|Among many martial arts styles of Grandmaster Wang Peisheng learned in his whole life, Yin Style Bagua Zhang is his first training school. This training gave
Master Wang very good foundation for he could reach the highest level of martial arts. Also its wonderful principles and useful skills offer a lot of benefit for our
training. So it always gets highly respected in Yin Cheng Gong Fa group.
|1. My Lineage of Yin Style Baguazhang
|Dong Haichuan (1798-1882)
It is said that Master Dong Haichuan (1798-1882), one of the greatest Chinese martial artists, invented the famous internal
martial arts style Baguazhang (Pa Kua Chang) and started teaching it in Beijing around the 1850s. Because of Dong's
teaching method, numerous styles were born of his original teachings during the second generation, the most famous being
Yin style, Cheng style, and Song style Baguazhang.
|Yin Fu (Dean, Shoupeng, Shou Yin) (1840-1909)
Yin style Bagua was created by second generation Bagua master Yin Fu (1840-1909). Yin Fu's other first name was
Dean, his Hao - literature name was Shoupeng, and his nickname was Shou Yin. Yin studied Shaolin Luohan Quan when
he was young in his home village, Zhang Huai Village, Ji County, Hebei Province. One year, his home county experienced
a horrible disaster, so he moved to Beijing with his family to avoid starvation. Because his family was very poor, he worked
to support his family from a young age. Still, he continued to practice martial arts and tried to find good teachers. Finally, he
was lucky enough to meet Dong Haichuan and began his Bagua training around the late 1850s (or the early 1860s).
Yin was one of Dong's earliest disciples during the years when the Baguazhang founder worked at King Su's palace as the
supervisor of the security guards (supposedly, there were other earlier students of Dong who did not continue their
training). Since Dong lived in the palace during this period, commoners did not usually have a chance to learn from him until
after he retired and moved out of the king's palace, then teaching publicly in Beijing. So, Yin's training with the founder was
about ten years longer than that of most other students of Dong.
Yin practiced very hard and his gongfu (kungfu) advanced very rapidly after he began his training with Dong. The king took
a liking to him and allowed him to join his security guards. When Dong retired from his post, Yin took over as supervisor of
the security guards. Later, he worked for the emperor in the Forbidden City. The Empress Dowager liked his skill so much
that she even wanted to study with him. Yin also taught some others who worked in the Forbidden City, so Yin style
Bagua is sometimes referred to as Gong Ting (i.e., Palace) Bagua.
At that time, Yin was also in charge of the imperial granary and storehouse and became rich and famous; however, he was
gracious and charitable in his dealings. Yin accepted many fighting challenges and never lost. His favorite weapon was a
pair of iron Chinese brush pens, Pan Guan Bi (ghost judge pen). Yin was generally considered to be the premier second
generation Bagua master, and, along with Cheng Tinghua, Song Yongxiang, and Liu Dekuan, regarded as qualified to set
up his own style of Baguazhang. Of these four styles, Yin style was perhaps the most famous, even though Cheng style is
likely the most prolific.
Yin taught Bagua and lived on the eastern side of Beijing, so Yin style will always be known as Dong-cheng Zhang
(Eastern City Palm). Other names for Yin style include Niu-she Zhang (Ox Tongue Palm) or Liu Ye Zhang (Willow Leaf
Palm), because the palm shape in this style resembles an ox tongue or a willow leaf. It is said that the idea of this special
palm shape is derived from Shaolin Luohan Quan which Yin studied first before Bagua, and that to memorialize and pay
respect to his early training, Yin made this palm shape with special permission from Dong.
In Yin style Bagua, the palm shape, basic body posture and basic circle walking skill are clearly different from other Bagua
There are some characteristics of Yin style Bagua which differ from other Bagua styles. Yin style Bagua consists of eight
sections, each section consisting of eight palm change sequences. The full sequence of sixty-four palm changes are
performed while circle walking, unlike the linear sequences of Gao Yi Sheng or Liu Dekuan, and follow and correspond to
the sixty-four hexagrams in the order they appear in the Yi Jing (Book of Changes). Many believe that this style is closer to
Dong's original teaching than other styles. Once he started to teach publicly after leaving the king's service, Dong taught
different people different things according to their own personal condition. Consequently, today one can find a great myriad
of different styles of Bagua being practiced.
Examining the other styles of Bagua, it appears that Dong taught most of his later students Ba Da Zhang (Eight Big [main]
Palm Changes) first instead of teaching sixty-four palm changes directly. The idea is that it is difficult for most people to
study sixty-four palm changes directly as it is very easy to simply end up practicing like external kungfu. By focusing on just
eight main palm changes, it may be easier for students to concentrate initially on internal kungfu training before proceeding
to learn a full set of sixty-four palm changes. Of course, most students cannot really finish this training. Later, the idea of
training eight main palm changes became widely accepted in many Bagua groups.
