第一代大宗师：马贵 Ma Gui School of Baguazhang The first generation teacher: Ma Gui Ma Gui, also named Shiqing (1851-1941) carried on the Yongyi lumber business of his family, which sold lumber and wooden articles. His business supplied the emperor’s palace, which gave him frequent entry to the palace. In the martial art world he had the nickname ‘Wood Ma’. The first half of Ma Gui’s life was during the final years of the Qing dynasty. The family business did well and the family was prosperous, so he was well educated. At twelve years old he started to learn baguazhang with Dong Haichuan. His father was sworn brothers with Yin Fu, so to maintain the proper generations, Yin Fu was named as his teacher instead of Dong. In Dong Haichuan’s later years baguazhang was very popular in Beijing. Many wanted to make a living teaching it. But since most of his apprentices came from the lower levels of society it was hard to avoid injury or even death in fights to prove themselves, in order to make a name and a living. This went against the wishes of Dong Haichuan. He decided to teach someone who was literate, did not get into fights, and had no problems of livelihood, so chose Ma Gui as his lineage holder. Ma Gui’s natural talent surpassed many, and with Dong’s special personal tuition and his diligent training, he became the instrument of recording baguazhang. He received the most systematic development in baguazhang. His deep skills also surpassed all of Dong’s apprentices and others to come. Once Ma Gui’s skills were fully developed his arms were like an apes, hanging to his knees, his abdomen and back were thick and strong, his body light as a swallow, and his eyes flashed out from a benevolent face. He participated in many challenge matches and was never bested. Countless martial arts masters all fell under Ma Gui’s hands. Ma Gui’s deep skills were superlative, his techniques permeated his whole body, he was the only one to gain Dong Haichuan’s internal training such as light skills, hard palms, wrist hitting, fire wheel palms, pressure points, joint controls, controlling, grabbing, and accupoint closing. He became famous for these, and was well known for his crab posture zhuangzhang (ramming palms), which were heavy, full, hard, and fierce. Ma Gui had refined interests and liked to paint. He often painted crabs, so, as well as for his crablike walking of the circle, he became known as ‘Crab Ma’. Ma Gui alone gained the secrets of baguazhang. He treasured the teaching of Dong Haichuan for his whole life. He was high-minded and loved the martial arts as his life, so he was unwilling to lightly transmit his learning. He helped out students of baguazhang, but respected his teacher’s wish of ‘do not transmit to those unworthy’, and was known for being stingy about passing on skills. The above image shows Ma Gui in 1930 at the gathering in Beijing to erect Dong Haichuan’s memorial stele. The following words are carved on the stele: These twenty words of succession are carved on the stele to prevent the splitting into branches and the disruption of the system “Hai Fu Shou Shan Yong, Qiang Ding Guo Ji, Ming Guang Da, Dao De Jian Wu Ji”. 海福寿山永，强毅定国基, 昌明光大陆，道德建无极. The later half of Ma Gui’s life (1910-1941) was much more difficult. Due to the end of the Qing dynasty and thus his business with the palace, his family fortunes fell and he became poor in his later years. Ma Gui was loyal to his country, he was unsuccessful in his career, in that case he would ‘rather die guarding a virtuous way than die in a city well’ so would not study business. He really was a great fighter! Just at this moment someone came to Ma Gui’s side that had a noble character, a hero who upheld justice. This created the opportunity for the lifeblood of baguazhang to continue to flow. Below is introduced the second generation of the Ma Gui School: Li Shao’an and Liu Wanchuan The second generation of the Ma Gui School of Baguazhang: Li Shao’an Li Shao’an, also named Mengrui (1888-1980), was from Haiyang in Shandong province. He ran a restaurant called YuChun Lou (Jade Spring Restaurant) in the Qianmen district of Beijing. His whole life he was generous and heroic. Just when Ma Gui had descended to poverty and become cold to the vagarities of the world, Li Shao’an generously supported him. His kindness, friendship, and morality touched Ma Gui, and he gave all he could teach to him. Li Shao’an was the most important person in the continuance of the Ma Gui School of Baguazhang. Li Shao’an had exceptional skills, and was particularly skilled at daishou (dragging hand). He was called ‘Iron arm Li’. He was also called ‘Surpassing eldest brother’ because of his generosity in aiding the needy and his chivalrous upholding of order in the martial world. Li Shao’an was close friends with Li Wenbiao, Yin Yuzhang, Liu Bin, Liang Zhenpu, and other famous masters