Yin Style Ba Gua Zhang

In order to examine the system of Ba Gua Zhang as taught by Yin Fu it is necessary to once again look at the teaching of Dong Hai Chuan. However, this time we will need to examine Dong's teaching as we have never viewed it before in this Journal because Yin's system of Ba Gua reveals many new dimensions. Careful research into the system of Ba Gua Zhang as taught by Yin Fu and his students causes one to redefine the depth of Dong's art and what his complete teaching method entailed. Yin Fu's system contains far more material than any other system of Ba Gua Zhang that I have ever encountered in terms of its developmental training sets; specific hands sets and kicking sets; circle walking and non-circle walking based forms; training in qin na (seizing and locking), and dian xue (point striking); weapons sets and variety of different weapons; qi gong, nei gong, and meditation exercises (both Buddhist and Daoist based); and two-person fighting sets. The amount of material Yin Fu taught was astounding. However, like Dong Hai Chuan, he did not teach all of his material to every student.

The Yin Fu system practitioners in Beijing have a theory about Dong Hai Chuan's teaching that makes a lot of sense when one is confronted with the volume of information which Yin Fu taught as Ba Gua Zhang. The first assumption of their theory is that Yin Fu was the only student of Dong Hai Chuan who received Dong's complete knowledge. Since Yin was with Dong 3 or 4 times longer than all of Dong's other Ba Gua students, this would make sense. The next assumption is that when Dong and Yin came back to Beijing from Inner Mongolia and Dong began teaching Ba Gua to students in Beijing, he did not think he would have time to teach all his new students everything he had to teach so he taught each student a small piece of the art based on their characteristic strengths. Since he did not have a lot of time to develop and train students from the ground up, he required the majority of the students he accepted to have a solid martial arts background. Based on their background, Dong picked the piece of the Ba Gua system which would best suit them and that is all they got. However, each piece which was taught was complete in its approach, method, and application.

Yin Fu style practitioner Xie Pei Qi of Beijing (see article on page 16) explains Dong's Ba Gua teaching method as a grouping of eight separate "animal" styles which were each complete Ba Gua Zhang systems in and of themselves. Xie Pei Qi was the final disciple of Yin Fu's closest student Men Bao Zhen. According to Xie, after Dong taught students the basics such as circle walking, the eight static upper body postures held while executing the basic circle walk practice, and the fundamental changing palms such as "single palm change," "double palm change," and "smooth changing palm" he then taught each student one of the "animal" styles which best suited their background, experience, temperament, physical strengths, and physical characteristics. For instance, Cheng Ting Hua was an average sized, flexible, wiry individual with a background in wrestling. Based on these characteristics, Dong taught Cheng the "dragon" form of Ba Gua. Because Cheng taught openly and had far more Ba Gua students than any of Dong's other disciples, the "dragon" form is by far the most popular style taught today. In fact, the "dragon" form of Ba Gua is the only style which most people have ever seen and thus this style has come to define Ba Gua Zhang in the mind of many practitioners. Some who might see any of the other forms of Dong's Ba Gua as taught by Dong's lesser known students or Yin Fu's descendants might say that it was not Ba Gua at all.

Xie Pei Qi states that Dong not only had different students specializing in each of the various "animal" styles, but he also had other students who only specialized in other aspects of Dong's knowledge such as Buddhist or Daoist Qi Gong. For instance, Dong Hai Quan's student Fan Zhi Yong &M), who is the 27th student listed on Tong's tomb, did not study Ba Gua from Dong at all, he only studied Dong's Buddhist Qi Gong methods. Dong's hope was that he could teach a small piece of his total knowledge to each student and then later, after he died, the students would get together and share what they had learned so that a complete system would be preserved. Unfortunately, his students each guarded what they were taught and never shared much with their school brothers. So today we are left with a variety of very different approaches to Ba Gua Zhang. Cheng Ting Hua's Dragon style looks different than Wang Li De's (ii^) Lion style, which looks different than Liu Bao Zhen's 1? k) Unicorn style, which looks different than Yin Fu's forte which was Snake style, etc. From there further branches evolved.

Because the practitioners of the dragon style of Ba Gua Zhang became so prominent and, for the most part, it is their descendants who took Ba Gua Zhang out of Beijing to other places, this is the style of Ba Gua which most people identify as Ba Gua Zhang. As other branches of Dong's Ba Gua spread from Beijing, the fourth and fifth generation descendants of these systems began to doubt that this Ba Gua came from Dong and went on to create false lineages and claimed that their system predated Dong's Ba Gua. Such was the case in the claim of the Ba Pan Zhang iS ^ ) practitioners (see Pa Kua Chang Journal. Vol. 3, No. 1, page 15) and the Tian Family Ba Gua Zhang practitioners (see Pa Kua Chang Journal Vol. 3, No. 2, page 21). These practitioners were actually practicing forms of Dong's Ba Gua, however, since they did not look like the popular dragon style, they felt as if the Ba Gua must not have come from Dong.

