Eight Methods Fist (Ba Ji Quan)

Eight Methods Fist (Ba Ji Quan)

          Eight Methods Fist is one of short fist styles from northern China.  Its full name is “Eight Methods Attack Fist” (開門八極拳).  This refers to the six core skills which are used for breaking down the opponent’s defence.  The use of the term Ba Ji (八極)refers to the ancient view of the universe which asserts that “beyond the world, there are eight regions; beyond the eight regions there are eight spheres; beyond the eight spheres, there are the eight extremities.” The eight extremities are the furthest points in the universe.  When applied to the fist style, it suggests that the fist form covers all directions and bearings, and reaches all the extremities.

          The fist form originated in Meng Cun Town, Cang County in Hebei Province (河北省倉縣孟村鎮).  It first became popular in and around Cang County and was called ba zi(耙子), meaning “section” or “hand form.”   As it spread to other regions, it grew in importance.  Over time, two distinct branches, known respectively as long range (大架子) and close range (小架子), developed.

          As a fist form, Eight Methods Fist gives a lot of significance to the concept of “letting the opponent take the initiate.”  The opponent is manoeuvred into making the first move by an intentional false move.  This is immediately followed by a quick, downward attack which breaks down the opponent’s defences.  Three successive moves using the body, hands and feet are delivered at close range, thus achieving three functions with one single movement.

          Force is delivered from above with strong, rapid impact similar to the natural forces generated in an avalanche or in earthquakes.  The significance given to speed requires that the actions are clear-cut and clean.  The force infuses the shoulders, elbows, fists, hips and feet.  When the force is delivered it is like a bow is released, with the explosive power of thunder and the swiftness of lightning.

          Eight Methods Fist has six fundamental opening techniques – pushing up, grappling, going directly to the point of attack, raising, throwing and twisting.  These are the basics from which all other moves develop.  There are also eight different sparring techniques.  The moves are simple yet firm, short and yet dangerous; they are robust and vigorous, often using the elbows and running along straight lines.  Its forcefulness makes it a strong, hard-hitting style where the power is reinforced by qi.  The punches are delivered at close range with sudden impact so that the opponent is totally overwhelmed.