in the baguazhang circles. When soldiers in the Tongzhou district of Beijing killed Li Wenbiao, Li shao’an, regardless of his own safety, went to claim his body and ensure that he was properly buried. This act moved the entire martial arts community. During the Cultural Revolution, Li Shao’an suffered greatly, and was sent down to his hometown of Haiyang, Shandong. This is a valuable photo from 1972. I present it here as a mark of great respect. His whole life Li Shao’an was big-hearted and upright. During his youth he trained hard to learn martial skill, he rushed alone in the world, daring to do anything and everything. During his prosperous mature years he helped his fellow man, showing great benevolence, his chivalry went out to the whole world. During his poor years in the countryside, when he experienced to the fullest extent the inconstancy of human relations, when human feelings were at their unkindest, he wore plain cotton and ate clear gruel with casual elegance amongst the people. In the five thousand years of China’s history, there are so many stories of great people that move us. In our bagua stories, that of Mr. Li has moved my soul and fueled my dreams for twenty years. His martial skill and his quality of character is the model that I seek for myself. I do not have three parts of Li Shao’an’s deep skills, I have three parts of his martial skills, but as to his heart, I perhaps know a tenth. At present no lineage recipient of Li Shao’an has been found. I hope that one day we may find one, and hope that one day his school can be directly transmitted. Next I will introduce someone who carried forward the Ma Gui School of Baguazhang – the second-generation teacher Liu Wanchuan. The second generation of Ma Gui School of Baguazhang: Liu Wanchuan. Liu Wanchuan, styled Yihai (November 1, 1906 to November 6, 1991), was from Haiyang in Shandong province. In his youth he studied baguazhang with his uncle Liu Qingfu (Yin Fu’s apprentice, one of the key figures in Yin Fu School of Baguazhang) together with his cousin Liu Xuehai (styled Yishan), Liu Qingfu’s son. The two of them were well known for their skills in the village. When Liu Wanchuan was young he went to school for three years, but because of family poverty, he quit school and went to work in the fields. From then on he worked to support his family, but never neglected his martial arts training. He became a true inheritor of the style of Liu Qingfu. When he was seventeen (about 1923) he moved to Beijing to make a living, and settled into #23 aqijia alley in the Qianmen district. This was very close to his uncle Liu Qingfu’s (‘Old rice Liu’) rice business on the grain store road. Between 1923 and 1931 he learned baguazhang with Yin Fu’s son Yin Yuzhang. Every day he would get up at dawn and walk from his alley to Qihua gate (present day Chaoyang gate) to train with Yin Yuzhang. This meant a walk of over 10 km every day, in all weather, no matter how hot or cold, without a break. He gained the true transmission of Yin Yuzhang’s baguazhang. From the early 1930s Liu worked as an accountant [or cashier?] at the YuChun Restaurant of his fellow hometowner Li Shao’an. As Li took on the care of Ma Gui, Liu also helped, and also gained the full teaching of Ma Gui’s School of Baguazhang. He became the most important person in the continuation and spreading of Ma Gui’s baguazhang. Liu Wanchuan was naturally a good-hearted person, always tolerant, generous, and trustworthy. Without thought to gaining a reputation, he diligently sought out and trained the martial arts without cease. He developed his baguazhang to the highest level. That Ma Gui’s School of Baguazhang survives is due entirely to the efforts and skills of Liu Wanchuan. Liu Wanchuan received the full flavour of Ma Gui’s transmission, he became excellent at the crab palm continuous zhuangzhang (ramming palms), his stepping was skilled and refined, his fali (power striking) was heavy. He perfected accupoint pressing, tendon grabbing, meridian blocking and other high skills. He systematically continued Ma Gui’s special skills of wrist striking, daishou (dragging hand), qiezhang (cutting palm), fire wheel palm, fanbeichui (backfist), and other hard striking skills. Liu Wanchuan’s entire life was about baguazhang, and his whole being was concentrated on baguazhang. If we can understand his life and being, we can come to know how high his achievements were in baguazhang. My students calculated for me that if all the circles walked in baguazhang were added together over a lifetime, he could have walked three times around the world! Circle-walking is not running, nor is it walking along the road, and certainly is not strolling along lightheartedly. It is fully concentrated, intensely powerful, completely united whole body power deep into the bones and tendons. In Liu Wanchuan’s later