Gua Zhang has a long an illustrious history. Like other Chinese martial
art styles, its true origin has been clouded by myths and legend.
Historically, this style is popular in Heibei Province of China. Within
the last century, many Ba Gua Zhang stylists identify Dong Haichuan
(circa 1800's) of Wenan County as the leading exponent or even the
originator of modern Ba Gua Zhang. Dong Haichuan's students definitely
contributed to the popularization of this style through out the world
and many of the recognized styles of Ba Gua Zhang can be traced back
to the students of Dong Haichuan.
Gua Zhang training is characterized by the emphasis on the technique
known as "Walking the Circle" or curved steps The practitioner walk
a continuous circle and at the same time holding various static postures
with the upper body, executing "palm changes" (short patterns of movement
or "forms") and focusing intently upon an unseen opponent. This trains
the student in appreciating the circular nature of the style and the
feeling of body spinning, turning, and rapid changes in direction.
In application, the Ba Gua stylist relies on strategy and skill, rather
than the direct use of force against force or brute strength, in overcoming
an opponent. The Ba Gua practitioner is always shifting and moving
away to catch the opponent off balance. He use his footwork to circle
around the opponent and to counter attack at different angles. Ba
Gua kicks are all low and practical - in order to maintain balance
and the ability to move quickly.