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he concept of Bagua can be traced back to the beginnings Chinese written history and the creation the book divination known as the I-Ching. The concept forms the philosophical basis for the martial art known as Bagua. The commonly acknowledge history of Bagua Zhang starts with the legendary teacher Dong Haichan and his seventy-two students. Many of his students became active proponents of this style. However, there are many more experts and teachers of the Bagua style that have not been recorded. Together, those practitioners made Bagua Zhang into one of the major internal style in traditional Chinese Martial Arts.
The story of Dong Hai Chang and other legendary figures are described in six sections:
    1. Prehistory
    2. Dong Hai Chang
    3. Li Ching Yeun and Nine Dragon Bagua
    4. Tian Hou Jie and Yin Yang Bagua
    5. Pi Cheng Xia and Gao Style Bagua
    6. Li Zhengqing and Yin Yang Bagua
    7. References


Bagua theory is based on a long history that spans thousands of years. The legendary Chinese emperor Fu His (2852-2738 B.C) is credited with the discovery of methods of divination using the symbols of the I (Yi) Ching. The methods and techniques were passed down as an oral tradition until the twelfth century BC. Chou Wen (~ 1143 BC), a I Ching scholar, re-interpreted the names of the gua (trigrams) and collected writings on the I Ching. His younger son, Chou Tan, known as the Duke of Chau, completed the work of his father by assigning meanings to the individual lines that made up the gua and completed the modern version of the book in 1110 BC. Chinese mythology attributes the longevity of the Chou Dynasty (1150-249 B.C) wise government derived from study of this book. The importance of the I Ching is reaffirm when Confucius(551-479 B.C) recorded in his Analects,

"If some years were added to my life, I would give fifty to the study of the Yi-Ching, and might then escape from falling into great errors."

Through Confucius, the I Ching was honoured as a Classic, and was required reading for scholars and government exams.

The I Ching is also closely identified with Taoist practice because of its use in divination. This book is consider to be as important as the other Taoist text such as the Tao Te Ching and the writings of Chuang Tze. The taoist then merged the philosophy of the I Ching with exercises and moving meditations to form the precursor of Bagua Zhang. However, the exact nature of those practices were not recorded.

Historically, one of the first references to a form of Bagua Zhang relates that two Taoist priests (Bi Yun and Jin Yun) practice and taught this art. They lived on Mount Ermei in Sichuan Province during the late Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty. Others attribute the teachers of Dong Hai Chong to be Pi Cheng Xia (Bi Chengxia) and he passed on this knowledge to others including Song Yi Ren (§º¯q¤¯) who later taught Gao Yi Sheng.

Tian Hou-Jie claims to be one of the students of the two Taoist priests and the Tian family continued the tradition of Yin-Yang BaGua Zhang. In 1958, Tian Hui published a book Yin-Yang BaGua Zhang which describe the history and practice of this style.


Dong Hai Chang (1798-1882)

Dong Hai Chang (Tung Hai-Chuan) is the acknowledged founder of the style. A native of Zhujiawa, south of Wenan County in Heibei Province. When he was young, he studied the erlangquan (Erlang - hero from chinese legends) of Shaolin School. He was poverty-stricken but chivalrous, and he drifted from place to place. Legend suggests that during his travels through China, he studied with a Taoist, Bi Chengxia, in Mt. Jiuhua in the southern part of Anhui Province, one of China's five sacred mountains. Later Dong learned other skills from Guo Yuanj'l, nicknamed the "Iron Stick Taoist." After several years of study, he created a new style "Turning Palms" and use his techniques to defeat many famous martial artists.

Dong Serving the princeDong travelled to Beijing in 1875. He was employed in the house of Prince Shan Qi's during the reign of the Emperor Guang Xu . One legend described how Prince Shan Qi became aware of the remarkable abilities of Dong. In this story, Shan Qi was a great lover of wushu. The prince was famous for holding parties where he invited the greatest martial arts in the country to demonstrate their skills. During one of those events, a servant with a large tray of tea couldn't get through to the prince because of the large crowd. In order to help, Dong took the tray with the tea and got to the prince by running on the wall which was over everyone's head. The prince immediately recognized the Dong's unique skills and quickly promoted Dong. Another version of the discovery of Dong also occur during a party hosted by the Prince. In this story, Prince Shan Qi asked his bodyguard Sha Huihui to demonstrate his martial arts skills. Sha was a strong man and his breath taking performance drew prolonged applause from the audience. During the heat of the moment, he issued an open challenge to those present. No one dared to accept the challenge. At that moment it happened that Dong Haichuan was serving food and drinks to the guests. He heard the challenger but hesitated over whether he should answer it. When he saw no one come forward, he volunteered to take on Sha Huihui. After a few bouts, he made a sweeping, forceful movement with his palms and flung Sha to the ground a dozen feet away. Everyone was struck dumb by his prowess. The prince was so impressed that he later made Dong head of his bodyguards.

