Modern Self Defense – Principals Of The Circle

[Xu Xiaodong’s coach Mei Huizhi, demonstrates principals of the circle]

In any era, self-defense requires standards and context relevant to its environment. Feudal Baguazhang strategies nowadays are often adapted for combat sports, fitness, or holistic routes in training, to cater to the modern man.  For instance, ancient polearms/ instruments are adapted for body alignment/strength conditioning, to benefit the everyday person. Unarmed techniques are now used in conjunction with compact carry weapons of the 21st century. Mei Huizhi is a pioneer of Sanda sport in China, while remaining a dedicated practitioner of old school Baguazhang. He has integrated principals of Bagua footwork and grappling into Chinese Sanda and MMA.

Dragon Carrying Strike – Miao Dao

In the 19th century, armed and unarmed methods are often trained within the Four Point footwork pattern of Yin Style Baguazhang. The same is true for other close fighting systems of that era, such as Savate in the Anglo/French divisions. The YSB Dragon Carrying methods contain not only wrestling and control tactics- the Miao Dao strategy is apparent. Dragon is known for its ‘Long’ internal force and rotations which in turn, complements the long saber. The weapons work pre- 1928 Reform were direct, precise, and advantageous.

Yin Style Bagua Dragon System – Imperial Power

The YSB Dragon System is underappreciated in today’s kungfu culture, partly because Snake symbolism is often attached to Yin Fu’s personal fighting style. The popularity of the Luohan Penetrating Palms styling in most Yin Style branches is the primary reason for the ‘snake’ characteristics- snakes are a symbol of SPEARS.  The Luohan Penetrating Palm sets cater to instruments such as the short spear. It is worth noting William E. Fairbairn’s Baguazhang teacher (Cui Zhendong/disciple of Yin Fu), represented Shaolin Dragon & Tiger methods in the early 20th century. The system at the time was not labeled as ‘Baguazhang’. Dragon and Tiger symbolism in northern Shaolin styles trace back to General Qi Jiguang and Yu Dayou, renown as the Tiger and Dragon of the Ming Dynasty. The most iconic palm in mainstream Baguazhang is represented by the tiger mouth- the Shaolin stick method is represented by the Dragon… Dragons have significance to the Beiyang New Army towards the later part of Yin Fu’s career. The most prominent feature of the new army saber is the enamel ornament on the shank. The saber distinguishes the ranks of the officers and military ranks with the number of dragons/in the knives/on the knives: senior officers are sorghum Dragon pattern, five dragon claws; intermediate officers are Pingyi dragon pattern, three dragon claws; lower-level officers do not have patterns, no dragon claws. The dragon was the symbol of the imperial power of the Qing Dynasty and the symbol of the emperor. It was hoped that this new army at that time would become an important force for the maintenance of the imperial rule of the Qing Dynasty.  [Yin Style Bagua Dragon System contains officer saber methods, bayonet, cudgel, and restraint/close quarters strategy of Imperial Guards]

Yin Style Bagua Agility – Phoenix Methods

The phoenix system is generally agile and dominant- force is emitted from the shoulders and characterized by its whipping action. Phoenix methods are relatively more dynamic/graceful out of the core four systems. The striking methods are: dodging, extending, chopping, shocking, transforming, removing, curling in, and cutting. The phoenix’s characteristic movement technique is Windmill Force.

Prince Su – Three Airbenders

Shanqi (善耆; 1866–1922; 10th), held the title Prince Su of the First Rank from 1898 to 1922, posthumously honored as Prince Suzhong of the First Rank (肅忠親王).  There are three noticeable Airbenders in the background. Eunuch bodyguards of the good prince would look like the pic. Dong Haichuan is employed by Prince Shanqi in the 19th century.

The Ball Is Not In Your Court – Eunuch Bodyguards

[In the left corner, Imperial Guard/ in the right corner, Eunuch Bodyguards]

During the early 19th century, the Forbidden City Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan) utilized resistance forces known as “Technical Courage Eunuchs”, well-known martial artists selected from the eunuch team. A special security bodyguard capable of protecting the safety of the emperor in the innermost quarters of the court- in areas that were difficult for the military/ Imperial Guards to enter. However, the team this close to the family has relatively low combat strength compared to Imperial Guards or military divisions. Empty-hand skill in regards to retraint/ disarms are emphasized. The instruments used are mostly sticks/ spears and waist knives. Though well trained, the Qing eunuch guards were fond of the Peking Opera apparently.

Dongchang Hutong – Yin Fu Bodyguard Business

Yin Fu dedicated many efforts to his bodyguard business in Beijing. He successively worked in the East Tower East Factory Hutong (Dongchang)- the site which was once the most elite Intelligence Agency in Ming Dynasty. During the 19th century, Dongchang became the residence to many top military/chief executives of the region (under Empress Cixi jurisdiction/ primarily Baoding elites). An interesting note,  even today at Dongchang, the basic pattern of the Rong Lu mansion is still visible, and the European-style villas are apparent from the Westernization movement. The area is deeply connected with the Beiyang New Army and Yuan Shikai. Yin Fu’s true history reveals the misconceptions of modern Baguazhang promotions- his style, environment, and methods of the time period are not as expected.

YSB Snake System – Wrestlers Short Stick

The Yin Style Baguazhang Snake System contains binding and grappling applications, many which descend directly from the old style of Manchu wrestling- gradually becoming rarer in modern times. Ancient bodyguards used a short stick for conditioning (throws/grip strength) as well as patrol duties.

Orthodox Penetrating Palms – Tiger Spear

The Luohan style of Penetrating Palm sets are suitable for the short Tiger Spear… and though adaptable, are not originally designed for sticking the opponent with the tips of the fingers (according to Shaolin treatise, the penetrating/willow leaf palm is meant to grasp). The short spear is a formidable instrument while patrolling on foot, inner palace. In certain sectors of the inner court, empty-hand skill and ordinance is concentrated on instruments with lower damage such as cudgel-  or in close quarters conflict, a short spear. The short spear is largely replaced by the bayonet in the late 19th century for military guards, however, still favored by eunuch bodyguards inner quarters. 

The Lion System – Baoding Wrestling Connection

[David Chee-Kai Lin/ Combat Shuai Chiao in the pics] 

In modern Baguazhang culture- Cheng Ting Hua is often credited for wrestling and Yin Fu is revered for his penetrating palms.  While this may be a half-truth, Imperial Guards (Yin Fu) are skilled in military wrestling as well… the wrestling is the core foundational training of the elite, and the wrestling in Qing-era contained strikes and locks. To note, the Lion System of the Xie Peiqi/ Men Baozhen branch shares ancestry with the combative Baoding Wrestling schools- including all eight striking methods (from left to right, top to bottom: Sweeping, Cutting, Chopping, Hooking, Shocking, Blocking, Seizing, Grasping).  Baoding is the southern gate of Beijing. There are many troops stationed there. The military academy of Manchu is also located in Baoding.