King of the Snakes – General Qi Jiguang

The fluid and adaptive strikes of the snake entwines and devastates an opponent’s defense. In contemporary times, the serpent strategy resides in Shaolin methods of Baguazhang, Bajiquan, and Taijiquan. Armored Shaolin monks in the Ming Era defended empires, using the Long Snake Formation in battle. Feudal body methods/ close-in fighting of Bajiquan are often characterized as snake-like. Great stories exist of ancient masters observing fights between birds and snakes in the synthesis of Taijiquan. Moreover, both disciples of Dong Haichuan are characterized by snake attributes in one way or another… Be that as it may, the King of Snakes is no other than Ming General Qi Jiguang- who fought with REAL snakes during combat. In the year 1561, Qi Jiguang and 500 soldiers of the Qi family (also known as Yiwu soldiers) were stationed in Taocheng City, with the mission to eradicate invading pirates. Thousands of pirates sieged the capital city on a regular basis, causing much fear and disruption among its citizens. In response, Qi Jiguang strictly ordered the sergeant to strengthen the garrison and upon inspection of the city walls, discovered many slithering beasts in the area. During the summer months in Zhejiang, snakes were frequent… and there were many venomous snakes, especially a specie of brown viperous snake. Qi and soldiers devised a plan offering brocade boxes of gold with heavy cloth bags of silver (concealing pissed-off snakes) to the pirates. Later upon taking the bait, the savage snakes entangled and bit the limbs of the pirates, ending many of them on the spot while scrambling others. Even more masterful, Qi Jiguang and troops stormed the retreating looters out of the city, attacking them with graceful martial artistry, cannons, and spears. After some fighting, hundreds of pirates were without lifeforce, including the unethical leader who was beheaded by Qi Jiguang. 

Shaolin Warrior – The Knights Templar

Shaolin martial disciplines are renown as the core of Chinese Kungfu, and in stark contrast to popular understanding- its reputation is earned through centuries-old history in the professional military forces.  As a general comparison, the Templar Knights in the West are equivalent in nature to the Shaolin monks and soldiers of the feudal era. Shaolin military history commenced in the Northern Wei Dynasty and became solidified during the Ming Dynasty (in the era of Qi Jiguang). Buddhist temples consisted of vast sanctuary properties since the beginning and were often the target of bandits or rogue warlords. Therefore, independent monks and soldiers were armed to defend the holy grounds, forming Shaolin into a combat system. Even until the 1920s, Shaolin Temple Guard Regiments remained protectors of sacred land, victorious in countless battles yet suffering great tragedies. The Templars are routinely referred to as ‘warrior monks’ characterized by white robes painted with red crosses, the holy knights of the Middle Ages. The Knight Templars prevailed as the most combative group of crusaders, evolving from a monastic order.

Numerical Cognition and Perception – Circular Motion

“The present study was to deepen the relationship between the passive or active movements of our body in space and the numerical processing by studying a movement that has so far not been explored, that is, the circular motion (i.e., clockwise/counterclockwise movement). The circular motion is a kind of axis we are very familiar with: everyday, for example, we experience the clockwise movements of time. Despite the prominent role of the vertical axes, evidence has shown that our experience of the clock-face circular motion can be very influential…  Surprisingly, recent findings demonstrated that this type of movement also influences our perception. For example, Topolinski and Sparenberg (2011) demonstrated that moving a crank in a clockwise direction induces psychological states of temporal progression and, accordingly, motivational orientations toward the future and novelty. Based on these findings, we can hypothesize that the clockwise movement direction maps onto the future, and probably also that counterclockwise movement direction maps onto the past. Other studies have demonstrated that thinking about the future has been associated with moving forward, and thinking about the past with moving backward” PubMed 

The Lion – An Imperial Icon

Ever since prehistoric times, the Lion has never inhabited China naturally… yet the King of Beasts remains an Imperial icon.  To this day, the images of lions are everywhere in the east, such as lion dance, stone lion, and Yin Style Bagua Lion System. The ancient royal families were fond of raising imported lions in imperial gardens. As early as the Western Han Dynasty, Western merchants brought lions to the Mainland.  However, the iconic, noble nature of the lion became widely circulated in China mainly after the introduction of Buddhism. A Song Dynasty written text is inscribed “When Sakyamuni Buddha was born, he pointed one hand to heaven and one hand to earth and said with a lion’s roar: I alone am the honored one in the heavens and on the earth.” 

