Baguazhang Legends

Baguazhang is one of the lesser known forms of martial arts, but it has quite a few distinctions to its credit. Baguazhang enjoys quite a formidable reputation with people involved with martial arts. It is a form of martial arts, which emphasizes on grace, speed and power in the body movements and hence, makes the body quite flexible. It relies on the focus and the concentration of the individual to make the movements and is often considered as one of the most advanced and difficult forms of martial arts. The continuous body movements, circular footwork and spiraling body movements take any opponent by surprise, giving him the advantage.

Dong Haichuan

Dong HaiChuanBaguazhang, as in its traditional form, is believed to be have been founded by the legend Dong Haichuan, who is also placed at the starting of the lineage, by the various schools practicing and teaching Baguazhang. Dong Haichuan was a person who did not like to divulge details about his past and hence, more than one story is found about as to how and when Dong Haichuan established the various things he did. Dong Haichuan was born in the year 1797 (13 October) in a very poor family. It is believed that he travelled extensively in need of work and that he diligently kept practicing the already prevalent forms of martial arts.

There are various stories as to how and when did Dong Haichuan exactly learn or invented the various moves and techniques that the style is credited with. One of the stories says that he came in contact with a dwarf, who took him to the only apprentice of the original founder of the art and he taught Dong Haichuan the art of Baguazhang. Another story goes that while travelling he had been attacked and was injured very badly. Then, a group of monks supposedly from the Sect of Daoist Long-Men took him in and used healing techniques, such as meditative methods of chanting mantras and circle-walking. This is where Dong Haichuan found the benefits of walking in circles. It is said that once, Dong Haichuan walked around a tree for so long that the roots of the tree got exposed. Another group believes that he received a good amount of training from a group of Taoist monks, who taught him the circle-walking techniques.

Dong arrived in Beijing in the 1860s and got a job as a servant and waiter in the palace of the then king Su. Dong tried to keep his identity and skills secret so that he would not have to face consequences and prosecution. However, once during a feast thrown by the king while serving the guests, the body movements and the maneuvers of Dong Haichuan caught the eyes of the king and he was asked to show his skills. Dong was not able to refuse the king and he impressed everyone with his performance. Dong defeated anyone, who challenged him, including the bodyguard of the prince. The prince appointed him as the head of the bodyguards and as a tax-collector. Dong Haichuan accepted a very few students, while instructing the palace guards. After 10 long years in Mongolia, where he was appointed as a tax-collector, he quit his post to start teaching the art independently.

After retirement Dong Haichuan started teaching more openly and many more people became his followers. There are several instances cited, which point to the skills of Dong Haichuan. Once, when Dong was meditating on a chair in a room, the wall behind him collapsed and even before his students could react, the students found that Dong Haichuan had shifted to another part of the room unharmed. There are different opinions about what he taught, but it is generally believed that he taught the first three stages to every one and then he varied the last five stages according to the individual needs and strengths.

Dong Haichuan taught this art to various highly regarded martial artists, who were already skilled in other forms of martial arts. The art was known as Baguazhang by the end of the century. Dong Haichuan died in 1882 (25 October), but his contribution to martial arts to the world will always be remembered as he is most definitely at Baguazhang legend.