Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ba Gua Founder - Dong Hai Chuan

"No one knows the origin of Pa-kua. It is only known that Tung
Hai-ch'uan of Wenan Hsien in Hopeh Province during the Ch'ing Dynasty
(A.D. 1798 - 1879) learned this art from an anonymous Taoist in the
mountain fastness of Kiangsu Province. Tung, a young man then barely
into his twenties, is said to have been nearly dead of starvation when
the hermit chanced upon him. The Taoist ministered to him and Tung
stayed several years with him and from him learned a "divine" boxing....

Near middle age, Tung became a eunuch in the king's palace. He did
not get on with his fellows, however, and soon was assigned to the
royal family of Su Ch'in-wang as a servant. Su employed a Mohammedan
boxer and his wife as chief protectors of the houshold. Sha Hui-tzu,
the boxer, held everyone to immediate obedience, and his wife, an
expert postol shot, made them a solid combination. Once at a big
banquet where the congestion was beyond relief, Tung served tea to the
guests by lightly scaling the wall and crossing the roof to the
kitchen and back. Lord Su recognized from this that Tung probably had
boxing ability. Subsequently, he ordered Tung to show his art. Tung
did: he demonstrated Pa-kua. His sudden turns and fluid style
enthralled the audience. Thereupon, Sha challenged Tung but was
defeated. Tung watched for Sha to attempt revenge. Late one night
Sha crept into Tung's bedroom, a knife in hand, while his wife aimed
her pistol through the window at Tung. Tung quickly took the pistol
from her and turned on Sha, who pounded his head on the floor seeking
forgiveness. Tung agreed to forgive him and even accepted Sha as a

Later in life Tung retired and taught only a few selected persons his
Pa-kua. Although he withered, the stories did not. One had him in
the midst of several men with weapons who were bent on his blood. He
not only emerged unscated, but soundly beat his attackers. Another
time he sat in a chair leaning against a wall. The wall collapsed and
his disciples ran up, fearful that he had been buried. He was found
nearby sitting in the same chair leaning against another wall! But
the grandest story, told by Wan Lai-sheng, concerns Tung's death.
Certain that he was dead, some of his students attempted to raise the
casket prior to burial. But the casket would not move. It was as
though it were riveted to the ground. As his students tried again and
again to lift it, a voice came from inside the casket: "As I told you
many times, none of you has one-tenth my skill!" He then died and the
casket was moved easily.

Tung died at eight-four. His most famous students (of a reputed total
of only seventy-two) were: Yin Fu, Ch'eng T'ing-hua, Ma Wei-chi, Liu
Feng-ch'un, and Shih Liu."

From "Pa-Kua: Chinese Boxing for Fitness and Self-Defense" by Robert
W. Smith. Kodansha International, 1967.

-Jess Obrien

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