Baguazhang

Description of Baguazhang

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Baguazhang, literally meaning "eight trigram palm" is one of the three main Chinese martial arts of the Wudang school and is grouped as an internal practice. Its name refers to the trigrams of the Yijing, one of Taoism's canons. Baguazhang is known for the practice of circle walking or "turning the circle", which is an integral part of training and is seen in its stances as well as movement training. This is said to have been adapted from Taoism by Dong Haichuan, the person responsible for the formalization of the art. Practitioners of baguazhang have movements characterized by seemingly moving around the edge of an imaginary circle while facing its center. As they walk, they change stances and direction as they execute forms or techniques. This characteristic is said to allow its practitioners to "flow" in and out of the way of objects. This also allows the build up of centripetal force so the practitioner can easily and quickly move around the opponent. As the practitioner improves and grows in experience, the diameter of the circle in which he walks along increases. Flexibility and proper body alignment are part of the basic exercises of beginners who walk on a circle with a six to twelve feet diameter. After which, they learn more complex forms and internal power mechanics.

Baguazhang's techniques have a wide variety where it includes strikes with the palm, fist, elbow and fingers as well as kicks, joint locks and throws. These movements require smoth coiling and uncoiling actions combined with hand techniques, footwork and necessary throws. Baguazhang is also known for practice with weapons such as a concealed pair of knives called the "scholar's pen" and even large weapons such as swords, staffs and spears. Aside from this, Baguazhang practitioners are said to have been able to utilize anything as a weapon by using the principles taught in their art.

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