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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

Baguazhang Footwork Origins – T Square Step

Dong Haichuan’s Baguazhang footwork shares ancestry with Ming-era systems in Hebei Province, including Bajiquan. The T-step (also called T Square) is well documented in Ming General Yu Dayou’s ‘Sword Classics’, with emphasis on polearms in origin.  The reversing T step describes escaping backward, then taking advantage of an arched position in counterstrike. The T method immediately turns the back and attacks the opponent with a square geometry.  Treatise:  the t-square step can be used for regression, but also for progression; it may retreat; can be advanced in an arc, it can be rotated forward, or it can enter at a curve; Use every possible way to discover and apply the principal.