The most elite wrestlers in Qing era reside within the royal courts, known as the Imperial Guard Wrestling Battalion. The signature strength training/ defense instrument is the Horse Cutter in various weight and shapes [pudao/guandao styling]. Yin Style Baguazhang experts utilized this polearm for royal military examination, and in the 19th century- field duty on foot. According to Ming Dynasty treatise, the horse cutter is reserved for high ranking officers in relation to the cavalry (more common in the infantry). Standard Ming cavalry is generally prohibited from horse cutter usage on horseback… the customs continued through the Qing era of the Manchu equestrian military training.
The Shaolin Cudgel is the foundation for much of the strategy in Yin Style Baguazhang today- ranging from unarmed techniques, military saber, spear, polearms, and bayonet. In ancient dynasties centuries before Yin Fu’s time, the dagger is used alongside the cudgel… predating the longsword and saber.
The connection of fighting systems in modern era stems from connections of the past- the Baguazhang/ Bajiquan stick and archery methods were once classified as one. The content of Ming “Sword Classic” is mainly based on the stick method, yet it incorporates the content of the arrow and the array in origin. The tactics of the archers were separated from the sword classics in later editions.
In modern Baguazhang schools, the Giant Sword and Saber is often emphasized, regardless of branch or styles. In fact, many instructors today regard the sword as the soul of Baguazhang structures, in feudal times… While this theory certainly has merit, Feudal Academia is not here to play guessing games. 10 out of 10 Chinese scholars agree that the cold weapon technology of the Qing Dynasty is inherited directly from the Ming. IRFS provides clear documentation, tracking the longsword foundation to Yu Dazhao in the era of General Qijiguang. Yu Dazhao wrote a book called “The Sword Classic”: the techniques illustrated include the iconic T-step/shape footwork entries of triangular point-stepping, describes the sword method as ‘running water’, a continuous striking which ‘flows with the force’, demonstrates ‘reversing the body’ and ‘heaven and earth’ usage of the longsword… last and most importantly, THE SWORD CLASSIC IS A BOOK ABOUT STICKS [aka polearms] FOR PIKEMAN OF THE ARMY!!
In contemporary times with kungfu commercialization, historically accurate Baguazhang is a challenge to identify. Every now and again, someone will ponder why the Men Baozhen/ Xie Peiqi branch of Yin Style Baguazhang ‘aesthetically’ varies from mainstream Baguazhang. Some have suggested Yin Style Hard Palm looks more like KARATE then airbending as commonly depicted in the movies. The feudal breakdown by Chinese scholars can finally put this question to rest… Karate stems from “Tang Hand”, a system which was further refined in the 19th century through the efforts of Tangshou Sakugawa. At that time, Sakuhisa Kakuhe traveled across the ocean to study Chinese martial arts in the Qing Dynasty- improving upon the earlier Ming Dynasty “Tang Hand” rooted in Ryukyu. Sakugawa’s Beijing foundation is often credited to Dong Haichuan, the founder of Baguazhang. Sakujiu’s stick method is influenced by his military studies in Beijing City during this era.