Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tung Hai Chuan (Dong Haichuan)

The Swordsman Kungfu famous past contributed to World Kungfu Chinese among others:

14) Tung Hai Chuan (Dong Haichuan). 

He is the creator of the science of Baguazhang (Zhuan Zhang) and the famous unbeaten in his day. One of the famous bout was bout 3 days 3 nights with Master Kuo Yun Shen which ended in a draw. Besides Baguazhang expert, he is also an expert in the science of Bafanshan, Hongquan, Xingmengquan, Jinggangquan, Erlangquan and Lohanquan. Tung Hai Chuan himself is known to have other special science called "Step Cloud / Cloud Bearak" like Science Relieve Body extraordinary that can be played simultaneously with the science of Baguazhang.

Bagua Zhang - A History of Dong Hai Chuan and his students

In the Beginning
The Dong family came from Gong Tong County in Shanxi province. Dong Hai Chuan, born in 1797, was originally called Dong Ming Kui and was the second son of Dong Bo Xuan. At an early age he started learning Kung Fu from a relative called Dong Xian Zhou. At any chance he got, he would run off to be with Dong Xian Zhou and was rarely seen at home.
The Start of Dong Hai Chuan’s Wanderings and the Changing of his Name
Dong Hai Chuan’s father relied on farming for a living and their family was not very well off. Dong Hai Chuan was not a great fan of working in the fields and liked to spend most of his time studying Kung Fu, coming back so late at night that he used to have to climb the walls of his home to get back in. His parents were not overly impressed by Dong Hai Chuan’s love of Kung Fu and fear of labour. In the year 1810 there was a drought resulting in a no harvest year, and the family was faced by increasing hardship. It was now not so easy for Dong Hai Chuan’s parents to accept their son’s playing about, as they saw it, and over the next few years Dong Hai Chuan’s relationship with his parents soured. It is said that a young girl fall in love with Dong Chuan Hai, but in the feudal world they lived in, such love would have been censured, and the oppressive life Dong Hai Chuan felt stifled by meant that he decided to leave and make his name in the Kung Fu world. He promised himself that he would not return home until he had made his fortune and had his name in lights.
A Nasty Shock in Beijing
He soon made it to Beijing, proud and eager. However, he was surprised to discover that he was not the only person looking to make their name in the Kung Fu world, and Dong Chuan Hai was defeated easily by all the people he fought against. He was not as good as he thought he was. Dong Hai Chuan had no face to return home and decided to travel all over China and to study Kung Fu from as many people as possible. In order to avoid causing his family trouble, or to avoid his embarrassment being relayed back to them, he changed his name from Dong Ming Kui to Dong Hai Chuan, a name which invokes an image of a hundred rivers. Wherever he could, Dong Chuan Hai would stop and study from whoever would teach him. He also relied on challenging people to increase his fighting experience. Among the provinces visited by him were He Bei, Jiang Su, Zhe Jiang, An Hui, Jiang Xi, and in each area he visited, Dong Chuan Hai made sure to search out the most accomplished Kung Fu masters, especially those hidden deep in the mountains.
The Creation of Ba Gua Zhang
It was during the thirty years of his wanderings that Dong Chuan Hai gradually developed his own style of Kung Fu, and by the time he was fifty he had the basic style of Ba Gua, which in its infancy was called “Circling Palms”. Some historians like to suggest he also had developed certain “special powers” but this can not be proven.
Dong Chuan Hai Returns to Beijing and Starts to Teach Ba Gua Zhang
In 1855 Dong Chuan Hai returned to Beijing where he took an official post in the Emperor’s court. He did not advertise his Kung Fu ability, in fact he kept it a secret, but the suspicious eyes of people in court were quick to notice that there was something special about Dong Chuan Hai, even though they couldn’t quite put their fingers on what it was. Dong Chuan Hai would practice late at night when no one was around, but he was discovered by a chief officer of the court, Quan Kai Ting. One time there was a Kung Fu performance organized at the court and Dong Chuan was in charge of serving the tea for Prince Su. The large number of people at the event meant that the source of water for making the tea was surrounded and impossible to get to. When Prince Su wanted some tea, Dong Chuan Hai found there was no way through, in the conventional sense, so he had to leap over the heads of the spectators to get through with the tea. This of course sent a wave of awe around through the crowd, and following the order of Prince Su, Dong Chuan Hai had to obey by performing his style of Kung Fu, “The circling palms”.