Because Yin Fu studied with Dong Haichuan from an earlier time, he retained the original way of training sixty-four palm
changes directly from the beginning. However, later in the third generation Yin's son and some other students made
changes to the curriculum, including a set of Eight Big Palm changes as the core of their practice, just like many other
groups to make the system easier to teach publicly. As a result, today most Yin style groups practice Eight Big Palm
Changes and only a few Yin style groups continue to practice sixty-four palm changes according to the original method.
On June 28, 1909, Yin Fu died quietly. Although he came from a poor and lower class background, he worked hard his
entire life, won a great reputation and earned the respect of martial arts society generally. Even though traditional Yin style
Bagua is not as popular today as some other styles, Yin Fu is widely considered to have been one of the outstanding
martial artists of the late nineteenth century and Yin style Baguazhang has been regarded as embodying high level martial
Among his many students, only a few are thought to have really inherited his skills. His most prominent disciples included:
Ma Gui, Li Yongqing, He Jingkui, Cui Zhendong, Gong Baotian, Yang Zunfang, Men Baozhen, and his son, Yin Yuzhang.
|Ma Gui (Shiqing, Pangxie Ma, Tie Gebe Ma, Ma Cuozi ) (1853-1941)
Ma Gui (1853-1941) was the earliest disciple of Yin Fu and started his Bagua training as a teenager after learning some
hard style previously. Ma's other first name is Shiqing. He also had several nickname: Pangxie Ma - Crab Ma since he
liked to paint crabs; Tie Gebe Ma - Iron Arm Ma since he won his great reputation with his very famous and very powerful
wrest striking skill; and Ma Cuozi - short Ma since he was small and short person. Although Ma was small and short, he
practiced very hard and enjoyed fighting very much. Consequently, Yin often brought him to meet other masters to try his
fighting skill. Ma also followed Yin working security for the king for very many years. It is said that in the beginning when
Yin introduced Ma to other security guards, no one thought this small boy was good enough for that type of job and that he
gained access to the palace only because of his relationship with Yin. Soon, no one wanted to belittle him because he beat
many of them very hard.
Dong also took a liking to Ma and so he received intensive training directly from the founder at that time. It is said that
when Dong was working for the king that he instructed Yin and Ma in their practices every day for many years at the
palace. Because Dong had no family, when he moved out of the palace, he lived in Ma's home for several years. As a
result, even though Ma belonged in the third generation of the Bagua family, he actually likely received more direct training
from Dong than even most second generation masters.
Ma won a reputation as a great master from his fighting skill and was highly respected in martial arts society. When he
worked for Duke Lan (a high level government official), Ma was perhaps his most trusted aide. Then he became a teacher
of the prince. After the Republic Revolution, Ma worked at the office of the President of China. Eight years later, he
became a martial arts instructor in the National Police School.
Ma became famous before he was twenty and defeated many famous masters. He was particularly well-known for striking
with the back of the wrist and his favorite weapon was the broadsword. Ma always practiced with two iron wrist rings,
about ten pounds each, on his wrists.
Although Ma received full transmission in Bagua and reached the highest level in his skills, he was a very conservative
person. With the exception of the skills he learned from Dong and Yin, he was not interested in learning from others. He
also opposed the idea of modifying the traditional way he was trained. Consequently, Ma taught the sixty-four palm
changes according to the way he was taught without making any modifications himself.
Basically, Ma hated the idea of changing the traditional way to make it easier for some people to learn Bagua. He felt that
most people were not qualified to make changes for any reason and thought that anyone who felt the skill was too difficult
to learn should not be taught. It is not surprising that he taught relatively few students seriously, saying that he did not want
to waste time teaching anyone who could not be great. This conservative attitude tarnished his reputation and gained him
critics who felt that he should be more free with his teaching.
Only a few students learned all sixty-four palm changes completely from Ma. One example of how hard Ma was in his
teaching is that he taught one of his sons the first palm change and let him practice it for about seven years without teaching
him anything else because he thought his son's skill was not good enough to learn the next skill. But, Ma's attitude changed
somewhat when he reached his seventies.
On a chance encounter he met and accepted a twelve year old boy as a disciple, teaching this boy directly for many years.
