Pa Qua (China)

Name of sport (game)

Pa Qua

Name in native language

Place of practice (continent, state, nation)



A form of Daoist boxing meaning "eight diagram palm," referring to the eight trigrams symbols used as the basis of the Chinese classic, I-Chang (Book of Changes), reflects the constant change and intuition central to pa qua practice.
Although pa qua's origin is unknown, history recounts that the discipline was taught to Tung Hai ch'uan (1798-1879) around 1820 by an unnamed Taoist priest in Kaingsu province who found Tung nearly dead from starvation and nursed him back to health. Later Tung moved to Peking and became quite well know for his boxing skills. There he was challenged by another famous boxer, Kua Yun-Shen, from a rival style, Hsing-i (divine hand) that was known for its direct and powerful linear style. The match lasted three days. During the first two neither could gain advantage. Both were equally matched. But on the third day Tung took the offensive and ended up defeating his challenger. The two ended up as friends and vowed thereafter to teach the two styles together. Thus, even today when you find one system, the other is often taught along with it. Both are classified as internal disciplines that develop and utilize internal energy of Ki (chi in China). Both disciplines share the concept that the mind unites actions and thought into one. Thus training the mind allows transformation of the internal to the external technique. Pa qua is classified as an internal system along with Hsing-i and tai chi chuan.


Pa Qua's central exercise is walking in a circular pattern with careful foot and body postures. But this should not be confused with the discipline's strategy. Many assume that a pa qua practitioner circles an opponent looking for an opening, but the circularity instead refers to use of circular movement - shifting, adjusting and turning as a method of gaining advantage to the side or behind. Opponents attacks are avoided, redirected, dissolved, lead or unbalanced. This allows for short, powerful counters. Defenders sometimes flow around an opponent's center, sometimes they enter into the center. They are always spinning, unbalancing and controlling -- with constant counterattacks of sticking, open hand attacks, elbows, striking palms - always avoiding any fixed position or direct resistance. The effect is to create circular energy and power within circular movement of the opponent - a method reminiscent in strategy to aikido.

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