Thread: Bajiquan - by Liu Yun Qiao
2/07/2004 5:56am, #1
Bajiquan - by Liu Yun Qiao
The following is a text I have personally translated from a book written by Liu Yun Qiao on his number one style, Bajiquan. It is exerpted from a book called, "Baji Quanshu Tushuo" or in English, "A Pictorial Explanation of Baji Techniques". As the title suggests the book is mostly a walk through of some of the major empty hand forms from Baji but in the first chapter I found this wonderfull summary of the History of Bajiquan:
The Origins of Bajiquan
Bajiquan is my number one style. It came down from Hebei Province, Can County. Yan Mountain county, South Pi country, Ningjin county, Southeast ‘town’. The local name for the style was ‘Ba Zi Quan’ (rakefist). The name in its earliest form was ‘Paziquan’ (钯子萠)which refers to the rake like form of the fist in the style. Later the character was changed to ‘Baziquan’. The Character ‘pa’ (钯) lost the metal radical on the side and was shortened to the very similar character ‘ba’ (巴) . Some refer to it with yet another ‘ba’ (耙) which is also similar to a rake, but more like a hoe. These original names refer to the unique loosely held rake fist which reminds people of the farm implement of the same name. (pictures 1. and 2.) There is also a bazigun （巴子棍）, a type of staff. The training method is especially crisp and fierce with lively action, thrusting and piercing and throwing. A unique style different from the rest.
No one can say for certain who originally invented Baziquan. During the Ming Dynasty Qi Jiguang (an extremely famous general in Chinese history) left a record. “. . . among today’s fighters . . . the spear methods and bazigun (staff) are the greatest among all the names I know. . . “So we can see that in the Ming era, there was already Baziquan. Furthermore there were already famous exponents of the style. This places the origins in the early Ming. To try and place the art any earlier, I feel, is not reliable. But the ancient flavor of this style truly makes it a precious treasure.
The name ‘Baziquan’ is rich with meaning. The inventor of the style may have named it after the shape of the fist used. The name ‘Baji’ is much more literary and was probably a later development by a more educated practitioner. The name ‘Baji’ must have seemed to crude and somewhere during the transition between the Ming and Qing dynasties was changed to ‘Baji’. It sounds better. The sounds are quite similar but with very different meanings.
So the name ‘Baji’ came out of the Qing dynasty and outside of its place of origin, Hebei province, Cang County, very few people are aware of the original name. Why change the name from ‘Bazi’ to ‘Baji’? Apart from the sound, isn’t there some other reason? As there are no written records it is hard to tell. My research has come up with 3 possible explanations. I can not say for sure which one is most likely but here they are:
In the north it is not uncommon for martial artists to speak of ‘ba shi’ 把式 ( take a stance). There is also the ‘ba shi’ 八式 (8 stances) Many martial artist find it convenient to refer to people with ‘ba shi jiang’ 八式匠（skill in the 8 stances）as ‘lian ba shi de’ 练八式的 （those who train the 8 stances）.
The reason for changing ‘shi’ 式 to ‘ji’ 机 (extreme) appears to have been an attempt by a Baji disciple to remind students to train each of the 8 ‘shi’ to their utmost, ie to the ‘extreme’. This is my first explanation.
Because, in our style, we are expected to train thoroughly the head, arms, elbows, hands, ‘tail’, hips and knees, 8 areas of the bodies, to the utmost, this is another reason for calling it ‘Ba Ji’ 八机 (Ba Ji). The name again serves as a reminder to pay attention to thes 8 points during our training. To remind us at all times to put our full attention on and train to the utmost the 8 sections of out bodies is the second explanation of the name ‘Ba Ji’.
