During the reign of Emperor Xianfeng of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), a new kung fu style, Baguazhang, emerged.
“The hands shake the sky and earth. The feet seal the yin and yang” is one of the 129 remaining Chinese fist positions in the country’s traditional martial arts.
Baguazhang is derived from the philosophy of I Ching. Practitioners move in eight directions represented by eight trigrams: Qian, Kan, Gen, Zhen, Xun, Li, Kun and Dui. Practitioners should keep walking in circles with swinging and hooking steps, and strike with different palm positions.
They should also keep the moves and breath stable. One of the basic moves, “the mud-wading steps,” requires people to keep their feet flat all the time and grasp the ground with their toes while moving.
Aside from the complicated and elegant moves, the philosophy of the practice has contributed to the people’s admiration of Baguazhang.
“You don’t practice for fights. You practice for good purposes like protecting the weak,” said Li Xiuren, a fourth generation inheritor of Baguazhang, when talking about what she’s learned from her father.
Throughout 160 years, the art has survived different eras and underwent many changes.
To help the weak, encourage people to stay healthy and preserve this art, Li writes books to promote Baguazhang. She went through a lot of difficulties, but never stopped her pursuit to pass on the art.
“Continuous change” is the main point for practicing Baguazhang, but also a piece of wisdom to navigate life. As a traditional form of Chinese martial arts, Baguazhang will go further by reinventing itself, bringing the Chinese culture to more people around the world.