Ba Gua (or Bagua, as it is sometimes spelled) translates as 8 diagram or shape palm. It is built on the 8 basic trigrams found in the I-Ching. It is one of three internal martial arts. (The other two are Hsing-I and Tai Chi.) These internal arts use chi energy for combat purposes as well as body mechanics and alignment of the body – both internal and external. This devastating martial art is known as the barbed wire ball because a person being attacked would feel like they were being wrapped in barbed wire. The more they struggled to get out, the more they would become tangled up and hurt. Although the barbed wire could change direction at any moment, an opponent could not get in any kind of strike without coming out the worse for the exchange.
Of the three internal arts, Ba Gua is the most complicated. There are many different styles of this art. It also trains in many different kinds of movements and the movements used can be very elaborate. Ba Gua is also a combination of hard and soft. Many arts simply go for hard hits. Hsing-I is an example of this kind of hard martial art. In contrast, Tai Chi discourages hard hits of any kind and instead focusing on softness. Ba Gua is like neither of these, using a mixture of both hard and soft hand and footwork. This martial art also trains in many internal energy palms. Among others, these include iron palm, poison hand, vibrating palm, and penetrating palm. These kinds of hand strikes can be deadly.
While other arts are quite linear in their fighting style, going directly for the opponent, Ba Gua is an art of circles. The most common trained movements involve circular walking patterns. These circles can range from pivoting around in a circle in one place to moving around a circle of about a 30 foot diameter. The art also places emphasis on training its practitioners to be able to change direction quickly.
Compared with Hsing-I and many other martial arts, Ba Gua as a style of fighting focuses on evasion. Where Hsing-I and many other arts rely on direct attack, Ba Gua’s practitioners get out of the way and move. Most of the movements are flanking or evasionary movements. In this way, a skilled practitioner can move in on an opponent, land a disastrous blow without getting hit, and then get out of the way so that even if the opponent survives the blow, they will not be able to retaliate because the practitioner is already gone.
To illustrate this evasionary element of this style of fighting, in a legendary fight between Dong Hai Chuan, the founder of Ba Gua and Kuo Yun Shen, a well-known and accomplished Hsing-I practitioner, it took 3 days before Dong Hai Chuan finally landed a blow on Kuo Yun Chen. (After their fight these two famous martial artists became friends and also became proficient in each other’s arts.)
Ba Gua is a deadly martial art form that is well worth the time for any martial artist.
Sigung Richard Clear has over 30 years of continuous study in the martial arts in the U.S. and China. Read more about Ba Gua at http://www.clearsilat.com
Article Source: Richard Clear
Ba Gua: The Barbed Wire Ball