During the Han dynasty, Liu An, of the southern Huai River region, wrote, “Beyond the 9 continents lay the 8 ‘yin’ 寅 （earthly branches）, beyond the 8 yin lay the ‘xuan’(vibrations)，beyond the ‘xuan’ lay the 8 extremes. （‘xuan’ is an ancient word which refers to the stings of instruments that use a bow, like a violin and not those that are plucked. In this context they connote a more metaphysical meaning. I can not provide the character as it is not contained within the Chinese character entry method software I have. It looks like this: 玄 but with a silk radical added to the left.） In this case the name ‘Baji’ refers to the 8 cardinal directions of Chinese cosmology. In our style we talk about the ‘crossing power’ or ‘shizi jin’ 十字劲. There is also the 4 facings and 8 directions. This means expressing extreme power in all 8 directions. These cosmological references matches with Baji’s expression of jin in 8 directions and is my third explanation of the name.
This style originated in Hebei province, Cang County, Southeastern Village. Not far from there, there is a small village often called ‘The Nest of Baji’. Actually, apart from Baji this place is also home to Piguazhang. Cang County is famous for martial arts. There is even a saying, “Nobody dares throw a dart into Cang County” (biao bu han cang; 镖不喊沧) Of the southeastern village it is said, “A passing goose will loose it’s feathers” (雁过拔毛) ie the energy of the place is so strong that I bird flying by will have some of its feathers knocked out.
It’s a shame this area is so conservative and keeps its wushu such a closely guarded secret. Its hard enough to achieve skill in this style as it is and they seldom teach outsiders. Learning the entire thing is extremely difficult. Even within Cang County not many have done so. As a result the art is not as strong as it once was.
During the Tongzhi year of the Qing dynasty, in the small southeastern village of Cang county in Hebei province, also known as Zhang Sha, there arose a world famous Baji master of legendary proportions, my first teacher, the “God of the Spear”, Li Shuwen.
He was born into a poor family in Meng Village. He learned Bajiquan, including spear techniques, from Jin Diansheng. Later he researched Piguazhang. He particularly excelled at the spear. He was undefeated in his lifetime with that weapon and so, the nickname “God of Spear”, Li Shuwen.
He charged through Hebei, Shandong, Henan and much of the northeast, never meeting his match. He had many students and many of them were quite famous. There was Hua Diange, Huo Diankui (the two of them brothers), Xu Lanzhou, Ren Guozhen, Liu Huchen, Xiang Xiangwu, Na Yukun (my uncle), Ma Fengtu, Ma Yingtu, Ma Changtu (the three of them brothers), Han Huachen, Zhao Shude, Liu Yunqiao (myself), Liu Chengdong, (a relative of mine), and others. Of them all Huo Diange was the first disciple he ever accepted and he opened the door for others. Initially Li Shuwen had no desire to take on students but was moved by his dedication and patience and took him on as a formal disciple. Huo Diange was later recruited to teach inside the palace for the Qing. When Master Li went to the northeast in the later years of his life my family invited him to come and stay with us. I was with him as a child and that is how I can to be his disciple.
Huo Diankui was Huo Diange’s younger brother and had students of his own in Tianjin. Xu Lanzhou, Ren Guoren, Zhang Xiangwu, Na Yukun, Liu Huchen, and Liu Chengdong were all high ranking military leaders. The three brothers, Ma Fengtu, Yingtu and Changtu all initially learned Pigua and learned Bajiquan later on. Ma Fengtu was a ‘Xianzhang’ (a political post at about the level of a city councilman). Ma Yingtu became a coach at the Chinese National Martial Arts Acadamy. (note:This is actually the same school later moved to Najing and was the home to the famous Kuoshu tournaments of the early 20th century) Ma Changtu was a military man and died in battle. Han Huachen and Zhao Shude also started with Pigua and later moved on to learn Baji from Master Li at the same time as they were also teaching at the Chinese National Martial Arts Acadamy. A few years before he passed on Li Yuanzhi learned Baji under the tutelage of Han Huachen, Zhaoshude and Ma Yingtu, all three of them. Baji really has earned a tremendous reputation. There have been many famous disciples and a record earned on the battlefield.