Dong became one of the prominent martial artists in the court and from that time on he began to teach baguazhang in Beijing and the surrounding areas. He taught many students in Beijing and all his students were known for their quality and skills. Dong Haichuan died in 1882 at the age of 84. He was buried beside the Red Bridge outside Beijing's Dongzhi Gate. On his graph was an epitaph written by his followers and a list of his students. This tomb was damaged during the cultural revolution. In 1980, the tomb was renovated and moved to Wan'an Cemetery.


Li Ching Yeun and Nine Dragon Bagua

There many stories describing the orgins of Nine Dragon Bagua. In one version, the founder was a Tibetan monk, Lama, Zurdwang (1530 -1620) from Quamdo Tibet. [1] He travelled extensively throughout China seeking wisdom and knowledge about Taoist methods and boxing methods. He stayed in the Ermei mountain for five years and earned the name, Dao Long Ren (Way of the Dragon). After his long period of study, he became to be a tutor to the Li Family of Dafu, Sichuan Province. He taught the family his complete system, Daoqiquan (Tao Ch'i Ch'üan - way of chi fist). The Li family established a great reputation as body guards using this system.

Other stories involve Li Ching-Yuen. He was born 1678 AD in Chyi Jiang Hsien, Szechwan province. He eventually moved to Kai Hsien, Chen Jia Charng's family field. Li was a noted herbalist and Daoist master who learned his techniques in the Ermei mountains. [2]

Li lived an extremely interesting life. He was reported to have outlived more than 23 wives and took part in government affairs. Chinese Records indicate that at the age of 71, Li was a tactical advisor Yeuh Jong-Chyi's army. In 1927, Li was reported to be living with General Yang Sen in Wan Hsien, Sichuan province. When he finally died, news paper report that he was more than 197 years old.


Tian Hou-Jie and Yin Yang Bagua

Tian Hou-Jie (Tian Ruhong) was a native of Shandong Province but moved to Hebei province in the late Ming Dynasty. Once while on tour in Sichuan Province, Tian saw some criminal activity and tried to exact justice. Two Daoist priests (Pi Yun and Jing Yun) rescued him when he was having problems and from that point on he acknowledge them as his wushu tutors and followed them for the next 12 years.

At the beginning of the Qing Dynasty Tian returned home but resented the autocracy of the local authorities and left again. He took a youngster named Tian Xuan with him and taught him his style of Yin Yang Bagua Zhang. Years later Tian Xuan returned to his home fillage in Shandong Province and taught the style to other Tian family members. Until recently the style was only taught in this village to these family members. [3]


Pi Cheng Xia and Gao Style Bagua

In the 1900's, Gao Yi Sheng, a noted Bagua practitioner and a student of Cheng Tin Hua, meet a Taoist Song Yi Ren. Song claimed to be a student of Pi Cheng Xia, the teacher of Dong Hai Chuan. He taught Gao the post heaven techniques of Bagua Zhang. [4]


Li Zhengqing and Yin Yang Bagua

Li Zhengqing (1830-1900) was born in Henan Province but he traveled to Hebei Province to learn improve his existing Bagua Zhang technique. He established a new style, Yin Yang (Positive - Negative) Bagua Zhang. After returning home in 1870, he continued to teach this style to his villagers. In 1937 a follower of his, Ren Zhicheng, wrote a book entitled "Yin Yang Bagua Zhang" which is still studied today.



[1] History of Li Family Daoqiquan. [05/2002] - BACK

[2] The Founder of Jiulong Baguazhang. [05/2002] - BACK

[3] The Power Palms of BaGua Zhang, Academy of Chi Advancement. [05/2002] - BACK

[4] Gao Yi Sheng's Adventure, C.S. Tang, 1999. [05/2002] - BACK



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Last update: 12/13/2003