Bajiquan Eight Extremes Fist

BajiQuan, also known as the kaimen baji quan (open-door eight extremes boxing), is a very respected traditional Chinese boxing schools. The word “kaimen” (“opening the door”) is used because the sense of technique is six methods of opening (“liu da kai” – “six big opennings”), intended for break down the defence (“the doors”) of enemy. The word “Yueshan” refers to Yueshan temple of Jiaozuo county of Henan province (a place of origin attributed to this style). In the past, “bajiquan” was also known as “bazi quan” (“Fist of Targets”), “bazi quan” (“Fist of Hyerogliph `Eight'”) and “bazi quan” (Rake fist). During the Qing dynasty, bajiquan was popular in Cang county of Hebei province and in the neighbouring counties of Yanshan, Nanpi and Ninqjin.

Bajiquan (Traditional Chinese: 八極拳; pinyin: Bajiquan; literally “eight extremes fist”; Japanese: 八極拳, 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.

Baji Quan is known for its forcefullness, simplicity and combative techniques. The eight extremes boxing is simple and plain, it consits of short and powerful techniques in both attack and defence.

Elbows are often used in straightforward ways. The explosive powers generated are stimulated through breathing which is articulated by two sounds of “Heng” and “Ha”. Powerful blows are delivered from elbows and shoulders in close combat agaisnt the opponent.

Philosophy: Baji Quan is an extremely practical style and its philosophy reflects this emphasis on practicality. The original name for this style was translated as “Rake Fist” to describe the hand form of during the execution of the technique. The use of the name “eight extreme” refers to the more sophisticated explanation of the basis of the style.

Baji is a term used in the ancient book, ‘Huainanzi’ ( ²a«n¤l, Book of the Prince of Huai Nan by Liu An c. 140 BC). The book states that between the Heavens and the Earth there are nine ‘Jio’ (regions) and eight ‘Ji’ (spaces); beyond the eight ‘Ji’ there are eight ‘Yan’ (stretching or extentions into the far distance); beyond the eight ‘Yan’ there are eight ‘Hong’ (breadth or limits). Baji was said to be something which spreads and extends out to infinity. Also, in the “Huainanzi”, it says: “Big roads stretch far, reach eight limits”. These concept is then applied to the practice and training of this style. For example, the use of force is explosive pushing outwards in all directions.

In the horse stance and the bow and arrow stance. Baji practitional take advantage of both the force of gravity (重力) and torque (旋力) to generate the applied force of sinking jing (沉坠劲) and crossing jing (十字劲).

Origins: Bajiquan was originally called Baziquan (巴子拳 or 鈀子拳; literally “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 from involves many downward strike moves, just like a rake’s movement in the field. However, the name was considered to be rather crude sounding in its native tongue, so it was changed to the title 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.”

Made famous in recent times by Li Shuwen (1864-1934), a fighter from Cangzhou, Hebei province whose skill with a spear 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 trainings. His most famous quote about fighting was, “I do not know what it’s like to hit a man twice.” Certainly a bit of hyperbole, but it still speaks for the shocking power Baji training develops. Li Shuwen’s most famous students include Huo Diange (bodyguard to Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China), Li Chenwu (bodyguard to Mao Zedong), and Liu Yunqiao (secret agent for the nationalist Kuomintang and instructor of the bodyguards of Chiang Kai Shek). Because of this, Bajiquan has come to be known as “The Bodyguard Style”.

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 then slowly split apart, only to be remarried 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.” (八極參劈掛,神鬼都害怕。劈掛參八極,英雄嘆莫及).

History: Baji Quan (八极拳) is held in high esteem in the martial art world. A common adage among martial artists is that
“For ministers, Taji quan is used to rule the country. For generals, Baji quan is used to defend the country.”
which demonstrates the respect commanded by this style. Yung Zheng, an emperor of China during the Qing Dynasty, studied Baji and employed many bodyguards and trainers within the Royal household that have knowledge of Baji. The history of this style can be described as follows:

Wu Zhong: The roots of this style can be traced to the Meng village of Cangzhou in Hebei Province. Legend attributes the founder of both Baji and a related style, Pigua to Wu Zhong, a Chinese Muslim from Houzhuangke village of Dayun county of Hebei province.

Wu has initially learned the two styles from two Taoist monks Lai and Pi in 1727. Another version suggest that the teacher of Wu is a Taoist named Zhang, an abbot of Yueshan temple in Jiaozuo county of Hebei province. What is known is that Wu settled in Mengcun village of Cang county which eventually became the centre for baji quan. Wu then taught his style to his daugther Wu Rong. She is considered to be the second generation student of the style.

