Baguazhang (Chinese: 八卦掌; pinyin: bā guà zhǎng; Wade–Giles: pa-kua chang) is one of the three main Chinese martial arts of the Wudang school, the other two being tai chi and xingyiquan. It is more broadly grouped as an internal practice (or neijia). Baguazhang literally means "eight trigram palm", referring to the bagua "trigrams" of the I Ching, one of the canons of Taoism.[1][2]

Zhang Zhaodong, also known as Zhang Zhankui, performing Baguazhang
Also known asBaguaquan
HardnessInternal (neijia)
Country of originChina
CreatorDong Haichuan (attributed)
Famous practitionersYin Fu
Cheng Tinghua
Ma Gui
Liang Zhenpu
Fu Zhensong
Gao Yisheng
Jiang Rongqiao
Sun Lutang
Jet Li
Olympic sportNo



The creation of baguazhang as a formalized martial art, is attributed to Dong Haichuan, who is said to have learned from Taoist and Buddhist masters in the mountains of rural China during the early 19th century.[3] Many Chinese authorities do not accept the Buddhist origin, instead maintaining that those teachers were purely Taoist in origin, 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 distinctive paradigm, the bagua diagram.[4] The attribution to Buddhist teachers came from the 2nd generation teachers, i.e. 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 that emulates the cyclical patterns found in nature. Through 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.[5] Dong Haichuan taught for many years in Beijing, eventually earning patronage by the Imperial court.[6]

Famous disciples of Dong Haichuan to become teachers were Yin Fu, Cheng Tinghua, Ma Gui, Song Changrong (宋長榮), Liu Fengchun [it], Ma Weiqi (馬維棋), Liu Baozhen (劉寶珍), Liang Zhenpu, 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.[2] 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 baguazhang exponents today practice either the Yin (), Cheng (), Liang () styles, although Fan (), Shi (), Liu (), Fu (), 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 (), Gao (), and Jiang () styles, which are sub-styles of Cheng method.

Modern styles


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 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.[7] For a beginner, the circle is six to twelve feet in diameter.[5] 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 tai chi, they are distinct in nature.

Many distinctive styles of weapons are contained within baguazhang; some use concealment, like the "judge's pen" (Chinese: 判官筆; pinyin: Pànguān Bǐ) 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 bagua sword (八卦劍; bāguàjiàn) and the bagua broadsword (八卦刀; bāguàdāo). Other weapons are also used, such as the staff (gun), spear (qiang), cane (guai), and hook sword (gou). Baguazhang practitioners are 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 emphasizes circular movement, allowing practitioners to flow, harmonize and evade objects and opponents.[8] This is the source of the theory of being able to deal with multiple attackers and find solutions to seemingly complicated scenarios, within training or in daily life.[9][10][11] 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 movement, 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 or dantian. The circular stepping pattern also builds up centripetal force,[12][13][14] allowing the practitioner to maneuver quickly around an opponent.[15][16][17]

In media


See also

  • Bagua—the eight trigrams, used as guiding principles for baguazhang.
  • I Ching—the Chinese Classic relied on by Taoist thinking.
  • Feng shui—the metaphysical system of interior design based on the bagua.
  • Tai chi—a similar neijia.


  1. ^ Rousseau, Robert (2017-05-22). "An Introduction to Chinese Martial Arts Styles". Retrieved 2017-06-01.
  2. ^ a b Lie, Zhang. "Classical Baguazhang Volume V: Yin Style Baguazhang.' Trans. Joseph Crandall. Pinole, California: Smiling Tiger Martial Arts 1995.
  3. ^ Yintao, Fei and Yuliang, Fei. "Classical Baguazhang Volume IV: Wudang Baguazhang." Trans. Joseph Crandall. Pinole, California: Smiling Tiger Martial Arts 1994.
  4. ^ Liang, Shou-Yu; Yang, Jwing-Ming; Wu, Wen-Ching; Jwing-Ming, Yang (1994). Baguazhang: Emei Baguazhang Theory and Applications. YMAA Publication Center. ISBN 978-0-940871-30-4.[page needed]
  5. ^ a b Green, Thomas A. "Martial Arts of the World" 2001
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Lie, Zhang. Classical Baguazhang Volume V: Yin Style Baguazhang. Trans. Joseph Crandall. Pinole, California: Smiling Tiger Martial Arts 1995.
  8. ^ Yang, Chenhan (2019). Bagua for Beginners 1: Eight Palms (DVD). USA: YMAA.
  9. ^ "Ba Gua Zhang (Pa Kua Chang)". Brisbane Kung Fu. Retrieved 2017-06-01.
  10. ^ "FAQ 3) Martial arts". Magui Baguazhang Promotion Center. 2015. Archived from the original on 2017-05-22. Retrieved 2017-06-01.
  11. ^ "INNER SECRETS - Martial arts and Health". Archived from the original on 2014-03-01. Retrieved 2017-06-01.
  12. ^ "Baguazhang | 八卦掌". Taiping Institute. 2015. Retrieved 2017-06-01.
  13. ^ Su Dong-Chen (July 2008). "Spiral Body Ba Gua Zhang". Archived from the original on 2016-11-07. Retrieved 2017-06-01.
  14. ^ Dan Huan Zhang (2017-03-13). "SINGLE PALM CHANGE". Retrieved 2017-06-01.
  15. ^ Ba Gua Zhang (2012-05-07). "AN INTRODUCTION TO BA GUA ZHANG". Retrieved 2017-06-01.
  16. ^ "Baguazhang: 8 trigrams palm". 2017-01-13. Retrieved 2017-06-01.
  17. ^ Matthews, Paul (2013-11-29). "Bagua-a fighting art designed for multiple attackers". Retrieved 2017-06-01.
  18. ^


  • 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
  • Wang Shujin, Bagua Linked Palms - Translated by Kent Howard and Chen Hsiao-Yen, ISBN 978-1-58394-264-2 (1-58394-264-5)
  • Wang Shujin, Bagua Swimming Body Palms - Translated by Kent Howard and Chen Hsiao-Yen, ISBN 978-1-58394-245-1 (1-58394-245-9)