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Ba Gua Zhang (BGZ)
(Translated as Eight Diagram Palms)

By M.E.H.

"The power of the eight diagram palms knows no bounds - the palms seem to strike even before the hands move. When the hand threads upward, it's like a hundred birds paying tribute to the phoenix; when it threads forward, it's like a tiger swooping downhill. Walking round and round, he is like a stray wild goose that has drifted from the flock; but when the palms are thrust forward, they can move a mountain. Now dodging, now ducking, his body slithers in and out; using the opponent's force he delivers a counter, blow, with as little effort as pushing a boat down the stream." — Dong Hai Chuan

To most westerners, Tai Ji Quan is the only Chinese exercise that teaches one how to integrate the mind, body and spirit into one unit. Wrong! There is another marital art system that not only shares the same principles and philosophy as Tai Ji Quan, but it is outwardly simpler yet relies more on one's focus and concentration. This exercise is called Ba Gua Zhang (also referred to as Bagua or BGZ and pronounced as bah gwah jang).

Ba Gua Zhang is one of the more famous of the traditional Chinese martial arts. It has distinctive practice skill methods and its palm method changes unfathomably. It has a good balanced reputation in the martial arts community. From the time of Qing Chengfeng (1851-1862), when Mr. Dong Hai Chuan introduced it until today, it has been practiced daily and enjoyed by martial artists in China and overseas.

Technically, the correct performance of this exercise increases the practitioner's energy through simultaneous circle walking, forms practice, and breath control.

The practice of Ba Gua Zhang is very Zen-like in its approach to calming and focusing the mind. The basics are a series of movements done while walking in a circle. The goal is for the individual to understand body alignment and relaxation. Once this practice is consistent, the movements become faster and more intricate with turning and twisting, moving the body in all possible angles and directions for fitness, centering and agility. Ba Gua Zhang uses quick footwork and turns as its self-defense strategy.

Ba Gua Symbol

Ba Gua Zhang is literally translated as Eight Trigram Palm. This style is one of the three Nei Jia Quan or internal styles of China. The other two styles are Xing Yi Quan and Tai Ji Quan. As with Xing Yi and Tai Ji, the practice of Bagua generates Qi (internal energy) for both health and combat purposes. Ba Gua Zhang uses palm techniques exclusively, and this is reflected in the name, Eight Trigram Palm. This makes Bagua distinct from Xing Yi and Tai Ji styles, both of which incorporate fist techniques.

Utilizing 'aggression' through mobility of position and agility of body, BGZ proves itself to be a formidable style for many practitioners. Instead of directly attacking an oncoming force, BGZ 'melts' around the attack; either simultaneously redirecting the attack while closing the position, or by 'ignoring' it and repositioning one's self to an advantageous 'doorway', for finishing the opponent instantly.

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