Baguazhang 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 an entry-level martial art. It is not suitable for new starters. Practicing baguazhang without the prerequisite foundation skills is reckless and dangerous.
There is a significant risk of injury because the joints are not strong enough and the body is not flexible enough.
Our terms are dictated by the insurance company policy requirement and are not negotiable.

Kung fu

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

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)


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


8 directions stepping
16 elbows
60/40 stance

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


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)

Black (1st dan)

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

Black (2nd dan)

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

Black (3rd dan)

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

Black (4th dan)

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)

Black (5th dan)

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

Page created 18 April 1995
Last updated 15 May 2020