years, once he was sick and seemed a little unclear. His daughter was concerned and talked to him, but he did not respond. His daughter then quoted a line from the baguazhang classics, and Liu immediately completed the quotation – all 108 four-character lines, smoothly and fluently, without one character wrong. Mr. Liu had only three years of schooling; he did not have the level of literacy to express his feelings and understandings of baguazhang. We do, however, have a daily notebook that he kept when he was over eighty years old. In it he detailed his daily training – what he did and number of repetitions – as detailed as any notebook of current accounts. In Mr. Liu’s later years he still walked to the park twice a day, morning and evening, to train. The day that he passed away, he came home from his morning training session, ate breakfast, and told his daughter he was going to take a rest. He lay down, and, about two hours later, passed peacefully. He never missed a meal or a session of training! Mr. Liu visited Shandong from Beijing in 1944. This was after he had mastered Ma Gui’s skills. His high level of deep kungfu and skills astounded the villagers. Even now many people in the area around Haiyang County sing his praises. In 1946 Mr. Liu returned to Beijing and lived at #23 Daqijia alley in Qianmen until 1968. Then, to make training more convenient, his family moved to the Taoran pavilion park neighbourhood, where they stayed until 1991. From 1981 on, Mr. Liu taught baguazhang openly in Taoran Pavilion Park, teaching over fifty people in a class. He had over ten people who attained some skill. It is from Mr. Liu that the Ma Gui School of Baguazhang has gradually spread throughout China and to the world. To see more about Liu Wanchuan, please go to the article ‘In memory of Liu Wanchuan’. Next I introduce the third generation in the Ma Gui School of Baguazhang. Click here to enter. The third generation of the Ma Gui School of Baguazhang. The school of Ma Gui’s baguazhang has come to us from the hands of Liu Wanchuan. All of those who learn this system trace their learning back to him. Mr. Liu taught many people, especially when he taught at Taoran Pavilion Park during the 1980s. He taught as many as sixty, but only ten or so can be considered to have developed real skills. Only a few followed him for a long time, learned the whole system systematically, and persevered without a break. 1. Yu Zhiming Yi Zhiming (1920- ) was from Haiyang in Shandong. He started learning baguazhang from Liu Qingfu when he was sixteen, and trained with him for three years. Then, because of the disruptions of bandits in the area, he moved to Beijing. He stopped training for some time, and also suffered from a stomach ailment. In the sixties he met up with Liu Wanchuan, and it was like a spring feeding a long drought, Liu became like his elder brother and he started training Ma Gui’s baguazhang. After over twenty years of intense training morning and evening, and diligent seeking, he cured his illness and was clear spirited and strong. He systematically inherited Liu Wanchuan’s skills. Yu Zhiming’s deep kungfu is pure. He excels in tanzhang (reaching palm), chuanzhang (piercing palm), shoulder striking, zhuangzhang (ramming palm), daishou (dragging hand), yazhang (pressing palm), gaizhang (covering palm), and other high skills. His kicks are skillful and varied. His ‘internal dan’ training is very special. At ninety, his ‘internal dan’ is thick, rounded, and full. Yu Zhiming started to teach baguazhang in 1988, and only taught about a dozen people. Among them are 涂行健、李万钧Chu Hangjian, Li Wanjun, and myself (Li Baohua). I followed him from the winter of 1989 to the fall of 2006. Fan Yaohua Fan Yaohua (1934 – ) was from 冀 county in Hebei province. He started working with Liu Wanchuan in 1952 in the same workshop of the Tongrentang pharmaceutical factory. Fan had a naturally weak constitution, and from the age of twenty often had shortness of breath and even fainting spells. Liu Wanchuan sympathized with him, and took him aside to tell him, if he was already like that in his youth, if he didn’t save himself by training, then he would never get better. He told him secretly because the times were dangerous. From 1959 on Fan trained with Liu, altogether following him for over thirty years. He learned the routines in a systematic way. Now Fan Yaohua is almost eighty years old, and his voice is clear as a bell, his body is light and strong, and he walks like the wind. He is living proof of how a lifetime of baguazhang can bring you to a healthy old age. Mr. Fan is a broadminded optimistic person, always happy to help people. He trains baguazhang for enjoyment. Someone who really trains for fun and health, he has unselfishly taught many people. Mr. Yu introduced me to Mr. Fan in Tiantan park, in 2000. He taught me the Crab