BA GUA ZHANG is one of the most famous Chinese Martial Arts. It has unique training methods and its palm method changes immeasurably. It has a well established reputation in the world of the Martial Arts. From the time of Qing Chen Feng (1851-1862) when grandmaster Dong Hai Chuan first founded it until today, it is practiced daily and enjoyed by Martial Artists not only in China but worldwide..
The Founder of Baguazhang G. Grand Master Dong Hai Chuan and his Tomb
Grand Master Dong Hai Chuan had many disciples. Yin Fu, Ma Weiqi, Shi Jidong, Song Changrong, Cheng Ting Hua, Liang Zen Po, Liu Feng Chun, Zang Zan Kui, Fan Zi Yung and Liu Bao Zen were very famous. In terms of skill, achievements, devotion and fame, Masters Yin Fu and Chen Ting Hua were the best.
Although the principles and methods of achieving their skill in Ba Gua Zhang were the same, after many years of training and teaching, each one gradually developed his own style. These styles have become known as Yin Style Ba Gua Zhang and Cheng Style Ba Gua Zhang.
Master Cheng Ting Hua also known as Yin Fang, was from Shen country in Hebei. He was born in 1848 and died at the age of 52. He spent his early years training the Martial Art of Shuaijiao and Shaolin. After a friend's recommendation he became member of the Dong Hai Chuan School. He completely mastered the pure essence and spirit of Ba Gua Zhang. Master Cheng was a strong, well-built man. He had a shop which sold spectacles in Beijing so he was known by everyone as "Spiritual Strength Spectacles".
In 1900, the Eight Countries Allied Armies invaded Beijing. Master Cheng wanted to stop a unit of the German army that was threatening and intimidating the people. While engaged in battle against this German unit he was shot and killed. Master Cheng had many disciples, the most famous were Feng Jun Yi, Zhang Yu Kui, Kan Ling Feng, Li Wen Piao, Zhou Xiang, Zhang Yongde, Sun Lutang, Yang Ming Shan, Guo Tong De, Liu Bin, Cheng You Gong, Cheng You Long and Cheng You Xin. They all contributed considerably in the development of Cheng Style Ba Gua Zhang.
Cheng's Baguazhang The Founder/ Master Cheng Ting Hua Master Cheng You Xin
Feng Jun Yi was good at using the leg method and for this reason he was known as "Flying Legs Feng Jun Yi". Zhang Yu Lui was known as "Miller Zhang" as he came from a miller's family. Kan Ling Feng's nickname was "Kan Eight" Zhang Yongde, was known as "Zhang Boots" because he sold boots. He was illiterate.
Zhou Xiang had scars from chicken pox on his face and so he was called "Scarred Zhou". Guo Tong De known as "Steamed Bun Guo" sold steamed buns for a living. Yang Ming Shan was initially trained by Grand Master Cheng in making spectacles. He then asked his teacher if he could learn Ba Gua. Lui Bin was Grand Master Cheng's youngest disciple. All the above men had outstanding skill and were famous in the world of martial arts.
Li Wen Biao, also called Guang Pu, was one of Cheng Ting Hua's distinguished disciples. He was an extremely well-built man with enormous strength and was admired for his fighting spirit. He also mastered the art of Ba Gua Zhang. Grand Master Li followed military supervisor Xu Shi Chang to the north east of China to Feng Tian where he was appointed to seek out foreign spies. In that period many martial artists like Warlord Li, Spiritual Wrestler Ji Si, Pi Gua's Li Bao Rong and nephew of Grand Master Cheng, Cheng You Gong served under Grand Master Li's command. He later held office with President Cao Kun in Beijing. Among his troops there were at least ten of his Ba Gua classmates and younger generation students such as "Miller Zhangs", student Cui Yu Gui, Cheng You Long's student. He Jun, Zhu Wen Bao's student Liu Zhi Gang and Cheng Tian Hua's student Liu Zi Tai. Grand Master Li was killed in the confusion of battle when Feng Wu Yang rebelled against President Cao Kun. Grand Master Li was famous for his crushing palm (Ta Zhang). Very few dared to challenge him and he was highly praised by the martial art world.
