Liu believes that the first second of a fight usually decides who will win or lose

Liu Wan Fu began his study of Ba Gua when he was 20 years old. His teacher, Cheng Yun Qing (tl '-a it ), was Zhang Zhao Dong's brother-in-law and had studied both Ba Gua Zhang and Xing Yi Quan from Zhang. Liu said that his teacher first taught him to practice holding standing postures and how to walk the circle. His stepping method was to pick the foot up flat, move it forward at about ankle height, then when it is about to touch down, slide it forward about another half step by pushing from the back leg. He said that it was practiced this way in order to develop power in the legs.

After Liu became proficient at circle walking, his teacher taught him single movement practice. This consisted of taking single Ba Gua maneuvers and practicing them repeatedly. Liu said that the only way to get good in martial arts is to execute single movement practice. He said, "Forms are for demonstration and show. If you want to learn to fight, you practice one move thousands of times over and over, everyday."

Later, after Liu had practiced dozens of Ba Gua moves in this repetitive "single movement" style, his teacher taught him how to put them all together to make a complete form. Liu said that in Zhang Zhao Dong's system they had the single palm change, the double palm change, and eight other changes on the circle.

Probably the most famous version on Zhang Zhao Dong's Ba Gua is the form that was taught by Zhang Zhao Dong's student, Jiang Rong Chiao It is popular because Jiang taught many people this form while he was teaching at the Central Martial Arts Academy in Nanjing and later when he taught in Shanghai. Additionally, Jiang published a book which details this form. This book has become the most popular Ba Gua Zhang book throughout the world.

In the Untied States, Jiang Rong Chiao's form has become known to many as "the Original Form" of Ba 4 Gua Zhang. Liu Wan Fu said that although many of

Jiang Rong's Chiao's movements are the same as the movements his teacher taught him, the content is different. Liu said that Jiang Rong Chiao made many changes to the form that was taught by Zhang Zhao Dong. Research into Jiang's development of that form (see Pa Kua Chang Journal, Vol. 3, No. 6) reveals that Jiang Rong Chiao did in fact modify the form he was taught by Zhang Zhao Dong to fit his taste and his experience. Jiang Rong Chiao himself said that his form was a combination of the Ba Gua Zhang he had learned from Zhang and the other arts he had learned during his long martial arts career.

In addition to Ba Gua, Xing Yi, and Lan Shou, Liu Wan Fu also studied Ba Ji Quan for three years with Zhao Yu Ting (fti-f-), an instructor at the Hebei Provincial Martial Arts Academy. Additionally, around 1949, Liu learned Tong Bei with Zhang Che.

Liu says that Zhang was especially good at Tong Bei. He said that Zhang was famous for his fast hand movements. Attacking skills and quick movements were emphasized by his Tong Bei teacher.

In 1952 Liu Wan Fu entered a platform boxing competition and won the heavyweight title by defeating the son of the well know Xing Yi instructor Li Zi Yang (4- 'T #) in the final bout. Li Zi Yang was one of Zhang Zhao Dong's top Xing Yi students. The word around town before the fight was that Li's son was so powerful that if he hit his opponent one time, his opponent would die. Liu Wan Fu said that he was not worried about these claims because although his opponent was strong, he was also slow. Liu's skill was in his agility and speed and so he knew he could out maneuver his opponent. Liu said that it is not enough to be powerful in fighting. The practitioner must has speed, strength, and method. He said "When someone has all those things together, then they will win. It is important to have diversified skills."

Forms are for demonstration and show. If you want to learn to fight, you practice one move thousands of times over and over, everyday.

Liu said that the boxing match was held on a one meter high circular platform. The participants only wore thin gloves and a small chest protector. There was a referee who would score the match. Participants earned one point for hitting or throwing the opponent. In his final bout for the championship, Liu won 5-0. His opponent never scored a point.

Liu Wan Fu on Fighting

Liu Wan Fu's ideas about fighting and how to train for fighting are very direct. He says that the only way someone can learn how to become a good fighter is to fight on the street, down and dirty, no rules, no pads, full contact, full speed. He says, "There is no other way." Liu says that if a practitioner can execute his forms

Liu Wan Lan Shou

Liu Wan Fu in Tianjin, China flawlessly, trains hard and develops good strength {gong li- tf) tl), but does not practice real fighting, he probably cannot fight very well. He says it is not good enough to fight slow, fight with rules, fight with pads on, or fight and pull punches. The fighting training must be full speed and full power with no protection. "You have to really hit and be hit," he said.

