William E. Fairbairn – Baguazhang

irfsFairbairnFairbairn was a Royal Marine Soldier who is credited as the pioneer of modern close quarters combatives. In 1907, Fairbairn joined the Shanghai Municipal Police and served as the Primary Chief CQC instructor - Shanghai was considered to be the most dangerous city in the world at the time. Fairbairn founded and trained the Shanghai Reserve Unit (the Riot Squad) — which is the first Special Weapons & Tactics Unit in the world, and became the precursor for modern S.W.A.T. and S.R.T. teams. In China, Fairbairn studied and became proficient in Baguazhang under the instruction of Tsai Ching Tung (Cui Zhendong, Bagua student of Yin Fu), who was employed at the Imperial Palace, Beijing, as the instructor to the Retainers of the late Empress Dowager. Fairbairn later made a dedication in his book All In Fighting/The Fairbairn Method (1942) to Cui Zhendong calling him a man of "terrifying prowess." Around 1939 during the start of World War II, Fairbairn was recruited to train British Commandos and Special Operations in close quarters combative and edged weapon strategy. He integrated elements of Baguazhang's ox tongue-dragon claw hand shape/strikes/biomechanics and knife concepts into the combat training program, also designing the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife issued to the British Commandos and SAS. OSS Agents (predecessor of the modern Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Law Enforcement (FBI), received elite combative training from William Fairbairn as well.  


New Science of Baguazhang Book Now Available – The Ultimate Chinese Martial Art

The pre-release of the new historical and scientific analysis of Cheng Baguazhang, published by World Scientific is now available. Special thanks to Arlen, Master Li, Madam Ge for providing IRFS with the opportunity to introduce this marvelous book. The Ultimate Chinese Martial Art, The Science of the Weaving Stance Bagua 64 Forms and its Wellness Applications is a much-anticipated book authored by an old mentor and family friend, Li Junfeng. Classic baguazhang enthusiasts will remember Li Junfeng as the lead actor in the award winning film, The Honor of Dong Fangxu, the iconic movie which propelled Cheng Baguazhang into mainstream culture, beginning the baguazhang renaissance in Beijing and China in 1982. The original film is the inspiration for Wang Kar Wai’s The GrandMaster movie. The Ultimate book is coauthored by Luo Tong and Ge Chun Yan, who is Zhang Zi Yi’s baguazhang coach for the Oscar-nominated action film. For Baguazhang practitioners searching for a new style of martial art book providing insight into the historical and scientific exploration of the Dragon style of Baguazhang – this book does not disappoint. Unlike classic internal kungfu books on mystical qi fields, this one is published by World Scientific. Refreshing indeed, The Ultimate Chinese Martial Art removes the Chinglish and over sophisticated/poetic writing style of cliche Asian martial arts manuals ( thanks to Mr. Luo). The book is divided into three main sections, Part one: Cultural, historical, scientific background of Baguzhang. Part two: Concise instruction for training methods, foundational mechanics, and 64 palm routine consolidated from the knowledge of famous Cheng masters -Sun Zhijun, Liu Jingru, and Sha Guo Zheng. Part three: Fighter’s mind and wellness applications/ fight evolution and martial renaissance discussions.

Dongfangxu Movie link Courtesy of FRANTALEY   The Ultimate Chinese Martial Art, The Science of the Weaving Stance Bagua 64 Forms and its Wellness Applications⇒ Part one begins with Biological theory, addressing the brutal combative nature of ancient internal martial arts and its modernization into the 21st century. Discussions are given on the martial evolution of human body through natural selection, and our complex physical design to become great fighters. The first section provides a solid crash course in Taoism, Confucianism, Trigrams, Taiji philosophy, Shaolin origins, and evolution from outer to inner schools of fighting arts. Three major components of Chinese martial arts are analyzed – the practical application component, body/mind development and wellness component, and the controversy of the “dancing” impractical art side of Chinese martial systems component. Cheng Bagua Ge

In the next chapter, new perspective is provided on Dong Haichuan and Cheng-ting Hua, including discussions on the later heavier, self-cultivation aspect of Dong Haichuan’s teachings – as he was 77 years of age when he retired from the Imperial court to teach Baguazhang full time. As a side note, the book suggests the strong emphasis on energy cultivation and health in Cheng bagua is traditional/crucial via the founder and not a process of modernization. A brief discussion is provided on Cheng Ting Hua’s body and build – revealing it’s similarity to the build of Dong Haichuan, thus the popularity of the Dragon shape and Cheng Ting Hua’s close resemblance to the Founder’s own preferred fighting structures. (Note: the Men Boazhen/Xie Peiqi branch of Yin Style view swimming (weaving) bagua to be an integrated part of the eight animal (dragon) system. Modernized demonstration routines now alter the perspective of the original fighting art of Baguazhang regardless of branch/raw, noncomUltimate Bagua Covermercialized bagua are usually not very pretty, and contain nuanced martial strategy and biomechanics not obvious to nonpractitioners.) Credit is given to Yin Fu as the top disciple of Dong Haichuan, who spent the most time training with the founder during his prime fighting years.