Escape Plan 3 – Tactical Baguazhang

Feudal Baguazhang remains an outcast in popular Internal Martial Art interpretation- its raw military history and elite application often clash with the industry-standard… that is, unless Hollywood makes a mega-blockbuster featuring some ultra tactical John Wick style Bagua, then it becomes pretty cool- acceptable. Max Zhang’s security guard character (Shen Lo) displays Baguazhang’s iconic Dragon and Lion postures while gracefully dismantling Daniel Bernhardt (Silva) with wushu. Escape Plan: The Extractors is a 2019 motion picture with Sylvester Stallone and Dave Bautista.

Stress Response – Vestibular Function

More times than not… the stress response is activated during modern Kungfu vs MMA challenges and goes into overdrive anytime popular kungfu interpretation examines its own feudal history (the one that is not reimagined/approved by the Chinese State Commission for Physical Culture and Sports). Elevated levels of stress and anxiety often accompany vestibular dysfunction- overwhelming dizziness and loss of balance are common in kungfu practitioners with panic and other anxiety disorders. A stressed-out vestibular system may induce fear of movement, the feeling of insecurity in a fight, and unbalanced emotions in the context of proper historical documentation. Extensive circle walking and feudal insight harmonize the interaction between stress and vestibular compensation.

Vestibular System – Gravitational Confidence

The vestibular system is improved through refined biomechanic training of the body, further enhanced by expanding protective reflexes during fight or flight mode. Methodical circle walking with tight diameters provide a foundation for the development of sensory systems such as touch, vision, sound, and proprioception. The simple yet challenging mechanics of Baguazhang sharpen the central nervous system and remain crucial for the development of balance, motor control of the eye, bilateral coordination (the ability to fully use both sides of the body). Military-grade Bagua strengthens our tolerance to motion under stress and develops the trust of movement in elite conditions. Gravitational confidence, in turn, ensures our ability to maintain position, orientation, and balance within the surrounding environment- protecting the body from injury during a fight or when avoiding one.

Baguazhang Bannerman – Baoding Wrestling

[Dowager Empress Cixi and YSB Guards returning to Beijing in 1902/  Chang Dong Sheng demonstrating wrestling and weapons engagement in the National Army Combat Class]

Yin Style Bagua Bannermen were distributed among the Beijing-Tianjin area in the northern military port towns during the late Qing Dynasty. Baoding/central Hebei is the seat of important governors of Zhili and Beiyang New Army officials. The Eight Animal Systems of the Men Baozhen/Xie Peiqi branch shares ancestry with Baoding Wrestling branching from Chang Dong Sheng.

Ancestors Baguazhang – Military Wrestling

The feudal wrestling techniques of Baguazhang practitioners have shifted greatly with the times. Empty-hand wrestling methods in the classical sense serve fractions of the curriculum under jurisdiction of Internal House Affairs. Qing-era wrestling battalions integrate grappling in the context of military close combat- emphasizing disarms, weapons retention/engagement, horseriding, bone strikes, locks, and alternate psychology to modern interpretation. The principles are similar to Japanese ancient jujitsu or medieval European knights in historical battlefields. 

Dragon Anatomy – Big Saber

The Qing era heavy knife (Big Saber) as a whole symbolizes a dragon, which is divided into a dragon head, a dragon body, and a dragon tail. Several variants exist, ranging from patrol, strength development, to ceremonial applications. The oversized strength training versions of wrestlers are often made completely of cast iron. The iron ring on the back of the knife represents the weight of the Big Saber. The more iron rings, the greater the weight.