Baguazhang is often translated into English as 8 Trigram palm. It is an ancient Spiritual and Martial art that was said to have begun thousands of years ago. It is characteristically practiced by walking in circles, but there are many straight line forms of Bagua practiced nowadays. Often the schools of Bagua have merged with Xing Yi Chuan, a powerful internal martial art that is mostly practiced in straight lines. These schools tend to be more martially based.
Baguazhang became popular when Dong Hai Chuan, a famous martial artist in Beijing in the 1800s, became well known for his incredible fighting skills. Dong Hai Chuan would never state officially how he learned Baguazhang even though many tried to pry it out of him. Because other traditions of Baguazhang existed that weren't connected with Dong Hai Chuan, we know that it originally began well over 4000 years ago as a spiritual art practiced by monks seeking health and union with the Tao. According to one prominent teacher, only the Single Palm change was practiced and there were no other palm techniques. Another teacher of mine stated that Baguazhang was developed with the help of the ancestors, who wanted humans to have a way to both spiritually develop and communicate with them. The origin of this art was connected with Kunlun mountain. The movements that were taught in these schools were very snake and dragon like. Still another teacher of mine stated that the origins of Baguazhang were passed down from Lao Tzu and were based on the Book of Changes. He stated that an old name for Baguazhang was I-Ching boxing.
The style of Baguazhang that I teach the most is the Primordial Baguazhang of Mt Qingcheng/Emei due to its remarkable ability to heal and awaken spiritual aspects within. It is also one of the rarest styles of Baguazhang I've come across so I enjoy keeping the art alive. The Primordial Baguazhang teaches 8 mother palms, 8 linear San Shou fighting sets, and 8 animals. This form of Baguazhang also teaches Partner exercises, sitting methods, standing methods, and medical qigong healing. Other post-natal forms of Bagua I teach tend to be more martially based and resemble the popular Dong Hai Chuan Schools.