Master Sun Lou Tang followed Guo Yunshen's student Li Kui Yuan and studied Xsing Yi Chuan. He then asked Master Cheng Ting Hua to teach him Ba Gua. Later he met Hao Wei Jin. Because his knowledge was already comparatively deep he consequently took on the study of Tai Chi Chuan. Master Sun purely studied these three styles of martial art. He mastered each detail of all three styles and fused them together. He wrote the following books; "The Real Meaning of Fighting", "The Study of Xsing Yi Chuan", "The Study of Ba Gua Zhang", "The Study of Tai Chi Chuan", and "The Study of the Ba Gua Zhang Sword", which became classics for future generations. Master Sun worked as a teacher of martial arts at the Najing Central Kuo Shu Institute. He was famous worldwide and he was one of the greatest martial arts teachers of his time.
Master Sun Lou Tong Master Cheng You Long
Cheng You Ging, also known as Xsiang Ting was Master Cheng Ting Hua's nephew. When he started practising Ba Gua Zhang, he would rise when the rooster crowed and practise without stopping. Once, in the shop which sold spectacles, the disciples were all walking. "Spectacles Cheng" was in the central room drinking tea. You Gong was in the courtyard practising the Turning Palms. Grand Master Cheng would not speak and You Gong was not allowed to stop or have a break. Within three years You Gong improved greatly. When he followed Master Li Biao in Feng Tian in search of spies, he would practise the Palms with a ten kilo iron staff. He was never idle. Every day, on his own he would go out and arrest bandits. At that time when bandits heard his name they would lose courage. He held a post at the Headquarters Indoctrination Hall of the Northeast Army of Zhang Zuo Lin. He taught Ba Gua Zhang to Zhang Xsue Liang.
Cheng You Long also known as Hai Ting, was the oldest son of Cheng Ting Hua. When he was young he received parental teachings from Spectacles Cheng. After Lis father's death he practised his skills even more diligently. Later he studied Tai Chi Chuan with Master Yang Jian Hou and blended the two arts creating "Ba Gua Tai Chi Chuan". He was fair-skinned and he was frank and honest by nature. He had an air of wisdom. He was extremely skilled in the Art of Ba Gua Zhang. Moreover he was an expert in drawing and calligraphy. He researched the principles of martial arts extensively. He also researched every detail of the Paired Ba Gua Zhang Method and Ba Gua Meridian Mandarin Duck Axes. He died because he smoked excessively. He was deeply mourned by all of his classmates.
Cheng You Xin, also called Shou Ting, was Master Cheng Ting Hua's second son. When Cheng Ting Hua died, You Xin was only nine years old. He was not really able to receive his father's true teachings firsthand but learned from his father's students, reaching a very high level. As a result of this the instruction that he received came from many teachers. He did not receive one official transmission of Ba Gua. Despite this, his skill equaled that of his older brother's even though it did not surpass it. You Xin was short and small in stature. He was an expert in lower basin stepping. People called him "Cuo Ye" (Short Uncle). The sum of his studies was his 64 Palms but he did not teach it openly. Only Mr Liu Tan Feng received his teachings.
Principle Characteristics of Cheng Style Ba Gua Zhang
Grand Master Liu Jingru Master Tang Tung Wing
When training one must walk in circles. Each circle is made up of eight steps with the idea of the feet stepping on the eight trigrams. One must walk using the mud treading steps. The inside step moves straight. The outside foot is turned slightly inwards. Walking is done along the edge of the circle and is divided into upper, middle and lower basins.
When the hands go out, one palm should reach out to the front while the other palm should defend in the rear. The fingers of both palms point upwards. The Thumbs are open wide. The tiger's mouths are round and push out. The remaining fingers are slightly curved. The fingers can be slightly spread or one can have the fourth and fifth fingers sticking together. The palms face the front and are naturally concave. The shape of the back of the palm is like a tile. The heel of the palm pushes out. The palm strength is vigorous and it is called "Dragon Claw Palm". The above basic palm formation is from Mr. Dong Hai Chuan.
The steps in Yin Style Ba Gua Zhang are small, lively and have some resemblance to a natural step. In Cheng Style Ba Gua Zhang the steps are slightly bigger. They change and transform at many points. Cheng Style Ba Gua Zhang is especially good at using large swing and hook steps. This is because Cheng Ting Hua had trained in Shuai Jiao in his early days. The gripping and throwing method was blended into his Ba Gua Zhang. The swing step and hook step are transformed causing the opponent to trip.