All the other Kung Fu masters at the show had never seen anything like it. The head Kung Fu coach of Prince Su’s court, Sha Hui Hui, stepped forward to challenge Dong Chuan Hai, who took little effort in defeating him. Prince Su immediately promoted Dong Chuan Hai to head coach, and head of security. The shockwave that ran through the Kung Fu world of Beijing following the news of Dong Chuan Hai’s sudden appearance meant that there was a successive stream of challengers coming to test his skills. None of them won. Yang Lu Chan, nicknamed “No worthy Enemies Yang” (creator of Yang style Tai Ji) said of fighting with Dong Chuan Hai “I can not beat Dong Chuan Hai. The best I can do is draw level with him. Beating him is very difficult”. The two became good friends. Dong Chuan Hai’s name spread quickly and soon Cheng Ting Hua, Shi Ji Dong, Quan Kai Ting, Liang Zhen Pu, Liu De Kuan and other high ranking officials were kneeling at his door requesting his to teach them. And so the teaching of Ba Gua Zhang started.
The Development of Ba Gua Zhang
There is a stone tablet engraved with the names of 57 people who studied with Dong Hai Chuan. It is safe to assume that there were other students who did not make it onto the tablet. Dong Hai Chuan taught them his Kung Fu fundamentals, the circling palms, and adapted his style to work with what individual students had learnt before. Therefore different styles of Ba Gua emerged, based on the skills of the individual, such as Yi style, Cheng style, Liang style, Fan style and so on.
Some of the students of Dong Chuan Hai and their nicknames:
Cheng Ting Hua – Glasses Cheng
Shi Ji Dong – Cunning Legs Shi
Ma Wei Qi – Coal Horse Ma (horse is a play on his surname which also means horse)
Liang Zhan Pu – Quick legs Liang
Fan Zhi Yong – Madman Fan
Liu De Kuan – Big Spear Liu
These are just some of the students of Dong Chuan Hai who were responsible for the spread of Ba Gua around China.
Master Yi Fu created a northern school of Ba Gua, known as “Yi style” while Cheng Ting Hua was responsible for the creation of a southern school, known as “Cheng style”.
The majority of the students were made up of court officials and the aristocracy. Master Yi primarily taught court officials and even taught Emperor Guang Xu, while also acting as security advisor for the Empress Dowager, Ci Xi. Cheng Ting Hua, Liang Zhen Pu, Liu De Kuan, Liu Feng Chun and famous Xing Yi masters Liu Cun Yi, and Zhang Tiao Dong became sworn brothers, and members of the Xing Yi world started to also practice Ba Gua. With their mastery of Ba Gua, Li Cun Yi and Zhang Tiao Dong passed on their skills to other students, such as Huang Bo Nian, Jiang Rong jie, Hang Mo Jia, Li Zi Yang, who also became Ba Gua masters. At this point Ba Gua Zhang and Xing Yi Quan were fused together giving birth to the term “Ba Gua and and Xing Yi are one style”. This proved to be very useful in the development of Ba Gua Zhang.
“Coal Horse” Ma had great Kung Fu skills and had never lost a fight. However, he was not one to hold back and his opponents were often injured by him. Dong Chuan Hai was a great admirer of Coal Horse Ma’s skills, but sadly he died when just 29 years old, without any students to carry on his techniques.
In 1882, aged 85, Dong Chuan Hai passed away.
