The words “eight poles” and “taiji” predate Bajiquan and Taijiquan more than two thousand years. The only difference is the words “eight” and “tai”. “Eight” refers to broad, however boundless and has no edge. Therefore, eight-pole boxing has the meaning of “strengthening the outside and reaching the extremes of the eight parties.” The Taiji in the Taijiquan is grand, meaning it can be big, or small with no inside, the word Taiji refers to the broad meaning of the universe. Both systems are feudal methods of the late Ming era in origin- utilized by the same elite professionals. Even today, the arts have inseparable connections with the same genetic similarities -connection to the Beiyang New Army in Beijing and Tianjin. In contemporary times, Beijing Bajiquan lineages often cross-train Beijing Style Chen Taijiquan. Chen Yu’s great-grandfather (Chen Yanxi) was Chen Taijiquan instructor for six years with the Beiyang Commander- Yuan Shikai. BEIJING GONGFU JIA Taijiquan and Bajiquan share the same approach from the Qing and trace back to the same Qi Jiguang manual.
“Soft and not fragile, strong and not broken” is characteristic of Bajiquan and Beijing Chen Taijiquan. Due to its fierce boxing and respected practicality, Bajiquan is often cross-trained with feudal Chen Taijiquan in the security sectors during the late Qing and Republic of China era. This is a primary reason Chen Fake and Chen Zhaokui’s Gongfu Jia Taijiquan is distinct from Chen Village styles of Xin Jia (New Frame) in approach and appearance.
Li Shuwen is a famous practitioner of Bajiquan. His prowess with the spear earned him the name “God Spear Li”. The Ming Dynasty Treatise Wu Hao’s “arms” is the origin of Li Shuwens spearwork. Chen Gongfu Jia 83 shares the same foundation- feudal Shaolin methods descending from Qi Jiguang.
Liu Yun Qiao is the founder of Wutan Bajiquan Organization in Taiwan. Liu served as a secret agent for the nationalist Kuomintang and instructor of Chiang Kai Shek’s bodyguards. Bajiquan has since acquired a reputation as the bodyguard style.
In the feudal era, Beijing Chen Taijiquan and Bajiquan are of one system- utilized in harmony. Ancient Chen Tai Chi cross-trains Wutan Bajiquan with Beijing Chen Taijiquan 83 system- for a comprehensive and accurate understanding of factual Ming Dynasty martial arts. Kuan Wu’s uncle is an instructor of Wutan Bajiquan in Taiwan.
Feudal Bajiquan is spear focused with empty-hand tools, almost identical in approach to Chen Fake’s Xin Jia 83 routine. Taijiquan in the era of Chen Yanxi (Chen Fake’s father) is more similar to Bajiquan in intent and context.
Before the 1928 fitness reform in China- there would be a minimal distinction between Bajiquan and Chen Taijiquan, aside from divisions and restrictions in one’s occupation. Both systems were feudal strategy, utilizing almost identical elbow strikes, takedowns, and capturing methods. The reform shifted feudal Chen Taijiquan into the fitness calisthenics/ sports, Tai Chi, all too common today.
Bajiquan is showcased in THE GRANDMASTER motion picture.
Feudal Chen Taijiquan is well preserved in Beijing Gongfu Jia Taijiquan. Chen Yu demonstrates the Bajiquan elbow in Single Whip.
Gongfu Jia Taijiquan shares the fierce short-range strikes of Bajiquan- more efficient for urban self-defense. The Chen Village Lao Jia Yi Lu is not an unarmed system in origin, but instead the Ming era Sword and Shield routine. Gongfu Jia is the better empty-hand system.
Bajiquan reels silk as well. Chen Taijiquan Lao Jia 74 (sword and shield) routine is originally supplemented with empty-hand boxing methods (feudal Bajiquan) in the Ming Dynasty. The weapons ban in China has resulted in such misunderstandings in modern Chen Tai Chi culture. Unfortunately, lack of proper historical documentation in Tai Chi today has caused many practitioners to learn the hard way in modern combat sports.