'lots of footwork and circular movement patterns, superb for fitness, suppleness and balance'
Baguazhang (Eight Trigram Palm), also sometimes spelt Pakua Chang, is probably the most physically demanding and complex system of the three main Internal styles. It is very supple in nature and focuses on circular and spiralling movements and requires a great deal of leg-work. It is sometimes described as a mixture between Taiji and Xingyi, but I would say it has just taken the principles of Taiji into a particular direction as has Xingyi. Baguazhang can be very suited to wrestling and grappling, with a great array of leg sweeps, locks and throws, that involve the whole body and gives a good understanding of centres and leverage.
Baguazhuang, unlike Taiji and Xingyi, is less disputed about it's founder, being mostly attributed to Dong Haichuan in the 19th century. Although it's not known to any degree of accuracy where Dong got his influences, and it is suspected by some that Baguazhang was practiced behind closed doors long before Dong opened it up to public attention.
Dong Haichuan began learning Buddhist Shaolin Kung Fu before heading out into the mountains to learn various Taoist systems and a circle walking art which helped him to create what he first called Zhuanzhang (Turning Palm). This he later renamed Baguazhang as his fame spread.
Dong passed his art on to various pupils but some of the best know are Yin Fu, Cheng Tinghua, Liang Zhenpu and Gao Yisheng, all who created there own family styles.
It is said that Dong varied his instruction for each pupil in order to match their experience and capability. Cheng Tinghua for example was taught a 'Pushing Palm' technique, where as Yin Fu specialised in the 'Threading Palm'.
Cheng Tinghua 1848-1900
began his martial arts mostly as a wrestler, which then was known as Shaichiao (Jacket Wrestling). This was split into two diffferent types: Manchrian/Mongolian and Paoting (Fast Style Wrestling), in which the opponent would be thrown on contact without any grappling or tussling. The style also combined striking, kicking and joint locking into it's throwing techniques.
Cheng became very proficient at both and won many tournaments.
It is said that when Cheng went to Dong to ask to be his pupil, Dong asked Cheng to try and throw him using his Shaichiao, he never even managed to lay a hand on Dong!
It is suspected, knowing Dong's training methods, that he taught Cheng a style of Bagua that suited his wrestling background and thus was born Cheng Style Baguazhang.
This is the lineage I have learned in various forms, one of which is attributed to Sun Lutang.
Sun Lutang 1860-1933
born with the name Sun Fuquan and already a proficient practitioner in the Hebei branch of Xingyiquan, Sun was taken on as a student by Cheng Tinghua who later named him Sun Lutang.
As mentioned in the other Style Pages Sun went on to teach Li Yulin and his son Li Tianji (nicknamed Longfei or Flying Dragon).
Sun and Li Tianji style Bagua have a definite Xingyi feel to them, with short contained movements, strong stances yet fluid movements and Fajin (explosive power exertions).
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