Should you train in Bagua or Taiji....
This is something I (Eli) get asked a lot, here you will find 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.
Also, we are talking the Circular Bagua form vs the Old Yang Taiji form, since in the WTBA we train a mix of partner drills from both, it's only the form which you make a chose on.

Bagua or Taiji FAQ

  1. Which one is better for health
    That depends on what other things you do with your body already, since health is about balance.
    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 different.

    Taiji is an easier doorway into the calm side of things, while Bagua is the easier doorway into the dynamic. Also, even at the higher levels, once you've been practicing for 20+ years, in my experience the Taiji form has a tendency to want to be done slowly, where is the Bagua form wants me to go faster and more dynamically. 
    Even if both "can" be done soft and calm, or faster and more dynamically, in my experience there do have their own preferred flow.

    If you choose to train the full WTBA system, you'll be doing a lot of dynamic martial drills from both styles,  therefore you may get a better overall balance by choosing the Taiji form to start with. 

    Good health is not just about the internal, your external physical system is just as important. 
    For this area of training Bagua offers some things that Taiji doesn't, this is due mainly to the 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 keep the spine straight, not rounding or arching the back for the most part.

    These principles are why Taiji will help you into the calm Qigong state sooner than Bagua, even if it means losing some of the physical aspects.
    Less physical movement usually means it's easier to tap into the internal. Taiji can also help more in the beginning with good posture, since it's keeping it simple by always having you upright.

    In Bagua however, 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. All of this means that it will take a lot longer to find the internal connection.
    So...If for example you feel you need softening and calming, then you might want to choose Taiji, if however you feel already too soft and think that a yang boost is what you need, with more work on your physical body, then Bagua.

    If you already do a lot of other physical exercise, Taiji might be the better choice.
    If you are weak and unfit, thinking you need physical strengthening, then Bagua might be the better choice. 
    You can also factor in the partner training, which in the WTBA we always do a mix. 
    If you are doing lots of partner work, this is very physical and dynamic, building a lot of Yang, so you might want to choose Taiji to calm down. 

  2. What if I'm physically unable to perform these bending twisting moves in Bagua
    Well in that case Taiji would be the better choice. Bagua can be performed in a more "Taiji" like way, where you lessen or completely remove these bending moves,
    however, since Taiji was designed this way, where is Bagua was not, imo Taiji would be the better choice.

  3. Is Taiji better for Qigong/Meditation
    No, well yes, in the beginning.
    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.
    However, both systems have both elements within them. This is like I have already said in question 1.

    The only thing that 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 weight shifting, where you are 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. 

    After some time training however the Bagua form can give you just as much of a Qigong as the Taiji form, different though, not better or worse, just different, the only way to know which one you like in this case is to try them.
    As in question one, it's about what you need in the beginning. 

  4. Can I learn both
    Yes you absolutely should, but not right away.
    For most people it's better to stick to one thing at least till you reach grade 1 instructor. Splitting your focus can end up with you learning neither correctly. 
    If you're unsure, the best thing you can do is try both for a few weeks and see which one you like more.

  5. Which one is better if I want to learn about Self Defence 
    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, like grounding, balance, looseness, centre connection etc etc. It's the partner drills and sparring that teach you how to fight, in the WTBA we do a mix of both, so which form you choose as no affect on your fighting skills.

  6. Which one takes up the most space
    In your first few years of training up to grade one instructor, Bagua takes more space. Bagua is done around a circle and needs a space of around 3m x 3m. Taiji needs around 1.8m x 2.7m. You can make adjustments to your body placement throughout the form if you have a small space, this is easier with Taiji, since in Bagua you do it on a circle painted on the ground. 

    However, once you pass instructor grade 1 and you start learning the second part of the Taiji form, this takes up around 2m x 4.2m, then the third part takes around 2.5m x 9m. This might seem like a lot, but remember it's not an issue once you're at a higher level like grade 2 instructor, to stop and move back to fit into your training space without losing the flow of the form.  

  7. 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. 

  8. Which form is more physically difficult
    There are some things in Bagua that are more difficult, and some things more difficult in Taiji, depending on your abilities. 
    At the very beginning of your training, up to student grade 2, Bagua is a little easier, only on a few points though, there's not a lot in it.
    As you move into student grade 3 and up to Instructor grade 1, Bagua becomes more difficult, by quite a bit, as it has some spinning moves, as well as low squatting stretches, these don't come till a later stage in Taiji. 

    As you move into instructor grade 2 and higher, they even out, it really comes down to what your body can already do as to which one you will find more difficult.

  9. Which one takes more time to practice 
    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.

    Usually Bagua would take less time, because most people do it at a faster pace, however, if done at around the same speed 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 form is not, (no matter how many people try to tell you it is) 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 form is balanced left and right enough that you don't need to do both sides one after the other. 

  10. To sum up
    In my 23 years of practice and 19 years of teaching both styles, (as of 2023) I have found the best choice is to do both. They are both such amazing forms, offering different feelings and experiences, developing your mind and body in different ways. 

    I have been back and fourth several times throughout the years as to which is better, or my preferred form, I don't seem to be able to make my mind up, therefore I make my mind up that there is no better or preferred option. I have also practiced over the years all the other forms, they have all taught me something and it's always nice to have something different to practice for a change. 
    Less is more when you're starting out though, so pick one and stick to it, all these other forms should only come after you have a solid foundation.

    My advice to most people these days is to start with Taiji, then start Bagua after instructor grade 1 at the earliest, or after instructor grade 3 at the latest. 
    This is general advice though, you might have a specific reason to start with Bagua, or to choose one and never do the other, if that works for you then it's the best path for you.

    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