There is MMA Xu Xiaodong… and there is also YSB Xu Xiaodong- they are both connected to Baguazhang in Beijing. YSB Xu Xiaodong is instructing various hand to hand strategy in the department of the Beijing Armed Police Corps in the pic. Xu adapted simple, concise, fast and effective techniques of Internal Martial Arts to complement the requirements of professionals in the fast-paced information age.
Yang Kun is a friend and mentor of He Jinbao, extraordinary in Yin Style Baguazhang skill and chivalry. The Baguazhang methods of Yang descend from the Beiyang New Army in the Beijing and Tianjin area. Yang Kun is known for his strength in Yin Style iron bracelet strategy and interlinking body methods. [the pic in the background is from MMA Xu Xiaodong’s tv show in Beijing- Yang Kun’s disciples, left, are often guests of honor. Xu is a supporter of Real Baguazhang- he’s always been respectful towards Yin Style Baguazhang]
100% of historians and Baguazhang enthusiasts agree- Yin Fu is the Senior Disciple of Dong Haichuan with the most elite demands for martial application [Imperial Guard Commander]. What most do not agree on is the context, and how Yin Style Baguazhang should appear aesthetically, as far as feudal routine training. In contemporary times, kungfu enthusiasts often base imagery from mainstream movies. A classic example: the Baguazhang style demonstrated in ‘The Grandmaster’ motion picture is commonly associated with Cheng Style Baguazhang (or polearm methods in Yin). However, the character in the film, Gong Yutian (Zhang Ziyi’s father) in factual history is built on GONG BAOTIAN- Gong’s system in real life is Yin Style Baguazhang, not Cheng Style. The predicament here… so is the Baguazhang fighter Gong Yutian a badass because of Cheng Baguazhang, or because of Yin Baguazhang polearm usage [the prop left out of the film]? Or is the reason simply modern enthusiasts associate high-level Baguazhang inspired by true history/ presented as fantasy in popular media- to be the most efficient method of learning feudal fighting systems in modern times? [Note: China has plenty of Qing Imperial Guard statues and toy figures as illustrated above. The rest is preference and history!!]
Most Internal Martial Arts in origin, descend or are significantly influenced by Ming General Qi Jiguang, a pioneer of kungfu in medieval China. His ancient proverb states that the “pretty is not practical and the practical is not pretty.” Feudal Scholars believe Qi Jiguang is describing YIN STYLE BAGUAZHANG- a raw historical artifact of terrifying prowess and prestige. Many have yet to realize, feudal Baguazhang does not look like the performance-based demonstrations often represented in modern kungfu cinema. To judge an ancient fighting art using contemporary Peking Opera-fu aesthetics guidelines- is a prime reason why there are Kungfu vs MMA discussions in modern times.
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.
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!!