Bāguàzhǎng (Ba Gua) is literally translated as Eight Trigram Palm. This style is one of the three Nei Jia Quan or internal styles of China. The other two stylers are Xing Yi Quan and Taiji Quan. As with Xing Yi and Taiji, the practice of Ba Gua generates Qi (internal energy) for both health and combat purposes. Ba Gua uses palm techniques exclusively, and this is reflected in the name, Eight Trigram Palm. This makes Ba Gua distinct from Xing Yi and Taiji styles, both of which incorporate fist techniques. The most distinctive trait of Ba Gua is that movement imitates the Taoist Ba Gua symbol of the Yi Jing (Book of Changes)
Techniques are demonstrated while walking low in a static circle. This technique of circular walking has three intentions: 1) Confuse the opponent, 2) Exhaust the opponent, and 3) Absorb natural Qi evenly from all directions. Ba Gua is also distinguished from other martial arts by heavy emphasis on coiling and uncoiling movements to evade the opponent while using the hands to distract the opponent from devastating kicks and throws.
The Circle Walking practice and Single Palm Changes were first documented around 2000 B.C. which, by no coincidence, is also when the Ye Jing (Book of Changes) became a written work. The two are inseparable, both holding ‘changes’ as their core principal.
The power of the eight diagram palms knows no bounds — the palms seem to strike even before the hands move. When the hand threads upward, it’s like a hundred birds paying tribute to the phoenix; when it threads forward, it’s like a tiger swooping downhill. Walking round and round, he is like a stray wild goose that has drifted from the flock; but when the palms are thrust forward, they can move a mountain. Now dodging, now ducking, his body slithers in and out; using the opponent’s force he delivers a counter, blow, with as little effort as pushing a boat down the stream.Dong Hai Ch'uan