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Bagua - History

The concept of Bagua can be traced back to the dawn of written history with the creation of the I-Ching. The commonly acknowledge history of Bagua Zhang starts with the legendary teacher Dong Haichan and his seventy-two students. Many of his students were active proponents of this style. Now, Bagua Zhang is one of the major internal style in the world.
The story of Bagua Zhang are described in four major periods:
   

Prehistory

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 Ching. The methods and techniques were passed down as an oral tradition until the twelfth century BC. Chou Wen (~ 1143 BC), a Yi Ching scholar re-interpreted the names of the gua and collected writings on the I Ching. His younger son, Chou Tan, known as the Duke of Chau, interpreted the meanings of the individual lines, completed the book of I Ching in 1110 BC. Chinese mythology attributes the longevity of the Chou Dynasty (1150-249 B.C) wisdom in government derived from study of the Yi-Ching 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 governm,ent 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 and he pass on this knowledge to others including Song Yi Ren (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 "arhat boxing" of Shaolin School. 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. After several years of study, he created a new style "Turning Palms" and use his techniques to defeat many famous martial artists.

Dong eventually travelled to Beijing and was employed in the house of Prince of Su of the Ching dynasty. 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.


   

Students of Dong Hai Chang

Seventy-two names was recorded at the grave of Dong Hai Chang (Tung Hai-Chuan). Among them was famous practioners and teachers that went on to found their own style and training methods. The most well known of Dong's students are:

    1. Yin Fu (18421909)
    2. Chen Ting Hua (1848-1900)

Eight Great Disciples

Yin Fu (18421909) also known as Te An Shou P'eng, as well as "Shou Yin" ("Little Yin") because of his size. He was born inJixian county of Hebei province. Yin started studying with Dong in the mid 1860s and was Dongs first and by far his longest serving student . He spent twenty years with Dong, some times collecting taxes for the Court in Inner Mongolia. History records that the teacher and student practiced morning, noon, and night, and it was during that time that Yin learned the entire system. He popularized the Tornado Palm and Ox Tongue Palm techniques of the Bagua system.

In 1900, during the evacuation of the capital due to the Boxer's Rebellion, he was appointed the head bodyguard of the Empress Dowager and the Guang Xu emperor. After government returned to Beijing, Yin continued in the employ as head of the royal guard. When he retired, he was succeeded in his position by Gong Baotian, one of his more accomplished disciples. He died when he was 70 years old. His two sons later moved to Shandong province.

The style and flavour of Bagua that Yin Fu began to teach became known as Yin Style Bagua.

Students: Men Baozhen (1870-1957), Gong Baotian

Chen Ting Hua (1848-1900) was from Cheng village of Sun district, Hebei Province. He opened a spectacle shop in Beijing and thus earned the nickname "Yanjing Cheng" (Spectacle Cheng). Cheng was very fond of the martial arts and studied many different styles. He was particularly proficient at Chinese Shuai Jiao (wrestling) before studying with Dong Haichuan. He started to train with Dong Haichuan when he was 28 years old. He trained in Bagua for 10 years before reaching a certain level of proficiency.

In 1894, Cheng together with his good friends, Liu Dekuang, Li Cunyi and Liu Weixiang, created a synthesis martial art known as Taiji Bagua by combining the theories of baguazhang, xingyiquan and taijiquan.

Cheng was short but strong and was described as having an impulsive nature. It is said that many famous fighters challenged Cheng but no one could defeat him. He favourite technique is the "'Single Pounding Palm" (Dan Zhuang Zhang) whihc allowed him to throw his opponents in a single movement. Cheng was also known for his fluid 'Dragon Claw' which inspired many styles of Ba Gua such as Dragon Style, You Shen (Swimming Body Ba Gua), Gao style, Jiu Gong Zhang (Nine Palaces), and Jiang Rongqiao's style. Cheng's teachings appears to be different from Yi Fu's because Dong tailored his teachings to suit the nature and martial arts background of his students.