form, the Monkey form, the Snake form, and some partner training methods. Then, between 2007-2009, for a full two years, I learned everything he could pour into me! Li Tao Li Tao (1943 – ) is Liu Wanchuan’s son-in-law, who took care of him for the last half of his life. He has been an invaluable resource as Fan Yaohua and I researched the history of baguazhang. Mr. Li has a dignified appearance, imbued with integrity, with the manners of a true gentleman. I have the greatest respect for him. Liu Wanchuan bore extreme skills and followed a great way his whole life. For him, in the last half of his life to have such a son-in-law to take care of him to the end, he was truly blessed. Li Tao lived with Liu Wanchuan for so long, of course he gained transmission of special skills. I have learned many special training methods and theories with him, which has been like sweeping away the clouds to see the sun, to suddenly see the light. Mr. Li has unreservedly taught me the Paochui routine that I had up until then onsidered lost. Mr. Li also gave me all of Liu Wanchuan’s materials on baguazhang, including film on Liu Wanchuan training at 82 years old, all of Liu Wanchuan’s photos from his whole life, Liu Wanchuan’s handwritten copy of the baguazhang verses, Liu Wanchuan’s voice recording of the baguazhang verses, Liu Wanchuan’s own training diary, tokens given to Liu Wanchuan by Ma Gui, and Li’s handwritten notes, and other materials about baguazhang that he has collected. Such luck! 天不丧吾道。天若丧之，何得之？ Li Lianchang Li Lianchang (1943 – ) was Liu Wanchuan’s first apprentice. I gained an introduction to him through Li Tao, and have had the fortune to start learning from another of Liu Wanchuan’s direct apprentices. To be brief here, I cannot hope to express my gratitude and feelings for teacher Li. I will write an article about him in the future. The first row, in the middle is Liu Wanchuan. At the left is Li Lianchang, at the right is to Peng Guangzhang. In the back row is Yu Zhiming. I have studied directly from the four that I have written about above. Below I will introduce others who have carried on his teachings. 1. Peng Guangzheng Peng Guangzheng (c. 1924 – 1999, passed away at the age of 75) loved martial arts from a young age. He studied many training methods and grappling styles in his hometown in Shandong. After he moved to Beijing and started work in the same factory as Liu Wanchuan, he immediately recognized his skill level. Since then he stuck by Liu Wanchuan for training. Among all the students, he was with Mr. Liu the longest and learned the most complete contents of the system. Mr. Peng was infatuated with the martial arts his whole life. In his youth he had saved a grappling master by hiding him out at his house, and learned from him. Mr. Pen was heroic in his respect for his teacher, his friendship, and for his ability to learn and train. Some people guess that at that arduous period of his life, the chicken heads that he ate for his teacher could have filled a truck! Mr. Peng had a serious liver ailment since his youth. Training baguazhang with Liu Wanchuan gave him unexpected fine health. The only regret is that he did not live to the ripe old age of 80 or 90. Mr. Peng studied baguazhang very thoroughly and completely. I hope that his students and descendents respect his skills, hard won over his lifetime, and continue to teach them, passing them on to future generations and spreading them further. Sun Wuling Sun Wuling (1921 – 2001) was a famous baguazhang master. He studied the Yin Fu school from his father Sun Bolin from a very early age. In 1946 he started with Liu Qingfu’s apprentice Wang Huisan, again studying Yin Fu School of Baguazhang. In the early 1950s his teacher Wang passed away, so he started studying Cheng School of Baguazhang with Miao霈. In the 1960s he went to Beijing to study baguazhang with Li Shao’an and Guo Gumin. In the 1970s he went to Haiyang County in Shandong to seek out Li Shao’an, who had returned there from Beijing. At that time Mr. Li was already almost ninety years old, so suggested that he return to Beijing to study under Liu Wanchuan. In 1981 Mr. Sun found Liu Wanchuan in Taoran Pavilion Park in Beijing, and took him as his martial uncle. Over more than ten years he traveled several times a year from his home in the northeast of China to Beijing to train with Liu Wanchuan, staying at his house each time. Mr. Sun, already over sixty years old himself, continued to travel to train with Mr. Liu for over ten years, until he passed away. His persistence in this path is an example for us to follow! Mr. Sun held the position of chairman of the Jilin city martial arts association. He massed and organized a great deal of valuable material on baguazhang, and wrote about his experiences and thoughts on training. He propagated baguazhang and taught many students. During