Ba Gua Palm or the Eight-diagram Palm (the Chinese word Ba Gua Zhang) is one of the most popular internal styles of martial arts in China. The style derives its name and history from the Chinese book of divination, the Yi Jing, or ‘The Book of Changes’. Ba Gua Zhang derives much of its practice from Daoist ritualistic circle walking and theory. Its practice and application is based on the principles and theories of the Yi Jing, Yin Yang Theory, and Five Element Theory.
Ba Gua Palm is one of the internal styles taught at the academy and can be characterized by its main foundation building training known as Ba Gua circle walking, major use of the palm and fingers for striking, and indirect circular attacks. The basic practices of walking the Ba Gua circle and standing in the different still postures of Ba Gua can be greatly beneficial to one’s overall health. Walking along the Ba Gua circle can enhance body strength and promote better joint mobility, flexibility and blood circulation; Relax the tense muscles and tendons, promote more elasticity of the muscles and tendons of the neck, shoulders, back, waist and buttocks; enhance body awareness and improve concentration.
As circle walking is the major foundation building component of Ba Gua Zhang training, students who train in Ba Gua Zhang must practice Ba Gua walking continuously. Once a student becomes comfortable with circle walking, they can then move on to learn the different palm changes that comprise the Ba Gua form. Ba Gua Zhang contains a variety of different techniques in application, utilizing the palm, fingers, elbows, quick, evasive footwork, kicks, joint locking, take downs, etc. An accomplished practitioner of Baguazhang can adapt their body to many different movements in striking postures and methods of attack as their body and intention has been trained to be stronger, adaptable, quick, sensitive, and fluid with improved coordination; developing a fluidity of motion that allows for adaptability much like water in a creak swimming around rocks. Fighting application of Baguazhang has been described as flying like a dragon, guarding like an ape, crouching like a tiger, and circling like an eagle.