Kungfu vs MMA is certainly the hot topic in modern martial arts culture. Traditional Kungfu has received quite a beating in recent years- due to inaccurate documentation of history and faulty commercial promotions. Many in the west do not understand the Chinese language and current events in Asia- headlines are often a fraction of the whole story… A less appreciated fact is, feudal Chinese Kungfu mechanics and principals are integrated within the China MMA Combat Promotions… Most are familiar with MMA Xu Xiaodong, however many do not know he is a student of Mr. Mei Huizhi. Mei Huizhi served as the coach of the Beijing wrestling team, the head coach of the Beijing Sanda team, the head coach of the Beijing Armed Police Corps Sanda team, and the head coach of the Central Guards. Mei Huizhi is a practitioner of Baguazhang and a disciple of Wang Rongtang (Cheng Style) in Beijing. Xu’s teacher made important contributions to the creation and popularization of Sanshou Sports and was a pioneer in the integration of traditional martial arts in modern combat. Mei’s teacher, Wang Rongtang emphasized feudal Cheng Baguazhang- an advocate of the perfection of self and actual combat.
Bruce Lee sought to develop abilities in all areas of accomplishment: intellectual, artistic, and physical. Bruce has often been described as the archetype of the Renaissance man in modern kungfu culture. Bruce is also known by feudal historians to have a profound interest in Qing and Ming Dynasty military arts- as illustrated by his silky Imperial Dragon t-shirt.
The Shaolin Stick Method is the foundation for Cheng Style Baguazhang and certain categories in Yin Style [Silky Pudao or Dragon Capturing, which is cudgel methods- it’s not empty-hand as commonly presented]. The Shaolin Stick descends from the Ming Dynasty- the stick is interchangeable with polearms ranging from pudao to tigerfork. A short polearm (around the height of the person wielding it) is more focused on melee combat for foot soldiers or militia. Cheng Ting Hua would possibly use a cudgel or tigerfork for city security and a pudao/ spear for militia duties if required. The Shaolin long staff is commonly represented by the Dragon in ancient literature. It is said that the stick has the unique skills of being flexible and changeable, with the skills of the vertical and horizontal forces. The use of the force must be soft and silky during the transition of the stick method. The force must be smooth- described in ancient treatise as Moving with the Force. The mysterious secrets of Dong Haichuan’s Single, Double, and Moving with the Force Palms are foundationally FEUDAL SHAOLIN POLEARM [priceless artifact near extinction in modern times].
Historical Baguazhang artifact gradually fades into extinction with the modernization of kungfu- the feudal historical context, nuances, and its appreciation disappear with time. Certain Baguazhang systems are underappreciated regardless of history or any reason. The Yin Style Baguazhang Bear system is indeed one often overlooked- the system requires patience and some gladiator back muscles. [He Jinbao back in the dinosaur days, and Li Junfeng- Bear Representative Posture]
“Shaolin Broken Wall”, also known as “the practical scatter of three hundred and sixty hands.” by Yan Dehua (printed in the Tianjin Commercial Daily in 1936) is connected with high-ranking members of Cheng Tinghua’s relatives. Cheng Youlong, the eldest son of Cheng Tinghua, retired and worked in Tianjin during the early 20th century. Sun Xikun (in the pic) is a senior student of Cheng Youlong- transitions of the single and double palm change are rooted in Ming Era polearms ranging from cudgel, pudao, to tigerfork. The “Shaolin Broken Wall” is likely to symbolize the strong defense line for Beijing with context to the Great Wall [Four Towns and Three Guanzhi/ military combatives book of the Ming Dynasty]
Gong Baotian/ disciple of Yin Fu is renown as the prototype for “Master Gong Yutian” in the GRANDMASTER Motion Picture- Gong Baotian may be among the most popular Yin Style Baguazhang icons in the Republic of China era. Modern Baguazhang schools generally make no distinction between Yin Fu’s students or provide a factual explanation of why methods of training, weapons, routines- differ so much between branches which exist today. Feudal Academia reveals the difference is simply divisions/ranks in occupation and time. Gong Baotian achieved the Imperial Guard status and General Manager of the Four Products- which is Second Rank Sword Guard. Yin Fu is First Rank Imperial Guard and Commander, selected from Qing Special Forces. The separate divisions of just one rank are substantial in regards to martial style, weapons, footwork, context. General Managers of the Four Products are often restricted from firearms (such as bayonet) and unarmed in close quarters with the Empress. The Spear is often utilized during inner palace duty, in conjunction with the military saber when appropriate. As a Han Chinese First Rank Guard under Manchu Rule, Yin Fu’s standards and military privileges are on a different level from Gong Baotian- unparalleled in Napoleonic Gutterfighting and the Shaolin Square Dance. Yin Fu is the Three Products Commander, therefore Yin Fu’s Chief System contains Spear/Luohan methods of the second rank, as well as techniques reserved for the most elite.
The book, Taiji Yang Luchan’s “Stolen Boxing” by the novelist Gong Baiyu of the Republic of China, is, unfortunately, another primary inspiration for modern Baguazhang promotions and instruction. This fantasy novel is the foundation for the renown waiter and teacup story of Dong Haichuan. The story illustrates: Su Wangfu’s banquet on this day are full of [note: BS] wonder and guests -extremely crowded, that the waiter’s [Dong Haichuan] dishes cannot be placed on the table. The Qing officials saw the appearance of marvelous stunts, and the hand-held dishes were twirling between the crowds, flying, and dancing, and entering the unmanned environment- majestically the Waiterbender completed the task!! Everyone in the room was astonished and intrigued, only to realize this person is the top martial arts master Dong Haichuan. When serving teacups, it is the use of superior [Opera-fu] martial arts – the body and footwork of the Eight Trigram Palm.
Baguazhang is renowned for the Circle Walk strategy- however, it is of great irony very few Baguazhang schools today instruct or preserves the feudal application of the circle, in the correct context. Flanking is important in fighting… everyone knows. Circling prowess around an opponent, a tree, for meditation, for equilibrium, are common reasons the circle is instructed in modern schools. In the feudal era, the circle walk is designed specifically for melee combat- a special precaution for a soldier’s defense against multiple armed opponents. A classic example is illustrated in Costantino Calarone, Italian Fencing Treatise of 1714. The treatise dictates a single fighter against multiple armed opponents- should circle walk, so the body’s movements are more agile. The sole fighter should not deliver thrusts, unless in the reach of just one opponent. The fighter should not stay planted, nor withdraw with backward steps. The optimal strategy is to wheel to the right of the first opponent, away from the multiple opponents at his side- aka Melee Stacking [as in the pic].