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Ba Gua

Ba Gua, Pa Kua, Bagua, Pakua, Bagua zhang, Bagua Quan, Pakua Chuan, which ever way you prefer to spell or pronounce it, it is the same system. Usually if the chuan or zhang is left out of the spelling then one would be referring to the philosophical aspects of the art, but to me you cannot have one without the other. I have also heard bagua referred to as eight trigram boxing and eight diagram boxing, being the art is based upon the I-Ching, I believe Eight Trigram Boxing would be the most appropriate.

The origins of pakua can be traced back to I Ching, which is said to be over 3000 years old. The I Ching, or Book of Changes, contains the outline for a source a divination. The technique originally involved the use of tortoise shell that was heated then cracked, the cracks correlated to the eight trigrams, which in turn, could predict future events. The I-Ching method was developed by Fu His, at a later date the I Ching was “updated” by King Wang and his son.

The idea behind the I Ching is that there is a singularity that all things derive from. This singularity devided, this was represented by a whole line and a devided line. These two continually split until it created the eight trigrams, or the pakua. Each of the kua’s relate to a planet, season, color, time, family member, element, and many other things. The kua’s are set in a circle and have a creative and destructive cycle, it is through this that the martial art of pakua was formed.

Unlike most martial arts, Ba Gua can be traced back to its founder, and like other systems, this also has been twisted and filled with falsehoods in hopes to further the mysteries that surround the martial arts. Dong Haichuan is accredited as the originator of Ba Gua; Dong Haichuan's martial skills were already at a very high level, when he began to study with some Doaist monks who used circle walking as a form of moving meditation. Dong Hai Tuen incorporated their philosophies and circular methods to create Bagua. Some say Dong Hai Tuen learned Pakua from a monk named Bi Deng Xia, who himself learned bagua from the real originator. There are, of course, other versions of the origins of pakua, too numerous to name here. For all that it is worth Dong Hai Tuen’s students definitely contributed to the popularization of this style through out the world, and many of the recognized styles of Ba Gua can be traced back to the students of Dong Haichuan.

Ba Gua usually consists of various circle walking techniques, followed by two “palm changes” (ways to reverse direction on the circle), and eight postures, sometimes named after animals, and sometimes not. These eight postures in turn create an endless array of combination; the most widely used is the 64 combination sets, because eight times eight equal sixty-four. Chi gung is usually practiced along with exercise and warm up sets. Some systems offer weapons and others don’t, the most common weapons include the straight sword, saber, broadsword, deer horns, staff, and double daggers. The original version is usually referred to as dragon or swimming dragon style.

Web link for Ba Gua: http://www.bodyelectricmethod.com, http://www.plumflower.com/ba_gua_zhang_2_.htm, http://www.pa-kua.com/, http://www.shenwu.com/bagua.htm, http://site.netopia.com/bagua, http://www.circle-of-light.com/fengshui/bagua.html, http://www.hsing-i.com/pa_kua/, http://www.chiflow.com/pakua_overview.htm,

There are many forms of Ba Gua today, and most seem to have a direct lineage to Dong Hai Tuen himself, they can include: 

Dragon Style
Lu Shui-Tian
Li Zhenqing

Article written by Jay C Shrewsbury [email protected]

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