The Sun Style Bagua Zhang (Eight Trigram Palms) was created by Master Sun Lutang who was taught by his Master Cheng Ting Hua. Sun Lutang devised his Sun Style Bagua Zhang out of the “Cheng Style” as taught to him by Cheng Ting Hua, the “Swimming Body Continuous Palm Form” ( Yong. Shen Lian Zhang Shi) also known as the “Eight Animal Form” ( Ba Shou Shi) because it consists of the following animals Lion, Unicorn, Snake, Dragon, Sparrow Hawk, Bear, Phoenix, Monkey not including the Single and Double Change Palms which make the whole form consist of ten individual short forms. The Swimming Body Continuous Palm Form is taught in an orthodox method starting with the Single Change Palm and then moving on in a certain order, once this orthodox method as been fully learnt and the individual has become proficient. They are then taught the ” Unorthodox Method” which means they can be changed in their order to make endless amount of changes.
Each of the short individual forms will develop the individuals balance, co-ordination and concentration. Plus, because the way each of the individual short forms was devised they each will also improve the individuals joint, tendon,ligament and muscle flexibility, as they all involve opening, closing, twisting, rotating actions of the upper and lower limbs and torso that invigorate blood and qi flow throughout the entire body. Another aspect to the practice of Sun Style Bagua Zhang is that it can be practiced in a linear or circular type of exercise, for those who know of Bagua Zhang it is famous for it “Circle Walking” (Yuan Zou) Practice. It is the twisting, rotating of the whole body and the circle walking aspects that make the over-al practice of Bagua Zhang more dynamic than that of Taijiquan.
Practicing Sun Style Bagua Zhang is also beneficial towards certain ailments that some individuals might suffer with, such as both high and low blood pressure problems, from my own experience of teaching taijiquanr for example especially teaching the taiji form is beneficial for suffers of hypertension ( high blood pressure) but not so for those who suffer with hypotension ( low blood pressure), whereas practicing Bagua Zhang is very beneficial for both. Obviously ailments like anxiety, tension, stress, depression, osteoporosis, arthritis, back & spine stiffness, poor circulation, chronic fatigue etc can all benefit of practicing Bagua Zhang.
Hidden within each of the ten short forms of the Sun Style Bagua Zhang Swimming Body Continuous Palm Forms is also a tremendous amount of martial art techniques including striking, kicking, wrestling and throwing methods. When you actually see a practitioner performing any of the Swiming Body Continous Palm Forms it is hard to believe that they can be used for self defence purposes, but they techniques are very practical and efficient as the art of Bagua Zhang is based upon fast footwork.