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.

Qing Guard Armor – Phoenix Bone Strikes

[The Warlords Film/ Jet Li, and Xie Peiqi]

The exotic bone strikes of YSB Phoenix System descends from the era of Cotton Armor in feudal dynasties. The composite armor is cotton lined with iron or hardened leather. The cotton-lined steel sheets protect the torso, the arms and back of the hands- which provides a very strong, heavy, and dominant surface to strike with during close-quarters melee. Jet Li demonstrates the bone strike in the Warlords motion picture, a battle scene amidst the Taiping Rebellion.

Dadao – Baguazhang Big Knife

Before the late Qing Dynasty, the concept of “big knife/Dadao” in the army mostly refers to the knife of the long pole, similar to the shape of the Guandao. The knife with a short handle and a large blade (in popular contemporary Baguazhang culture) is called a single hand knife, it is not called a “big knife”, historically speaking. Ironically the signature instruments used by both disciples of Dong Haichuan are often misinterpreted in Airbending schools of today.

Pure Wrestling vs Wrestling with Weapons Integration

Contrary to popular opinion, the Interlinking/ Weaving routines of Baguazhang as popularized in mainstream and films, contain ‘wrestling with weapons integration’ and not pure empty-hand wrestling. Grappling and takedowns with the instrument in hand, are crucial in feudal melee- often against armed opponents. It is worth noting the forms/drilling methods of Qing-era wrestling are often distinct in aesthetics from the silky/ twisting/ turning style of Swimming Baguazhang. 

Feudal Instruments : Wrestling Integration

A unique characteristic of Chinese fighting arts is the integration of feudal instruments, within the empty hand structures. Close-in wrestling and striking are delivered in conjunction with weapons strategy- this is a primary reason kungfu looks so exotic. The Kungfu vs MMA debate fails to acknowledge most urban adversaries in ancient (and modern) era are armed- a primary emphasis on empty hand application is excellent for combat sport pugilism, however, limited for the real world.

Feudal Stick Method – Foundations

According to Ming warrior Yu Dazhao:  “With the stick, you can decipher the Four Books.” Hooks, knives, spears, and polearms are all the same. If you can utilize the stick efficiently, the methods of the various weapons will be successful”