The hand which goes out in Yin Style Ba Gua Zhang is direct giving special attention to sudden speed, crispness, firmness and abundant springy shaking strength. It is called hard palm. Cheng Style Ba Gua Zhang concentrates on the interplay of hard and soft with a lot of spiraling energy. It often has touching, sticking, following continuously, neutralizing, issuing and releasing, all coordinating together.
Cheng Style Ba Gua Zhang mainly uses hidden legs techniques. It is very good at using the tips of the foot. When doing piercing palm, the heart of the palm faces upwards. The five fingers point to the front. The pierce goes out under the front arm. The palm method contains cloud, thrust between, pierce and strike but it mainly uses push, uphold, pull aside, lead, parry, hook, split and advance.
Cheng Style Ba Gua Zhang is very good at holding three techniques simultaneously: Walking like a dragon, Turning like a monkey, Changing postures like an eagle. Sometimes it is tight and compact. Sometimes it is big and open. It is agile, circular and lively. It stretches out everywhere. It is especially good at twisting, wrapping, drilling and overturning. The turning palms are like twisting rope.
The Palm Method Routines of Cheng Style Ba Gua Zhang
Grand Master Liu Jingru
Master Cheng Ting Hua had many students, most of whom had skill before seeking instruction from the Master. Some of them only studied a few palm techniques before they left the teacher but they gained considerable fame among their contemporaries.
Consequently by the 4th generation the names of the training methods of the basic eight palms, eight big palms and their routines are no longer the same. Cheng You Long's student Sun Xi Kun wrote "Genuine Transmissions of Bagua Zhang. In his work his Eight Big Palms are: Single Change Palm, Double Change Palm, Flowing Posture Palm, Three Piercing Palms, Grinding Body Palm, Overturning Body Palm and Returning Body Palm. Cheng You Xin was Cheng You Long's younger brother. His eight Big Palms do not have Three Piercing Palms but have Turning Body Palm instead. In our lineage we follow this tradition in the Eight Big Palms.
Basic Eight Palms :
1. Fierce Tiger Leaves the Mountain
2. Big Peng Spreads its Wings
3. Lion Opens its Big Mouth
4. White Ape offers the Peach
5. Embrace the Moon to the centre of the Chest
6. Black Bear Searching Arms
7. Point to heaven Insert to Ground
8. Green Dragon Searching Claws.
Each palm has its own special energy and strength as well as its own functional method. These are not just parts of Ba Gua's palm method but they are also the foundation of the Eight Big Palms and the 64 Palms, so they are called the Basic Palms.
Grand Master Liu Jingru
The Eight Big Palms:
Single Change Palm, Double Change Palm, Flowing Posture Palm, Behind the Body palm, Turning Body Palm, Grinding Body Palm, Overturning Body Palm and Returning Body palm.
The Eight Big Palms are not only the fundamental routines for practising Ba Gua Zhang skills but each one also possesses eight distinctive striking methods.
Single Change Palm is the outgoing hand already striking. It is fast and direct. Double Change Palm is a continuation of Single Change Palm with two or three continuous strikes. Flowing Posture Palm follows the same direction as the opponent's incoming hand. The energy and strength flow with the posture and yet strike. Behind the Body Palm goes contrary to the opponent's incoming hand's direction, contrary to energy and strength and yet strike. Turning Body Palm is turning to the left and right in front of the opponent. It has both the left and right rotating striking methods. Grinding Body Palm uses toeing in and out stepping in place in front of the opponent. It uses close range striking methods. Overturning Body Palm uses turning over the body fast to strike in adverse situations. Returning Body palm uses striking and walking away immediately, then turning back suddenly and striking again. In this way one defeats his opponent having taken him by surprise. Hence, the saying, if you have a Single, then you must have Double. If you have Flowing then you must have Behind. Turning Body Palm turns left and right. Grinding Body Palm is close to the opponent's body. Overturning Body Palm is like the overturning body of a python, it takes the opponent by surprise and defeats him. Returning Body Palm strikes and walks away and returns to strike again. It resembles a sparrowhawk turning back its head to grip its body.
