Often in cinema, the Baguazhang presented is elegant and silky- with a larger diameter eight step circle. The popular Baguazhang movements employ the whole body with smooth coiling and uncoiling actions, utilizing palm techniques, dynamic footwork, and close-in wrestling. In feudal era, the larger circle radius is necessary for polearm melee against multiple opponents- characteristic strategy of Qing footsoldiers and militia. In modern times, there are raw lineages which maintain the polearm structures in the empty-hand routines… some more so than others. According to feudal Shaolin Armed Treatise, pure Yin/Cheng artifact of Interlinking Body methods without heavy modification in modern times- should indeed retain the polearm structures with transitions intact. Close-in wrestling integration, with the primary weapon dominant, is standard- and not the other way around. Pre- 1900s, unarmed pugilistic systems as portrayed in popular Baguazhang films would be viewed as an impractical self-defense system for urban applications.
“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]
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.
[Pics from Tong Lin Chuan novel- the Shaolin influence is obvious] The legendary story of Dong Haichuan’s Opera-Fu exploits originated from the martial arts novel “雍正剑侠图” in the early 1920s. This instant classic has the most extensive influence on Baguazhang folk tradition in the Republic of China era. The author Chang Jieyi used Dong Haichuan as a prototype to create the character Tong Lin, which has brought a magical and fantastic context to Dong Haichuan’s life and the origin of the Eight Diagrams Palm. The magical fallacies from this world of FICTION continue to this day in countless Baguazhang schools, including the Deerhorn Knife and an arsenal of Peking Opera weapons… Now back to base reality, Dong Haichuan was originally named Dong Mingkui, a native of Zhujiawu Village, Wen’an County, Hebei Province in the Qing Dynasty. The Factual Dong family lived in Hongdong County in Shanxi Province. The ancestors of Dong Haichuan were the generals of the Yuan Dynasty. They served as the deputy marshal of the general of Long Huwei. Dong’s ancestors moved to the city of Hebei in the early years of the Ming Dynasty. The descendants of their descendants were military commanders for five consecutive generations. According to Wen’an Wenshi data and Xiongxian County records, many people in the Dong Haichuan family are military commanders and FEUDAL SHAOLIN PROFESSIONALS.
The fight between MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong and Tai Chi master Wei Lei sent shockwaves through China. A competition which only lasted 10 seconds- forever changed Chinese Kungfu history in contemporary times. The punch that Xu utilized is the feudal Shaolin fist- iconic in Bajiquan. This straight fist with the expansion of the rear arm is renown for penetrating force, with a continuous second energy upon impact. Beijing Gongfu Jia Taijiquan 83 system also contains this style of boxing technique… Xu has earned the support of the Shaolin Temple in China, in an effort to preserve factual Chinese Kungfu- as there are too many exaggerated Tai Chi or commercial Kungfu promotions nowadays stemming from the 1928 Fitness Reform, detrimental to REAL Taijiquan, Baguazhang, or kungfu reputation. Xu is supportive of authentic Bajiquan (Shaolin), original Taijiquan (feudal Chen Longfist) and Yin Style Baguazhang (feudal Shaolin), he is great friends with some of He Jinbao’s early disciples.
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.
In ancient Chinese sculptures and paintings, most of the Generals were portrayed with a thicker muscular belly- characterized as the waist of a tiger, or ancient military commander’s waist. In modern times, though rare… raw lineages maintain a distinct core muscle control which descends from the Armor dynasties. Under the ancient umbilical is the Dantian, which is regarded as a crucial muscle group for medieval Chinese Knights. A dynamic and thicker waist can provide additional protection of the spine, and auxiliary force to the core muscles. Ancient treatise favors the commander’s waist for generating short-range power and maintaining stability on foot while wearing heavy armor. Armor prevents damage from sabers and polearms, requiring more emphasis on wrestling, balance, and core control for weapons precision. Many conflicts ended with knocking the opponent to the ground and disrupting their Qi with either a blunt weapon (mace), or a short weapon- to penetrate a suit of armor at the seams, or through the visor of the helmet.