The most elite wrestlers in Qing era reside within the royal courts, known as the Imperial Guard Wrestling Battalion. The signature strength training/ defense instrument is the Horse Cutter in various weight and shapes [pudao/guandao styling]. Yin Style Baguazhang experts utilized this polearm for royal military examination, and in the 19th century- field duty on foot. According to Ming Dynasty treatise, the horse cutter is reserved for high ranking officers in relation to the cavalry (more common in the infantry). Standard Ming cavalry is generally prohibited from horse cutter usage on horseback… the customs continued through the Qing era of the Manchu equestrian military training.
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!!
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-fu against multiple opponents- a 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.