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Ba Gua and other internal arts became legendary not because of their flowing movements, moving meditation aspects, flowing silk uniforms, or sagely appearance but their realistic and sublime fighting skills. It is widely known that the great legends of the art like Dong Hai-Chuan, Cheng Ting-Hwa, and Sun Lu-Tang displayed uncanny abilities rarely seen today. Dong could move effortlessly through and around a group of attackers without being touched. Cheng was famous for his ability to neutralize an attacker, lock his arms, and take him to the ground in a matter of seconds. The skill of Sun has been well documented. Even at an elderly age his students could not keep up with him, not even "grab his coattails" while practicing his "pacing through the foothills" exercises.

What was it that made these skills appear so supernatural? Great knowledge is seldom evidenced today and many practitioners possess little or no awareness of the art's subtle and profound aspects. Often Ba Gua as practiced today has been transformed into a "show art" characterized by flowing movements and silk uniforms. Before one can understand and replicate the skills of past masters an understanding of the roots of internal power that were the cornerstone of their knowledge is essential. The essence of the real art is the same as it was in its early beginnings: combat skill coupled with internal power.

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