Chapter three, The Ultimate book detours into Newtonian and classical physics of Axioms. Explanations into physics of objects moving in perfect circles, stopping and smart power, sophisticated design of Baguazhang even to the atomic level….Chapter four transitions into classic principals, meridians, biomechanics. Chapter Five explores Mud -Wading steps of Cheng baguazhang and its scientific illustration. Enthusiasts curious about the iconic unnatural slide step made famous in mainstream Bagua culture, this section answers all of those questions. As a note, the book discusses the slight misunderstanding of the original mud step and the now over-emphasis on keeping the soles of both feet parallel to the floor at all times. The mud stepping of old practitioners of Cheng were somewhat more natural in quality, paying more attention to the body’s center of gravity as a whole and not just sliding on a cord (though as a developmental method, modernized mud wading is even more tiring to train then wheel step, those who train Yin and Cheng understand this surely. This correlates with He Jinbao’s description of the original mud stepping methods of the more combative branches of Dragon shape Bagua).

Chapter 6, Beauty, Grace, Power. The New 64 Palms detailed demonstration and key points by Madam Ge Chun Yan, established under the guidance of famous Cheng/and or Bagua masters and her coach, Li Junfeng.

Chapter 7, ScUltimate Baguaience of mind/body, importance of integrating ancient fighting arts with modern life. This chapter reveals interesting perspective on the visible changes of our ancient fighters body of 10, 000 years ago vs modern times. Our outer body shape has shifted considerably, yet our organ structure remain very similar to cave men. (hint, internal martial arts are worth exploring). This chapter describes the cause and effects of ancient fighter’s evolutionary path into the modern keyboard warrior, informing how this impacts our mind-body connection. Humans were given a sophisticated fighters body over millions of years of evolution, and in just hundreds of years stopped needing to fight the same way as our ancestors. This creates intrinsic conflicts and this section will tell you all about that…. Chapter 9, closes with commentary of the internal martial arts renaissance, and again gives credit to Dong Haichuan for forming the sophisticated and comprehensive art of Baguazhang. The late chapters explain the title of the book “The Ultimate Martial Art”. Baguazhang is the latest, evolution of Royal Chinese martial arts developed by the founder, who historians consider the best fighter in the Qing Dynasty.

This brief summary barely touches the surface. The Ultimate Chinese Martial Art contains much more complex subjects and numerous scientific graphs, formulas, concepts, physics. -IRFS

For those interested in the pre-release of The Ultimate Chinese Martial Art, please contact Arlen Hodinh:  arlenhodinh@gmail.com

Intrinsic Patterns – Humans Walk in Circles When Blindfolded

Baguazhang is a system of martial arts which utilize centripetal and centrifugal force, to strike with precision accuracy while remaining in constant motion. The circle walk practice is the basis for Baguazhang's characteristic footwork and body mechanics. The feet remain in continuous motion as the practitioner revolves, simultaneously honing equilibrium and peripheral vision, while generating internal power. The ancient Taoists understood the circle as an intrinsic pattern within the human experience, capable of creating stillness of mind in motion, while developing the body externally and internally. As the potter's wheel when shaping clay, a properly trained circle walk becomes a sophisticated tool for human biomechanical alignment through energy and physics. The circle walk training develops a practitioner's Proprioception- The unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself. The circle phenomenon is not unknown in studies of human movement. Over the past century, research scientists around the world have studied the walking patterns of human subjects when blindfolded. Subjects were instructed to walk a straight line across fields, for various lengths of time and locations, including desert and forest terrains. When blindfolded, humans always walk in circles, and the circles become tighter as time goes on.  The circular pattern occurs even when the subjects think and perceive, they are walking in a straight line. With no external focal point, like the sun or moon, tree, the human proprioception guides us, and this intrinsic pattern within us is circular by nature. Baguazhang enhances proprioception pathways in spatial cognition, with in-depth focus on the circle itself.


Principals Of The Circle – Stillness In Motion

The circle is the most basic method, yet the most advanced insights evolve from it’s practice. The circle walk training was extracted from ancient taoist knowledge by Dong Haichuan, the creator of Baguazhang. The taoists advise that a person's heart and mind transition in chaos. Concentration on unity makes the mind pure. If one aspires to reach the Tao, one should practice walking in a circle. The practitioner should synchronize breath, flexing of muscle fibers, cycling of energy from the core, and torque with each step in the circle walk so that one replaces one's rapidly changing thoughts with a single, all-encompassing complete body focus, in order to calm one's mind while increasing spatial awareness. The Taoists believe that in walking the circle the body's movements should be unified and the practitioner strives for "stillness in motion." This practice was described as a method of training the body while evolving the spirit and consciousness. When turning the circle for extended durations of time, equilibrium is strengthened and cellular changes occur. Muscular flex and energy move the vertebrae of the spine continuously, generating and cycling more cerebrospinal fluid through the system. Cerebrospinal fluid bathes the brain and spinal cord, cushioning the brain within the skull while serving as a shock absorber for the central nervous system. This protects the practitioner in times of martial combat which requires dampening of impact from strikes which may shock the brain and vital organs. Circle walking methods produce a system of martial arts which the practitioner delivers powerful strikes while remaining in constant motion. Utilizing a combination of precise footwork and body mechanics, the practitioner remains in continuous motion even when applying a block or strike.