Liu says that although he has practiced martial arts his whole life, he really learned to how fight in the early 1950's when he, his brother, and his two brothers-in-law owned and operated a cigarette shop. During that period of time Tianjin was a very rough place. He said that he got into fights on almost a daily basis because there was always someone trying to rip you off in those days.

Liu said that his uncle also owned a cigarette shop and on one occasion his uncle was going to buy some cigarettes from a wholesaler, however, Liu's little brother talked his uncle out of the sale because he had heard that the wholesaler was selling phony cigarettes. The wholesaler found out and got angry. He sent some of his people to Liu's shop to smash it up as a warning. When these guys came to the shop, Liu Wan Fu went out and beat one of them so bad that the others left without putting up a fight.

Liu said that the way his shop worked for big orders was that someone would come in and order what they wanted and they would be given a receipt. Liu, his brother, or one of his brothers-in-law would then go out and buy the cigarettes and the individual who ordered them would come back later to get them. On one occasion Liu's brother-in-law had forgotten to get the receipt slip back from the customer when the

David Nicolleti

Liu Wan Fu demonstrates a fighting technique on David Nicoletti customer had picked up his order. Afraid that the customer would come back with the same receipt and try to get another order, Liu's brother-in-law went to retrieve the receipt. The customer had written some notes on the back of the receipt and did not want to return it. The customer and Liu's brother-in-law got into a fight over the matter. The customer was a good fighter and started beating Liu's brother-in-law. Some observers ran to the shop to get Liu Wan Fu. When Liu arrived, he walked right up the guy, chopped him on the neck and knocked him out. Liu says, "His neck was crooked for a month!"

Liu believes that the first second of a fight usually decides who will win or lose. He said that in the old style martial arts tournaments, each bout only lasted a few seconds. The first clash decided the victory. He said the people who fought back then were skilled and powerful. There was very little protective equipment worn and thus the first one that got hit usually went down hard. He said typically the two fighters would walk out into the ring, shake hands, back up a bit, and then begin to stalk each other. One of them would make the first move and within seconds the fight would be over. He said that the fights were never pretty.

One time, when Liu was fighting in a tournament, he was called upon to face his senior gongfu brother. His older brother had a Lan Shou school where Liu had trained for a while. This guy was known to be the toughest guy in town and was expected to win the tournament easily. Liu said, "Everyone was afraid of him." When the two fighters went into the ring, Liu's gongfu brother said to him, "There is no way you can beat me, you might as well go home." Liu answered, "I came here to fight, so win or lose, I am going to fight." The opponent then moved in quickly to kick Liu in the shin and follow with a stomp down on his foot. Liu did not move, he stood his ground and waited. Just before his opponent's foot landed on his shin, Liu backfisted the guy in the face and knocked him out. After telling this story, Liu smiled and said, "The first clash decides the fight."

The reason I could fight is because I had a very strong foundation in other styles before I started Ba Gua Zhang.

Liu says that he has practiced martial arts forms almost everyday of his life, however, he has never gotten away with a clean technique in a real fight. He does not believe the stories about the old masters using some clean form technique to defeat an opponent. He says that these are only stories made up by students after the teacher has died. When he fought and won the heavy weight championship bout in 1952, the next day the paper said he won his match using the movement of "golden chicken spreads its wings." Liu says, "I didn't do that. I just side kicked the guy and then kept on kicking him until it was over."