It became famous initially during the Ming dynasty under the name ‘Baziquan’. We can tell there were quite a few early experts. It is quite unfortunate there are not better records for us to refer to. In Cang County, there are records. Unfortunately there are some errors in the records so I am attempting to give them what records I have of my own in order to help them rectify the record.
2/07/2004 5:57am, #2
[u]Famous People Within the Baji Circle[u/]
According to the martial arts records in Cang County, Meng Village, a northerner, Wu Zhong 吴钟 was the earliest teacher of the style. He also went by the name Hong Sheng 弘声 and was a follower of Tian Fang Jiao. (a religion) At eight years old he was recognized as being smarter than many of his elders. He was particularly strong as a teenager and avoided study in favor of practicing martial arts. He trained constantly, day and night, summer and winter. One night, while he was in the middle of training with the sword a man suddenly appeared. He had a distinctive appearance and carried himself well. Wu Zhong asked his name but he refused to tell him. They sat together and talked about martial arts. They talked of martial arts he had never heard of. When the stranger performed a bit, he realized he had never seen anything like it either. He decided to become his student and learned his art, Bajiquan. This wandering daoist lingered for ten years.
Suddenly one day the daoist told him, “You have grasped my art, it is time I moved on.”
With tears in his eyes Wu Zhong replied, “I have sat at your feet for ten years but still don’t know your name!”
The daoist answered, “Just call me ‘dirtbag’ like all my other students do.” And with these words he bid farewell and vanished without a trace. Two years later, again, a stranger appeared. He knew about “the old dirtbag”. He was equally secretive about his name and said ‘old nut’ would be fine for a name for himself as well. This stranger taught the secret techniques of Baji along with the finer points of the spear. He advised Wu Zhong to go to a temple in Hang Zhou and meet a particular Shaolin expert, the local abbot, who resided there.
Note: In the original Chinese there is an obvious joke here. The first daoist introduces himself as ‘Lai’, lit. ‘leper’. The second introduces himself as ‘pi’, another disease .If you put the two names together ‘lai’ and ‘pi’ , they form the word ‘laipi’, which means a lazy good-for-nothing.
After soundly defeating the abbot several times, the abbot, astounded by his ability, gave him a small gift as an award. He then left Zhebei for Yanjing and challenged a local expert named Wang yunti 王允题He defeated him with such ease that Wang Yunti thought he must have used some sort of magic. He tried again and the result was the same. After this encounter he was already being known as “God of Spear” Wu Zhong, At this time his parents were getting old and their health was not well so he returned to his home to take care of them. He had earned such a reputation by this time that people came from miles around to study under him. The first three recorded generations of Bajiquan go from ‘Lai’ to ‘Pi’ to Wu Zhong.
Zhang Ke Ming, from Luo Village, was a fourth generation Baji disciple.
2/07/2004 8:29am, #3
- Join Date
- Oct 2003
Great translation. That must have taken you quite some time! Thank you for sharing it.
2/07/2004 3:44pm, #4
NICE OMAR! i've actually seen that book but of course couldnt read a word of it.Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity.
2/07/2004 4:30pm, #5
Glad you guys enjoyed it. If your thinking it's from that book that's floating around in .pdf form, it's not. This one has a picture of Liu Yunqiao doing an app. on Jason Tsou on the cover.
2/07/2004 5:04pm, #6
Baiji is still a pretty decent style.Ghost of Charles Dickens
2/07/2004 5:31pm, #7
What? You mean EVEN THOUGH it has a goofy origin story about 2 crazy hermits descending from the mountains? Like that counts as a strike against it? :)
11/21/2007 1:46am, #8
- Join Date
- Aug 2007
omar,do you know where can i find the book in the internet?
if you have can you please email me at [email protected]
3/10/2008 2:36pm, #9
- Join Date
- Jan 2007
- Blacksburg, Va
Ah Baji, I'd do it if I wasn't so happy with Xingyi
6/28/2008 7:15pm, #10
- Join Date
- Jun 2008
It seems to work for Akira of Virtua Fighter fame