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.

Bagua or Taiji FAQ: 

  1. Which one is better for health?
    That depends on what other things you do with your body already.
    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. Both can be done soft and calm, or faster and more dynamically. 
    However, Taiji is an easier doorway into the calm side of things, while Bagua is the easier doorway into the dynamic. 
    For this reason, if you wish to train the full wtba syllabus, since you'll be doing a lot of other dynamic martial drills, 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 for the most part 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 better 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.
    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. 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 choise.

  3. Isn't 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. 
    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 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 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? 
    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. 
    If you're unsure, the best thing you can do is try both for a few weeks, see which one you like more, since this is the most important think about your choice here.

  5. 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. 
    In the WTBA you choose what form you want to learn, but the martial partner training is always a mixture of both anyway. 

  6. 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. 

  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. Bagua looks much more difficult than Taiji?
    That's right, it "looks" much more difficult. There are some things in Bagua that are more difficult, but some things more difficult in Taiji. 
    I just finished a workshop in France where most of the people had been doing Taiji for a year or more. I took them through the first five moves of the form, correcting what they already knew. Then the next day I did the same but with the Bagua form, they had never even seen this form before, yet they were making far less errors in the Bagua than in the Taiji, based on this, I would say Taiji is more difficult in the beginning. 
    Then as things move on, in Bagua you get some difficult low stances about one third of the way through the form, where in the Taiji form these type of postures come much later. Therefore you get to learn more moves before you get to the difficult ones in Taiji, you might like this, or you might like that in Bagua you get more variety of movements sooner, some people can find Taiji a little repetitive. 

  9. 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 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. 
  10. To sum up:
    In my 23 years of practice, (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, the 16 Bagua animal forms, the Bagua Linear form, the Taiji Cannon Fist form, Weapons forms, 12 Wudang Qi Disruption forms, 4 Dim Mak Cornerstone forms and many more. 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, so pick one and stick to it, all these other forms should only come after you have a solid foundation.

    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