The internal martial arts of Xing Yi Chuan (Hsing I) and Ba Gua Zhang (Pakua) compliment each other in many ways. In fact these arts are so compatible that some people think they share a common ancestor art or even that Bagua evolved from Xing Yi. The obvious advantage of cross training in these two styles is that Bagua develops deft footwork while Xing Yi developes very effective hand work. Another advantage to training in Bagua if you are primarily a Xing Yi man is that you can learn more indirect attacks that are helpful against a bigger opponnent. The Xing Yi striking system is very highly developed and enhance any internal martial art especially those with methods based off of the centerline. This works with Bagua because the centerline concept is there, it’s just rotated tot he side of the body.
First generation Ba Gua masters like Chen Ting Hua down to third generation masters like Gao Yi Sheng, studied Xing Yi before, during and/or after they began training in Bagua and this tradition carried on to later generations. The same thing went for several prominent Xing Yi masters such as Li Cun Yi, who also practiced palm changes.
Li Cun Yi’s text, Xingyi Lianhu Quan states:
“For generations neijia quan has been transmitted together with Daoism as a whole piece. Only recently has it been separated into branches, e.g. Xingyi and Bagua…”
The tradition of training these two arts together was kept at the Yi Zong school where Gao style bagua was trained with Hebei, Li Cun Yi style, Xing Yi. In the combined curriculum of these two arts there is enough material to accommodate any training goal; including push hands, health improvement of fighting ability.
Many of us have heard of the bagua and xing yi master who fought each other to a stand still and agreed to teach the arts side by side from then on. This story points to the original reasoning for the combining or cross training of these two styles. The motivation was clearly to create the most effective martial art possible. Also a beggining student can train in Xing Yi first to achieve a good foundation that can be built on later with Bagua or even Tai Chi Chuan.
So while it is true that Xing Yi is generally more linear and Bagua circular, both of these arts begin in stillness with Zhuang Fa practice.
Later on some of the core concepts of these two arts were used in the formulation of Yi Chuan. Many people know that this art came from Xing Yi, but Bagua was an influence on Wang as well. An example of this is the holding down a tiger posture.
Yi Chuan’s standing training is the best way to learn the correct body mechanics for power development in any of the internal martial arts. It’s kind of like learning the grammar of the neijia quan. Very few lineages of the internal arts are still taught with the comprehensive standing practices that Yi Chaun preserved. Shifu Chao’s classes are all based around Zhaung Zhaung practice, only when the student lears to connect the body to move as one unit are the bagu and or xing yi forms taught. Now you could say that in application Yi Chuan doesn’t use the centerline method as much as Xing Yi or Bagua. So when the student learns to use the ground force enough to be very at static pushing, shifu teaches these arts.