Bagua San Francisco - History and Traditions
Origins of our San Francisco Baguazhang classes
The origins of Baguazhang can be traced back to the 17th century in Qing dynasty China to a famed martial artist by the name of Dong Hai Chuan 董海川 (1799-1882), regarded as the founder and original disseminator of Baguazhang.
Born in Zhu Jia Wu of Wen’an County in Hebei Province, Dong Hai Chuan began studying the martial arts at a very young age. Once an adult, Dong traveled all over China exploring his fascination of Daoism. It was during this time that Dong created what is now regarded as the signature of Baguazhang -- the Circle Walking Palms -- based on theories and principles extracted from the Yi Jing 易经, or Book of Changes.
After developing the Circle Walking Palms, Dong relocated to Beijing to assume a post in the mansion of Prince Su. It was there that he began openly teaching the art of Baguazhang. Many top martial artists from throughout Beijing, Tianjin, and other parts of Hebei province came to exchange hands and measure themselves against Dong. Convinced of his mastery in both martial skill and ethics, each challenger without exception became Dong’s disciple. By the end of the 19th century, Dong already had over fifty indoor disciples. Because most of these disciples were already masters of other martial arts styles, Dong adapted his teaching to the individual skill sets of his students; as such, each student’s method of training and expression of the palm changes differed significantly from the others. This, in turn, resulted in the emergence of numerous sub-styles of Bagua, most notably the Cheng style developed by Cheng Ting Hua 程廷华, the Yin style developed by Yin Fu 尹福, and the Liang style developed by Liang Zhen Pu 梁振璞.
It is the Cheng style of Bagua that is taught by Master Ng in our San Francisco Bagua classes.
Cheng style Baguazhang 程派八卦掌
The third of four brothers, Cheng Ting Hua 程廷华 (1848-1900) was born in the Cheng family village in Shen county of Hebei province. Fond of the martial arts since his youth, Cheng Ting Hua left his hometown at a fairly young age and went to Beijing to both improve his martial arts skills and apprentice for a gentleman who made eyeglasses (Cheng would later open his own eyeglass store outside the Suiwen Gate in Beijing, for which he was nicknamed "Eyeglass Cheng").
When he was approximately 28 years old (1876), Cheng Ting Hua -- then already highly skilled in Shuai Jiao, the Chinese art of wrestling and takedowns, and Xing Yi Quan -- sought the tutelage of Dong Hai Chuan, who was already very well known in Beijing. Cheng came at the recommendation of Dong's two senior disciples, Yin Fu and Shi Ji Dong, and became Dong's fourth inner circle disciple.
It was not long before Cheng Ting Hua became widely recognized in the Beijing martial arts community as a person of extraordinary abilities. After Dong Hai Chuan's death, Cheng integrated the Circle Walking Palms he learned from Dong and his thorough understanding of their principles, with his own special features and experience in Shuai Jiao and Xing Yi, to create Cheng style Baguazhang. Some of these special features include the mud-wading step known as Tang Ni Bu 趟泥步 as well as the close hook and wide swing steps known as Bai Kou Bu 擺扣步. Another principle characteristic of Cheng Bagua is the Dragon Claw palm 龙爪掌, where the thumb is spread wide, the tiger's mouth is curved and pushed up, the index and middle fingers are spread apart with the middle finger erect, and the ring and pinky fingers are wrapped.
On August 14, In the 26th year of Qing Guanxu (1900), Cheng Ting Hua was involved in a confrontation with the 8 Army Alliance troops near the Suiwen Gate, and was shot and killed while trying to climb a wall to escape. Although Cheng died when he was only 52, his Cheng Baguazhang legacy was kept alive through his younger brother Cheng Dian Hua (also a student of Dong Hai Chuan), his sons Cheng You Long and Cheng You Xin, his nephews Cheng You Gong and Cheng You Sheng, and top disciples such as Liu Zi Yang, who brought Cheng Ting Hua's Bagua Zhang back to their family ancestral village to train and mentor the next generation of Bagua masters, one of whom was the late Great-Grandmaster Sun Zhi Jun 孙志君 (1933-2016), China's national representative successor of Baguazhang.
One of Great Grandmaster Sun Zhi Jun's senior disciples was Grandmaster Jia Shu Sen 贾树森, with whom our teacher, Master Mike Ng, studied for numerous years. Master Ng now continues to preserve and advance this knowledge here at Baguazhang San Francisco.
Yin style Baguazhang 尹派八卦掌
A native of Qi district in Hebei province, Yin Fu 尹福 (1840-1909) was Dong Hai Chuan’s earliest student in the palace of Prince Su. A proponent of Shaolin Quan, Yin Fu’s skill in Bagua Zhang advanced very quickly, and Yin was soon invited to become one of the Emperor’s personal security guards. Although of thin stature, Yin Fu had very agile legs and quick footwork, allowing him to easily lock, trap, and take down an opponent with his legs alone. Yin Fu’s hand techniques were also stellar. Yin’s Bagua Zhang is characteristic for its Ox-Tongue Palm 牛舌掌. It is said that Yin Fu’s grip was so strong that no opponent could break free of his grasp. When Dong Hai Chuan retired from teaching, it was Yin Fu who took over instruction of the imperial security guards. In 1900, Yin Fu was responsible for escorting the Empress Dowager out of Beijing when the city was under siege from foreign troops. It was this duty that made Yin Fu and his Bagua Zhang famous, and many students from near and far sought his tutelage.
Liang style Baguazhang 梁派八卦掌
Born in Beihaojia village in Ji county of Hebei province, Liang Zhen Pu 梁振蒲 (1863-1932) was a practitioner of Tan Tui 弹腿 (springing leg kicking style). In 1877, Liang Zhen Pu began his study of Bagua Zhang under its founder, Dong Hai Chuan. Liang studied with Dong for a period of five years. As Dong’s youngest student, Liang Zhen Pu also had the distinct privilege of learning from Dong’s senior disciples Yin Fu and Cheng Ting Hua. As such, Liang’s Bagua Zhang is unique because it includes aspects of both Yin and Cheng styles, such as Yin Fu’s signature Ox-Tongue Palm and Cheng Ting Hua’s characteristic wrestling fighting applications.
Pastmaster Dong Hai Chuan 董海川 师祖
Original Disseminator of Baguazhang
Pastmaster Cheng Ting Hua 程廷华 宗师
Founder of Cheng style Baguazhang
Pastmaster Yin Fu 尹福 宗师
Founder of Yin style Baguazhang