Bajiquan (Traditional Chinese: 八極拳; pinyin: Bājíquán; literally “eight extremes fist”)
is a Chinese martial art that features explosive, short range power and is famous for its elbow strikes.
It originated in Hebei Province of Northern China, but is also well-known in other places as well today, especially Taiwan.
Bajiquan was originally called Baziquan (巴子拳 or 鈀子拳), or “rake fist”, due to the fact that when not striking, the fist is held loosely and slightly open, resembling a rake. However, the name was considered to be rather crude sounding in its native tongue, and so it was changed to Bajiquan reminding the student to develop the eight body parts (head, shoulders, elbows, hips, buttocks, knees, hands and feet).
The essence of Bajiquan lies in “Jìn” (power or power methods). 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 a very close distance. 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 “zhèn jiao”. Jìn has many forms and is developed through many levels of training including Bear Walking, Tiger Arms and Eight Stomping Methods in order to attain the highest (most extreme) level of Jin in all eight parts of the body.
Made famous in (by Chinese history standards) recent times by Li Shu Wen (1864-1934), a fighter from Shandong province whose skill with a spear earned him the nickname “God of Spear” Li. 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 still speaks for the shocking power Baji training develops. Li Shu Wen’s most famous students
include Huo Diange (bodyguard to Pu Yi, the last emperor of China), Li Chen Wu (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.”
Baji, which comes from the oldest book in China named I Ching, is an extension of all directions. In this case, in Chinese Baji means including everything or say, universe.
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).
In Chinese Martial Arts, Baji is famous for its very violent and fast movements.