She taught her style as two separate systems: baji and pigua. She only taught Piquazhang to her students in the Luo Tong village and the baji style was taught only at Mong villiage. Other students of Wu include Li Da-Zhong. Li then taught his son Li Gui-Zhao. From this time, Baji was split into two distinctive branches. The first branch consists of members of hte Wu family and their students – producing such notable practitioners as Wu Nan, Wu Shike and Ma Fengtu.

Another branch was created when Wang Si studied bajiquan in Mengcun and transferred it to Zhang Keming from Luotong village, Zhang taught Huang Sihai and his own son Zhang Jingxing. Zhang Jingxing taught many people including his son Zhang Yuheng, Li Shuwen, Ma Yingtu and Han Huachen. Li, Ma and Han became extremely famous for their fighting skills and enhanced the reputation of Mengcun’s bajiquan throughout China.

Present Day Practioners: Liu Yun Qiao(1909-1992) is one of the last student of Li Shu-Wen. He founded the Wu-Tang Kuo Shu Association in Taiwan to promote the art of Baji. His students can be found all over the world.

Li Shu Wen (1864-1934): “Shen Chiang” (Magical spirit spear) Li Shu-Wen (李书文) was a native of Zhangsa Village, Cang County of Hebei Province. He was a famous proponent of Baji, Pigua and the long spear. He has three famous students: Ho Tien-Kuo (Huo Dian-Ge) served as a bodyguard to the last Emperor, Pu Yee; Li Chen-Wu was the bodyguard of late Mao Tse-Tung, leader of the communist party in China and Liu Yun-Chiao instructed the personal guards of the first Taiwanese president Chian Kai-Shek.

Today, the lineage holder of Bajiquan in China is Wu Lianzhi. He is also the prototype of Akira Yuki of Virtua Fighter fame. Through more than 50 years of training, he collected much material and records which were passed down from generation to generation.

Stepping: Baji stepping can be described as moving like a bear with the spirit of the tiger. During stepping training, the practitioner learn how to shift their center of gravity quickly and effectively while covering distance and executing a technique.

Bear step ( 熊步 ) requires the student to slowly walks in a low crouch. The body weight should always be on the front leg. The spine should be straight and the up body relaxed in a natural manner. This is known as the “Bear” stance because as you move to sway your hands lightly as you move and try to capture the image of a bear. The movement can also be performed by stepping diagonally. The practitioner moves from side to side but maintains the same weight distribution and body posture as in the bear posture.

Tiger Arm ( 虎膀 ) requires the practitioner to execute a punch with both hands stretched out while lunging forward. The technique requires the power to issue from the twisting of the hip and the stretching of the shoulder rather than the arm. During practice, both arms should remain relaxed and slightly bend at all times.

Additional stepping techniques requires the student to switch between the basic stances while moving. For example, from bear stepping to bow and arrow stance while executing a punch.

Features: The major features of this school of Chinese martial arts include elbow strikes, arm/fist bashes, hip checks, and strikes with the shoulder. All techniques are executed with a very distinctive form of short power, developed through rigorous training; in Chinese martial arts, Baji is famous for its very violent and fast movements. Strategically, Baji focuses on in-fighting, entering from a longer range with Baji’s distinctive charging step (“zhen jiao”) and issuing power up close.

The essence of Bajiquan lies in jin, or power-issuing methods, particularly fajin (explosive power). The style contains a total of six types of jin, eight different ways to hit and several different principles of power usage. Unlike most western forms of martial arts which require swinging motion to create momentum, most of Bajiquan’s moves utilise a one-hit push-strike from very close range. The bulk of the damage is dealt through the momentary acceleration that travels up from the waist to the limb and further magnified by the charging step known as zhen jiao.

The mechanics of jin are developed through many years of practice and Bajiquan is known for its particularly strenuous lower-body training and its emphasis on the horse stance. Its horse stance is higher than that of typical Long Fist styles. Like other styles, there is also “the arrow-bow stance”, “the one-leg stance”, “the empty stance” (xÅ«bù 虚步), “the drop stance” (pÅ«bù 仆步) , etc. There are eight different poses of hands, plus different types of breath and zhen jiao.

