In Place of an Introduction

Heavy Hitter Boxing Training

Online Boxing Training

Get Instant Access

THERE ARE few books even in Chinese on Pa-kua Chang (palm) or Pa-kua Ch 'uan (boxing). This is not only the first book on the art in a foreign language, but also the first to present the circling method with its functions balanced against a more linear method which initially may have more appeal for Westerners. The more linear system is the result of three years of study under Huang I-hsiang (iitUSii), senior student of Chang Chun-feng (^g®^), one of the leading boxers in Formosa. For the classical circling method, I have used extensively the two best books written on the art to date, Sun Lu-t'ang's Pa-kua Ch'uan Hsueh ("Study of Pa-kua Boxing, " Peking, 1916), and Huang Po-nien's Lung Hsing Pa-kua Chang ("Dragon Shape Pa-kua Palm," Shanghai, 1936). Master Sun, whose "eyes were very high" (meaning he stood above most boxers), is known and revered by many Chinese. His book forms the basis of the circling system presented here. Huang's book reveals how the art had been modified in the twenty years following issuance of the Sun text. To show the present circling methods, I have used the teaching of Kuo Feng-ch'ih (H51L#p)> my personal teacher; Chen P'an-ling (S^^t), the world's leading authority on Chinese boxing; and Wang Shu-chin (EEttHfe), pupil of famed Master Chang Chao-tung (pjl|£3lt).

Why write a book on a subject about which even few Chinese know? Simply, to inform Western readers about a discipline worthy of far wider recognition than it now has. Although Pa-kua is self-defense par excellence, it is also an excellent system of ex ercise which will enlarge one's physical, mental, and possibly even psychic horizons. Physically, it will tone and invigorate your muscles and sharpen and soothe your nerves, teaching you to relax and improving your overall health. Mentally, the bodily relaxation will produce a calm mind, one capable of great concentration. I leave it to someone more competent to enlarge on the psychic reward; suffice to say I believe there is one. Also, I have avoided using the word "character," but I insist that the practice of Pa-kua requires ever-increasing increments of self-discipline, and this cannot but have its impact. In the end Pa-kua will let you know and conquer yourself (like Mallory and his mountain, we only conquer ourselves). Only one with true self-knowledge can master others. This mastery comes, not from the muscles, but from the mind. But, paradoxically, seek to master others and it will elude you; seek to know yourself and you will achieve mastery. "If you ask how I strike the enemy, I cannot tell you: I only do my exercise," said Wan Lai-sheng about Master Tu Hsin-wu's natural boxing Tzu Jan Men, and the same holds for Pa-kua and the other internal methods, t'ai-chi and hsing-i.

Chinese books on Pa-kua boxing lay great stress on philosophical aspects which most Westerners would stamp as mysticism. My eschewing of most of these does not mean I disbelieve them. It merely means that I do not think a beginning text written for the Western reader is the place for philosophy—that too much philosophy would obfuscate material which by its very nature is difficult to present. Germanely, there is the delicious story of a philosopher in a boat asking the boatman if he knew philosophy. When the boatman replied in the negative, the philosopher sighed: "Ah, then you have lost half a life." A storm broke and the boat began to sink. The boatman asked the sage, "Do you know how to swim ?" When the philosopher shook his head, the boatman said, "Ah, then you have lost all of a life!"

This book cannot teach you everything there is to know about Pa-kua. In the absence of a qualified teacher—I know of only a few in the U.S.—it can, however, serve as a substitute. Rose S. C. Li of the University of Michigan, who has spent a lifetime practicing Pa-kua and Hsing-i, wrote me recently that "its delicate technique, theories, and philosophy are not easy for the Western mind to grasp." I more than half agree.

Therefore, this book is but an introduction and basic guide lo a highly sophisticated exercise. It is brief because 1 didn't want to be like the man who said he knew how to spell banana but didn't know where to stop. Over two decades of learning and teaching non-Chinese fighting arts have provided some useful background for me. Pa-kua, however, is unlike and superior to the other arts 1 learned, and so, in 1959 when I began to practice it, I did so from scratch. 1 am still learning. Won't you join me?

Beginnings and Background

A. THE NAME AND THE PHILOSOPHY Pa-kua (A#), pronounced "ba-gwa," is one of the three branches of the nei-chia (internal family or system) of Chinese boxing—the other two are t'ai-chi and hsing-i. The name as well as the rationale derive from the system of philosophy growing out of the / Ching (Book of Changes)—3,000 years old, but timeless. Originally a manual of oracles, the Book of Changes evolved to ethical enumerations, eventually becoming a book of wisdom, one of the Five Classics of Confucianism. It became a common source for both Confucian and Taoist philosophy. The central theme of the book, as well as the system of boxing, is continuous change. While the book's basic idea, as Richard Wilhelm has said,* is the continuous change and transformation underlying all existence, the boxing absorbs this idea into a system of exercise and defense.

