Celebrate the moments.
The context of Cheng Ting Hua’s Baguazhang is distorted in modern kungfu culture. Numerous 2019 articles reveal, Cheng was invited by the elites and became a member of the court’s inner guards- likely the Shanpuying (wrestling battalion equivalent to modern special forces). However, Cheng, who had just entered the palace, had not yet settled into the position… and it was during this time, he encountered the news of the invasion of the Eight-Power Allied Forces. The guards, Cheng Tinghua naturally had the obligation to protect the security of the Qing Dynasty royal family.
Medieval China is full of mystery, wonder- yet harsh with intensity. Feudal Baguazhang masters utilized the arts for real-world applications in an era which was not forgiving. The historical artifact endured to this day carries genetics often clashing with modern interests… for standard Internal Martial Art enthusiasts. Fortunately, there is something called smart, scholarly, and scientific training which is capable of preserving ancient systems while remaining practical for the modern era.
Most Internal Martial Arts in origin, descend or are significantly influenced by Ming General Qi Jiguang, a pioneer of kungfu in medieval China. His ancient proverb states that the “pretty is not practical and the practical is not pretty.” Feudal Scholars believe Qi Jiguang is describing YIN STYLE BAGUAZHANG- a raw historical artifact of terrifying prowess and prestige. Many have yet to realize, feudal Baguazhang does not look like the performance-based demonstrations often represented in modern kungfu cinema. To judge an ancient fighting art using contemporary Peking Opera-fu aesthetics guidelines- is a prime reason why there are Kungfu vs MMA discussions in modern times.
In the 21st century, Baguazhang is practiced for various reasons ranging from fitness, entertainment, to self-defense. When speaking of historical systems by founders of the method, one should acknowledge factual documentation of nuances and the technology/ strategy of the time period. In popular kungfu culture today, YIN STYLE BAGUA is universally credited for escorting the Empress Dowager/ and Guangxu out of Beijing when the city was under siege from foreign troops. The pic above illustrates the facts, 100% clarity revealing the 1900 escape (left) to the 1902 return to Beijing (right). Feudal Baguazhang exists to this modern era, lost in China fitness reforms and Kungfu vs MMA debates. Ancient systems are still practical for all walks of life, whether biomechanical calisthenics or urban self-defense… Real Baguazhang deserves accurate documentation.
Kungfu movies and folk novels post-1920s have emphasized the mysterious “lightskill” or Qinggong of feudal Baguazhang experts- (often over exaggerated and out of context) with the kungfu man flapping around like a hot potato. Feudal Academia reveals Dong Haichuan and Gong Baotian may indeed utilize such dynamic footwork and agility… it’s called Parkour-fu. Parkour in the modern sense is French influenced and grew out of military obstacle-course training. Yin Style Baguazhang contains elite feudal Chinese martial strategy integrated with the French westernization movement in the mid-19th century. The iconic “Four Faces” footwork of Napoleonic era is adapted into the Manchurian fighting methods of Yin Fu- unparalleled against multiple opponents.