Kungfu vs MMA is certainly the hot topic in modern martial arts culture. Traditional Kungfu has received quite a beating in recent years- due to inaccurate documentation of history and faulty commercial promotions. Many in the west do not understand the Chinese language and current events in Asia- headlines are often a fraction of the whole story… A less appreciated fact is, feudal Chinese Kungfu mechanics and principals are integrated within the China MMA Combat Promotions… Most are familiar with MMA Xu Xiaodong, however many do not know he is a student of Mr. Mei Huizhi. Mei Huizhi served as the coach of the Beijing wrestling team, the head coach of the Beijing Sanda team, the head coach of the Beijing Armed Police Corps Sanda team, and the head coach of the Central Guards. Mei Huizhi is a practitioner of Baguazhang and a disciple of Wang Rongtang (Cheng Style) in Beijing. Xu’s teacher made important contributions to the creation and popularization of Sanshou Sports and was a pioneer in the integration of traditional martial arts in modern combat. Mei’s teacher, Wang Rongtang emphasized feudal Cheng Baguazhang- an advocate of the perfection of self and actual combat.
Bruce Lee sought to develop abilities in all areas of accomplishment: intellectual, artistic, and physical. Bruce has often been described as the archetype of the Renaissance man in modern kungfu culture. Bruce is also known by feudal historians to have a profound interest in Qing and Ming Dynasty military arts- as illustrated by his silky Imperial Dragon t-shirt.
The Shaolin Stick Method is the foundation for Cheng Style Baguazhang and certain categories in Yin Style [Silky Pudao or Dragon Capturing, which is cudgel methods- it’s not empty-hand as commonly presented]. The Shaolin Stick descends from the Ming Dynasty- the stick is interchangeable with polearms ranging from pudao to tigerfork. A short polearm (around the height of the person wielding it) is more focused on melee combat for foot soldiers or militia. Cheng Ting Hua would possibly use a cudgel or tigerfork for city security and a pudao/ spear for militia duties if required. The Shaolin long staff is commonly represented by the Dragon in ancient literature. It is said that the stick has the unique skills of being flexible and changeable, with the skills of the vertical and horizontal forces. The use of the force must be soft and silky during the transition of the stick method. The force must be smooth- described in ancient treatise as Moving with the Force. The mysterious secrets of Dong Haichuan’s Single, Double, and Moving with the Force Palms are foundationally FEUDAL SHAOLIN POLEARM [priceless artifact near extinction in modern times].
“Shaolin Broken Wall”, also known as “the practical scatter of three hundred and sixty hands.” by Yan Dehua (printed in the Tianjin Commercial Daily in 1936) is connected with high-ranking members of Cheng Tinghua’s relatives. Cheng Youlong, the eldest son of Cheng Tinghua, retired and worked in Tianjin during the early 20th century. Sun Xikun (in the pic) is a senior student of Cheng Youlong- transitions of the single and double palm change are rooted in Ming Era polearms ranging from cudgel, pudao, to tigerfork. The “Shaolin Broken Wall” is likely to symbolize the strong defense line for Beijing with context to the Great Wall [Four Towns and Three Guanzhi/ military combatives book of the Ming Dynasty]
The book, Taiji Yang Luchan’s “Stolen Boxing” by the novelist Gong Baiyu of the Republic of China, is, unfortunately, another primary inspiration for modern Baguazhang promotions and instruction. This fantasy novel is the foundation for the renown waiter and teacup story of Dong Haichuan. The story illustrates: Su Wangfu’s banquet on this day are full of [note: BS] wonder and guests -extremely crowded, that the waiter’s [Dong Haichuan] dishes cannot be placed on the table. The Qing officials saw the appearance of marvelous stunts, and the hand-held dishes were twirling between the crowds, flying, and dancing, and entering the unmanned environment- majestically the Waiterbender completed the task!! Everyone in the room was astonished and intrigued, only to realize this person is the top martial arts master Dong Haichuan. When serving teacups, it is the use of superior [Opera-fu] martial arts – the body and footwork of the Eight Trigram Palm.
Baguazhang is renowned for the Circle Walk strategy- however, it is of great irony very few Baguazhang schools today instruct or preserves the feudal application of the circle, in the correct context. Flanking is important in fighting… everyone knows. Circling prowess around an opponent, a tree, for meditation, for equilibrium, are common reasons the circle is instructed in modern schools. In the feudal era, the circle walk is designed specifically for melee combat- a special precaution for a soldier’s defense against multiple armed opponents. A classic example is illustrated in Costantino Calarone, Italian Fencing Treatise of 1714. The treatise dictates a single fighter against multiple armed opponents- should circle walk, so the body’s movements are more agile. The sole fighter should not deliver thrusts, unless in the reach of just one opponent. The fighter should not stay planted, nor withdraw with backward steps. The optimal strategy is to wheel to the right of the first opponent, away from the multiple opponents at his side- aka Melee Stacking [as in the pic].
[Pics from Tong Lin Chuan novel- the Shaolin influence is obvious] The legendary story of Dong Haichuan’s Opera-Fu exploits originated from the martial arts novel “雍正剑侠图” in the early 1920s. This instant classic has the most extensive influence on Baguazhang folk tradition in the Republic of China era. The author Chang Jieyi used Dong Haichuan as a prototype to create the character Tong Lin, which has brought a magical and fantastic context to Dong Haichuan’s life and the origin of the Eight Diagrams Palm. The magical fallacies from this world of FICTION continue to this day in countless Baguazhang schools, including the Deerhorn Knife and an arsenal of Peking Opera weapons… Now back to base reality, Dong Haichuan was originally named Dong Mingkui, a native of Zhujiawu Village, Wen’an County, Hebei Province in the Qing Dynasty. The Factual Dong family lived in Hongdong County in Shanxi Province. The ancestors of Dong Haichuan were the generals of the Yuan Dynasty. They served as the deputy marshal of the general of Long Huwei. Dong’s ancestors moved to the city of Hebei in the early years of the Ming Dynasty. The descendants of their descendants were military commanders for five consecutive generations. According to Wen’an Wenshi data and Xiongxian County records, many people in the Dong Haichuan family are military commanders and FEUDAL SHAOLIN PROFESSIONALS.
The graceful Pudao appeared in the Song Dynasty and which at the time, was the only legal folk weapon of this caliber. However, the legendary Airbending weapon was not widely used until the late Qing Dynasty. The Pudao is underappreciated in modern Baguazhang culture, as historical documentation reveals its strong connection in defending against ferocious tigers in the feudal era. The tiger is a symbol of Imperial Rule and ancient Shaolin champions. Many today regard Cheng Ting Hua’s Baguazhang as the most similar in appearance and strategy to the founder, Dong Haichuan. Scholars have determined this fact is indeed true, though it is a myth Cheng Ting Hua’s method is separate from Yin Fu’s Imperial Guard Commander system. The Pudao in the pic is the “Tai Ping Knife”. A multitude of soldiers from the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom in the late Qing Dynasty used this style of Pudao extensively. Even with such a simple weapon, the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom defeated the well-equipped Qing army- which shows that although the Pudao is extinct in modern Baguazhang culture, the power is not to be underestimated. Dong Haichuan entered Beijing around the Taiping Rebellion timeframe- there is minimal chance the founder would not be skilled with the silky and smooth Pudao prowess.
The fight scene in the first “IP MAN” film between Ip Man and the Northerner, Jin Shan Zhao- is based on Cheng Ting Hua’s patriotic journeys in 1883. The movie pays homage to the teahouse skirmish between Cheng Ting Hua and a Southern Chinese militiaman (who challenged Cheng Ting Hua as he was pouring tea).