Bagua zhang
When: Tuesday 7-9 pm
Where: Marino Community Hall, 44 Newland Ave., Marino, 5049
Suitable for: Mature adults
Health Benefits: Cardio fitness, breathing, leg strength, meditation.
Cost: On application

  • Try walking with side benefits (ie self defence)
  • Avoid attacks with quick footwork
  • Builds cardio fitness, strong legs, flexibility and promotes deep breathing
  • Use it as a form of moving meditation
  • Age is no barrier - in fact maturity is a pre-requisite
Bagua zhang is similar to Aikido in that it uses the power of the circle to avoid and eventually overcome opponents.  According to legend, a martial artist by the name of Dong Hai Chuan learnt a method of circle walking from Daoist monks who used it as a meditative exercise.  He then adapted his fighting techniques to fit the circle walking and created a superior form of fighting - with obvious health and meditative benefits.  He then taught it to numerous students, many of whom brought their own skills to the new art.  Whether you choose to believe this version of  history or not, the fact remains that there are now numerous "true" methods of Bagua. 
 
I have studied four of these"true" methods and can safely say that each of these has come from a fighter with a different style.  One uses the locks and throws of Chin-na and shuai jiao, another uses the fingers of snake and monkey stylists and still another uses palms and fists reminiscent of Shaolin chuan.  Of the two we teach at Budokai Australia, one uses a combination of palm and finger strikes and throwing techniques, which are initially practised while walking in a circle and the other focuses on the locks and throws which are second nature to someone versed in the grappling arts.  Like its two older siblings (Taiji and Xingyi), a considerable amount of time is spent on solo forms before becoming relaxed enough to practice with a partner.
 
Whilst doing the solo walking exercises, the focus is on the fingers of one hand, thus promoting a meditative approach to the exercise.
 
Properly taught bagua also includes a study of weapons and, at the very least, a practitioner should study the Jian (narrow sword) Dao (broad sword) and Qiang (spear).  These mirror the hand forms and enhance understanding of technique, timing and distancing.