Baji Quan

Baji Martial Art: the Art of the Eight Extremities.

A Fox knows many things, but a Hedgehog knows one big thing…
Archilochus, Greek poet


In this article:

  • What is Baji Quan
  • Baji Quan Course of Study
  • Common Questions
  • Baji Combat Rules
  • Tips for your Baji training

A simple name for a simple principle. Eight Extremities Boxing (Bajiquan 八極拳 – also known in Japan as Hakkyokuken) is a traditional fighting style known for its direct and powerful striking. Unlike other fighting sports such as Kick boxing, Sanshou or Savate, Bajiquan does not require strong physical preparation even though it can turn into a very deadly style if practiced at its highest levels and with proper physical conditioning. Its name originates from the eight strongest extremities the human body naturally provides.


Blending natural armor with martial skills. Everyone would acknowledge that throwing a punch hurts, although specific training such as B.M.C. can make that punch became less sensitive to pain. Baji quan works on a fundamental principle: that human body alone conceals powerful parts that don’t necessarily require training, and can be used in a fight by anyone, even by people without any martial experience. However, the following must be kept in mind:

It’s the set of skills comprising these eight parts that turn “the eight extremities” in a fighter’s best shield and sword.To unleash these skills, Baji martial art is the best way

Baji martial art focuses exactly on these eight naturally-protective extremities to guarantee quick defense and maximum efficiency. It is also beneficial for martial artists who do not want to overly focus on Bone and Muscle Conditioning.

Baji martial artBaji Quan’s place in modern Martial Arts. Baji Quan is actually considered one of the most effective and powerful fighting style in Chinese Martial Arts, as it has been chosen amongst 200 Kung Fu styles for self defense purposes in both China and Taiwan. In fact, it has been used for centuries from the Emperor bodyguards. Without application, its sequences become a perfect routine to keep fit and healthy.

Baji Course of Study.

Baji quan is a complete martial style, as it includes all things a combatant needs to learn to consider himself such. In fact, Baji martial art includes:

  • Patterns (Dao-lu)
  • Fighting sets patterns (Dui lian)
  • Punch-bag training
  • Baji Qin na (joint locks)

Some of Baji martial art patterns include:

八极拳小架 Baji Xiao Jia – Small frame (also known as short pattern). In its shortness, the essence of the style. Baji Xiao jia is the first pattern (dao lu) a Student  learns. In the Video below you can see a sample of the Dao lu (please consider that the one performed in the video is Shaolin Baji Xiao jia, and dao lu’s may differ from Master to Master, and from School to School).

八极拳大架 Baji Da Jia – Big frame (also known as long pattern). After mastering Baji xiao jia, this pattern takes the Student to a new, more advanced and demanding set of techniques. This dao lu is based on the Baji principle “advance, advance, advance” and is more challenging than Xiao xia.


八极拳母子拳 Baji Muzi quan – Mother and Son frame. Muzi quan is essential for any Baji fighter, because of the importance of alternating attacking and pulling back.

Following the principle of Yin and Yang is something a Baji Student should always keep in mind: there is a moment to attack, and a moment to block

This alternation of states aims at tuning the Baji Student to a confident, powerful combatant.

八极拳对练 Baji Dui Lian – Parts of the studied forms are used between two opponents in a fighting-set routine, aiming at educating the brain to properly react to a sequence of pre-defined attacks.

八极拳擒拿 Baji Qin naJoint lock techniques based on Baji quan. Please note that Qin na is a generic term used in Martial Arts to define “locks” with the purpose of neutralizing the opponent’s fighting ability without necessarly harm him. Each style has its own set of “Qin na techniques”, and this Unit of Competency aims at studying only the ones related to this specific style.

