Akira Yuki practices Hakkyoku-ken, also known as Baji quan. He serves as the mascot character for Virtua Fighter. He may look like a generic Ryu clone, but there are some interesting things about him. For one, he is a Japanese character who is using a Chinese style of fighting. Typically, you see the main character be Japanese and use a very Japanese style. Oddly enough, the most well known Japanese style, Karate, wasn’t even used until the very most recent iteration, Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown.
Secondly, instead of being the “go to” well-rounded character like Ryu, he is one of the most advanced. Considered one of the best fighters in the series, he also one of the most difficult to become effective with. At first, his strikes will seem slow and short, with very little combo potential. This looks even worse when compared to a fast striker like Jacky.
His moves, however, are devastatingly strong. While they don’t individually do the most damage, they are great setups for more complicated attacks and short combos. This goes in line with the real life version of his fighting style, Hakkyoku-ken.
The name’s meaning
Hakkyoku-ken is a Chinese style, and is known as Baji quan in its native land. The full name of the style is kai men baji quan, which translates to “open gate eight-extremities fist”. Originally, the style was called Bazi quan, which meant “rake fist” due to the hand being held open and the downward strikes often delivered. This name, however, was considered to sound crude, so the name was changed to “baji”, which can signify and “extension of all directions”. This could mean that it includes everything. This term comes from the classic Chinese literature, the I-Ching.
A note on the Chinese language
You may see the suffix “quan” a lot in Chinese, especially when researching martial arts. It means “fist”. It can also be spelled “chuan” or “zhang”. Sometimes you might see something in Cantonese, and later in Mandarin, so you will often run into two different spellings of the same thing. There are also different ways to translate Chinese based on who did the work and when. You will also see “boxing” in place of fist occasionally.
The style and history
Bajiquan features explosive, short attacks, intended to deliver one hit knockouts. The foot will stomp the ground and the moment of impact. One of its most famous users was a man by the name of Li Shuwen, who lived from 1864-1934.
He was nicknamed “God of Spear Li”. In addition to being an expert fighter, was also in Beijing Opera. He was known for his quote, “I do not know what it’s like to hit a man twice.” Li Shuwen’s studen Huo Dian Ge was the bodyguard of China’s last emperor, Pu Yi. Chinese general Chiang Kai-shek, of the Flying Tigers also had bodyguards that were trained in Baji quan.
Attacks are often delivered by the shoulders, elbows, fists, hips, and knees. This can clearly be seen in Akira’s moves list. In addition to the fierce strikes, pushes, elbows, and throws, Baji quan also utilizes weapons. The spear, sword, saber, staff, pudao (a long handled sword, much like a spear but with a sword blade instead of simply a point), and the Chun Qiu Da Dao, another large, two handed blade.
Baji quan is often taught alongside another style, called Piguaquan. The two compliment each other so well that there is a saying: “When pigua is added to baji, gods and demons will all be terrified. When baji is added to pigua, heroes will sigh knowing they are no match against it.”
Footage for comparison
Footage of Akira fighting Lion from Virtua Fighter 2, then Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown. Footage from Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown was taken from an online match.
A clip from the movie The Grandmaster, by Wong Kar-wai. It’s technically about Ip Man, who fought with Wing Chun, but this is an excellent example of baji quan, which is rarely shown in movies.
And here is a clip of a school that offers Baji quan training. I’m not personally endorsing it, as I have never attended this school or taken any classes on the art of baji.