Baji Quan (Eight Extremes Chuan)
Bajiquan is a Chinese martial art that features explosive, short range power and is famous for its elbow strikes. It originated in Hebei Province of Northern China, but is also well-known in other places as well today, especially Taiwan.
Bajiquan was originally called Baziquan, due to the fact that when not striking, the fist is held loosely and slightly open, resembling a rake. However, the name was considered to be rather crude sounding in its native tongue, and so it was changed to the more pleasing Bajiquan. The term baji, which comes from the oldest book in China, the I Ching, signifies "an extension of all directions." In this case, it means "including everything" or "the universe."
Made famous in recent times by Li Shuwen (1864-1934), a fighter from Shandong province whose skill with a spear earned him the nickname "God of Spear Li." His most famous quote about fighting was, "I do not know what it's like to hit a man twice." Certainly a bit of hyperbole, but it still speaks for the shocking power Baji training develops. Li Shuwen's most famous students include Huo Diange (bodyguard to Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China), Li Chenwu (bodyguard to Mao Zedong), and Liu Yunqiao (secret agent for the nationalist Kuomintang and instructor of the bodyguards of Chiang Kai Shek). Because of this, Bajiquan has come to be known as "The Bodyguard Style".
Bajiquan shares roots with another Hebei martial art, Piguazhang. It is said that Wu Zhong, the oldest traceable lineage holder in the Bajiquan lineage, taught both arts together as an integrated fighting system. They then slowly split apart, only to be remarried by Li Shuwen in the late 18th to early 19th century. As a testament to the complementary nature of these two styles, there is a Chinese martial arts proverb that goes: "When pigua is added to baji, gods and demons will all be terrified. When baji is added to pigua, heroes will sigh knowing they are no match against it."
Today, the lineage holder of Bajiquan in China is Wu Lianzhi. He is also the prototype of Akira Yuki of Virtua Fighter fame. Through more than 50 years of training, he collected much material and records which were passed down from generation to generation.