A punch is connected to the arm, the arm to the shoulder, the shoulder to the chest, the chest to legs, and legs to feet. Now, imagine to fully extend your garden hose, then trying to shake it vigorously once: the generated force will propagate through all the hose, until the first wave reaches the end of it. This is the simplest way to explain how power is generated in Baji.
Stomping is one of the fundaments of Baji quan. The principle is simple: when a Baji practitioner faces an opponent that is equal or more of his own weight, the mass and the weight of the Baji practitioner must simulate a heavier body, and in order to do this, stomping is the only solution that does not break any physics law. Put it simply, by stomping my weight becomes for just one second more than the weight of the opponent, allowing me to win over his mass, finalizing my attack - or - if any of the above things don't work, giving me certainty that I won't be swept away by his mass. Let's call it "momentarily rooting". Stomping has a price to pay, and this is the downside that states the above question partially true: it's very unusual to use stomping in a full contact match, where speed and agility are basic principles: creating a chance of stomping will advantage the agile opponent, and the expert Baji fighter knows it. So when it's wise to use stomping in the end? In two occasions: first, in short-distance situations - second, after first destabilizing the opponent with fast techniques, then using the stomping in conjunction with a Baji technique for your final, deadly strow.
I learned Baji from Shifu Lin Jin Rong, in Northern China, and after four years I became his direct student. His amazing teaching way was technical and genuine, and when I performed in front of him, one day, focusing my whole mind and energy to pretend I was fighting for real, all of a sudden I found myself speeding up, grounding myself by lowering my stances and making the dao lu a bit "Shaolinized", but aggressive and real. And since that day I kept this pace thoughout all my training sessions although it requires a lot of fitness. Furthermore, when I started learning Baji for the first time in my life, it was after 10 years of Shaolin training, so it's normal that my "reptilian brain" merged Shaolin principles with Baji. What counts for me, at the end of the day, is not competing against "who does it better" or "being"similar to that video on youtube", but competing against myself, as I believe the only opponent to compare with, on a daily basis, is just our attitude to think "what I already know is enough".
People think Baji is useless when compared to other Fighting Sports, but they don't know that there are two ways you can train Baji: one is Baji Qin na (the part of Baji that studies Joint Locks), the second is Baji Quan (the part of the style that is meant to be used in a real situation, where there's no space for half-measures, and full impact is the only purpose of using the deadly techniques Baji is famous for)


Although some of the following rules are valid for many other fighting sports, they will certainly make your Baji training rooted in your heart. You will comprehend its principles deeper, in spite of some characteristics of this style looking pointless on the surface when you begin studying this style.

  1. Advance, advance, advance: Baji training will make your body etched to advance, rather than moving back.
  2. Search for short distance. Althoug a Baji expert is trained at both short and long distance, Baji’s efficiency is mostly found in short distance fighting. A Baji expert never forgets that this may have its downside, although real mastery means also getting close to the opponent without giving him a chance to take you down.
  3. Practice without solution of continuity. When practicing your Baji forms (be it Xiao jia or another dao lu) remember that Baji quan follows the principle of the Dao: black and white, hard and soft, fast and slow, and your techniques should follow this duality as well. Gestures don’t have to look like a continuous ballet, but not even a tense robot-like pattern: preserve your energies in a fast but relaxed movement, but explode and express your full power when the part of the technique/dao lu requires it!
  4. Your body as a weapon. It’s not a punch. It’s not a kick. It’s not even a shoulder strike. It’s the whole body that impacts. Consider the engine of your car: do you think pistons generate power..? No, it’s the crankshaft that moves them and makes the whole engine be alive.
  5. Risk. Baji martial art is called the style of courage because it wants you to get that elbow of yours in the ribs of your enemy: not being a punch, this means you have to get closer to your enemy, hence the need to make your Baji guard perfect and, more important, to develop a strategy.
Lin Shifu Lin Jin Rong
Shifu Lin Jin Rong – Baji Quan Master

Tips for your Baji training.

  1. Train daily: like everything in life, the difference is made by people who can win over their mind, over fatigue, over soreness.
  2. Be careful when you stomp too hard and for too long, as your feet may be very sore next days. I personally recommend Feiyue shoes with proper gel-cushions installed. This may cause a loss of “ground-feeling”, but your feet, calves and joints will benefit from them.
  3. Always end your training sessions with proper stretching and auto massage.
  4. Baji routines are indeed a good cardiovascular workout, but don’t forget to blend your Baji training with proper Physical Training.
  5. Don’t forget that Baji martial art relies on impact, so BMC training must be compulsory in your weekly schedule. Without, it would be kust like being armed with a wooden sword and a wooden shield: surely you are protected, but how long will you last in a fight?

That’s all for today. But it’s not all for Baji: if you are already a practitioner of Baji, sure you already know that words must stop and leave room to training. if you are new to Baji martial art, on the other hand, I hope this will be helpful for you to move your first steps towards this amazing style.


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About the author : Fabio Zambelli

Fabio Zambelli
Fabio has dedicated his life to Martial Arts for more than 20 years and has been teaching since 2005. Extremely committed and passionate to the way of the warrior lifestyle, he lives his days following Martial Arts’ principles: hard work and self-sacrifice. The diplomas he is most proud of are his failures as overcoming these demonstrated that Martial Arts values, along with their code of conduct, have worked on him. His extraordinary determination, concretized in Heart of The Orient, the world's first designed and hand-crafted Dojo for Shaolin Kungfu, is proof that human willpower has no limits.

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