Baguazhang kung fu syllabus

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What are you paying for?

A student is paying for lessons in baguazhang. They are paying to be taught material in a methodical, proven, systematic way. This is not a random, haphazard process.
The student is paying for the instructor's expertise; both in employing the art and in teaching the art.

Why do we need grades?

The Tai Chi Union for Great Britain insurance policy advised instructors to ensure that students are being shown things appropriate to ability. This means that a syllabus is necessary.
There must be an order to the presentation of the material. Grades are required.


Baguazhang is not the emphasis of Newcastle Tai Chi. Taijiquan is. As such, Sifu Waller puts taijiquan first.
If a student wants to study baguazhang with our school, they can. Once they have gained aptitude with taijiquan.
At that stage, Sifu Waller is quite prepared to teach the drills, stepping methods, palm changes, strategies (and some introductory applications) in order to start the student on their baguazhang journey.
The exploration of baguazhang should not replace the study of taijiquan, nor should practice time be taken from taijiquan in order to investigate a second martial art.

Minimum requirement

To request baguazhang study a student must already be very good at taijiquan. If you're not adept at one martial art, why are you asking to do a second?

Kung fu

Baguazhang has never been taught for health purposes/benefits. It remains a distinctly martial style of kung fu.


Baguazhang has to be the oddest martial art on the planet. No other style of kung fu even vaguely resembles it. So, martially, it's a wildcard. It offers odd angles, weird spatial awareness and highly unusual strategies.

Open ended

With baguazhang you cannot simply pass a grade and imagine that you have 'got it'. This is the work of a lifetime. There is no final certificate, no graduation. You keep on refining and improving.

Ability is everything in baguazhang

Remember this - martial arts are a meritocracy. Ability is everything. Not knowledge. Not time served. Ability. If you can do it, then you can advance.

Establish a ranking system similar to that used by the Japanese martial arts. Improve the art by uniting in an effort to create standards for future generations of kung fu practitioners.

(Adam Hsu)

Part 1

6 direction changes
8 mother palms
9 palaces
Body overturning drill
Circle walking
Crane stepping
The crouch
Figure of 8
The gaze
Lion stepping
Partnered circle walking
Shuai jiao applications (sets 1 & 2)

Part 2

8 directions stepping
16 elbows
Chin na applications (sets 1,2 & 3)

Drilling (spiralling forward)
Kicking exercise
Mud stepping
Pressing (splitting)
Rolling (circular coiling)
Plate exercise (baguazhang version)
Toe in, toe out
Wrapping (embrace)
Yielding/chin na
Yielding/shuai jiao

Part 3

Single palm change - fixed frame (regular & mirrored)
Double palm change - fixed frame (regular & mirrored)
Striking palm change - fixed frame (regular & mirrored)
Piercing palm change - fixed frame (regular & mirrored)
Flicking palm change - fixed frame (regular & mirrored)
Body overturning palm change - fixed frame (regular & mirrored)
Shaking body palm change - fixed frame (regular & mirrored)
Turning body palm change - fixed frame (regular & mirrored)

Part 4

5 animals
Balance, rhythm, timing
Becoming the centre
Chin na applications (misplacing the bones)
Countering punches, kicks and grapples
Dying ground
Entry methods
Escape from a hold
Everybody falls
First hand/second hand
Monkey paws
Mutual arising
Shuai jiao applications
The way of the bear
The way of the bird
The way of the monkey
The way of the snake
The way of the tiger

Part 5

Circle walking qigong
Countering a knife
Form application (body overturning palm change)
Form application (double palm change)
Form application (flicking palm change)
Form application (piercing palm change)
Form application (shaking body palm change)
Form application (single palm change)
Form application (striking palm change)
Form application (turning body palm change)
Improvised weaponry/knife
Yielding/chin na against a knife
Yielding/shuai jiao against a knife

Part 6

Cavity press
Combining chin na, shuai jiao & jing
Dividing the muscles
Freeform grappling
Group work/melee
Palm changes - moving frame (regular & mirrored)
San da stage 1: freeform self defence

Part 7

Flowing chin na applications
Flowing shuai jiao applications
Holding down the pillow (baguazhang)
Large rhythm, small rhythm (baguazhang)
Latent movements (baguazhang)
Palm changes - changing frame (regular & mirrored)

Part 8

Freeform combat against multiple opponents (baguazhang)
Freeform knife (changing frame)
Freeform self defence against multiple opponents (baguazhang)
Freeform stick (changing frame)
Palm changes - swimming dragon (regular & mirrored)
Projections (baguazhang)
San da stage 2: freeform combat
Sealing the breath

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Page created 18 April 1995
Last updated 24 March 2022