Baguazhang, also known as Bagua, is, along with tai chi chuan and Xingyiquan (Hsing-I) one of the three major “internal”, ie. Neijia Chinese martial arts. Baguazhang literally means “eight trigram palm” which refers to the trigrams of the I Ching, one of the canons of Taoism. The creation of Bagua as a formalized martial art is attributed to Dong Haichuan in the early 19th century. It is thought, by many, that he synthesized several pre-existing martial arts taught and practiced in the region in which he lived, combining them with Taoist circle walking.
Erle Montaigue has called Baguazhang (also known as Bagua) as the “hidden jewel” in his whole fighting system. He comments that it is a complete martial art and a true self-defence art, as well as a healing art. The beauty of Bagua, according to Erle is that “fighting and self defence is not logical, so it is impossible to take a logical fighting art and use it for self defence. Fighting happens illogically and so we must have a fighting art that takes this into consideration. If for instance we learn how to block this attack and then use a kick to counter etc., this is logical and will never work in the street because you are trying to place a logical way of fighting into an illogical situation where things are changing every second. And logical ways of fighting require that we think about it first as the body has not learnt sub-conscious or reflex movement. You need a martial system that will teach your body to move by itself in any situation without conscious thought. And Bagua gives us exactly that.”
Josephine Anderson is one of a very small number of people in Ontario who teaches any form of Bagua at all and one of only two people in Ottawa who teaches Erle Montaigue’s system of Bagua. She teaches both the Bagua linear fighting form and the Bagua circle walking as well as the “8 animal forms of Bagua”, which include the Bagua “Qi Shaking Methods” and the full animal forms, and Bagua fa-jing methods.
The Instructor introduces the student to The BaGua circular and the linear forms. The circular form is the medium by which to move
in a coordinated, centered and flowing way, based upon the dynamics of the circle itself. A peculiar walking through the circle, which is initiated from the center, teaches about agile foot work that allows one to get in and out of tight corners, and in behind an opponent, on the basis of an intercepting counterattack, leaving the opponent baffled as to what just suddenly happened.A knowledge of the footwork also prepares us for the ability to kick, which arises out of whole body action that employs the upper peripherals together with the feet in a single and coordinated unit of attack and counterattack. The circle, then, allows us, at first , to imitate the spirit of animal movement that springs into action from the spine, and then to internalize it whereby we emerge as our own dynamically moving animal. The linear form then takes that restored ability to move and press it into martial fighting techniques -- techniques which eventually become non techniques techniques, or"instinctive," unconscious reactions to which we have already referred above, that springs us onto a direct line of attack before damage is ever done. The linear form, then, teaches us about timing and speed that adds to the flexibility and the sinuous motion of the circular form ,the focus and the power necessary for a successful outcome. Although the form is designated as "linear", employing strikes directly into the center line of the target, it has within it circular motions of energy that is the basis for true fajing power, and all internal arts. There are few Ba Gua schools that include both the linear form as well as the circular.
The eight animal forms complete the core of the system. Each of the eight animal forms emphasizes the different spirit of the animal. Their combination and synergy transforms one's internal energy into a balanced and powerful system for health and self-defence.
For more information on Bagua in general and the Erle Montaigue system of Bagua that is taught at the Double Dragon Tai Chi Studio, you can go to http://www.bagua.org.uk/
for articles and outlines. Josephine teaches Bagua in private lessons only. There is no group class. If you wish to speak with her about lessons, contact her at