During the first three years, he taught this boy for several hours every morning. Later, this youngster became an outstanding
martial artist in his own right. It is because of this student, Wang Pei Sheng, that the original Yin style Bagua lineage, as
transmitted from Yin Fu to Ma Gui, remains unbroken. Today, he is probably the only master in the world who teaches this
|Master Wang demonstrated
Qian Chuan Quan
|Master Wang demonstrated
Holding Up and Pushing Down
|Wang Peisheng (Liquan, Yincheng) (1919 - present)
Wang Peisheng is considered by many to be one of the pre-eminent martial arts masters in China. Master Wang's other
first name is Liquan, and his literature name is Yin Cheng. After starting his martial arts training around ten years of age,
when he was twelve he met Ma Gui and began his first real training. Wang practiced very hard and was a quick learner,
factors which greatly pleased Ma. During the early years of extremely hard, serious traditional training under the tutelage of
a top-level master, Wang began to grasp the true meaning of martial arts.
For about three years, Ma went to Wang's home (which was on the way to his other job) every morning for breakfast and
training. Ma taught Wang Shaolin Luohan Quan, Bagua kungfu basics (jibengong), the Sixty-Four Yin style palm changes,
and then Bagua Broadsword Eighteen Interrupting (Bagua Dao Shi Ba Jie), which was Ma's favorite weapon skill.
Wang worked hard, used his mind and asked many questions. For more than three years, an old man taught a young boy
day by day. No one thought anything special at the time, but today we know how valuable this sort of training is.
Given Ma's conservative attitude toward teaching, one wonders why he was so forthcoming in teaching Wang. From many
years of research, I suspect that Ma was motivated in part by a realization that he was already old and that he should pass
his skill down to someone. Of course, if he had not sensed talent in the young boy and believed that he could become a
successful martial artist, he probably would not have spent so much time with Wang, who became a highly respected
professional martial arts teacher when he was only eighteen years old. In addition to Yin style Bagua, Wang studied Wu
style Taiji with Yang Yuting, Cheng and Liu style Bagua with Gao Kexing, Xingyi with Han Muxia and Zhao Runting,
Tantui with Zhang Yulian, Baji with Wu Xiufeng, Tongbei with Liang Junpo, etc.
Although Wang studied many different martial arts styles over the years, most people today probably associate him
primarily with Wu style Taijiquan. But I know, in the bottom of his heart, Yin style Bagua is still his favorite. Perhaps it was
the excellence of its skills, maybe because it was his first serious training; whatever the reason, he loves it very much. For
many years, he only taught this skill to a few indoor disciples. Beginning in the early 1980s, he began to teach it to a select
few of his grand-disciples. I was among the lucky ones who had the opportunity to study it directly with him in his home.
To this day, I can still remember the first time he showed me this system. He said: "This wonderful skill is almost lost now. I
may be the last person who still knows it. But I do not want to take it with me to the other world, so now I will start
teaching it to you. You should practice hard and pass it down in your days. Do not let down all the previous generations
before you." I have been fortunate to find several students interested in studying Yin style Bagua as I did with my teacher.
|2. Basic Knowledge of Training
There are a lot of special things in Yin style Bagua which passed from Yin Fu to Ma Gui to Wang Pei Sheng. Some of
them are very different from other Bagua styles, even other Yin style branches. Here I will point out several aspects
peculiar to this style of Bagua.
The basic hand shape of Yin style Bagua is called Niu She Zhang (Ox Tongue Palm) or Liu Ye Zhang (Willow Leaf Palm).
This hand shape is used in basic circle walking practice and in most techniques and is not generally used in other styles of
Bagua outside the Yin style branch. In this shape, the four fingers should close against one another and spread straight, with
the thumb slightly bent to touch the center of the index and middle finger roots. Some have remarked that this palm shape
appears to come from Shaolin Luohan Quan, possibly out of respect for Yin's early training, and is generally regarded as a
hallmark of Yin style Bagua. On a practical level, this palm shape is very useful in the piercing palm skill thrusting with the
fingertips which is used a lot in Yin style. It is said that no one could defend against Yin Fu's triple piercing palm skill.
Basic Body Posture in Circle Walking:
Zou Zhuan - Circle Walking is the most basic kungfu practice in Baguazhang and the foundation of all other skills. Indeed,
most internal training comes from circle walking. Anyone who wants to seriously study Bagua should practice this skill first
and foremost. In the traditional training system, no one had a chance to learn any other skill until he could walk the circle
proficiently. Circle walking practice imparts important benefits and enables a student to begin to feel the essence of Bagua.
It is said: "Everything comes from circle walking; circle walking is the first thing in Bagua practice."
In Bagua, when palm change skills are taught, one should walk several circles in between palm changes while practicing so
that every techniques begins and ends with circle walking. This also means that one must necessarily practice walking both
clockwise and counter-clockwise circles.
