Contrary to popular opinion, the Interlinking/ Weaving routines of Baguazhang as popularized in mainstream and films, contain ‘wrestling with weapons integration’ and not pure empty-hand wrestling. Grappling and takedowns with the instrument in hand, are crucial in feudal melee- often against armed opponents. It is worth noting the forms/drilling methods of Qing-era wrestling are often distinct in aesthetics from the silky/ twisting/ turning style of Swimming Baguazhang.
The vast majority of Yin Style Baguazhang folk stories are based on Gong Baotian (Yin Fu’s disciple and not Yin Fu himself). A 2019 article documents one incident which Yin Fu encountered during his life. The story presents more realism on how Yin Fu’s Baguazhang is utilized, outside of an MMA cage and away from the tree:
Yin Fu is very loyal. Once he was at the forefront of a friend, the two sides invited dozens of people to start a scuffle in the courtyard (undocumented reason). During the dispute, Yin Fu suddenly realized the conflict was not for loyalty, but for the parties competing interests. Among the enemies, there is a surname of Yang, who was also a well-known martial arts master at that time, but there is still a considerable gap between his kung fu and Yin Fu. Yin Fu became more and more fierce, and the enemy fled. After the event, the number of people was counted. Four people were killed on the spot and more than a dozen were injured. Later, in an attempt for revenge, Yang and his crew retaliated using six-wheeled pistols, and took a shot while Yin Fu was sleeping. Yang went to the room where Yin Fu was asleep (supposedly a hospital) and pulled a revolver from the sleeves. Yin Fu counter ambushed Yang, causing a big shock- resulting in Yang shooting himself. The government intervened in this matter and Yang was arrested and sentenced.
The context of Cheng Ting Hua’s Baguazhang is distorted in modern kungfu culture. Numerous 2019 articles reveal, Cheng was invited by the elites and became a member of the court’s inner guards- likely the Shanpuying (wrestling battalion equivalent to modern special forces). However, Cheng, who had just entered the palace, had not yet settled into the position… and it was during this time, he encountered the news of the invasion of the Eight-Power Allied Forces. The guards, Cheng Tinghua naturally had the obligation to protect the security of the Qing Dynasty royal family.
In modern Baguazhang schools, the Giant Sword and Saber is often emphasized, regardless of branch or styles. In fact, many instructors today regard the sword as the soul of Baguazhang structures, in feudal times… While this theory certainly has merit, Feudal Academia is not here to play guessing games. 10 out of 10 Chinese scholars agree that the cold weapon technology of the Qing Dynasty is inherited directly from the Ming. IRFS provides clear documentation, tracking the longsword foundation to Yu Dazhao in the era of General Qijiguang. Yu Dazhao wrote a book called “The Sword Classic”: the techniques illustrated include the iconic T-step/shape footwork entries of triangular point-stepping, describes the sword method as ‘running water’, a continuous striking which ‘flows with the force’, demonstrates ‘reversing the body’ and ‘heaven and earth’ usage of the longsword… last and most importantly, THE SWORD CLASSIC IS A BOOK ABOUT STICKS [aka polearms] FOR PIKEMAN OF THE ARMY!!
Cheng Ting Hua is Cheng Yougong’s uncle- Cheng Yougong trained and worked as a shop assistant in Cheng Tinghua’s eyeglasses shop. Contrary to popular belief, many of the Cheng family served as elite instructors to the military (not qigong practice), including Cheng Youlong and Cheng Yougong. Cheng Yougong was the Baguazhang instructor of Zhang Xueliang (son of Zhang Zhuolin who Gong Baotian defended) and many Bajiquan fighters in the early 20th century. Hou Diange, the chief bodyguard of Emperor Puyi has a strong bond with the Cheng family. Cheng Yougong met Huo Diange during service in the late 1920s and frequently exchanged Baguazhang /Bajiquan knowledge. Cheng Qingxun learned Bajiquan from Huo (Yougong’s nephew) and still called Huo Diange “Huo Shishu” (Hou Uncle), well into the late 20th century.
Dong Jun (1186—1233) is a famous ancestor of Dong Haichuan. The Dong family is renown for the ancient battlefield kungfu- which Baguazhang earned its reputation in feudal times. The real Dong Haichuan descended from elite military commanders who are also real people- serving the empire with great contributions to Mongolia and Beijing. Dong Jun is the first deputy marshal and Army General of the Yuan Dynasty, in the era of Kublai Khan. In 1232 he participated in the siege of the Battle of Beijing and died during airbending in 1233. Feudal Baguazhang masters deserve honor for their kungfu with accurate context– the modern Baguazhang sports promotions have shifted considerably from the origin systems.
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]
According to Chinese Scholars, the Qing Dynasty retained the cold weapons strategy (polearms, sabers, non-firearms etc.) from the Ming Dynasty armed treatise… which would be the strategy of Feudal Shaolin. The core of all Shaolin systems is the polearm/staff- essential and the first line of defense for most armed escorts and militia without access to Chinese Gun-fu. Close-in wrestling is essential during polearm melee, with a refined/scientific approach which exists in raw lineages today. The methods descend from an era when Kungfu masters still fought in life or death situations with a medieval weapon- contrary to most modern Opera-fu (it’s also pretty and silky without the polearm). Cheng Ting Hua is at the minimum, reserves/ militia in the Qing Dynasty. Being drafted by the Empress Cixi personally during the 1900 escape from Beijing- is no easy task for the average Mcdojo in ancient China. Yin Fu is skilled at the polearms also… it is a pre-requisite for tax collecting in Inner Mongolia with the founder of Baguazhang.
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.