Can Ba Ji Quan “Eight Extremes Fist” be used effectively in combat? An in-depth analysis of the true combat power of Eight Extremes Fist.”

In Chinese traditional martial arts, the vigorous and fierce Ba Ji Quan is a typical external style martial art.

Emperor Qianlong personally inscribed the phrase “Culture has Tai Chi to bring peace to the world, martial arts have Ba Ji Quan to establish order in heaven and earth.” Ba Ji Quan master Huo Diange served as a personal guard to Emperor Puyi.

Ba Ji Quan has a high presence in Japanese ACG (Animation, Comics, and Games) works.

In the film “The Grandmaster” directed by Wong Kar-wai, Zhang Zhen played the role of Yixiantian, who possessed extraordinary skills and could single-handedly take on multiple opponents. His straightforward and fierce Ba Ji Quan left a deep impression.

There are even overseas Ba Ji Quan disciples who have won championships in international Muay Thai competitions, highlighting the significant role of Ba Ji Quan in practical combat.

Technical Characteristics of Ba Ji Quan:

Ba Ji Quan is one of the representative practical martial arts in China. Its techniques are simple and practical, with concise and powerful routines. It belongs to the category of short-range striking. The movements are straightforward, fierce, and crisp, with clear distinctions between motion and stillness. It is strong but not rigid, soft but not weak, and possesses strong striking power and combat effectiveness.

Ba Ji Quan emphasizes the application of eight body parts: head, shoulders, elbows, hands, tailbone, hips, knees, and feet. It is a short-range martial art characterized by close-quarter combat techniques such as sticking, bursting, squeezing, and leaning. Familiar techniques include “Tiger Climbing the Mountain,” “Toppling Heart Elbow,” “Six Major Openings,” and “Eight Major Strikes.” The signature move “Tie Shan Kao” (Mountain Sticking and Leaning) stands out. Its power generation methods mainly include cross-power, sinking and falling power, and coiling silk power. These different types of power are not isolated but interconnected and mutually compatible as a whole.

Ba Ji Quan is a martial art that strongly emphasizes the combination of combat and training. Its greatest characteristic in combat is the ability to swiftly launch attacks and continuously press forward. Ba Ji Quan includes routines such as Bagua Stance, Six Major Openings, Six Elbows, Eight Major Strikes, and Silang Kuan. In addition to empty-hand techniques, Ba Ji Quan also includes various weapons such as Liuhe Spear, Liuhe Knife, Wanderer’s Staff, Double Hooks, Mandarin Duck Iron Fan, and Yan Chi Tang.

On June 7, 2008, Ba Ji Quan was approved by the State Council of China and included in the second batch of National Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

Origin of Ba Ji Quan:

The origin of Ba Ji Quan has different accounts throughout its more than 200-year history.

One theory states that Ba Ji Quan originated from ancient Chinese folk practices, emerged during the Jin Dynasty, gained fame during the Ming Dynasty, spread during the Qing Dynasty, and reached its peak during the Republic of China period.

Another theory is that in the book “Ji Xiao Xin Shu” written by Qi Jiguang during the Ming Dynasty, there is a mention of “Ba Zi Quan” (also known as Ba Ji Quan), which evolved from the “Ba Zi Quan Stick.”

The third theory suggests that Ba Ji Quan originated from Wudang and was created by Taoist priests based on their internal martial arts. The documented and verifiable account points to Wu Zhong, who founded Ba Ji Quan in the Qing Dynasty. “Wu Family Genealogy” and “Ba Ji Quan Manual” provide strong evidence for this

.Ba Ji Quan Masters

Throughout the history of Ba Ji Quan, many masters have emerged, among whom Wu Zhong and Li Shuwen, represented the development of Ba Ji Quan and laid a solid foundation for its growth.

Wu Zhong (1732-1822) was born in Haifeng County, Shandong Province (now Qingyun). Wu Zhong was naturally intelligent and started practicing martial arts from a young age. He once trained at the Shaolin Temple. In the 43rd year of the Qianlong reign (1778), Wu Zhong traveled alone to the southern region and arrived at the Southern Shaolin Temple in Fujian. He entered the temple with a large spear, showcasing exceptional skill, and left without being touched by any hidden weapons. He was acclaimed as the “Divine Spear Wu Zhong” by the temple monks and the local officials. His reputation spread far and wide. It is said that Wu Zhong also emerged victorious in a martial arts contest with General Fukuan and Prince Yinli of the Qing Dynasty.

