BA Gua

In origin the most recent of the internal systems, the creation of the BA Gua system is attributed to Dong Hai Chuan in the latter part of the seventeenth century. Based on the principle of continuous change, and with and emphasis on fluidity and intent, constant circular movement and directional changes are employed to both defend and attack, as well as to generate power. Circles within circles and a unique set of footwork are employed to evade and eventually overpower the opponent; the idea being, by avoiding direct confrontations, to place the emphasis more on tactics than physical superiority.

The foundation of BA Gua practice is in the walking of the circle. Movement is constant and, strictly speaking, there are no fixed stances. There are however eight basic "palms", or postures, which are practiced while walking the circle (an exercise called "Ding Shyr"). In turn, and in keeping with the principle of continuous change, these postures are variously combined to create and additional and more complex set of palms known as Lao Ba Zhang, also practiced while walking the circle. Together these two exercises represent the heart of the Ba Gua system. There are also a set of linear forms similar in substance to Hsing-I and, for the more advanced practitioner, additional and more complex sets of palms.

Ba Gua places a heavy reliance on palm strikes yet, as with all complete martial arts, nearly any part of the body can potentially be used as a weapon. In keeping with this principle instruction is provided in Shuai Jaio, a Chinese art very similar to Judo; and on Chin Na, the Chinese art of seizing and locking. A good deal of time is spent as well on weapons training, two person drills, and exercises which enhance the student’s footwork and develop awareness of multiple attackers.