In July 1900, foreign troops entered Beijing. Legends has it that Cheng took the responsiblity of defending the people from the invasion. At the sight of a dozen or so soldiers, he set forth to meet them with only two daggers. His pupils tried to stop him, but to no avail. It was later found that Cheng single-handedly killed ten or more soldiers, but he died of multiple bullet wounds during the struggle. Another story described how Cheng was killed by German Soldiers in 1900 during the boxer rebellion. In this story, Cheng was being work press ganged into a work detail so he pulled a short knife and was shot jumping over a wall in an attempt to escape.

Students : Cheng Yulung (eldest son, 1875-1928), Sun Lu Tang (1861-1932), Liu Dekuan, Gao Yi Sheng

Chang Chan Kuei (1859-1940), also known as Chang Chao Tung (Zhang Zhao Dong).

Ma Gui (1854 -1940), Nicknamed "Short Ma" and "Wooden Ma". Dong also taught Ma the back the fist system. This falls outside the main structure of Bagua Zhang. He was also a student of Yin Fu before meeting Dong. Ma Gui was skilled at Crab Palm and Dian Xue (Pressure-Point Fighting). He practiced the Unicorn style of Bagua.

Students: Xie Peiqi (1920 - ), Fu Zhen Song, Wang Peishang

Ma Wei Chi (1851 - 1880) owned a shop in Beijing selling coal and briquettes and he was therefore nicknamed "Mei Ma" or Coal Ma". Many storeis records that he practiced Baguazhang everyday by walking circles around a coal heap.

Students: Yan Ju-Lin

Liu Feng Chun (1855 - 1922)

Liu De Kuan was also a student of Chang Ting Hua. Established the Liu style of Bagua Zhang.

Song Chang Rong. First teacher of Gao Yi Sheng.

Other students

Fan Zhi Yong (1840 1922) was of Manchu nationality. He started martial arts practice since childhood and for eight years learnt mainly Shaolin boxing and Tan Tui.

Students : Fan Fenglan (daughter, 1884 1967).

Liang Zhen Pu (1863-1932). Liang was Dong Haichuan's youngest student. He studied Tan Tui (a kicking style) from age 7 to 14. In 1877, he became Dong Haichuan's student. He studied with Dong for about five years and also learned from Cheng Ting Hua , Yin Fu, Shih Chi Tung, and Liu Feng Chun. Pu is the only student of Dong Haichuan to be buried next to his tomb.

Students : Li Ziming (1902-1993).

Liu Baozhen (1861 - 1922) He was skilled in using dao broadsword, so people called him "Feidao Liu" (Liu - flying sabre). During childhood he studied chuojiao (wrestling) from Zhang and Ma. Later he studied from Tung Hai Ch'uan.

Li Cun Yi (1849 - 1921) was born in 1847 in Hebei province, Shen county. He was from a poor family, becoming a cart driver as a young boy and later opening his own bodyguard service. Li was known as "Jeweler Li" and "Single Saber Li" for his expertise with the broadsword. He was already an Hsing Yi expert (student of Liu Qi Lan) before studying Bagua with Chen Ting Hua and Dong.

Quan Kai Ting was a Manchu soldier and was considered to be one of the first students of Dong. He was a good painter, he drew the only existed portrait of Dong Haichuan.

Shi Ji Dong (1835-1908) was nicknamed Zhenbang. People called him "Shi Liu" (Shi the 6th). He was born in Jxian county of Hebei province. During childhood he studied tantui and was skillful in continuous kicking. Yin Fu advised him to study from Tung hai Ch'uan. At the end of his life Tung lived in his house and his wife became an adopted daughter of Tung.

Wei Ji Xiang


   

Third Generations

Gao Yi Sheng (1866 -1951). Gao Yi Sheng was born in 1866 in Shandong, though he moved to Hebei province when he was still young. As a youth, he learned his family style, Da Hong Quan. Later, he studied Hsing Yi with Li Cun Yi. At twenty six, he learned the basics of Bagua with Song Chang Rong. At thirty, he was defeated by Zhou Yu Xiang in a contest. Zhou introduced him to his teacher, Cheng Ting Hua for further instructions. For the next two years, he trained with Zhou in Shangdong and Cheng in Beijing.