Liu said that many of the movements that are practiced in forms, especially in Ba Gua forms, don't necessarily have a direct application to fighting. They are practiced to build certain strengths and principles of body motion. In fighting they would be too complex and too slow. He believes that in fighting you have to be very direct, have fast reflexes, be agile, and have strength. He said most of the people he has met who only practice Ba Gua forms and try to practice their martial applications directly from those forms can't fight at all. Liu added, "The reason I could fight is because I had a very strong foundation in other styles before I started Ba Gua Zhang." For fighting Liu relies heavily on his experience in Lan Shou, Ba Ji, and Tong Bei and has created his own Ba Gua form, which he calls a "Ba Gua fighting form," where he has taken elements of Lan Shou, Ba Ji, and Tong Bei and mixed

Ziyang Bagua

Three of the most well respected internal martial arts fighters are pictured here together. The man seated with his hand on his cane is Ba Gua Zhang and Xing Yi Quan instructor Zhang Zhao Dong (also known as Zhang Zhan Kui). The short man to his right is the famous Xing Yi 9uan instructor Shang Yun Xiang. The man to Zhang Zhao Dong's left is the famous Xing Yi 9uan practitioner Wang Xiang Zhai who also developed the art of Yi Quan and the Da Cheng Quan style.

them with Ba Gua Zhang.

Liu Wan Fu says that most of the stories you here about the old master's fights and martial arts abilities are not true. He said he read a story in Chinese Wu Shu Magazine about a guy jumping from the ground up onto the roof of a building. He states, "Who can jump up from the ground and literally land on the roof? No one can. These kind of stories give a very unrealistic representation of martial arts." Liu does not believe any of these exaggerated stories. He says that he has studied martial arts his whole life, he sought out good teachers wherever he could find them. If he heard that someone was good at martial arts, he went to see them. He says that he never saw anything close to the abilities that appear in some of the stories printed in the martial arts magazines.

From his experience, Liu says that quick reactions, having the proper method, and having power behind your method are the three most important components to fighting. He says in order to learn these things, you need a good teacher.

Liu Wan Fu's Teaching Methods

Liu Wan Fu always starts new students with basic exercises, stretching, holding stances, and basic kicks. After they have developed a foundation in terms of flexibility, coordination, strength, and balance, he will teach them something simple like Tan Tui - Springing Legs). He keeps students studying these basics for a long time. He says that good training must be accomplished slowly over a very long period.

Liu made the comment that in the modern Wushu schools in China today the students learn things much too fast. He said, "To get good you have to stay with the basics a long time. People coming out of the modern wushu schools are not very good because they do not have a sufficient foundation." When talking about the competition forms that are trained in the modern wushu schools, Liu said that he hasn't seen any competition forms that he thinks are any good. He says they look pretty, but they have no content.

Liu Wan Fu poses in Ba Gua's Guard Stance

Since Liu believes that in order to become a good fighter, you have to fight, I asked him what value the forms training and exercises of the different martial arts styles that he studied in preparing him to learn how to fight well. Liu said that, in general, basic exercises provides strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination training, forms are used to practice continuity, agility, and rhythm. He said that it is good for the body to be conditioned in all of these areas in order to get ready to learn how to fight. He also teaches two person sets and push-hands style exercises so that his students will develop sensitivity to the opponent's movements, the proper use of angles, and the appropriate use of power. But these things will not prepare a practitioner to know how to use proper timing in a full speed encounter and they definitely do not prepare the practitioner for the bravery required in a real encounter. Liu said that when he fought his opponents, he was not afraid of them. When he fought, and his opponent started at him, he jumped in quickly and hit them. He said that in a real fight there is no time to block and then counter with some fancy technique.

Liu feels that most of the moves in a Ba Gua Zhang circle walking form do not have a very direct application. He says that Ba Gua forms are for training the body. He feels that they are especially good for training strength in the waist, flexibility in the joints, strength in the legs, and agility in movement. He thinks that in order to learn how to fight with Ba Gua, the movements must be broken down and practiced as "single movement" drills in order to learn how to apply them very directly and deliberately.

Liu says that he has practiced martial arts forms almost everyday of his life, however, he has never gotten away with a "clean technique" in a real fight.

Liu Wan Fu's background in martial arts gives him a unique perspective into the internal styles. Having started out with more "external" types of training by practicing such things as "iron body" methods in Lan Shou, using heavy poles or spears to practice strength training exercises, hitting bags to harden his hands, and lifting heavy jars with his fingertips to strengthen his hands, he now feels that it is not necessary to practice a lot of "strength" exercises if the basics in the internal arts, such as Xing Yi Quan's five elements are practiced sufficiently.

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