So, Jiulong Baguazhang is it Kung Fu or Tai Chi?
Chinese martial arts are known by a variety of different names and terms, and without making this a treatise on the subject, I will try to clarify some of the nomenclature.
Jiulong Baguazhang is a Type of Gong Fu
Firstly, though we most often see the term Kung Fu (the modern spelling is Gong Fu, which I will use going forth) really has nothing to do with martial arts, per se – it simply means “skill acquired through hard work”. So, in reality one could have Gong Fu as a chef, doctor, electrician, architect, musician, computer programmer, or any other occupation. Somewhere along the line, the term was adopted to mean any form of martial art Chinese method of hand to hand combat. So, with that definition, Jiulong Baguazhang is a type of Gong Fu, as would be Tai Chi (Taijiquan).
Another term that is quite common is Wushu. In its original context it means “war art”, which certainly is martial in nature. In my humble understanding, it actually was more in line with the concept of military strategy and tactics than a pugilistic method. Nowadays, it specifically refers to the martial sport of Wushu, which is very similar to a martial art version of a gymnastics floor routine. A set routine is performed, and points are awarded for technique, style, creativity, and so forth. Performances are very flashy and acrobatic, but it must be understood that the skills and techniques that make a method viable for combat have been removed in favor of aesthetically pleasing movements such as wide stances and flowery hand gestures.
Baguazhang Emphasizes the use of the Palm
Finally we come to a term that is not so commonly used – Quan Fa. This literally means “Fist method” and really is the closest match to this topic of discussion: hand to hand combat using strikes, kicks, locks, and throws. Since Baguazhang emphasizes the use of the palm as opposed to the fist for striking, we sometimes may use the term “Zhang Fa” – Palm method. As I am no martial art historian, I can’t provide an answer why this term is not in popular use, but it’s the one that makes the most sense to me.
Since Kung Fu – with it’s original spelling – is what the majority of people understand, it’s what I typically use to refer to the art I train in, and ultimately – as Shakespeare put it – “What’s in a name? A rose by any other would smell just as sweet.”
Would You Like to Learn More?
If you are looking to study martial arts and particularly Kung Fu in Minneapolis or St Paul MN you might want to check out the Jiulong Baguazhang style of Kung Fu we teach. Call Xiangdao Steve Bialon at 612-730-4336 for more information or to sign up for a class.