"We practice an art that does not have an end, I am Song Yi Ren. I learned the whole set. I transmit it everywhere under heaven. I transmit the art and I don't hold back. This ability is to encourage people. "

"Yu shen Bagua Lian Huan Zhang"
(Swim body Eight Diagram Linking Palm)
Gao Yi Sheng

By forty five, Gao has established a reputation in Haifeng, Shandong. He finally meet his last teacher, Song Yi Yan (q), a Taoist who claimed to be a student of Pi Cheng Xia, the teacher of Dong Hai Chuan. Song told Gao that Dong had only stayed long enough to study the pre-heaven skills of Ba Gua. He suggested that the "post-heaven" skills also had to be studied in order to complete the system. Gao then learned the complete system from Song.

At fifty Gao returned to Hebei, where he taught in Yang Cun village close to Tianjin. In a meeting with his old teacher Zhou, Zhou made three attacks on Gao to test the progress of his student. He was twice deflected, and the third time knocked away. Zhou was impressed enough by Gao's sixty four post-heaven palms that he returned to Shandong in search of the Sung Yi Jen, but hewas unable to find him.

In 1936, Gao began teaching on the football fields of the English concession in Tianjin. It was in Tianjin that Gao taught the majority of his students that began to spread his style widely. in 1959, Gao passed away. His legacy is passed on through three students - Wu Meng Xia, Zhang Jun Feng and Ho Ho Choy.

Students
Han Mu Hsia, Ho Ho Choi (1911-1995), He Ko Cai (taught in Hong Kong), Lau Fung Choi, Li Yuen Zhang, Pau Chum, On Jai Hai, Wu Meng Xia, Yau Fung Pui, Zhang Jun Feng (from Hubei)

Hon Mu Xi was also a student of Ying Men Tian () as well as Cheng Ting Hua.

Students: Wu MingXi (1905-1979)

Xie Peiqi (1920 - ) Student of both Men Baozhen and Ma Gui. He spent nearly 25 years studying with Men and is the last person to be fully trained in the entire system of Yin style bagua. Also studied with Fan Fenglan (the daughter of Fan Zhi Yong).

Students : He Jinbao

Gong Baotian started training with Yin Fu while he was still an adolescent while working as a waiter in a restaurant. It is said that Gong Baotians older brother, Gong Baoshan, introduced Gong Baotian to Yin Fu, thinking that his younger brother had martial arts potential. Gong Baotian fulfilled this potential, eventually becoming one of Yin Fus top students. He was hired as a royal bodyguard under Yin Fu and became his successor at the palace when Yin Fu retired. When the Qing government was overthrown, Gong Baotian served as the head bodyguard of General Zhang Zuolin. Soon after that he retired to his home in Qingshan District in the province of Shandong. He published a book on his training methods.

Students : Gong Baozai, Liu Yun Chiao

Sun Lu Tang (1861-1932) Student of Cheng Ting Hua.

   

Modern Practitioners

Many recent Ba Gau practioners also develop their own style and interpretation of Ba Gau training. There are many different schools including a National composite form.

Gong Baozai was introduced to his teacher, Gong Baotian, at the early age of six. Over the subsequent years, studied a variety of professions and held a number of jobs, from carpenter to head of news agencies to school superintendent. As the Communists took over in China in 1949, Gong Baozai left for Taiwan, where he lived in self-imposed obscurity for many years. Finally, a former resident of his home village recognized him and begged him to resume teaching Baguaquan. He agreed, although he only ever taught a small number of students. Students : Michael Guen

Liu Yun Chiao was the last student of Gong Baotian. He was already a well known martial artist before studying Bagua. He was a prolific teacher, founding the Wutang Association and training thousands of students in Taiwan. Students : Yang Shu-Ton, Adam Hsu , Su Yu Chang.

Ho Ho Choy was born in 1911, in a village of Guang Dong province, China. At the age of 18, he learnt Hung Kar Southern Shaolin from his uncle. At 26, he moved to Tianjin and was introduced and studied with Gao Yi Sheng. Ho left Tianjin in 1949.

     

 

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Last update: 03/29/2002