Liang Zhen Pu was born in 1863. He originally studied “Tan Tui” (Flicking Legs) Kung Fu, but when he was 14 he asked Dong Chuan Hai to be his teacher, which he accepted. Liang Zhen Pu was intelligent and lively, and also very polite, showing respect to his master and fellow students. He had excellent “Wu Xing” (natural ability) and he studied very hard. Dong Chuan Hai, nearing his eighties, was very pleased to see the abilities of his young student, but remained strict in his requirements for Liang Zhen Pu, and passed his life’s experience onto the young man. Liang Zhan Pu also frequently visited Yi Fu, Cheng Ting Hua, and Shi Ji Dong to study from them, and he would show what he learnt to Dong Chuan Hai who would refine his new techniques. Everyone liked Liang Zhen Pu and after the death of their master, they became even closer, and the older students were more than glad to continue teaching Liang Zhen Pu, which meant that, with a foundation of Dong Chuan Hai’s teaching, he also benefited from learning the different interpretations of his ‘brothers’. It also meant he was lethal. He first defeated the “four tyrants” in He Bei province, and then went on to kill ‘Gold Mark’ Zhao Liu and ten other people at Ma Jia Bao outside the Yong Ding gate of Beijing. The courts ordered for Liang Zhen Pu to be executed, but due to the efforts of Li Tong Tai and Cheng Ting Hua, his sentence was changed to imprisonment. News of this story spread and Liang Zhen Pu’s name became well known and feared.
The Invasion of the Eight United Armies - Escape and Death
When the Eight United Armies entered Beijing, the Empress Dowager fled, the court fell into chaos, and criminals blew up the prisons, allowing the likes of Liang Zhen Pu to escape. Unfortunately, Cheng Ting Hua was shot while fighting the German army.
The Formation of Liang style Ba Gua and its Development
Liang Zhen Pu returned to his old home in Yi County, He Bei province. He was already well known for his escapades and so it was easy to start a new profession based around his skills. He first started two ‘bodyguard’ companies called “Kui Ying” (Outstanding Hero) and “De Sheng” (Obtain Victory). These companies protected valuable objects, along with people, and ran the route between De Zhou and An Ding. Later, Liang Zhen Pu became the head coach at two provincial middle schools. He passed away in 1893 and is buried in the Fragrant Hills outside Beijing.
Of the people who could carry on the teachings of Liang Zhen Pu, Guo Gu Min and Liang Zi Ming were the most important.
Guo Gu Ming
Born in 1887, Guo Gu Ming never married. Ba Gua was his profession and he was highly instrumental in bearing and passing on the Ba Gua torch. He was lucky enough to be liked by all the great masters of Ba Gua, including Yi Fu, Liu Cun Yi, Liu Feng Chun, who all taught him their techniques. Ba Gua developed through communication between its practitioners- they did not see themselves as belonging to “a style” because Ba Gua is not a fixed entity.
Guo Gu Ming wrote a couple of works on Ba Gua, which contained some of the secret techniques of Dong Chuan Hai, thus enabling the further opening up of Ba Gua Zhang to more practitioners. Guo Gu Ming had hundreds of students and coached at Beijing Normal University, and so was instrumental in the development of Ba Gua Zhang in Beijing, passing on such techniques as the Straight line 64 hands and the hook swords. Guo Gu Ming died in 1968.
There is an important lesson to be learnt here. One thing this history of Ba Gua tells us, limited as it is in its sphere of discussion, is that it is a relatively new style with great masters existing in a time that we can relate to better then let’s say, a master living in the 12th century. The style grew in a spirit of communication and non-conservatism; its originator started his life as a rebel, fighting against oppressive rules and living as society expected him to live. His students learnt Ba Gua Zhang, but Dong Hai Chuan was keen to ensure that the individual maintained their own character, so as to ensure Ba Gua remained as an almost organic quantity; unpredictable and subject to change. Therefore, as a student of Ba Gua, it is important not to get bogged down in differentiating between styles. The names of the people in the Ba Gua story can, and should be remembered, but the main purpose of history is to teach us lessons. Ba Gua is still young and still able to grow. Conservatism will stifle its growth, whereas continued introduction of new techniques based on the traditional principles will ensure that Ba Gua Zhang can continue to develop and expand. Therefore, as with all styles of Kung Fu, keep an open mind, objectively select techniques you think are useful, and do not get bogged down in the belief that one style is ultimate. For this will become your weakness.

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