Chen Fake/ Liu Yun Qiao – 1920s Kungfu Exchange

Liu Yun Qiao and Chen Fake exchanged martial concepts in Beijing during the late 1920s.  Both masters at the time- Chen Fake (Beijing Chen Taijiquan) and Liu Yun Qiao (Bajiquan) agreed there was a great similarity between the systems. Both fighting arts utilize segmentation of elbows, short-range power, the similar tempo of footwork etc. In the Ming Dynasty, Bajiquan and Chen Taijiquan were one system- gradually separated through modernization, with the fall of Qing Dynasty. The fusion and historical artifact are preserved in Beijing Gongfu Jia of Chen Yu (Chen Zhaokui’s son).

The Grandmaster Motion Picture – Wong Kar-Wai

Wong Kar-wai’s 2013 film, THE GRANDMASTER, features elegant cinematography and artistry of Baguazhang. In the movie, Gong Er’s (Zhang Ziyi) father is Gong Yutian who is an elite Yin Style Baguazhang fighter. Gong Yutian’s character is inspired by Yin Fu’s (right on pic) disciple GONG BAOTIAN (left)- who served as the royal bodyguard of the Dowager Empress Cixi (middle).  The style of Baguazhang in the movie is Yin/Cheng Baguazhang Interlinking Body- characterized by smooth coiling and uncoiling actions, dynamic footwork, close-in wrestling, bone strikes, and most importantly Polearm methods of Qing era Bodyguards… An interesting note, Gong Baotian’s LUOHAN Style of Baguazhang is cross-trained by Wutan Bajiquan carrier, Liu Yun Qiao.  The Bajiquan fighter (Razor’s character) in The Grandmaster film is based on Liu Yun Qiao’s journeys.  

Feudal Sanda – Baguazhang/ Bajiquan/ Beijing Taijiquan

Unarmed pugilism with the “chop socky” styling is often associated with Chinese Kungfu- evolving directly from the Peking Opera tradition and entertainment circles in the early 20th century. One-on-one dueling back and forth in pugilistic sports- is a relatively new concept for ancient Chinese culture. Dueling concept in western cultures contains a history far beyond modern combat sports… the pugilistic style between two willing contestants under unified rules- is a foreign concept to the Chinese. In the feudal era, practical fighting systems are geared primarily for Chinese soldiers or militia. The context of fighting is urban, essential to survival in real-world situations. Unarmed fighting in ancient times is almost always to supplement weapons applications against other armed opponents. The feudal equivalent of modern Sanda differs from the contemporary, largely due to the inherent armed strategy and angles of strikes/ approach. Bajiquan, for instance, is medieval Sanda trained in conjunction with Chen Taijiquan Lao Jia 74 ( which is sword and shield strategy in origin, not empty-hand as popularly instructed). The elbows and fists of Bajiquan generate angles of wielding medieval instruments, distinct from western boxing. However, due to the compactness and refined structures of the battlefield, Bajiquan works extremely well for modern unarmed fighting. Beijing Gongfu Jia Taijiquan 83 shares the Bajiquan elbow segmentation and compact angles, generally more efficient in modern pugilism than Chen Lao Jia Yi Lu.  Yin Style Bagua Lion system contains many elements of feudal Sanda in the Cutting, Hooking, and Blocking strike categories- efficient for today’s martial arts interests.

Bajiquan – An Internal Martial Art?

Bajiquan is not included in the three major Internal Martial Arts categories- which was standardized in 1928 by the Chinese government for fitness and cultural-sports promotions. This exclusion of Bajiquan really makes no sense if Chen Taijiquan is considered an Internal style. Beijing Chen Taijiquan of Chen Fake (currently instructed by his grandson in Beijing, Chen Yu), descends from the same Ming era sources as Bajiquan. Bajiquan and Beijing Chen Taijiquan were separated and rebranded in the early 20th century- they were of one system in feudal times… the ROC Special Operations and Liu Yun Qiao (instructor of Chiang Kai-shek’s bodyguards) in the pic- seem harmonious with Bajiquan Qi-flow and mind-intent boxing.