Baguazhang combat application

Baguazhang combat application


I've been studying Aikido for about six to seven years (averaging an hour a day) and according to my limited exposure it appears that many Baguazhang techniques are similar to Aikido in application. In a pinch I resort to employing Baguazhang techniques using Aikido principles. I do not know if this is the correct approach. How can I train Baguazhang as a martial art?

-- Leong, Australia


No, Aikido and Baguazhang are very different in both principles and techniques. The apparent similarity is that both arts use circular movements, but deeper examination will show that they are different.

In principles, Aikido exploits body mechanics, momentum and leverage, whereas Baguazhang uses agile stances, flexible body movement and internal force. In techniques, the hallmarks of Aikido are locks and throws, whereas locks and throws are rare in Baguazhang where the palm strike using internal force is famous.

If an assailant attacks with a dagger thrust, for example, an Aikido exponent would side step, grip the assailant's attacking wrist with both hands, move back slightly to follow the attacking momentum, then bend the wrist backward in an arc to dislocate it.

A typical response form a Baguazhang exponent is totally different. He would not move his feet, but swerve his body in an arc to avoid the dagger thrust, and simultaneously use Single Change Palm (similar to the mirror-hand in Shaolin Kungfu and the “peng” technique in Taijiquan) to deflect the direction of the attack, continue the same movement with a palm strike at close quarters at the assailant's chest.

In the different responses to the same attack, the Aikido exponent would need three movements using leverage to dislocate the assailant's wrist, whereas the Baguazhang exponent uses just one movement to kill or seriously injure the assailant with internal force. Aikido is a sport, whereas Baguazhang is a deadly fighting art.

You mentioned “a pinch” in your question. I wonder if you meant a punch or a grip. Punches are not used in Baguazhang and Aikido. Grips are seldom used in Baguazhang but frequently in Aikido.

But irrespective of whether you employ a pinch, a punch, a grip or any technique of one art, you should use the principles of that art. If you use the principles of another art, you are not taking full advantages of that art. This is only logical, because the principles of an art are derived from the practical application of its techniques over many years or centuries.

Moreover the principles and techniques of Baguazhang and Aikido are very different. Using Aikido principles to apply Baguazhang techniques, or vice versa, is like using tennis principles to play basketball.

Baguazhang is a martial art. As soon as you train Baguazhang (correctly) you are training a martial art. If you train it incorrectly, you may be training gymnastics, health exercise or a dance. The two essential aspects of Baguazhang or any genuine traditional kungfu are force training and combat application. In other words, if you want to train Baguazhang as a martial art, you must develop internal force and be able to apply Baguazhang forms for combat.

The above is taken from Question 4 of June 2004 Part 3 of the Selection of Questions and Answers.


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