Baji Chuan's full name is actually Kai Men Baji Chuan, which when translated directly to English means "Open Gate Eight Extreme Fists". The origins of Baji Chuan have been traced back to the Hebei Province in Northern China around the early 18th century. The history about who exactly created the martial art is unfortunately shrouded by the erosion of time and war. The civil war and Cultural Revolution in China led to the destruction of many written documents from previous eras including those written about Baji Chuan. The style is mentioned first in writing in the Ming Dynasty, but then doesn't really show back up till the Qing Dynasty where it became popularized. It is believed to have originated from the Wu family in the Cun Zhou area though exactly who the first teachers were and where they developed the original techniques is also uncertain.
Baji Chuan is characterized by using eight different parts of the body to deliver attacks; they are the shoulders, elbows, hands, buttocks, knees, feet, waist and head. The style uses a great deal of sudden and explosive force in its movements in order to rapidly break an opponent's defense and destroy their balance. By doing this they practitioners of Baji Chuan are able to rapidly achieve victory.
The technique is extremely effective in close combat and relies on striking the opponent in the most vulnerable areas. You have probably seen Baji Chuan if you've witnessed a martial artist that has powerful charging steps that are timed with fast strikes from the elbow and fist.
The martial art has been passed down over the generations since its original founding. Some of the most famous masters of more recent times are Wu Hui Qing, Wu Zhong, Jin Dian Sheng, Li Shu Wen and Li Yun Qiao. Today Baji Chuan is practiced throughout the world and has developed multiple branches which have been developed in different parts of China. A few different styles are Wutang Baji, Nanjing Baji, Mengcun Baji and Wu Xiufeng.