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Piguazhang (chop-hanging palm) can also be called piguaquan (chop-hanging fist), but due to its emphasis on the use of the palm techniques it is more commonly called piguazhang. The ancient name of this style was “drape-hanging fist” (also pronounced piguaquan), and was already famous more than six hundred years ago in the middle period of the Ming dynasty.

It was generally acknowledged to been spread from the LuoTong area in the southeastern villages of Cang County, in the HeBei Province of China. According to Grandmaster Liu, bajiquan and piguazhang were both taught by Wu Zhong and belonged to one integrated training system.

It originated in Hebei Province of North China, but today is also well-known in other places, including Taiwan. Piguaquan’s power is from the accelerational force of the arms which are often in rotation.

The hip movement in Piguaquan is more subtle and gentle compared to Baijiquan, because you only need enough to guide the big chops whereas in Bajiquan, the hammers, punches, elbows and swings rely completely on the quick and powerful rotation of the hips, and sink to bring its power out.

Piguaquan Preform

It is often said that originally, Bajiquan and Piguaquan were the same art but split hundreds of years ago. Li Shuwen (李書文) remarried the two systems in the late 19th to early 20th century and today these two styles are often taught as complementary arts, especially in Taiwan.

In fact, 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.”, In Mainland China, Piguaquan is still often practiced as a stand-alone art as well.

After Wu Rong (daughter of Wu Zhong) was married into LuoTong, LuoTong and the surrounding area began to specialize in the practice of piguazhang. So bajiquan and piguazhang gradually became two separate systems. However, both styles are obviously complimentary to each other. Bajiquan is visibly hard in its appearance, its jings are short and crispy, and its combat strategy primarily employs short-range fighting in body-to-body contact distance.

On the other hand, piguazhang is soft in its appearance, its jings are continuous and long, and its combat strategy is that of long-range fighting. Therefore, there have always been these proverbs about the two systems: “When pigua is added to Baji, gods and demons will all be terrified” and “When baji is added to pigua, heros will sigh knowing they are no match against it.”

In the practice of Piguazhang, the waist and the kua are employed as the centre of motion, and the torso, arms, and palm become an integrated moving body. Therefore, piguazhang usually appears to contain large opening and closing movements, and the attacks are generally from a longer distance than bajiquan. In piguazhang, striking with the front of the palm is called Pi, or hacking, splitting; striking with the back of the palm is called Gua, or hanging.

Piguaquan Master

These two types of palm strikes are used in an alternating and continuous manner like the turning of a wheel. In this motion, the dantien area is used as the “controlling centre” for the store and the release of jings. Thus although the power generated in piguazhang appears to be soft and round, a tremendous explosive force is actually hidden within it.

Piguaquan or axe-hitch boxing was known in ancient times as armor wearing boxing. Ming Dynasty General Qi Jiguang included the move of putting on armours while fighting as laid out in his book, A New Essay on Wushu Arts. When the National Wushu Institute was founded in Nanjing in 1928, Piguaquan specialist Ma Yingtu was put in charge of the fist play department of the Institute. He invited another Piguaquan pugilist Guo Changsheng from Hebei to lecture.

The two of them delved into the boxing adjusting the moves but keeping the excellent essentials and adding speed and explosive power as well as the skills from the 24-form Tongbeiquan. The revised edition of Piguaquan turned out to be a completely new art, which was said to be feared by even deities and demons. Piguaquan in fashion at present has come mainly from this revised version.

The axe-hitch boxing which is popular in Gansu Province consists of axe-hitch, blue dragon, flying tiger, Taishu and DaJiaziquan (big frame boxing ) while the popular version in Cangzhou is made up of axe- hitch, blue dragon, slow and fast axe-hitch and cannon boxing.

Execution of the axe-hitch boxing demands accuracy, fluency, agility, continuity, speed, power, dexterity, excellence, subtlety and uniqueness. Be it single moves, combinations of moves, or the entire routine, the axe-hitch boxing requires a learning process which ranges from simplicity to complexity. In the first place, the stance and execution of movements must be accurate and standard.

The emphasis then goes from accuracy to fluency, to agility and continuity, and then to speed, power, dexterity, excellence, subtlety and uniqueness. Piguaquan also concentrates on combinations of movements which are complementary to one another and is known for its slowness in pitching stances but its swiftness in delivering fist blows and its subtle use of tricks. The execution of moves and tricks involves tumbling, strangleholding, axing, hitching, chopping, unhitching, scissoring, picking, brushing, discarding, stretching, withdrawing, probing, feeling, flicking, hammering and beating.