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A Brief History of Bagua Zhang

Bagua Zhang was created during the late Manchurian Qing Dynasty in Beijing by Dong Haichuan (1799-1882). Dong Haichuan was born in Zhu Jia Wu of Wenan County in Hebei Province.

Dong Haichuan seated

Dong Haichuan

The development of Bagua Zhang

By the end of the 19th century, there were more than 50 inner circle disciples of Dong Haichuan. Since he didn’t stick to one pattern but rather adapted his teaching to the individual characteristics of his students, gradually different styles of Ba Gua Zhang developed. Thus the training methods and the palm techniques differ significantly from one style to another.

Some famous disciples of Dong Haichuan, who became teachers were:

Yin Fu (尹福), Cheng Tinghua (程廷華), Liu Dekuan (刘德宽), Liu Fengchun (劉鳳春), Li Cunyi,Shi Jidong, Liang Zhenpu(梁振蒲),Song Yongxiang, Fan Zhiyong , and Ma Weiqi (馬維棋). Although Fan (樊), Shi (史), Liu (劉), Fu (傅), and other styles also exist, most people doing Bagua generally either practice the Yin (尹), the Cheng (程), or the Liang (梁) style of Baguazhang.

Yin Style Ba Gua Zhang

The creator of this branch of Ba Gua Zhang is Yin Fu (1840-1909). Born in Yi County, He Bei Province, Yin Fu, who lived in Ji Shi Kou Tou Tiao, Chaoyangmen Wai, Beijing, began practicing Shao Lin Tan Tui and the arhat fist at a very young age. These styles were later on integrated into Ba Gua Zhang after he studied with Dong Haichuan.

The characteristics of Yin style are sudden, hard, brisk, point-blank movements. Its palm is similar to the Shaolin one; its thumb folded inward, the other four fingers held tight together in an ox-tongue shape. The techniques of this palm are push, hold, lead, aim, pierce, lift, cut, punch, chop, crush, slap, dig, etc. Yin style’s footwork is the “fast step”, also similar to the footwork of Shaolin.

After Dong Haichuan died, Yin Fu taught Ba Gua Zhang in his place.

Famous disciples of Yin Fu were Ma Gui (Shi Qing), Yang Junfeng, Men Baozhen, Gong Baotian, He Jinkui (who taught He Zhongqi, who then taught Wang Shangzhi), Yin Yuzhang, Cao Zhongsheng (to Zhang Jinchen, then to Li Wenzhang, Sun Shuli, Sun Shuxue), another disciple of Cao Zhongsheng is professor He Puren.

Cheng Style Bagua Zhang

Cheng Ba Gua Zhang is the Ba Gua Zhang style created by Cheng Tinghua, fourth disciple of Baguazhang's founder Dong Haichuan (Yin Fu was the first, then Ma Weiqi and Shi Jidong).

Cheng Tinghua (1844-1900), born in Cheng County, He Bei Province. He learned Chinese wrestling (Shuaijiao) at a very young age and, through years of hard training, came to specialize in low stances in which movements were both firm and gentle.

Cheng gradually built up his own style which he called the Swimming Body Interlinked Palms. Its palm has the shape of a dragon’s claw and its footwork is that of a “slide step”. When the foot lands on the ground it looks like walking through mud.

Cheng Tinghua used to teach in the Temple of the Fire God & Dong Haichuan often gave his training classes there. Because Dong Haichuan was old at that time, Cheng Tinghua gave classes while Dong sat giving instructions. Brothers Cheng Tinghua and Cheng Dianhua were also both disciples of Dong Haichuan. They later taught Ba Gua Zhang in Shen County of He Bei Province.

Some famous disciples of Cheng Tinghua were Zhang Zhankui, Cheng Yougong (Cheng Tinghua’s nephew), Cheng Youlong (Cheng Tinghua’s eldest son), Cheng Youxin (Cheng Tinghua’s second son), Feng Junyi, Sun Lutang, Yang Mingshan, Liu Ziyang, Cheng Yousheng (Cheng Dianhua’s eldest son), Liu Bin, Zhang Yongde, & Li Wenbiao.

Zhang Zhankui taught in Tianjin and taught Han Muxia and Jiang Rongqiao. Cheng Yougong taught in Manchuria. Cheng Youlong and Cheng Youxin taught in Beijing and Tianjin respectively and trained Sun Xikun. Sun Lutang wrote “Ba Gua Zhang” and “Ba Gua Sword” in 1916 and 1925. Sun Xikun wrote “Essentials of Ba Gua Zhang” in 1934.

Disciples of Cheng Youlong were Sun Xikun, He Jun, He Guang, Ma Deshan and Zhu Wenbao.

After the communist revolution, the only descendants of the Cheng family were Cheng Yousheng and Cheng Youxin with whom Sun Zhi Jun, Xu Fanzeng, Qian Wenzhang, Duan Bingzhang, Zhang Rongli and Xu Lifang studied. Among them, Sun Zhijun was chief disciple.

Other styles of Bagua Zhang

Liu Dekuan and Liu Fengchun (Cui Hua Liu) taught Ba Gua Zhang in Bao Ding and Zhuo Zhou, He Bei Province. Together with Cheng Youlong, they were coaches of the He Bei Wushu Assembly Hall. It is during this time that they created the sixty-four San Shou of Ba Gua Zhang which was inherited by Guo Gumin and later became widespread in Beijing. Disciples of Guo Gumin are Wang Qichang, Zhu Ge Jiabao, Gai Lide, Liu Jiemin, Xing Quantong, Wang Qingfa, Li Changxing, Li Lianxing, Wu Yongshan, Gao Ziying, Zhang Zhaolong, Wang Xueyou.

Li Cunyi taught Ba Gua Zhang and Xing Yi in Shanxi Province & founded the Martial Arts Club in Tianjin in 1912. Di Zhaolong, disciple of Shi Jidong, taught Ba Gua Zhang in Nanjing. Liang Zhenpu introduced Ba Gua Zhang to Yi County, Shulu and Xinji, He Bei Province and trained Guo Gumin and Li Ziming. Disciples of Li Ziming include Ma Chuanxu, Zheng Suiqing, Li Gongcheng, Wang Tong, Zhao Dayuan, Di Guoyong. Song Yongxiang taught in Beijing, his disciple Tang Gu La Si trained Liu Wancang, then Liu Wancang trained Wang Juxing.

Fan Zhiyong (1840-1922), a Manchu, lived in Beijing. He learned Shaolin and Tantui at a very young age, thus when he became Dong’s disciple he already had very good basics in martial arts. His style’s palm was like a tile with all the fingers held together. Its footwork is to attack in four then eight directions with “triangular step”, walking through the Nine Palaces. Fan passed on his skill to his single daughter, Fan Fenglan. Her main disciples are Wen Dasheng, Wang Gang, Han Jie.


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