It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Dong Hai Chuan brought Baguazhang into Beijing in the 19th century. He is regarded as a skilful martial artist and is believed to be the founder of Baguazhang.
The exact story of Dong Hai Chuan is hard to establish. In most accounts he is reported as coming to Beijing in 1852, where he began to teach Baguazhang. The style soon becoming popular in Beijing and the surrounding areas
The beginnings of Pa-Kua Chang are as obscure as the origin of the I Ching itself. Most modern day records indicate that the developer of modern day Pa-Kua Chang was Tung Hai Chuan (Dong Hai Quan, 1797-1882 A.D.). Many colorful legends surround the great Tung who supposedly first displayed his art to the Emperor while serving as a eunuch in the emperor's palace.
The following are a few of the stories told by or about Dong, Hai-Chuan and the founding of his system of Baguazhang. Historians still argue over which if any of these stories is true.
Dong told some students that he wandered into the mountains near Beijing and encountered a dwarf. This dwarf allegedly led Dong to a monk named Bi, Deng-Xia (Man Without Shadow Under the Lamp) who was the number one student of the actual founder of Baguazhang. Research has shown that the validity of this version is open to doubt.
Another story claims that Dong, Hai-Chuan created Baguazhang from his life experiences. He trained extensively in martial arts for much of his youth in his home, Wen An in Hebei province. At the age of 40 he was attacked and almost killed on a road. Monks reputedly of the Daoist Long-Men sect (Dragon door Daoists) found him and he was said to have been instructed in a healing method of exercise used by these Daoist monks who practiced a meditative method of walking in circles and chanting mantras. After he recovered he traveled to Beijing where he became a servant in the Emperor's kitchen. As a waiter he had to balance great dishes on each hand and in so doing he was inspired to create evasive maneuvers that may have influenced future Baguazhang movements. It is most likely that he combined various elements - his years of training in Wen An, the circle walking of the Daoists, the footwork and palm changes in the kitchen - to create his own Baguazhang forms.
Dong supposedly became a monk in a Taoist temple, because he was on the run from authorities. Later he was expelled from the temple, and went to Beijing where he posed as a eunuch by sneaking into the Emperor's palace. To go past palace guards undetected in those times was considered to be impossible to do. However, Dong's great acrobatic skill and ease of maneuverability, made it easy for him to supposedly come and go from the palace as he wished.
Legend further has it, that the Emperor heard that Dong was able to sneak in and out of the palace at will, and that Dong possessed great martial art skill. The emperor asked Dong Hai Chuan to give a public demonstration. After the demonstration, the emperor was so impressed that he asked that Dong teach the palace guards his Kung Fu skills.
Dong 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. 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.
Dong, Hai-Chuan rarely discussed the origin of the art with his pupils. When pressed he told different stories about how he came to learn Baguazhang. It is very interesting in that he was not willing to discuss his lineage in honest terms. Yet today so many students and teachers of his Baguazhang want desperately to trace their lineage back to a man who while he may have been a martial genius was possibly a criminal and was no doubt dishonest in revealing the truth origins of his martial arts.
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.
Yin Fu (Fig. 2) was Dong Hai Chuan's most senior Ba Kua Zhang student. He was with Dong the longest and had the most personal contact with Dong. Yin Fu did not teach many people his Ba Kua Zhang and of those he did teach, only a few received his complete system. Yin Fu was born in Hebei province, Ji County, Zhang Huai Village in 1841. Since he was tall and slim, people called him "thin" Yin. Before he studied Ba Kua Zhang, he was experienced in Shaolin Lohan Chuan and Tan Tui (springing legs) and this background was reflected naturally in his Ba Kua style. In addition to teaching Ba Kua Zhang in the palace and to private students, Yin also worked as a resident guard and bodyguard protecting the rich people and their homes in Beijing. During the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, Yin Fu was hired as the head bodyguard for the Empress Dowager and the Guang Xu emperor when they were taken out of the Forbidden City. Yin Fu was famous for his use of footwork in evasion and in applying short powerful kicks. His hand work, characterized by the so-called "ox-tongue" palm, was best applied in adhering, deflecting, and striking. His delivery of power (or fajing) was quick, springy, and explosive. His attacks were very fierce and in lightening speed; once an attack was initiated, there was no letting up.
Yin started studying with Dong in the mid 1860’s. Dong first taught Yin Fu Luo Han Quan because this was the style being taught at the palace before training in Bagua. He spent twenty years with Dong. For ten years, he was 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. He was Dong’s first and by far his longest serving student.
A story as told by Xie Pei Qi, states when Yin Fu came to Beijing he was already skilled at "Snake's Tongue" Boxing (She Xin Quan), which he had practiced since childhood. Shortly after he arrived in Beijing he heard of Tung Hai Chuan's reputation and went to the palace to challenge him. When Yin met Tung and initiated the challenge, Tung was holding a tobacco pouch in his left hand. Tung stretched out his right hand with the palm facing up (yang palm) and said, "You start first." Yin squared off with Tung and extended his hand in attack. As soon as Yin's hand met Tung's arm, Tung turned his palm over and pressed on Yin's arm. Yin Fu moved to block up and when he did Tung speared straight in and struck him in the mouth with his fingertips, knocking out his two front teeth. Tung never dropped the tobacco pouch. Realizing that he had been outclassed, Yin knelt and asked Tung to be his teacher. Tung refused. Yin said, "If you do not take me as your student, I will kneel here and die in front of you." Prince Su was passing by and observed what was happening. He noticed that Yin was very thin and had a "unique look." The prince told Tung to please accept this young man as his disciple. He said, "I will be the one to make the introduction between teacher and student." At this, Tung accepted as his disciple.
When Yin Fu became proficient in Bagua, he started a protection and bodyguard agency. His students worked for him, guarding the homes and bodies of the well-to-do and the elite of Beijing. The success of the agency was due to the fact that each and every guard was backed by the reputation of Yin Fu. Each of these guard/students learned Lohan Shaolin, Pao Chui and Kung Li before learning Pa Kua Chang, making each of them effective fighters in their own right. As he became wealthy from his two businesses, Yin Fu began to send food and clothing back to his home village every month. 
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.
Cheng Ting-Hua (also known as Cheng Ying-Fang) was born in 1848 in the Cheng family village, Shen County, Hebei Province. The third of four brothers, Cheng had pock marks on his face when he was young and thus he was known as “third son with pock marks” Cheng. Cheng T'ing-Hua was fond of martial arts and in his youth he gained skill at wielding a 90 kg broadsword and a large heavy staff. When Cheng was still fairly young, he left his hometown and went to Beijing to apprentice with a gentleman who made eyeglasses. Intent on improving his martial arts skill, Cheng also began to study Chinese wrestling (Shuai Chiao) when he arrived in Beijing.
In the late 1800s, two wrestling styles were popular in Beijing, Manchurian/Mongolian wrestling and Pao Ting “fast style” wrestling. The Pao Ting style was quicker than the Manchurian style. As soon as the opponent came in contact with the wrestler, he would be thrown. There was not any grappling, struggling, or tussling as we see in western wrestling. This wrestling also combined punching, kicking, joint locking and point striking with its throwing techniques. Cheng T'ing-Hua was a avid wrestler and studied both of the popular wrestling styles when he was a young man in Beijing. He practiced hard and made a name for himself as a wrestler. He was not a big name in the martial arts world yet, however, most martial artists in Beijing knew of him and knew he was skilled at shuai chiao.