Originally the Book of Changes was a collection of linear signs to be used as oracles. In its most rudimentary sense these oracles confined themselves to the answers "yes" and "no." Thus a "yes"

was written in a single unbroken line (-■) and "no" in a single broken line (--). Time brought a need for differentiation and amplification which required additional lines. Thus the eight tri-

* The Richard Wilhelm translation of the Book of Changes, with a foreword by C. G. Jung, will delight those desiring to read the work. It is in two volumes and published by Koutledge & Kegan Paul Ltd. (reprinted in 1960). The Book of Changes has proved so fascinating for some that one European scholar learned Chinese (that disease and not a language) merely to read it. To the Chinese its study is not a thing to be taken lightly, unly those advanced in years regard themselves as ready to learn from it. Confucius himself is said to have been seventy years old when he first took up the Book of Changes.

grams (or lines of three-) evolved and, later, the eight hexagrams (or lines of six —■ ■ ). The Chinese word for both types of signs is kua (diagram). This, then, is the origin of the word pa-kua, or "eight diagrams."

The eight symbols that form the basis of the Book of Changes are as follows:

Name

Attribute

Image

£==

Ch'ien, the Creative

Strong

Heaven

iE =

K'un, the Receptive

Devoted, Yielding

Earth

= =

Chen, the Arousing

Inciting Movement

Thunder

=-=

K'an, the Abysmal

Dangerous

Water

= -—

Ken, Keeping Still

Resting

Mountain

=====

Sun, the Gentle

Penetrating

Wind, Wood

Li, the Clinging

Light-giving

Fire

=====

Tui, the Joyous

Joyful

Lake

In turn these trigrams are formed into a diagram representing the Primal Arrangement (Sequence of Earlier Heaven) inside and the Inner-World Arrangement (Sequence of Later Heaven) outside. The seasons as well as cardinal directions (note that the Chinese place south at the top) are embraced by these phenomena (see Fig. 1).

You need not comprehend the Book of Changes to practice the boxing, but the basics presented above are helpful in understanding the evolution and origin of the boxing system. In a word, Pa-kua boxing* is concerned with change; all is flux, nothing stands still. Technically, this rationale of change is its strength and its totality.

* Hereafter the word Pa-kua refers to the boxing method rather than the philosophy.

Fig. i Pa-kua diagram

B. ORIGIN AND GREAT MASTERS

No one knows the origin of Pa-kua. It is only known that Tung Hai-ch'uan (KjgJIl) ofWenan Hsien in Hopeh Province during the Ch'ing Dynasty (A.D. 1798-1879) learned this art from an anonymous Taoist in the mountain fastnesses of Kiangsu Province. Tung, a young man then barely into his twenties, is said to have been nearly dead of starvation when the hermit chanced upon him. The Taoist ministered to him and Tung stayed several years with him and from him learned a "divine" boxing.

After becoming famous in Peking, Tung was challenged by Kuo Yun-shen (i&3$J:) ("Divine Crushing Hand") of the Hsing-i school. Through two days of the duel, Kuo (who had killed men with his famous crushing hand) could not gain any advantage. On the third day Tung took the offensive and so completely defeated Kuo that he made him a lifelong friend. Thereupon they signed a brotherhood pact requiring hsing-i students to take Pa-kua training and vice versa. For this reason—a most unusual denouement by anyone's standards—the systems are to this day coupled and complementary.

Near middle age, Tung became a eunuch in the king's palace. He did not get on with his fellows, however, and soon was assigned to the royal family of Su Ch'in-wang as a servant. Su employed a Mohammedan boxer and his wife as chief protectors of the household. Sha Hui-tzu, the boxer, held everyone to immediate obedience, and his wife, an expert pistol shot, made them a solid combination. Once at a big banquet where the congestion was beyond relief, Tung served tea to the guests by lightly scaling the wall and crossing the roof to the kitchen and back. Lord Su recognized from this that Tung probably had boxing ability. Subsequently, he ordered Tung to show his art. Tung did: he demonstrated Pa-kua His sudden turns and fluid style enthralled the audience. Thereupon, Sha challenged Tung but was defeated. Tung watched for Sha to attempt revenge. Late one night Sha crept into Tung's bedroom, a knife in hand, while his wife aimed her pistol through the window at Tung. Tung quickly took the pistol from her and turned on Sha, who pounded his head on the floor seeking forgiveness. Tung agreed to forgive him and even accepted Sha as a student.

