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.
Contrary to popular folk documentation, scholars reveal Cheng Ting Hua became a qualified candidate in the Court Bodyguards of the Empress Dowager… quite possibly the Qing Wrestling Batallion or, the Good Camp. The inner guards (Yin Fu) and the good-fighting camp are directly under the jurisdiction of the emperor and have the obligation to serve as guards. There are about 2,000 people in the inner guards, and there are only 300 people in the camp. Regardless of Cheng’s official position, he is not a folk martial art master- but a professional with urban strategy. Cheng Baguazhang represented in a Kungfu vs MMA context is inaccurate.
In contemporary times with kungfu commercialization, historically accurate Baguazhang is a challenge to identify. Every now and again, someone will ponder why the Men Baozhen/ Xie Peiqi branch of Yin Style Baguazhang ‘aesthetically’ varies from mainstream Baguazhang. Some have suggested Yin Style Hard Palm looks more like KARATE then airbending as commonly depicted in the movies. The feudal breakdown by Chinese scholars can finally put this question to rest… Karate stems from “Tang Hand”, a system which was further refined in the 19th century through the efforts of Tangshou Sakugawa. At that time, Sakuhisa Kakuhe traveled across the ocean to study Chinese martial arts in the Qing Dynasty- improving upon the earlier Ming Dynasty “Tang Hand” rooted in Ryukyu. Sakugawa’s Beijing foundation is often credited to Dong Haichuan, the founder of Baguazhang. Sakujiu’s stick method is influenced by his military studies in Beijing City during this era.
Sanda Academies in China are the foundation for the majority of Chinese MMA fighters- the modern debate of “Traditional” vs modern combat sports is often out of context, lacking proper historical knowledge. Modern Sanda development in the late 20th century is primarily feudal Shaolin legwork, Baguazhang wrestling, with western Boxing fusion. Before the ’80s, the leg method in Sanda boxing system does not have a high kick, and is still similar to the low-line leg method inherent during/before the Republic of China. The Sanda wrestling techniques at that time were extracted from Baguazhang- efforts due to Cheng Style Baguazhang practitioner and Sanda pioneer, Mei Huizhi.
As early as 90 years ago, a predecessor named Zhang Zhijiang dedicated extreme efforts into “kungfu anti-counterfeiting”, to strengthen feudal systems evolving with contemporary lifestyles. The scope of Zhang’s mission was even greater than that of Xu Xiaodong’s modern anti-counterfeiting incident. Zhang’s incident was the first national examination in the country in 1928. As a military commander, Zhang understood martial arts emphasized truth in the application. Feudal kungfu is crucial in the context of the battlefield- however, a balance is required for modern application and combat sports standards.
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.
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.