Gong Bao Tian

Gong Bao Tian (1871 - 1943), who was also known as Gong Zi Ying -H-), was from Qing Shan,

Mou Ping County, Shandong Province. When he was thirteen years old he moved to Beijing and worked as a waiter in a restaurant. He loved martial arts and eventually became a Ba Gua disciple of Yin Fu (f

There are a couple of different versions of the story which tells of Gong Bao Tian meeting Yin Fu. One story says that Gong's older brother, Gong Bao Shan, was a Ba Gua Zhang student of Yin Fu and thought that his younger brother had martial arts potential. Gong Bao Shan introduced Gong Bao Tian to Yin Fu and Gong eventually became one of Yin's top students. Another version of the story states that Gong walked past the area where Yin taught everyday on his way to work. Each day he would stop and watch Yin's students practicing. One day Yin approached the young man and said, "It looks as though you are interested in martial arts. Why don't you practice with us." Gong said that he loved martial arts but had no money to pay for instruction. Gong added, "Besides, I can already do these things." Yin said, "Show me." Gong stepped out and performed what he had been observing Yin's students practice and he did in fact perform them as well as many of Yin's students. Yin was happy that Gong had such natural talent and told Gong he would teach him for free.

Gong Bao Zhai states that after Gong Bao Tian had studied from Yin Fu for several years, he served as a body guard in the Emperor's Palace. He also continued studying Ba Gua Zhang with Yin Fu in the palace and when Yin retired, Gong took over Yin's position as a bodyguard and martial arts teacher in the palace. Gong Bao Zhai said that in Beijing, during the Qing dynasty, the martial arts that were practiced in the palace were of a much higher level than what was being practiced outside. The Qing rulers were always fearful of a martial uprising and so they hired all of the best martial artists to work in the palace as bodyguards and martial arts instructors so that they could keep an eye on them.

When the Qing government was overthrown and Gong Bao Tian left the palace, he noticed that the Ba Gua and Tai Ji that was being taught and practiced outside of the palace was different than what he knew. Because the martial arts in Beijing were not familiar to him, Gong Bao Tian decided to return to his home in Shandong Province and teach the martial arts as he knew them.

It is also reported in several written accounts of Gong Bao Tian's life that he served as the top bodyguard for the famous warlord General Zhang Zuo Lin It is said that on one occasion, at a party, Zhang asked Gong what he would do if someone pointed a gun at him. So saying, Zhang began to pull his gun from his holster. Before Zhang had his gun pointed and ready to fire, Gong was behind him with his hand firmly holding the wrist of Zhang's gun hand. Everyone at the party was impressed with Gong's agility and martial arts skill. Shortly thereafter Gong decided to retire to his hometown. Zhang Zuo Lin repeatedly sent telegrams to Gong asking him to come back and work as his head bodyguard and teach his martial arts to the other bodyguards. Gong politely refused.

Gong Bao Tian

Some of Gong Bao Tian's descendants at his grave site in mainland China. Kneeling closest to the stone is Huang Zhi Cheng a student of Gong Bao Tian's student Sun Ru Wen. Huang currently teaches in Shanghai.

Gong Bao Zhai said that Gong Bao Tian had a total of nineteen "inner door" students. Some of his well known students were Sun Ru Wen 0 & X, 1896 -1984), Sun Fu Ying t Yu Shi You (f & t), Wang Dao Cheng Gong Bao Zhai, and Liu Yun Jiao

(#1 1909 - 1992). Gong Bao Tian's father-in-law ran a security company and Gong's wife was also quite good at martial arts. Gong Bao Zhai said that many times he watched Gong Bao Tian's wife moving with great speed and agility while catching chickens in the yard. Gong Bao Tian's daughter was also a first rate martial artist and taught martial arts with very detailed explanations.

Gong Bao Zhai

Gong Bao Zhai grew up in the same village where Gong Bao Tian lived. Gong Bao Zhai's father and grandfather were both wealthy scholars. Gong was from a large, well educated family. Several of his relatives had passed the imperial examinations. Gong Bao Zhai was a smart child and began reading the classics and writing at a young age. When Gong Bao Zhai was young he had a variety of health problems and his father was worried about him. Gong Bao Zhai had to take so much medicine everyday that he said he "felt like a pillbox." Gong Bao Zhai's uncle and Gong Bao Tian held similar positions in the imperial government and knew each other well. Gong Bao Zhai's uncle asked Gong Bao Tian if he would teach his nephew martial arts in order to improve his health. At the age of seven, Gong Bao Zhai moved into Gong Bao Tian's home and lived there until he was seventeen.

When Gong Bao Zhai first began studying with his teacher he did not learn any classical martial arts forms, exercises or movements right away. His teacher did not talk much and for the first few years of training the only thing Gong Bao Zhai did everyday was catch the flies and mosquitoes that were around his teacher's home. Because young kids like to play, Gong Bao Zhai thought that catching the flies and mosquitoes was fun and he put a lot of energy into it. After a few years of fly catching Gong Bao Tian began teaching Gong Bao Zhai about pressure points, Chinese massage, and Ba Gua boxing.

Looking back on those early years, Gong Bao Zhai recognizes the importance of his early training. He said that he now realizes that catching flies and mosquitoes was important basic training. One of his teacher's goals was to teach Gong how to practice martial arts during the activities of daily life. Gong Bao Zhai feels that studying martial arts isn't practicing strength. If the martial arts are practiced correctly, then the strength should come naturally without special strength training. He believes that stability and accuracy are more important than strength, saying that if a person is stable and accurate, he will have power (complete power without a loss of balance). Gong says, "If you want to catch flies and mosquitoes and they are flying all around you, you must be stable, balanced and accurate." These are the principles he developed during his early training as a "fly catcher."

Gong Bao Zhai's System of Ba Gua @uan (& ^ A^h

Internal

External

Ba Zhang Quan %

Ba Gua Pao Chui

Ba Mu Zhang (A Si Xiang Liang Yi Ba Gua Sword (^h^'J)

Ba Gong Quan IT #-) Kan Gong Quan (%-t Gen Gong Quan (Hf Zhen Gong Quan (t. t Xun Gong Quan (Hf*) Li Gong Quan Kun Gong Quan 1 #-) Dui Gong Quan Qian Gong Quan #-)

Ba Gua Spear ^t)

Ba Gua Staff (A> Ba Gua Broadsword (^^h X7)

After he became an adult, Gong Bao Zhai studied a variety of professions and held many jobs. He studied agriculture, worked as a carpenter building houses and furniture, commanded an Army battalion, and was the head of two different news agencies. Just prior to the communists coming into power in mainland China, Gong left the country and moved to Taiwan. Because of his background in news, several newspapers in Taiwan wanted to hire him.

When Gong first arrived in Taiwan he wanted to live a quiet life. No one in Taiwan knew he was a martial artist and he wanted to keep it that way. In fact he has never referred to himself as a martial artist and through the years when people have asked him about it he has denied that he knew any martial arts. However, after he had been in Taiwan for several years he ran into someone who was from his home village and knew that he had studied martial arts. The man asked Gong to teach him and Gong agreed. Since moving to Taiwan Gong has only taken a small handful of students. Of the students he has taught, his senior student, He Jin Han (iTitf" has spent the most time with him.

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