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Bajíquán (traditional Chinese: ???; pinyin: Bajíquán; literally “eight extremes fist”; Japanese: ???, Hakkyokuken) is a Chinese martial art that features explosive, short range power and is famous for its elbow strikes. It originated in Hebei Province in Northern China, but is also well-known in other places today, especially Taiwan. The style is also called Kai Men Ba Ji Quan ?????.
Bajiquan was called Baziquan (??? or ???; “rake fist”), due to the fact that when not striking, the fist is held loosely and slightly open, resembling a rake, and also the art involves many downward strike moves, just like a rake’s movement in the field. The name was considered to be rather crude sounding in its native tongue, so it was changed to Bajiquan. The term baji, which comes from the oldest book in China, the I Ching, signifies “an extension of all directions.” In this case, it means “including everything” or “the universe.”
The first recorded teacher was Wu Zhong ??(1712-1802). Famous teachers that promoted the style included Wu Xiu Feng ???, Li Shu Wen ??? (1864-1934), (Cangzhou, Hebei, very skillful with the spear that earned him the nickname “God of Spear Li.”). A Peking Opera Wu Shen (Martial Male Character) by training, he was foremost in his Kung Fu basic training. His most famous quote about fighting was, “I do not know what it’s like to hit a man twice.” Li Shu Wen’s students included Huo Dian Ge ??? (bodyguard to Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China), Li Chenwu (bodyguard to Mao Zedong), and Liu Yun Qiao ??? (secret agent for the nationalist Kuomintang and instructor of the bodyguards of Chiang Kai Shek). Bajiquan has come to be known as “The Bodyguard Style”. Ma Feng Tu ??? and Ma Yin Tu ??? introduced Ba Ji fist into Nanjing Kuo Shu Guan ????? (central Chinese Martial Arts Academy). It was required for all students.
Bajiquan shares roots with another Hebei martial art, Piguazhang. It is said that Wu Zhong, the oldest traceable lineage holder in the Bajiquan lineage, taught both arts together as an integrated fighting system. They split apart, only to be recombined by Li Shuwen in the late 18th to early 19th century. As a testament to the complementary nature of these two styles, there is a Chinese martial arts proverb that goes: “When pigua is added to baji, gods and demons will all be terrified. When baji is added to pigua, heroes will sigh knowing they are no match against it.” (?????,???????????,?????)
Today there are many families or lines of Bajiquan, inculding Han, Huo, Li, Wu and the Wu-Tan branch from master Liu Yunqiao. There are some differences in the Bajiquan training between the lines, but the core is the same.
The lineage holder of Wu family Bajiquan in China is Wu Lian Zhi ???. Through more than 50 years of training, he collected material and records which were passed down from generation to generation.
Ba Ji fist is known to open the opponent’s arms forcibly (Qiang Kai Men ???) and mount attacks at high, mid, and low levels of the body, or San Pan Lian Ji ????. Chinese Kung Fu styles are most useful under specific conditions. Bajiquan is used in close combat, as it pays attention to elbow, knee, shoulder and hip strikes. When blocking an attack or nearing an opponent, Bajiquan techniques emphasize striking major points of vulnerability, namely the thorax (trunk of the body), legs and neck.
The six big ways of opening door, or Liu Da Kai ??? are:
Footwork in Bajiquan has three special features:
These striking techniques are related to ancient Chinese medicine, which states that all parts of the body are connected, either physically or spiritually.
The forms of Baji are divided into Fist (non-weapon) and Weapon forms. There are 20 fist forms, which include 12 Baji Small Structure Fists, Baji Black Tiger Fist, Baji Dan Zhai, Baji Dan Da/Dui Da, Baji Luo Han Gong, and Baji Si Lang Kuan. There are eight weapons forms, including Liu He Da Qiang (spear), Liu He Hua Qiang (spear), Chun Yang Jian (sword), San Yin Dao (sabre), Xing Zhe Bang (staff), Pudao, and Chun Qiu Da Dao (a long two-handed heavy blade, used by Generals sitting on their horses).