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History

Baji Quan (八极拳) is held in high esteem in the martial art world. A common adage among martial artists is that

「文有太極安天下,武有八極定乾坤。」

"For ministers, Taji quan is used to rule the country.
For generals, Baji quan is used to defend the country."

which demonstrates the respect commanded by this style. The Yongzheng Emperor (Chinese: 雍正帝; pinyin: yōngzhèngdì; Wade-Giles: Yung Cheng T'i, Manchu: Hūwaliyasun Tob, Mongol:Nairalt Töv Khaan; 13 December 1678 – 8 October 1735) studied Baji and employed many bodyguards and trainers within the Royal household that have knowledge of Baji.

 
 Contents
 1.  Wu Zhong
 2.  Li Shu Wen
 3.  Present

Wu Zhong

The roots of this style can be traced to the Mengcun (孟村) village of Cangzhou (沧州) in Hebei Province. Legend attributes the founder of both Baji and a related style, Pigua (劈掛拳) to Wu Zhong (吳鍾; 1712-1802), a Chinese Muslim from Houzhuangke village of Dayun county of Hebei province. Wu has initially learned the two styles from two Taoist monks Lai and Pi in 1727. Another version suggests that the teacher of Wu is a Taoist named Zhang, an abbot of Yueshan temple in Jiaozuo county of Hebei province. What is known is that Wu settled in Mengcun village of Cang county which eventually became the centre for baji quan.

Wu then taught his style to his daugther Wu Rong (吳蓉). She is considered to be the second generation student of the style. She taught her style as two separate systems: baji and pigua. She only taught Piquazhang to her students in the Luo Tong village and the baji style was taught only at Mong villiage. Other students of Wu include Li Da-Zhong. Li then taught his son Li Gui-Zhao. From this time, Baji was split into two distinctive branches. The first branch consists of members of the Wu family and their students - producing such notable practitioners as Wu Nan, Wu Shike and Ma Fengtu. Another branch was created when Wang Si studied bajiquan in Mengcun and transferred it to Zhang Keming from Luotong village, Zhang taught Huang Sihai and his own son Zhang Jingxing. Zhang Jingxing taught many people including his son Zhang Yuheng, Li Shuwen, Ma Yingtu and Han Huachen. Li, Ma and Han became extremely famous for their fighting skills and enhanced the reputation of Mengcun's bajiquan throughout China.

 

Li Shu Wen (1864-1934)

Shen Chiang (神枪, Magical spirit spear) Li Shu-Wen (李书文; 李書文 ; 1864-1934) was a native of Zhangsa Village, Cang County of Hebei Province. He was a famous proponent of Baji, Pigua and the long spear. He was eventually appointed as the Chief Martial Arts Instructor to the Imperial Palace responsible for training both the Manchu Imperial attendants and eunuchs.

He has three famous students: Ho Tien-Kuo (霍殿閣, Huo Dian-Ge) served as a bodyguard to the last Emperor, Pu Yee; Li Chen-Wu (李健吾) was the bodyguard of late Mao Tse-Tung, leader of the communist party in China and Liu Yun-Chiao (劉雲樵) instructed the personal guards of the first Taiwanese president Chian Kai-Shek. Therefore, in modern times, this style is also referred to as the “Body Guard” style. Ma Feng Tu (馬鳳圖; 1888-1973) and Ma Yin Tu (馬英圖;1898-1956) introduced Ba Ji fist into Nanjing Kuo Shu Guan (南京國術館; central Chinese Martial Arts Academy) as a core requirement. This further popularized the system.

 

Present Day

Liu Yun Qiao(1909-1992) is one of the last student of Li Shu-Wen. He founded the Wu-Tang Kuo Shu Association in Taiwan to promote the art of Baji. His students can be found all over the world.

Since the opening of China, the Wu Family of Cang County under the leadership of Wu Lian Zhi (吳連枝) is actively promoting this style.