his lifetime he gave his entire energy and savings to baguazhang. His son, Sun Haipo, has taken on his father’s profession, and is now teaching baguazhang in Jilin city, taking on the responsibilities passed to him from his father. Bi Jie In the middle of the first row is Liu Wanchuan, at the left is Yu Zhiming, at the right is Peng Guangzheng. In the rear row is Bi Jie. Bi Jie was one of the earliest students to train with Liu Wanchuan. He is tall and strong. I do not know very much about Mr. Bi but I have received his handwritten notebook with the Baguazhang’s Seven Word Verse dictated by Liu Wanchuan. I also know that he learned the Paochui routine from Liu Wanchuan. He was born in the 1920s, so is now probably in his eighties. I hope that he is enjoying a healthy old age, and hope that he has students who are continuing to practice his teachings and pass them on and spread them. Li Wenling Looking at the sixty-some years old Li Wenling, we can only imagine how strong and fierce he was when he met Liu Wanchuan in his thirties! Li Wenling (1947 – ) studied Cheng School of Baguazhang for many years in his youth with the famous teacher Wang Fusheng. He then taught fighting in the army special services school. He was brave and an excellent fighter of great strength, with no peers in fighting. After retiring from the army, his teacher Mr. Wang had passed away. Mr. Li continued his training, and, after gaining an introduction to Liu Wanchuan, started studying with him. At that time Liu Wanchuan was already seventy-six. When Li Wenling just started training with him, he lightly touched Li’s strong and robust body and caused a pain that lasted for half a year. Mr. Li said that he had never admitted defeat to anyone in his whole life, but he admitted defeat to Liu Wanchuan. He often said, ‘no matter how hard anyone in this day and age trains, they will never be able to reach Liu Wanchuan’s level.’ Mr. Li has superior moral character, generous conduct, and is a filial son. He respectfully took care of Liu Wanchuan in his old age. He accompanied Mr. Liu in his last training session, his last walk home from the park, and his breakfast. According to traditional courtesy, he is the only one of the apprentices who had done the full ceremony of apprenticeship. He is also the teacher whom I respect and admire immensely. Because Mr. Li started training with Liu Wanchuan fairly late, there are many things that Mr. Liu was not able to pass on to him. Fortunately, his martial brother Fan Yaohua was more than willing to share what he knew with him. I hope that Mr. Li will teach more students in the future and help to spread the Ma Gui School of Baguazhang as it comes to us through the great teacher Liu Wanchuan. Liu Wanchuan had other apprentices. I will introduce them in the future as I find out more information. Ma Gui School of Baguazhang’s fourth generation inheritor: Li Baohua I love martial arts, and though my body has been at university, my heart has always been in the martial arts. In 1982 I started learning baguazhang from Shi Chongying and for ten years studied Ma Weiqi’s School of Baguazhang, Yang taijiquan, and Xingyiquan. From 1986 I learned the Cheng School of Baguazhang from Zhang Rongli. In 1989 I had the luck to be introduced to Yu Zhiming, and learned Ma Gui’s School of Baguazhang from him for over seventeen years. In 2007 and 2008 I studied Ma Gui’s School of Baguazhang with Fan Yahua, and in 2008 I learned with Liu Wanchuan’s son-in-law Li Hao. Since 2009 I have been studying with Liu Wanchuan’s favourite apprentice Li Lianchang. I admire and respect the fine character of each of those in the previous generations, I esteem their instructions, and I follow their example in hard training, and the determination to seek real deep skill. Year after year I have trained baguazhang without daring to take a day off. Due to my limitations, although I have achieved some results, what I have trained and sought has not yet reached the upper limits. 惟期假以时日，再刻 苦磨厉，以慰先前、以告后学。 Baguazhang is a most valuable treasure. Faced with the responsibility of passing in on to future generations, to benefit the whole world, and emulating the senior masters whom I admire – sages who all lived to at least seventy years of age – I long to grasp this skill that must be transmitted, and spread its name far and wide. I have, however, already reached middle age and time is passing. My courage in insufficient, my shoulders are too weak to carry this burden alone, and I am fearful. I call on the older generation masters, those on the same path, and future students to work together to help me in this great enterprise. Note: there are some discrepancies between written records and oral teachings on the ages of Ma Gui and Li Shao’an. I will continue to research to find their descendants, in hopes of discovering accurate dates for them.