If we believe the two assumptions about Dong's teaching made by the Yin Fu practitioners in Beijing and then look at the way in which Yin Fu taught his students, with the assumption that Yin taught as Dong did, their theory becomes even more credible. Yin Fu's students also had characteristics differences in their systems of Ba Gua. He Jin Kui and Yin Cheng Zhang were weapons specialist and therefore their systems include many weapons and a large variety of weapons forms. Ma Gui specialized in the unicorn form of Ba Gua, point striking, and Tian Gang Quan, his style reflects these specialties. Liu Dong Chen and Cui Zhen Dong were Qi Gong specialists. Men Bao Zhen specialized in the lion form and qin na. Ju Qing Yuan specialized in Yin's dragon form. Yang Jun Feng specialized in the 72 leg forms of Yin's Ba Gua. Each student had a specialty which was cultivated by Yin. Very few got the complete system.

While there are many characteristic differences in the branches of Yin Fu Ba Gua as it was passed down by Yin's students, common to all Yin family methods is a foundation which includes Shaolin based arts, Zhan Zhuang - standing practice) and Xing Gong (H

- static upper body postures while walking the circle). In the standing practice, single standing postures were first practiced and then those standing postures were held while the practitioner walked the circle. The postures were connected in practice by a simple change of direction. Additionally, the majority of Yin Fu's descendants teach a 64 posture circle walking set, 64 or 72 posture two-person fighting set, 72 leg forms of Ba Gua, and 64 or 72 straight line Ba Gua sets. While these sets are common to most branches of the Yin school, the exact articulations of the sets will vary from one school to the other.

Basic Training

In conjunction with the basic standing postures, zhuang gong and walking postures, xing gong,

(which vary from school to school, even within the Yin Fu system), there are a number of basic and auxiliary skills utilized for developing and conditioning the body. These skills include a wide variety of internal and external routines including:

1) Ba Duan Jin and similar qi gong exercises which develop the body, mind and qi;

2) Various practices which entailed grabbing earthen jars with the finger tips and/or jamming the fingers into sand filled barrels to strengthen the fingers and hands;

3) Working with large baskets full of rocks which hung from trees in order to develop the skills of advancing, retreating, and evading;

4) Jumping over pits and running up wooden boards leaning against walls to develop the "lightness" skill;

5) Beating sandbags and other objects to develop striking power.

All of the above mentioned training skills were practiced by the majority of the Yin Fu style Ba Gua Zhang practitioners to some degree. These training methods were practiced prior to, and/or in conjunction with, learning forms so that the practitioner could develop basic martial arts skills.

Cheng Ting Hua Elbow KnivesBagua Wind And Fire Wheels

Ba Gua Zhang specialty weapons - The Crescent Moon Knife (above left) and the Wind and Fire Wheel (above right) are two of the weapons which take full advantage of Ba Gua's characteristic turning and circular movements

Forms Training

In addition to the basic conditioning skills listed above, the Yin school of Ba Gua Zhang also includes a large variety of one and two person practice routines, or forms. The forms are designed to contain various elements of attack and defense skills. Through this practice the skills of the hands, eyes, body, waist, legs, and steps as well as the method of using jing and internal strength in the Ba Gua Zhang movements are coordinated and developed. All systems of Yin Fu style Ba Gua include many more practice forms than the familiar circle walking sets. For instance, the forms of He Jin Kui and Lu Shu Kui included: one form of Luo Han Pao Quan one form from Mian Quan (

five forms from Guan Ti Quan [t ft ^ - it is said that these forms were compiled by Ma Gui), eighteen forms from Luo Han Quan - which include two-person fighting sets), and one routine of Luo Han interlocked legs. All of these forms were practiced in addition to the 64 posture circle walking forms, the 72 kicking sets and the 72 forms of Ba Gua San Shou ('"^h "iffc.-f") for which the Yin school has become famous.

Cao Zhong Sheng's branch of Yin Fu Ba Gua includes eight palm routines each containing eight styles, for a total of sixty-four postures. Inside this routine the student trains to use the head, shoulder, elbow, hand, hip, knee and foot for attack. Cao's system also includes forms of Ba Gua Wai Wu Xing Zhang (^MK-^T which contains posturing imitating the movements of the crane, tiger, phoenix, dragon, and lion and is used to develop flexibility and coordination. Some practitioners held a lump of mud in each hand while practicing this set in order to gain strength in the arms. Additionally Cao's branch of Yin's Ba Gua contains forms from Dou Zhan Quan {^C^X^h) which resemble Monkey Boxing and forms from Pao Chui and Luo Han Quan.

Since Yin Fu taught Shaolin based arts to most of his students before teaching them Ba Gua Zhang, many of these forms remain in the various schools of Yin's Ba Gua. When the students began to learn the circle based Ba Gua practice, many of the movements from the Shaolin based forms were incorporated. Therefore, in a number of branches of the Yin Fu school we not only see straight line forms from Shaolin, we also see circle walking based forms which also retain this Shaolin flavor. Additionally, there are straight line Ba Gua forms which resemble Shaolin forms in structure, however, have a strong Ba Gua flavor in their use of the palms and turning of the waist. Since Yin was known for his leg and kicking skills, we also find a number of leg sets and kicking sets inherent in Yin Fu Ba Gua. Yin's student Yang Jun Feng was said to have been a specialist in the leg forms of Yin Fu Ba Gua Zhang.