In different Bagua styles, the movement of basic circle walking may be a little bit different, but the basic principles are the
same. In the Yin style traditional training system, circle walking is different from other styles. Although it looks much easier,
it is actually more difficult to do correctly and not just like external kungfu. Practicing circle walking correctly is the key to
really understanding Yin style Bagua.
In most Bagua styles, circle walking involves turning the body inward about ninety degrees so that the front (inside) and
rear palms face (or almost face) the center of the circle. In Yin style, the body is only turned inward about thirty degrees.
The forward (inside) palm is held stretched forward almost level in front of the shoulder with the fingers pointing forward
and slightly upward. As a result, when walking in Yin style, the charge forward feeling is much stronger than the twisting
feeling. The rear (outside) palm is held rounded naturally just below the lead elbow pointing horizontally toward the inside
of the circle with the back of the palm facing forward.
With regard to stepping, the rule of footwork is much simpler than for most other Bagua styles. Basically, the step is very
natural. One should keep the body erect, withdraw the stomach slightly and think that the forward (inside) index finger
pierces forward and the rear (outside) shoulder feels like chasing the forward index figure. This causes a quickstep feeling
of continuous forward movement that is quick and nimble, but also stable. It is very common for Bagua practitioners to
develop quick and nimble movement without a concurrent strong and stable root. Little by little, with correct practice the qi
will sink down to the dantian and internal force (neijin) will be generated and increased to the whole body, especially to the
arms and hands. The feeling will be strong and exciting.
3. Basic Yi Jing Principle
The Yi Jing (Book of Changes) is perhaps the most important book in ancient Chinese literature and arguably the
foundation of all traditional Chinese culture and philosophy, as well as influencing Chinese martial arts. Over several
thousand years, the Yi Jing developed from being used for fortune-telling to a primary source for philosophy. The Yi Jing
sets up a complete system including many great ideas to explain the change of the world and instruct human activity. Many
martial arts styles use Yi Jing principles, however, Baguazhang perhaps uses or exemplifies Yi Jing principles to a greater
extent than most other martial arts. Even so, it is unclear exactly how Bagua skill and Yi Jing principles combined together
in the very beginning.
Ba Gua - eight trigram theory is the basic concept underlying the Yi Jing. Each trigram consists of three line positions, each
called a Yao. Each Yao can be set to Yin - two short lines or Yang - one long line. Ba Gua expresses the basic attributions
of the universe and the source or all changes. Any two trigrams combined together (one atop the other) comprise a
hexagram, of which there are sixty-four different permutations.
Usually, the top trigram is called Shang Gua - upper trigram or Wai Gua - outside trigram. The bottom trigram is called Xia
Gua - lower trigram or Nei Gua - inside trigram. So there are six Yao in each hexagram. The position of Yao in a
hexagram is counted 1 - 6 from the bottom up. 9 - the biggest odd digit expresses Yang; 6 - the middle even digit
As a convenient convention to remember and use Yao in Yi Jing study, one uses a Yin-Yang number and a position
number to express a Yao. Here we can translate a traditional way to use (X,Y) to mark each Yao. X can be 9 or 6 (i.e.,
Yang or Yin Yao). Y can be a number between 1 and 6 that corresponds to a particular Yao's position within a hexagram.
So, if the bottom position Yao is Yang Yao, it can be designated as (9,1); if the fifth position Yao is Yin Yao, it can be
designated as (6,5). Multiplying six individual Yao times sixty-four distinct hexagrams results in a total of 384 distinct Yao
in sixty-four hexagrams.
According to its position and relationship, each Yao has its own meaning. Yi Jing explains the reason of why and how each
Yao generate, develop and change, and also gives the meaning of each Yao. The Yi Jing symbolic analytic system attempts
to explain the development and change rule of the universe. In order to really understand high-level Bagua training, one
should study the Yi Jing to comprehend its basic concepts and principles in detail. This article can only brush the surface of
Yi Jing is a philosophical text that analyzes the nature of change through a conceptual prism categorizing phenomena into
eight categories (Ba Gua) or trigrams, which are further combined to form a more complex construct of sixty-four
combinations or hexagrams. Baguazhang is an internal martial arts style which applies the Ba Gua concept to martial arts
In Baguazhang, changing is the central idea. Today, no one can say for sure exactly how much Yi Jing or Ba Gua principles
were directly applied in the invention or development of Baguazhang culminating in Dong's art. And yet, during the further
development and transmission of Baguazhang, it would have been very natural to combine the physical skills with the
philosophical principles. Today, many different Baguazhang groups may explain their skill in different ways, however, they
all follow basic Yi Jing principles to greater or lesser extent.