Later in life Tung retired and taught only a few selected persons his Pa-kua. Although he withered, the stories did not.* One had him in the midst of several men with weapons who were bent on his blood. He not only emerged unscathed, but soundly beat his attackers. Another time he sat in a chair leaning against a wall. The

* Lest the reader scoff too resoundingly, let him heed the words of R. H. Tawney: "Legends are apt, however, to be as right in substance as they are wrong in detail."

Fig. 2 Master Yin Fu wall collapsed and his disciples ran up, fearful that he had been buried. He was found nearby sitting in the same chair leaning against another wall! But the grandest story, told by Wan Lai-sheng, concerns Tung's death. Certain that he was dead, some of his students attempted to raise the casket prior to burial. But the casket would not move. It was as though it were riveted to the ground. As his students tried again and again to lift it, a voice came from inside the casket: "As I told you many times, none of you has one-tenth my skill!" He then died and the casket was moved easily.

Tung died at eighty-four. His most famous students (of a reported total of only seventy-two) were: Yin Fu Cheng T'ing-hua (8J£¥), Ma Wei-chi (&&&), Liu Feng-ch'un (*M), and Shin Liu

Yin Fu (nicknamed "Thin Yin") was a native of I-hsien in Hopeh Province (see Fig. 2). Although his skill was superior he taught

Fig. 3 Master Li Ts'un-i Fig. 4 Master Sun Lu-Tang

few students. For his livelihood he guarded the residence of a nobleman. He died in 1909 at the age of sixty-nine. Some sources claim that he was a pupil of Cheng T'ing-hua rather than of Tung.

Cheng T'ing-hua, also a native of Hopeh, was nicknamed "Invincible Cobra Ch'eng." Besides teaching Pa-kua he ran a spectacles shop in Peking.* One story has it that during the Allied occupation of Peking in the Boxer Rebellion the foreigners were looting, raping, and killing. Ch'eng is said to have rushed from his house with a knife concealed under each armpit and to have killed at least a dozen Germans before being shot to death. Others claim the story is apocryphal and that Ch'eng died a natural death.

* Whence derived his nickname Cobra. Europeans especially refer to the cobra as the "eyeglass snake" (in German, brillenschlange).

Cheng's students included Li Ts'un-i (see Fig. 3), SunLu-

t'ang (see Fig. 4), Chang Yu-kuei (®5tt), Han Ch'i-ying

(&$£), Feng Chun-i ($%£), K'an Ling-feng (I«»*), Chou Hsiang (MW), Li Han-chang ($81*), Li Wen-piao ($#*£), and Ch'in Cheng (*&).

Ma Wei-ch'i taught Sung Yung-hsiang Sung Ch'ang-

jung (sfiiMIS), Liu Feng-ch'un (HMt), Liang Chen-p'u (^ffitf), Chang Chan-kuei (^fiSSt), Chih Lu and Wang Li-te (£

Some sources believe Ma was taught by Cheng T'ing-hua rather than by Tung himself.

The line has proliferated much since then. Greats nearer our own time are Shang Yun-hsiang (¡oSSfir), Li Wen-pao Keng Chi-shan (&«#), and Chang Chao-tung Chang

Chao-tung (see Fig. 5), a native of Hopeh Province, was expert in both Pa-kua and hsing-i. Each year Chang returned to his home in Ho-chien Hsien from Tientsin to visit his parents. The year he

Fig. 5 Master Chang Chao-tung

was sixty he returned to find a forty-year-old named Ma installed as the leading boxer. Ma approached Chang and politely told him that he could withstand his punch. (This was the usual way of deciding who was the strongest boxer—each would get a free swing at the other's body. The loser, however, had the option of challenging for an actual contest if he was unsatisfied with the one-punch method.) Chang obliged smilingly but ordered four students to hold a blanket in back of Ma. He then told Ma: "Put your hands up to protect your body. I will only hit your arm." So saying, Chang hit Ma's arm with his fingers and palm-butt. Ma immediately fell back sharply into the blanket, pulling all four students atop him. Ma knelt down and became a student of Chang.

The best-known Pa-kua boxers in Taiwan today are Wang Shu-chin (££!&), Chang Chun-feng (KftJfc), Ch'en P'an-ling (MftHR), Kuo Feng-ch'ih and Hung I-hsiang

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Boxing Simplified

Boxing Simplified

Devoted as I am to popularizing amateur boxing and to improving the caliber of this particularly desirable competitive sport, I am highly enthusiastic over John Walsh's boxing instruction book. No one in the United States today can equal John's record as an amateur boxer and a coach. He is highly regarded as a sportsman. Before turning to coaching and the practice of law John was one of the most successful college and Golden Gloves boxers the sport has ever known.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment