Pa Kua Chang Generation Names
The Pa Kua Chang generation names, created by Tung Hai-Ch'uan, are carved into one of the two stone steles that were palced at the original tomb site in 1930.
The writing on Tung's tombstone (1930) describes Tung as an unusually strong man with a back like a horse. Something is wrong with this picture.
Another theory regarding this matter states that Tung did work in Prince of Su's palace, but he was not a menial, he was a martial arts instructor and bodyguard. This theory would make more sense. Soldiers and bodyguards who worked in the palace were not eunuchs.
So what's the true story? In my mind, I would say that the original stele placed at Tung's tomb in 1883 reveals what really happened. This stele (which is translated in its entirety later in this article) states that Tung, seeking to avoid unscrupulous people that were trying to defame him, entered the residence of the Prince of Su pretending to be a eunuch. This story makes the most sense to me and would explain where some of the other theories and stories originated. It seems that Tung entered the palace masquerading as a eunuch and eventually the Prince discovered that Tung had martial arts skill and assigned him to be a martial arts instructor. If Li Tzu-Ming's theory about Tung traveling to Beijing as a covert operator for the Tai Ping is true, it would make sense that Tung would pretend to be a eunuch in order to get close to the Emperor rather than to actually go through with the operation.
What is still puzzling is the fact that authors who had access to the tomb stone and were writing serious articles concerning Tung, such as Li Tzu-Ming, still portrayed Tung as a eunuch.
Tung Reveals his Pa Kua Chang
As to how Tung's martial skill was discovered, this stoiy has been written in English by many before. A popular version states8:
"On one occasion, the Emperor entertained his guests to a great feast. The palatial grounds were crowded
Pa Kua Chang enthusiasts raise Tung Hai-Ch'uan's casket from its original resting place to relocate it at the new tomb site in 1981.
The first four stone steles which were erected at the original tomb site. The first, second from left, was placed at the tomb in 1883. The second, second from right, in 1905, and the other two in 1930.
with people at that time and entrance and exit was a Herculean task. Tung Hai-Ch'uan however could maneuver himself in and out of the palace grounds with comparative ease. The Emperor was much surprised by Tung's agility and questioned him. It was then that Tung first revealed himself to be a Master of Pa Kua Chang. He was then obliged to give a display of his skill. His performance was so unique and so impressed the Emperor that he was at once made the pugilistic teacher of the palace guards. After this, Tung's fame spread far and wide."
Another version states that Tung was already teaching martial arts in the palace, but had yet to reveal his Pa Kua Chang to any of his students, when another martial artist came and gave a dazzling sword demonstration. Tung's students were visibly impressed by this teacher's display of martial skill. Tung then got up and demonstrated a bare hand form that contained movements that were much different than what Tung had been teaching. Tung moved with lightning speed: spinning, dropping, rising, twisting and turning he moved like a tornado. After he completed his demonstration his students ran up to him and asked him what art he had demonstrated. Tung revealed that this art was called Pa Kua Chang.
In his article in China Wu Shu Magazine". Li Tzu-Ming states that most of these versions are simply derived from romance novels. The true story, according to Li, is that the Prince's household had a servant named Ch'uan Kai-Ting and it was he who discovered that Tung had martial skill. After numerous incidents, Tung took him as a student. In the beginning. Tung called his art ch'uan chang (rotating or turning palm) and it was later renamed Pa Kua supple body continuous palm (Pa KuaJou Shen Lien Huan Chang). More and more people came to study, and so when he was in his 50's he left the Prince's household and taught among the public. When he left, he lived mostly in the homes of his students.
Like so many other things concerning Tung Hai-Ch'uan. how, when, why, and where he first revealed his Pa Kua Chang will probably always be a mystery.
When the four steles located at the original tomb site were unearthed in 1980, they were placed in front of the Beijing Physical Education College's Wu Shu Arena.
No one knows for sure how many students Tung Hai-Ch'uan actually taught. Some sources claim that he had 39 students, some say 56 students, others say 72 students, still others (including the stele erected at his gravesight in 1930) say that he had hundreds of students. What is one to believe? On the back of his original tombstone (1883) there is a list of 66 individual names. However, the writing on the stone itself indicates that Tung had over 100 students. Many names of individuals who are commonly recognized as being students of Tung are missing from this stone. This list may simply be a list of people who helped erect the stone or those that were in attendance at the time of Tung's funeral. Validation of Tung's lineage should not rest on the list of names etched into this stone as being all inclusive.
It is said that there were eight of Tung's students who were the best known. These students are commonly referred to as the "eight great students" in China10. These students are as follows:
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