Weapons Training

While the number of various bare-hand training forms contained within the Yin Fu school of Ba Gua may be a bit of a surprise to those who are not familiar with Yin's system, the number of weapons used in this school and the number of different weapons sets taught is even more astounding. He Jin Kui was the weapons specialist in the Yin Fu school. Fortunately, his student Lu Shu Kui and his son He Zhong Qi left written records of the weapons sets contained in Yin's system. There are far too many separate forms practiced with each of the Yin school weapons to record here. I will simply list the weapons which were used by the Yin school of Ba Gua and say that each weapon was practiced with a large variety of different forms. There were straight line forms, circular forms and forms which combined straight and turning movements.

The weapons associated with the Yin school are as follows: standard broadsword, long handle broadsword, two hand broadsword, large broadsword, double broadsword, antler broadsword, long spear, double headed spear, trident spear, short staff, short metal staff (club), medium staff, long staff, thick staff, seven star pole (made of bamboo capped on both ends with bronze), two section staff (one section is shorter than the other), walking stick (cane), three section staff, double hook knives, Wind and Fire Wheel, Deer Antler knives (using real deer antlers), Crescent Moon knives, Yin and Yang pens (short metal rod with a ring in the middle that fits on the middle finger - there are three variations of this weapon), straight sword (single and double), large straight sword, sun and moon knives, short knives (single and double), and nine section chained whip.

Of these weapons sets, there were three which were special Ba Gua Zhang weapons and took full advantage of Ba Gua's circular and turning movements. These weapons were the Crescent Moon knives, the Fire and Wind Wheel, and the Yin and Yang Pens. Yin Fu especially liked to use the Deer Antler knives and the Yin and Yang Pens.

Even though the Yin style of Ba Gua Zhang included many weapons sets, Yin strongly believed that weapons should not be studied until bare hands techniques were practiced thoroughly.

Characteristics of the Yin Style

Yin Fu's complete system of Ba Gua Zhang is so diverse that it would be very difficult to try and pin down the "characteristics" of his system. In examining his teaching method through the teaching of his descendants it is evident that he taught each student to take advantage of their individual natural strengths and thus each student was taught differently. However, Yin Fu had his own characteristic strengths and thus we can examine how Yin Fu himself applied his Ba Gua Zhang.

Men Bao Zhen's student Xie Pei Qi (see article on page 16) states that while Yin Fu learned and taught all of Dong's Ba Gua Zhang, Yin himself specialized in the snake style of Dong's Ba Gua. Examining the characteristics of the snake style as taught by Xie, these characteristics are indeed consistent with the characteristics usually attributed to Yin's Ba Gua Zhang. Yin Fu was famous for his use of footwork in evasion and in applying short powerful kicks. His hand work was best applied in adhering, deflecting, and striking very quickly. Yin's application of force was quick, springy and explosive. His hands moved in straight lines to attack as evident in his characteristic "piercing" palm. He liked to employ his fingers in striking a vital point on the opponent's body and immediately follow the finger strike with a palm strike using the same hand. As soon as the fingers struck the point, the wrist would fold and the palm would strike swiftly without any pull-back of the hand. The palm strike would be immediately followed by an elbow strike. Yin's attacks were very quick and fierce, once an attack was initiated, there was no letting up. Quickness and evasion were his strengths. (Note: For a comparison of Yin's style with the style of Cheng Ting Hua see Pa Kua Chang Journal, Vol 3, No. 2, page 12-13.)


Some Ba Gua Zhang practitioners and instructors whose only familiarity with Ba Gua Zhang is an exposure to Cheng Ting Hua's dragon style (as taught by Cheng and his many students, including Sun Lu Tang (^ ^ it ), Zhang Zhao Dong Li Cun Yi [4-4 A), Gao

Yi Sheng Aifc) and their descendants) dismiss any other form of Ba Gua as being a "synthesis" or "unorthodox." However, an examination of Yin Fu's system brings to light many new insights into how the art of Ba Gua Zhang was taught by Dong Hai Chuan's top student. In studying Yin's system it appears as though Ba Gua Zhang was a synthesis of Daoist philosophical principles and circle walking practice with various Shaolin arts. Yin learned and taught those Shaolin arts prior to teaching the Ba Gua circle based forms, taught transitional forms which were a mixture of Ba Gua and Shaolin, and taught a variety of different circle walking forms to students based on their individual strengths and aptitudes.

The information contained in this article was attained through interviews with the following Yin Fu Ba Gua practitioners in Beijing: Xie Pei Qi, Yang Kun, Guo Yi, and Gao Zi Ying. Additionally, the article "A Brief Introduction of the Spread of Ba Gua Zhang in the Beijing Region" by Guo Yi, as translated by Xu Yu Hong, proved to be a great resource. In researching his article Guo Yi interviewed direct students of Men Bao Zhen, He Jin Kui, Lu Shu Kui, Ji Qing Yuan, and Cao Zhong Sheng. Guo's article was first published in 1986.

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