[Hu Ge in France. Beijing Yin Baguazhang/ Chen Taijiquan/ MMA-fu]
Qi Jiguang’s ‘The Best of Boxing Classics’ states: “Go in and fight with your elbows, and your elbows will protect your heart, cross your elbows, squeeze your shoulders, and seal your crotch. Close quarters will be difficult, and you will remain short and close… use your knees and elbows… it is difficult to prevent the elbow from hitting the Quartet; kicking long-distance and playing with interlinking hands, leaning against the body with nowhere to go “. Feudal kungfu commonly uses a deductive approach in striking- segmenting various short-range attacks from a single long-range structure. Qi Jiguang illustrates the importance of segmented attacks, using all joint parts of the body flexibly.
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.”
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.
Neuromuscular coordination of the Dragon System- develops magnitudes of forward linear velocity from the body’s center of mass and weapon. It’s biomechanical frame and footwork generate explosive power, similar to modern fencers. As an example, fencers thrust their weapon quickly toward their opponent, exhibiting explosive extension of the rear leg to perform a powerful forward lunge. Elite features of Dragon body mechanics benefit sequential coordination of upper and lower limb movements during fight or flight, with efficient patterns of muscle activation.
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.
[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.
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.
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.
Raw feudal weaponry and tactics are often underappreciated in modern kungfu culture- stemming from the rise of unarmed pugilistic sports (borrowed from the West) and Peking Opera interpretation of history (further standardized by the Chinese State Commission for Physical Culture and Sports). Historical weapons melee is hidden in the empty-hand routines of lineages, remaining virtually unexplored in most kungfu schools… Aside from lost of ancient knowledge or a practical concealed carry point of view, ancient weapons benefit the biomechanic framework of an athlete- enhancing empty-hand boxing in the absence of the instrument. As an example, the sledgehammer and tire are popular conditioning tools amongst fighters in modern combat sports. Sledgehammer training will undoubtedly improve an athlete’s ability to maintain explosive power, improve grip strength, develop core control, and enhance alignment. A Chinese Halberd descending from the warring kingdoms will do just fine in the modern era.