These are not included in the Eight Big Palms but each palm produces seven more palms. Together they are called Single Change Eight Palms. These are eight kinds of strikes with the outgoing hand striking suddenly. Double Change Eight Palms continues from Single Change Palm. It has eight types of strikes executed two or three times in succession. Flowing Posture Eight Palms has eight types of strikes moving in the same direction as the direction of the opponent's incoming hand. Behind the Body Eight Palms has eight types of strikes that go in the opposite direction of the opponent's incoming strike, energy and strength. Turning Body Eight Palms has eight types of strikes executed alternatively to the left and right in front of the opponent. Grinding Body Eight palms has eight types of strikes with the toes turned in or out in place close to the body in front of the opponent. Overturning Body Eight Palms has eight types of sudden body overturns to strike in adverse situations, taking the opponent by surprise and so defeating him. Returning Body Eight Palms has eight types of striking, walking away and returning to strike again.
The 64 Palms is a complete sum of the practise methods that Master Cheng You Xin learned from Master Cheng Ting Hua and all of his classmates. It is the genuine teaching of the 2nd and 3rd generation out of Master Cheng You Xin's 50 years of long and arduous training. By practising the 64 Palms one can strengthen not only one's skill but improve the palm methods as well and at the same time helping one to grasp the skills and essentials of Ba Gua Zhang.
Swimming Body Connected Palms:
Consists of The Basic Palms, Eight Big Palms, and the 64 Palms combined into routines. It can be used for taking part in competitions and performances. It provides the practitioner with beauty and grace. By practising it one can increase one's awareness of attack and defense. It will teach you many more techniques to the palm method. The body can become more flexible and agile. The stepping method will become more skillful and generally all the Ba Gua skills will improve. With continuous training each muscle, joint, organ and all the parts of each physiological system improve. Thus dispelling disease, strengthening the body and prolonging one's life.
Master Han and Master Tang Master Hong and Master Tang
Cheng Style Ba Gua Zhang Weapons Routines
Master Dong Hai Chuan was very good at the saber technique. His epitaph says. "Dong's hands went inches past his knees, therefore his fist and palm strikes were executed fast and reached very far and it was very difficult to avoid them. "The length of the body of the Ba Gua saber is 4 feet 2 inches. Adding this to the fact that Master Dong's hands reached past his knees, this meant a length of over seven feet. One can infer that Master Dong must have been an impressive sight with saber in hand. All of Master Dong's students were good at the Ba Gua saber technique. Cheng Style Ba Gua Zhang contains Rolling Hand Saber, Point the Road Saber, Crowd Blocking Saber and Turning Saber which uses the principles of walking and turning.
Cheng Style Ba Gua Zhang has the sword technique in it. Sun Lu Tang wrote "A study of Ba Gua Sword". Master Sun Xi Kun also has a sword technique in his "True Transmission of Ba Gua Zhang. The style and use of the sword are similar to the Ba Gua Saber. The Ba Gua sword has two edges and in addition to the saber - like techniques, there are the many uses of the sword's point.
There are also spear techniques in Cheng Style Ba Gua Zhang. Many of these are from the teachings of Big Spear Liu Deleuan. After Master Cheng Ting Hua's death, Big Spear Lim took over the teaching. He did his best to teach the students, giving guidance and support to the less advanced. What he transmitted to his students has Fighting Body Spear, Eight Spear, Black and White Sparrowhawk, Small Sparrowhawk the method of the halberd, qinna methods and the straight line practice 64 Hands.
On the 8th of March 2004, we had the honour of offering hospitality to Grand Master Liu Jingru along with his assistant Master Hong Cheng as a guest of my Teacher Master Tang Tung Wing.
On the 9th of March Grand Master Liu Jingru and Masters Hong Cheng and Tang Tung Wing visited my school in Vari. A great reception was organised by myself, my students and residents of the area.
This was followed by an impressive Chinese Kung Fu exhibition, in the styles of Wing Chun Kung Fu, Tang Lang, and Ba Gua Zhang, with great success.
The Grand Master was very enthusiastic about the level of both the students and myself, by the hospitality and the warm reception of the residents.
The Grand Master undertook private morning sessions and afternoon group sessions for an entire month, six hours a day, assisted by Masters Hong Cheng and Tang Tung Wing.