In the 47th year of the Qianlong reign (1782), Wu Zhong returned to his hometown and began teaching his art. He systematically summarized and organized various boxing techniques, weapons, and qigong that he had mastered over decades. By integrating the strengths of different schools, refining and combining them, he established the martial art system of Ba Ji Quan with the Eight Trigrams Palm and Six Harmonies Spear as its core.

Li Shuwen (1862-1934), nicknamed the “Divine Spear of Six Harmonies,” was a renowned martial arts master of the late Qing Dynasty. He excelled in spear techniques and was hailed as the “Divine Spear Li” and an outstanding representative of Ba Ji Quan. Li Shuwen served as a bodyguard and martial arts instructor for prominent figures such as President Feng Guozhang, General Xu Lanzhou, and Admiral Li Jinglin. When Li Shuwen was a child learning martial arts, he had to travel 16 miles each way to his master’s house, practicing boxing regardless of wind or rain. There is a record of him using a large spear to lift and spin a heavy cartwheel weighing around 80 kilograms.

In 1895, Yuan Shikai started military training at a small station in the southern suburbs of Tianjin, recruiting talents from all over the country and hiring martial arts masters from Japan and German military instructors to train elite soldiers. Li Shuwen, as a disciple of the master, had a contest with the Japanese instructor Ito Taro. In the match, Li Shuwen fatally stabbed Ito Taro, who was preparing to draw his sword, with a single spear thrust. Yuan Shikai praised him as the “Divine Spear.” During the reign of Emperor Xuantong, Li Shuwen broke the ribs of the Russian boxing champion Malotov with a single punch and defeated him in a challenge.

Huo Diange (1886-1942), the first-generation disciple of Li Shuwen, was also the martial arts instructor and bodyguard of Emperor Puyi, the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty. When Puyi followed the tradition of his ancestors to practice martial arts for physical fitness, Huo Diange, with his exceptional skills, was recommended as his martial arts teacher. It is said that he once had a contest with a horse-mounted martial artist, where Huo Diange’s internal strength kept him motionless while the martial artist whipped him repeatedly with his horsewhip, leaving the martial artist in awe.

In 1937, during the Datong Park incident, disciples of Huo Diange’s personal guard fought against Japanese soldiers, kicking

 a Japanese guard dog to death and injuring more than ten Japanese soldiers. Taking advantage of the situation, the Japanese forced Puyi to dismiss Huo Diange’s guards, and Huo Diange left Puyi’s service.

Liu Yunqiao (1909-1992), born into an intellectual family, began learning martial arts under Li Shuwen at the age of seven and became Li’s final disciple. Li Shuwen was strict and demanding in teaching, often causing Liu Yunqiao to get injured. At the age of 20, Liu Yunqiao’s father intended to send him to study law at Chaoyang University, but Liu Yunqiao took the tuition fee and followed Li Shuwen on various adventures instead. After joining the army, Liu Yunqiao fought against Japanese troops multiple times and was promoted to the rank of regimental commander. In 1936, within the Tianjin Concession, Liu Yunqiao openly challenged Ota Tetsuro, a renowned Japanese swordsman from a military academy. Using weapons, Liu Yunqiao defeated Ota Tetsuro with a single move called “One Sword, Three Transformations,” leaving him in complete admiration.

Real Combat Skills of Ba Ji Quan

In addition to the achievements of the aforementioned masters, Ba Ji Quan has also demonstrated remarkable performance in the arena. Not only has it produced overall champions in the martial arts competitions organized by CCTV, but it has also stepped onto the combat arena abroad and won international championships.

In Venezuela, a boxer named Madu Die studied Ba Ji Quan under Su Yuzhang. Madu Die fully utilized the powerful striking characteristics of Ba Ji Quan and won multiple championships on the international Muay Thai stage in Thailand, showcasing the distinctive combat style of Ba Ji Quan.

It is worth mentioning that the practical combat abilities of Ba Ji Quan have attracted the attention of renowned directors Chen Xunqi and Wong Kar-wai, who created the film “The Grandmaster.” Taiwanese actor Zhang Zhen, who played the inheritor of Ba Ji Quan, Yixian Tian, had limited screen time but left a deep impression with his concise, powerful, and fierce movements of Ba Ji Quan.

To shoot this movie, Zhang Zhen studied Ba Ji Quan under the renowned master Wang Shiquan for three years, practicing three hours in the morning and three hours at night every day. He not only won the first prize in the national Ba Ji Quan competition but also performed on the CCTV Spring Festival Gala. It is said that after his martial arts training, Zhang Zhen rarely needed bodyguards when going out.


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