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.
A stoic pic of Yin Fu in the Forbidden City. The Yin Style Bagua Lion System is stoic as well- a powerful fighting system enduring hardship in the gentle mind-body sports promotions of China fitness/wushu reforms. The Lion represents the Father of all Baguazhang systems, renown as the King of the Beasts… This is the 21st century, however, so rest assured- the main focus of Lion System today is adapted for modern self-defense emphasizing unarmed pugilism, joint locks, with wrestling. Feudal Baguazhang artifact retains elite calisthenics for the fast-paced information age. Distance Monitoring Available, minus the bayonet.
In the 21st century, Baguazhang is practiced for various reasons ranging from fitness, entertainment, to self-defense. When speaking of historical systems by founders of the method, one should acknowledge factual documentation of nuances and the technology/ strategy of the time period. In popular kungfu culture today, YIN STYLE BAGUA is universally credited for escorting the Empress Dowager/ and Guangxu out of Beijing when the city was under siege from foreign troops. The pic above illustrates the facts, 100% clarity revealing the 1900 escape (left) to the 1902 return to Beijing (right). Feudal Baguazhang exists to this modern era, lost in China fitness reforms and Kungfu vs MMA debates. Ancient systems are still practical for all walks of life, whether biomechanical calisthenics or urban self-defense… Real Baguazhang deserves accurate documentation.
The First Baguazhang motion picture ‘THE HONOR OF DONGFANG XU’ (1983) became the inspiration for Wang Kar-Wai’s ‘THE GRANDMASTER’ film (2013). Li Junfeng’s character is based on Han Muxia, a Baguazhang expert in the early 20th century. The unarmed pugilism and martial context, against the Hercules character in the film- is a fictional representation of factual history. China after the mid-20th century experienced the second wave of sports modifications by the Chinese government- pugilism in a sporting context is borrowed from the west. Han Muxia’s Baguazhang context, in reality, is fighting for the war. Muxia trained the Broadsword team (actually called “pistol team”) providing the most practical big knife skills and close-in wrestling. Modern combat sports and the battlefield always have a world of difference. [Master Li Junfeng is an old mentor and family friend of IRFS- a noble individual who stands for accurate documentation of Baguazhang history, regardless of commercial interests in the 21st century. Li has a strong connection with old Cheng Baguazhang masters, especially Sun Zhijun]
Chinese Kungfu (the sport-fu standardized by the Chinese government which undergone two waves of sports modifications since 1928) has lacked proper representation in modern combat sports, of recent. However Real Kungfu is still practical in the CHINESE QI CULTIVATION aspects apparently, or in short: CQC, Close Quarters Combat.
One of William E. Fairbairn’s students was Ian Fleming who went on to write the James Bond series of books. History is Fun!!
The Baguazhang Horse Stance is used for generating torque/ power during sparring, as well as strengthening the lumbar and leg muscles. The feudal stance training enhances tendon strength and an overall understanding of feeling grounded. It is a wide, stable stance with a low center of gravity. Advanced and dedicated stance work develops “Movement in Stillness”- the Baguazhang expert achieves stillness and relaxation, while the horse treks around the tree!!
The Snake System of Men Baozhen/ Xie Peiqi branch features a compact guard posture, emphasizing preemptive striking from a natural index position. The palm structures and constricting, binding applications descend from feudal Qing Military/Intelligence methods. Short stick and dagger are inherent throughout. This style of Snake Penetrating Palm differs from the Orthodox Penetrating Palms in its original application.
The Orthodox Penetrating Palms (left) utilizes a larger diameter circle in training, with a more classical Baguazhang style of movement. The footwork originally favored linear angles, sometimes cutting through the center of the circle. The framework contains Dragon-like, iron bracelet strategy. However adaptable for unarmed fighting- the feudal methods retain the short spear/ lance applications for melee on foot, perfectly. The Dragon structures (right) retain armed applications ranging from Shaolin staff to Napoleonic saber, with a bit of Bayonet-fu. Dragon is exceptionally balanced and well structured for modern self-defense. The Qing era footwork and structures are characterized as “Fencing Without A Sword”, generating force and angles of strikes as if sword fighting.