroad (taught by either Hsu or Yang).

Nanjing Baji[edit]

Baji of Nanjing was introduced to the Central School of martial arts of Nanjing by a group of pupils of Li Shuwen, from whom arise Huang Bonian and his(her) son Huang Guozhen and Jung Yunghwan

Jin Dian Sheng >> Li ShuWen 李书文 >> Ma Feng Tu 馬鳳圖 and Ma Yin Tu 馬英圖 >> Huang GuoZhen 黃國楨 >> Jung Yung-Hwan >> Nolgove Cyril

Mengcun Baji[edit]

Meng Village (Mengcun) is said to be the original birthplace of Baji Quan, or at least the modern versions of the art.[8] Baji is still widely practiced there.

Wu Xiufeng[edit]

Wu Xiufeng[9] (1908–1976) is the "grandfather" of many modern Baji lineages. The following lineages came down from him.


A branch of the art which has mutual influences from Jingang Bashi—the second art practiced by Tian Jinzhong.

Wu Xiufeng >> Tian Jinzhong >> Shen Jiarui[10] >> Zhou Jingxuan[11][12] >> Many students in China and abroad.[13]


The creation of Zhao Fujiang, who combined his knowledge of Baji, Xingyiquan and Yiquan to create a new art form.[14][15]

Wu Xiufeng >> Zhao Fujiang >> Many students in China. Some of Zhao's skills have reached other lineages, such as that of Zhou Jingxuan.


Tactics and strategy[edit]

Baji quan opens the opponent's arms forcibly (qiang kai men 强開門) and mount attacks at high, mid, and low levels of the body (san pan lian ji 三盤連擊). It is most useful in close combat, as it focuses on elbow, knee, shoulder and hip strikes. When blocking an attack or nearing an opponent, baji quan techniques emphasize striking major points of vulnerability, namely the thorax (trunk of the body), legs and neck.

Master Zhou Jingxuan of Tianjin, holding a typical Baji Quan posture. The sideways-protruding elbow is often used for striking in this art.

The "six big ways of opening" (liu da kai 六大開) are:[16]

  • Ding 頂: using the fist, elbow or shoulder to push forward and upward.
  • Bao 抱: putting arms together as if hugging someone. It is usually followed by Pi 劈 (splitting).[17]
  • Ti 提: elevating the knee to hit the thigh of the opponent, or elevating the foot to hit the shin of the opponent, etc.
  • Dan 單: using a single move.
  • Kua 胯: using the hip.
  • Chan 纏: entanglement with rotation around the wrist, elbow and shoulder.

Stepping and body methods[edit]

Footwork in baji quan has three special features:

  • Zhen Jiao
  • Nian Bu
  • Chuang Bu

These striking techniques are related to traditional Chinese medicine, which states that all parts of the body are connected, either physically or spiritually.


The forms of baji are divided into armed and unarmed routines. There are 20 fist forms, which include 12 Baji Small Structure Fists, Baji Black Tiger Fist, Baji Dan Zhai, Baji Dan Da/Dui Da, Baji Luohan Gong, and Baji Si Lang Kuan. There are eight weapons forms, including Liu He Da Qiang (spear), Chun Yang Jian (sword), San Yin Dao (sabre), Xing Zhe Bang (staff), Pudao, and Chun Qiu Da Dao (a long two-handed heavy blade, used by Generals sitting on their horses).

Most schools focus on a much smaller curriculum. Standard across almost all groups are Xiaobaji and Dabaji; two weapons forms, the sabre and the spear; a two man training routine called Baji Duijie or Baji Duida and a series of 8 short attacking methods called the "Ba Shi" (Eight Postures), which are derived from the art of Shaolin Jingang Bashi.

Power generation and expression[edit]

The major features of baji include elbow strikes, arm/fist punches, hip checks and strikes with the shoulder. All techniques are executed with a short power, developed through training; among Chinese martial artists, baji is known for its fast movements. Baji focuses on infighting, entering from a longer range with a distinctive charging step (zhen jiao).

The essence of baji quan lies in jin, or power-issuing methods, particularly fa jing (explosive power). The style contains six types of jin, eight different ways to hit and several principles of power usage. Most of baji quan's moves utilize a one-hit push-strike method from very close range. The bulk of the damage is dealt through the momentary acceleration that travels up from the waist to the limb and further magnified by the charging step known as zhen jiao.

The mechanics of jin are developed through many years of practice and baji quan is known for its strenuous lower-body training and its emphasis on the horse stance.[1] Its horse stance is higher than that of typical Long Fist styles. Like other styles, there is also "the arrow-bow stance", "the one-leg stance", "the empty stance" (xūbù 虚步), "the drop stance" (pūbù 仆步), etc. There are eight different hand poses, in addition to different types of breathing and zhen jiao.

The six Major Characteristic Powers are:[18]

  • Sinking (Xia Chen 下沉 or Chen Zhui 沉墜)
  • Thrusting (Chong 沖)
  • Extending (Cheng 撑)
  • Entangling (Chan 纏)
  • Cross (Shi Zi 十字)
  • Inch (Cun 寸)


Baji focuses on being more direct, culminating in powerful, fast strikes that will render an opponent unable to continue. Even so, there are some styles that are derived from Baji's main principles or concepts on how to hit the opponent:

  • Eight postures (Ba shi)
  • Eight movements method (Ba shi gong)
  • Eight movements method (Ba shi chui)
  • Double Eight Postures (Shuang ba shi)
  • Eight postures of the dragon style (Longxing ba shi)

Many of these forms are also based or mixed with Luohan fist, a Shaolin style.[citation needed] The term ba shi may also refer to baji. The term is also used in xingyi quan.


  1. ^ a b "BaJiQuan". Bajimen.com. Retrieved 2009-01-07. 
  2. ^ Ba Zi Jie Xi: a talk on rake fist 耙子解析
  3. ^ a b [1]
  4. ^ Article of the life of Li Shuwen, mentioning his teacher
  5. ^ A website dedicated to Liu Yunchiao's Baji lineage
  6. ^ Adam Hsu's official website
  7. ^ Tony Yang's official website
  8. ^ Brief history of Baji Quan
  9. ^ Short biography of Wu Xiufeng
  10. ^ Video of Shen Jiarui performing Baji Quan
  11. ^ Official website of Zhou Jingxuan
  12. ^ A long article about Zhou Jingxuan
  13. ^ Website of the Israeli branch of this lineage
  14. ^ An instructional/historical video by Zhao Fujiang and his students
  15. ^ Yin-Yang Baji Quan on the Baidu Encyclopedia
  16. ^ Jaw, Peter (2004). The Treasure Book of Chinese Martial Arts 1. Authorhouse. ISBN 978-1-4140-7573-0. 
  17. ^ "Xingyi". Perry Lo and the Shou-Yu Liang Wushu Taiji Qigong Institute. Retrieved 2009-01-07. 
  18. ^ Jaw, Peter (2007). The Treasure Book of Chinese Martial Arts 2. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 978-1-4257-8571-0. 

External links[edit]

An article on baji and some photos of the style can be seen on http://www.chinesemartialarts.eu