The art of the explosive strength

Bājíquán (八極拳) or shorter just baji, is commonly known as “the martial art of bodyguards”. It emphasizes the use of attacks that close down the distance as well as explosive close combat techniques such as combinations of elbow, knee and takedown techniques.

Our teacher Lü Baochun has over 40 years’ experience in the training and practice of baji. He has trained under many of the famous martial artists who used the style, such as Han Longquan and Zhang Xuchun.

In combat the baji-practicioner advances aggressively and tries to knock out his opponent with the right timing or to bring him down to the ground with an accompanying blow.

The techniques and tactics of baji are in and of themselves simple, direct and ruthless. They are however based on a strong basic training, the focal points of which are the unity of the whole body, flowing control of the body and especially explosiveness that’s taken advantage of at close quarters.

Classical techniques that baji is especially known for are among others the various elbow strikes, shoulder strikes, knee strikes and the use of all these at the same time to bring the opponent off balance as well as various takedown techniques.

The basics of training

The basics of baji are divided into four areas: standing exercises, single techniques, practice of series of forms and exercises in pairs. As the trainee progresses the meaning of these is expanded.

Standing exercises (站桩)
Building a strong physical basis.

Single techniques (单式)
The practice of the basics of technique.

Practice of series of forms (套路)
Combination of the basics.

Exercises in pairs (对练)
The leading of the practices into combat.

Utilize the whole body with a simple approach.

Come test an ancient Chinese martial art that has been honed to extreme efficiency over the generations.

The history of baji

The known history of baji begins in the turbulent early years of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) when the Manchu took power from the Han-Chinese. Many Han-soldiers had to blend in to crowds or to run away to monasteries in order to stay alive. These officers formed resistance cells from fairly motley crews and these had to be taught martial arts in order to return the balance of power back to the status quo. Martial arts that had only been practiced within one family became suddenly arts that were taught publicly.

Wu Zhong (Chinese: 吳鍾, Pīnyīn: Wú Zhōng, 1712–1802) was the son of a rich family in a village named Meng within the Shandong province (Chinese 山东, Pīnyīn: Shāndōng). He had practiced various martial arts since childhood. In time he became an officer within the local government. One day, as he was training in his yard, he met a person dressed in the robes of a Taoist monk. He told Wu that he had observed Wu’s training for several days and was pleased with what he saw. Wu was given the opportunity to test the stranger’s skills and he realized he was in the presence of an exceptional martial artist. He offered the stranger his apartment and asked to be taught by this apparently fleeing person.

Wu was trained for ten years, after which he was given permission to teach baji publicly. This is why the old name for baji is Kaimen Bajiquan (Chinese: 開門八極拳, Pīnyīn: Kāimén Bājíquán), “open doors baji boxing”. Later, Wu Zhong moved, for unknown reasons, to the Hebei (河北) province, specifically to a village named Luotan in the Cangzhou county. There he taught the martial art until his death. His most famous trainees were Li Dazhong and Zhang Keming. Li Dazhong was killed at under 30 years of age by a group of bandits whilst defending a convoy. Zhang Keming was killed in 1947 by over a hundred men in the turbulent times of the Chinese civil war. The Luotan village is still famous for its baji, despite the early demise of these two masters.

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