Guest Author - Caroline Chen-Whatley
Developed from the eight-sided symbol that is used throughout Chinese culture, including most prominently in Feng Shui, BaGua is a powerful Martial Arts focused on healing the body through breathing and movements.
Literally translated, BaGua means “eight triagrams”. The triagrams are a vital part of the I-Ching and are composed of three lines each with a different number and combination of broken and whole lines. The rough circle that it makes when pointed on all sides equates to the directions of a compass: north, south, east, west, northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest.
In Martial Arts terms, BaGua, often referred to as BaGua Ch’uan (fists) in order to differentiate it from the symbol, has existed as a buried art in many other Chinese Martial Arts forms for centuries. It has only recently has it found its way to stand on its own as a distinct Martial Arts form.
From its namesake, BaGua is characterized by the circular movements of the practioner. The Martial Artist will complete circles in varying directions and movements across the room in eight step stanzas. The movement is coupled with hand structures intent on blocking, trapping, or attacking the opponent. The circular movement allows the fighter to avoid direct attack and find themselves able to take advantage of their opponent’s “blind spots” such as directly behind.
A person practicing BaGua will focus on balance, fluidity, and body unity to time the movements, breathing and step all into one. The idea is to be continuously moving with the image of “floating through clouds”. But do not let the beauty deceive you, for when executed correctly, the art is as deadly as any other Martial Arts form.
The focus on balance, fluidity, and body unity coupled with the gentle, low-impact movements make this an ideal style for promoting healing. In fact, many Tai Chi schools and classes incorporate BaGua into their training to supplement what is already taught.