This is something I get asked a lot, so on here you will fine the FAQ that should help you to decided which one is right for you, if you need further information or have any questions then please get in touch.
Please Note that the following is based only on the Bagua and Taiji styles taught by the WTBA.
Bagua or Taiji FAQ:
- Which one is better for health?
Bagua... A lot of people would disagree with me on this, but I'll explain why I think Bagua is the superior health system.
As far as internal Qi development is concerned, balancing of the Qi, the mind and all other things regarded as internal training, the two systems are in my opinion equal.
But we have to remember that god health is not just about the internal, your external physical system is just as important.
For this area of training Bagua is far greater than Taiji, this is due mainly to the limiting factor in Taiji which has us 99% of the time in an upright body position, we almost never lean over in any direction, we twist the spine but not that often, we also for the most part keep the spine straight, not rounding or arching the back for the most part.
In Bagua however, we do all of this, the form gets us to lean over in every direction, we round and arch the back, we twist bend and undulate, this is not only great for your spine health but also brings more activation to things like your Gluts and Hamstrings, your lower back, your whole core, as these areas are put to work more when we start to move away from a vertical position. The Bagua form also has a far greater variety of movements, putting your body into more shapes, both in the upper body and in the low squatting moves. So for a full body internal/external exercise, Bagua trumps Taiji.
- But what if I'm physically unable to perform these bending twisting moves in Bagua?
Well in that case the two styles then become equal for you, Bagua can be performed in a more "Taiji like" way, where you lessen or completely remove these bending moves, in this case it really comes down to a personal choice. Keep in mind though that as your body gets stronger and heals, you may one day be able to achieve the full Bagua movement, where is with Taiji you would always be limited.
- But isn't Taiji better for Qigong/Meditation?
No, a lot of people think this because they see one small part of Bagua, just like how most people think that Taiji is all slow, they think Bagua is all fast.
But both systems have both elements within them.
The only thing could be seen as "better" in Taiji for Qigong purposes, is that Taiji is more two dimensional and repetitive, with it's common back and forth back and forth weight shifting, where are you essentially doing the same thing over and over in the lower body, then adding different moves on the top, but even these moves on the top are not so different from one another. Bagua on the other hand is all about changing, both in the upper and lower body.
The more simple and repetitive movements are, the easier it is to feel something happening internally, so most people will typically feel this sooner in Taiji than in Bagua.
So in Bagua training we often give students simple Qigong's along with their form, to feel this internal side, where is with Taiji we give them move physical based exercises to get twisting and stretching etc. After some time training however the Bagua form will give you just as much of a Qigong as the Taiji form.
- Can I learn both?
That's really up to the individual and how much time you have on your hands.
For most people it's better to stick to one thing at least in the first year or two of your training, as splitting your focus can end up with you learning neither correctly.
A good think to do though if you are unsure which one is right for you, learn both on alternating days for the first couple of months, see which ones fits with you better, then continue to focus on that once you make your choice.
- Which one is better if I want to learn about Self Defence?
Both are equal and very similar in this area, there are differences, but not really pros and cons, just difference, so it's a personal choice which one you like the moves of better.
Remember forms don't teach you how to fight, they only teach you how to move, both style teach you all the stuff you need from your body in a fight.
When it comes to the actual fighting training both are very similar.
- Which one takes up the most space?
Depends which form, the main forms, Circular Bagua vs the YLC Taiji form, the Bagua takes up far less space as it's done around the circle.
The fighting forms however both need a good size area if you don't want to keep moving back to adjust, but the Bagua Linear takes the most space here of the two.
- I've heard Bagua is bad for your knees?
Only if it's done incorrectly, but the same can be said for Taiji and any other form of movement.
The only reason more people complain of knee pain in Bagua vs Taiji, is because they try to do it fast right at the start, if you do it slowly like you should be then you won't have any problems.
- Bagua looks much more difficult than Taiji.
Yes you're right, it does "Look" much more difficult than Taiji.
That's because everything that makes Taiji difficult is hidden from the untrained eye, where is with Bagua you can see it.
The only reason people find Taiji easier than Bagua is because in Taiji it's very easy to fake your way through it, cheating to make it easier for you, of course if you do this then you pretty much get no more benefit than going for a walk in the park.
Bagua on the other hand can't be faked as easily, there are still many subtle things in Bagua that if left out will make it easier, but even if you leave out these subtleties what you're left with is still a good exercise, but leave them out from Taiji and you're not left with much.
So both are equally difficult in my opinion.
- I have a limited amount of time each morning to train, which one is shorter to practice?
Obviously you could just do one form or several, so I'll talk about the main form of each.
The Taiji form has around 280 moves in total including repeats, or about 120 individual moves.
The Bagua form has around 220 moves in total including repeats, or about 65 individual moves, but then you have the circle walking between each section, so you walk the circle 16 times during the form. I have made a rough timing of both forms if done at about the same speed and they take about the same time to complete, however, keep in mind that when you finish the Bagua form you have done all the moves bar two on both sides, so the form is physically balanced left and right.
Where is the Taiji is not, although many moves are done both sides, there are also a lot which are not, so the whole form needs to be done on the other side, therefore taking twice as long as the Bagua form. You can of course do the different sides on alternating days.
The other factor is that like I said in question 1, because Taiji does not have the same level of body movement, you may feel like you also need to add some other stuff to it, like some Qigong's, where is the Bagua form once through will give your whole body what it needs.
- So Bagua is better than Taiji then?
Well yes and no...
On paper, technically speaking Bagua is better than Taiji, in my opinion it has everything in it that Taiji has, but also has the more complete range of motion in it's movement.
But, the best art is not what is technically better, it's about what resonates with you as an individual.
I know that a Suzuki GSXR1000 is technically better in every way than a Ducati 848, but I bought the Ducati, why, because it's the ones that put the biggest smile on my face.
So if you like the look of both, then it would make sense to go with the logical choice, but despite Bagua having the upper hand on paper, you might find that the Taiji movement calls to you, when you do Taiji everything just works, you love it, it's the one for you, or maybe you feel that for Bagua.
So have a look through some of our videos on the two, does one make you go "OHHH I like that!" If so then that one is more for you.
but if you like the look of both and want to practice the one that will technically give you more for your body, then Bagua would be my choice.
Anything I haven't covered? Write to me and ask
Or for more info on Baguazhang you can go here
For more info on Taijiquan you can go here