Cheng style Baguazhang specializes in close-in wrestling and joint locks- the whole body generates smooth coiling and uncoiling actions, utilizing palm techniques and dynamic footwork… Sure sounds similar to Yin Fu’s smooth and graceful FEUDAL SHAOLIN polearm strategy for Qing Imperial Guards. According to scholars and this pic, it does appear the Pudao/Horse knife is quite commonly utilized during AIRBENDING!!
The book, Taiji Yang Luchan’s “Stolen Boxing” by the novelist Gong Baiyu of the Republic of China, is 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- which contributes to inaccurate documentation of feudal Baguazhang. The story illustrates: Su Wangfu’s banquet on this day are full of 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 calisthenics- 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 Stacking [as in the pic].
The graceful Pudao appeared in the Song Dynasty and which at the time, was the only legal folk weapon of this caliber. However, the legendary Airbending weapon was not widely used until the late Qing Dynasty. The Pudao is underappreciated in modern Baguazhang culture, as historical documentation reveals its strong connection in defending against ferocious tigers in the feudal era. The tiger is a symbol of Imperial Rule and ancient Shaolin champions. Many today regard Cheng Ting Hua’s Baguazhang as the most similar in appearance and strategy to the founder, Dong Haichuan. Scholars have determined this fact is indeed true, though it is a myth Cheng Ting Hua’s method is separate from Yin Fu’s Imperial Guard Commander system. The Pudao in the pic is the “Tai Ping Knife”. A multitude of soldiers from the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom in the late Qing Dynasty used this style of Pudao extensively. Even with such a simple weapon, the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom defeated the well-equipped Qing army- which shows that although the Pudao is extinct in modern Baguazhang culture, the power is not to be underestimated. Dong Haichuan entered Beijing around the Taiping Rebellion timeframe- there is minimal chance the founder would not be skilled with the silky and smooth Pudao prowess.
[Brother Hu with He Jinbao in the pic] Feudal wrestling is essential to Yin Style Bagua professionals in the Qing era. The Manchu wrestling before the 20th century contained obvious strikes and joint locks, complementary to the career path, and the Imperial Guard’s armor- worn during circle walking around the tree. The strikes of the wrestling for mounted officers is contained within various Yin Style systems and dominant within the Lion System- contrary to modern Shui Jiao (or popular folk Dragon classification) which has lost much of the cavalry striking. In the Qing era, military wrestling utilized edge of hand and various bone strikes- crucial for taking down an armored opponent. The Manchu style of vest descended from the leather edged portion of the Mongolian style of armor- the most important area of the armor for grasping and qi uprooting practice.
[He Jinbao, Frank K. and the crew] A nutrient fortified Baguafighter’s diet is essential for the energy demands in training. Baguazhang athletes need a medium to high protein diet to build and maintain their lean muscle mass. The nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants found in fresh fruits and vegetables boost recovery and provides essential fiber needed for hours upon hours of circle-walking and military drills around the tree!!
The fight scene in the first “IP MAN” film between Ip Man and the Northerner, Jin Shan Zhao- is based on Cheng Ting Hua’s patriotic journeys in 1883. The movie pays homage to the teahouse skirmish between Cheng Ting Hua and a Southern Chinese militiaman (who challenged Cheng Ting Hua as he was pouring tea).