The forms of Baji are divided into Fists (non-weapon) and Weapons. In Fist, there are more than 20 different forms, including 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. In Weapons, there are more than eight different kinds of weapon, including the very famous Liu He Big Qiang (spear), Liu He Flower Qiang (spear), Chun Yang Jian (sword), San Yin Dao (sabre), Xing Zhe Bang (staff), Pudao, and Chun Qiu Da Dao (long two-handed heavy blade, used by Generals sitting on their horses).

Influences: There may not be that many styles in kung fu that resemble Baji Quan. The Baji style focuses on being more direct, simple and powerful, unlike other styles of Kung Fu, which tend to show their beauty and power through movement. Even so, there are some styles that have derived by using Baji Quan’s main principles or concepts on how to hit your opponent.

  • “Bashi” (Eight postures)
  • “Bashi Gong” (Eight movements method)
  • “Bashi Chui” (Eight striking Forms)
  • “Shuang Bashi” (Double Eight Postures),
  • “Jingang Bashi” (Eight postures of the Buddha Guards.)
  • “Longxing Bashi” (Eight postures of the Dragon Style).

Many of these forms are also based or mixed with Luohan Quan(a Shaolin style). The term Bashi Pashi may also refer to Baji. But it can also be noted that Bashi is also a term used in the style of Xingyi Quan.

Popular culture:

  • Bajiquan was in brought to popular attention in the west largely by the Sega video game Virtua Fighter, as the style that the main character Akira Yuki practices, though none of the many representations of Bajiquan in popular media has ever been very accurate.
  • Other video game characters that use this style are Kokoro from the Dead or Alive series and Xiuying Hong from the Shenmue video game series.
  • Despite popular belief, in the Tekken series Ling Xiaoyu does not practice Bajiquan, rather she practices Piguaquan (Hikaken in Japanese) and Baguazhang (Hakkesho in Japanese), similar to Wang Jinrei. Julia Chang, however, uses Bajiquan techniques as part of her style.
  • Another additional new Tekken 6 character Leo uses Bajiquan style, but in Japanese, it will be heard to be called Hakkyokuken.
  • “Baji Quan” appears as one of Li Mei’s fighting styles in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance.
  • A relatively new fighting game Kwonho by video game company Ijji features Bajiquan as a selectable fighting style.

Forms: In practicing the various forms, the general rule is to “keep the body straight and use spine as an axis”. Each form incorporates movements that involves the shoulders, back, elbows, pelvis. All the Sets are short but rich and try to teach the students to understand the combat principles of da (hit), shuai (throw arm like wheep), na (grasp, catch) and tui (push). In traditional training, there forms for Baji are:

  • Liuzhoutou (“6 ends of elbows”)
  • Jin Gang Ba Shi (gold-steal eight forms) is the basic routine
  • Ba Ji Xiao Jia (Ba Ji Short Form) which requires one to be stable and firm in his stance while training their grappling and striking abilities.
  • Dai Ba Ji(Ba Ji Long form)trains footwork to be quick and easily maneuverable. While at the same time learns about how a hard step could increase power of a move dramatically. This would allow the practitioner to learn how to draw power from the whole body into one technique. The main offensive moves used in this routine is predominantly wrestling ones.
  • Baji duijie is a two-man sparring routine which explains application of some of the techniques
  • Liudakai (“6 big openings” or “making 6 holes”) – means ding (thrust by elbow or knee), bao (embrace), dan (carry on the pole or yoke), ti (hold, carry), kua (step over) and chan (wind round)
  • Badaizhou (“8 big methods”) are advanced forms that contains more specialized techniques pertaining to this style.
  • Yingshouquan (“fist of answering hands”, contains 48 big blocks and 64 hand methods)
  • Gonggong baji (“bajiquan of steel working”)
  • Baji shuanggui (“2 ruts of bajiquan”)

Weapon sets:

  • yezhan dao (“broadsword of night fighting”)
  • ti liu piaoyao dao (“carring the broadsword of fluttering willow”)
  • liuhe daqiang (“big spear of six coordinations”)
  • liuhe huaqiang (“blossom spear of six coordinations”)
  • lianhuan jian (“continuous sword”)
  • jiugong chunyan jian (“sword og nine palaces of pure yang”)
  • danzhi gou (“sole hook”)
  • baji jian (“sword of baji”)

2-men weapon sets:

  • duizha daliuheqiang (“mutual thrusts by big spears of six coordinations”)
  • yezhan jiumen shisan daodian (“thrusts of 13 broadswords of 9 gates of night fighting”).