Bagua Zhang (eight trigram palm) one of three canonical Wudangneijiaquan (internal martial arts), can be traced back to Dong Haichuan (董海川), who appears to have synthesized elements of pre-existing martial arts with Daoist meditation and daoyin (导引– internal cultivation) practices. The end product is a style that combines uniquely evasive circular footwork, derived from Daoist circle-walking – exhaustive practice of which nurtures the ability to effortlessly flow around and between attackers 
with palm strikes, joint locks and throws powered by smooth whole body coiling and uncoiling actions to devastating effect – even in face of numerous of opponents. Along with palm forms, and the commonplace staff, spear and sword, Bagua’s syllabus includes more unusual weapons, falling into two distinct camps: the easily-concealed – crescent “deer-horn knives” and “judge’s pens” – perhaps for bodyguards turned assassin – and the extremely large and heavy – Bagua sword and broadsword – for functional strength training synergistic with the more subtle empty- hand sets. Perhaps it is the breadth of this weapons syllabus that accounts for Bagua Zhang practitioners’ famed ability with weapons improvised from everyday objects.
Many consider Bagua to be the most difficult of the three main internal styles, and its skills are difficult for many to master well enough to use in self-defense. But even at less exhaled levels of accomplishment, Bagua’s singular training practices yield great benefits in terms of coordination, flexibility of muscle and fascia, strength and joint stability, stamina and concentration, which can be helpful in the study of less intricate styles.
Bagua is often associated with Beijing – where Dong Haichuan taught the Imperial bodyguard and had numerous disciples – and nearby Tianjin – whose lawlessness in the late 19th century spawned body guarding agencies, whose staff were naturally drawn to a style tailor-made for this domain. But Dong Haichuan’s students were numerous, and one Yin Fu (尹福), after mastering the art in its entirety, took on a boy from the Shandong Peninsula as a disciple. This was Gong Baotian (宮寶田), nicknamed “Monkey Gong”, and later founder of “Yin Style, Gong branch Bagua”.


During China’s Civil War, Gong’s descendants fled to Taiwan, and the most internationally well-known exponents of this sub-style are outside the mainland. But like a sleeping dragon, Gong Style Bagua has quietly persisted in its place of origin. It is of this rare style, of a rare art, that Master Qu and Kunlun Shan School find themselves proud stewards. And doubly proud to be able to offer it to the few non-Chinese who perceive its value, and are determined to embody it.
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