I-Bagua and the Gao style syllabus

You want to learn Bagua – Bagua the subtle, powerful martial art, Bagua the fluid, hypnotic movement, Bagua meditation in movement – which ones attract you?

Bagua is both a simple yet profound set of ideas expressed in movement, and the movements themselves articulated as specific styles.

The ‘classical’ Bagua styles such as Gao style, Cheng style, Yin style (and many more) developed over generations in China for 19th-20th century Chinese martial artists. They are rich and intriguing, and only the most dedicated practitioners today have much hope of learning them fully.

I-Bagua is a return to the essence of Bagua, the core ideas and key movements. It is designed for you if you find the idea of learning 64 forms intimidating or too much. I-Bagua is also continuously evolving.

I-Bagua asks

  • What do you need to be martially effective?
  • What do you need to move well?
  • What do you need for meditation and internal cultivation?

and the answer to these questions is very individual, they depend on your body condition, personality, size, interests and other factors.

I-Bagua drinks from the source of Gao style Bagua and other movement practices. If you have time you can read about I-Bagua movement theory here.


So as a student of I-Bagua you will have certain key skills and movements to develop.

You can also draw from the Gao style syllabus, use LPS (Loaded progressive stretching), develop ground mobility and many other disciplines.

You can read about the Gao style syllabus below, and I will continue to add videos as my classmates and I make them.

An Overview of Gao Style Baguazhang (高式八卦掌)

The system of Bagua that I learned from Luo Dexiu (羅德修) is divided into several sets of exercises, each emphasizing a separate aspect of the art.

Xian tien ‘Pre-Heaven’ or Circular Bagua (先天八卦掌)

The xian tien (先天) Gao style Bagua contains circle walking, single palm change, the eight palm changes, and a number of supplementary forms called wulong bai hui (烏龍擺尾) (black dragon waves its tail). Xian tien contains the fundamentals of strategy and body movement of Gao style Bagua. The movements tend to be practised in a way that allows the smooth development of power in all directions.

 The xian tien Bagua (八卦) contains the essence of the art, and its broad, flowing movements have many applications, particularly to throwing techniques. However, the movements are at a level of abstraction that is more concerned with possibilities of movement rather than specific techniques.

 Each of the eight palm changes has a function related to health within the model of Chinese medicine. Circle walking is innately meditative, and certain foci of attention can enhance this quality, while others link it more directly to the health building or martial sides of Bagua (八卦).

1. 蛇形順勢掌 Snake form smooth force palm

2. 龍形穿手掌 Dragon form piercing hand palm

3. 回身打虎掌 Returning body, strike the tiger palm

4. 燕翻蓋手掌 Swallow overturning covering hand palm

5. 轉身反背掌 Turn the body over the back palm

6. 擰身探馬掌 Twist the body searching horse palm

7. 翻身背插掌 Overturn the body, through the back palm

8. 停身搬扣掌 Stop the body, move and hook palm

龍尾 The Tail of the Dragon

烏龍擺尾 Black Dragon Swings Tail

Ho tien (後天) ‘Post-Heaven’ or Linear Bagua (八卦)

 The ho tien (後天) contains the tactics and application of Gao (高義盛) style Bagua (八卦). It consists of 64 short sequences of movement that are repeated on the left and right sides, or sometimes linked to create short forms. The aim of each form is to develop smoothness of movement and power for a specific set of applications.

一路綱領 The first line – key methods

二路打法 The second line – hitting methods

三路巧法 The third line – skillful methods

四路妙法 The fourth line – sophisticated (subtle) methods

五路肘法 The fifth line – elbow methods

六路腿法 The sixth line – leg methods

七路身法 The seventh line – body methods

八路步法 The eighth line – stepping methods

In this branch of Gao (高義盛) style Bagua (八卦), the ho tien (後天) are often practiced in long, extended postures with the aim of strengthening the body and improving balance while making the intention of the movements and the body mechanics clearer to the practitioner.

Tien gan (天干) or Heavenly Stems

Tien gan (天干) are a set of exercises to strengthen the body and develop quality of movement that are rarely found outside of this branch of Gao (高義盛) style Bagua (八卦). They consist of 10 exercises that are divided into pairs, with the exception of the last exercise, which is divided into 6 variations. The tien gan (天干) are typically also practiced in long, extended postures. While it is possible to derive applications from them directly, they are primarily concerned with developing power through different planes of motion.



Jiben shoufa (基本手法) or Basic Hand Methods

The jiben shoufa (基本手法) are a set of 8 simple exercises that develop coordination, rhythm, and unity within the body as applied to hand techniques that are found throughout Gao (高義盛) style Bagua (八卦). Examination of the jiben shoufa (基本手法) shows them to be components of xian tien and ho tien (後天) palm changes.

Qigong (氣功) and Neigong () or Breathing and Internal Exercises

 Various qigong exercises are used within Gao style Bagua to calm the mind, coordinate the body, and develop health. There is also a set of Neigong exercises which is more closely related to developing subtle coordination and connection within the body. This is another component of the system that has a significantly meditative quality.