Park Front Fighting Arts takes an artistic and scientific journey through ancient fight traditions- restructured for the 21st century and modern lifestyles. Feudal martial artistry, in its purity, descend directly from elite military professionals during unforgiving eras. Most city people today require a different way of life than the ancients in regards to the context of martial application and studies. Fortunately ancient masters perceived art and science as interwoven in the fabric of spacetime. A quote by Anselm Kiefer states: “History speaks to artists. It changes the artist’s thinking and is constantly reshaping it into different and unexpected images.”
The Chen family system was reserved primarily for military and armed escorts, with entirely different martial context, until 1928- during China’s cultural fitness reform. By the 20th century, Internal Martial Arts were reimagined by reformers and teachers as ways to preserve Chinese culture, or to strengthen the Chinese nation against foreign oppression. The feudal Chen System nearly went extinct in the village by the mid-1900s. Chen Yanxi, Chen Fake’s father in fact instructed Chen Taijiquan (labeled feudal Chen Longfist/ Cannonfist) for six years at the household of Qing Commander of the Beiyang New Army (and founder of the modern Chinese police force)- Yuan Shikai. THE MODERN INTERPRETATION OF CHEN TAI CHI HAS UNDERGONE TWO WAVES OF SPORTS MODIFICATIONS. In 1928, Chen Zhaopei (18th Generation) and later his uncle, Chen Fake (17th Generation) moved from Chen Village to teach Chen Tai Chi in Beijing. Chen Fake’s taijiquan retained the combative, urban aspects due to his experience in the militia. His expertise in defending Wenxian district from rebellion during the late Qing Dynasty- carried through into the “New Frame” Gongfu Jia Taijiquan system (the system is more practical for empty-hand application), which later became popularized by his son, Chen Zhaokui. Upon solidifying the art’s status in the martial circles in the mid 19th century, Beijing, Chen Fake introduced Gongfu Jia Chen Taijiquan to the public, which is now labeled New Frame or Xin Jia first and second routines of Chen Tai Chi – the internal methods are among the oldest in the original fighting art of Chen Taijiquan with a strong focus on feudal weapons training, close distance fighting, and advanced neuromechanics. Chen Fake’s system is unique due to its integration of BAJIQUAN elements popular among armed escorts of the late Qing and Republic of China era. The system became more prominent in the Beijing tradition through Chen Fake’s son, Chen Zhaokui (18th Generation), and then through Chen Zhaokui’s son, Chen Yu (19th Generation). The Beijing-style Chen Taijiquan is unique in its form and function, in relation to other lines of Chen Tai Chi Chuan. The system retains more of the ancient military art, with practicality for urban environments in non-sport settings. The biomechanics are much more nuanced and methodical.
Bajiquan “Soft and not fragile, strong and not broken” is characteristic of Bajiquan. Due to its fierce boxing and respected practicality, Bajiquan is often cross-trained with Chen Taijiquan and Baguazhang in the security sectors during the late Qing and Republic of China era. Bajiquan was originally called Bazi Quan or “Palladium Fist” because the fists, held loosely and slightly open, are used to strike downwards in a rake-like fashion. Bajiquan shares ancestry with Beijing Chen Tai Chi Chuan, descending from late Ming Era, Qi Jiguang treatise. The first recorded Baji quan teacher was Wu Zhong (1712–1802). In the late 19th century, Li Shuwen (1864–1934) reigned as the most influential Bajiquan stylist, known as “God Spear Li”, and revered for his long to short-range strategy with polearms and close in fighting. Li’s student Huo Diange, served as the martial arts teacher and guardian of the last emperor Pu Yi of the Qing Dynasty. In 1932, Li Shuwen took Huo Qingyun and other Baji professionals to accompany Emperor Puyi to the northeast. In the later 20th century, Liu Yun Qiao popularized Wutan Bajiquan in Taiwan. Liu served as the security consultant and instructor of Chiang Kai-shek’s bodyguards in 1970s. Liu Yun Qiao sought to develop abilities in all areas of accomplishment: intellectual, artistic, and physical- reminiscent of the great European Renaissance masters.
Feudal Shaolin: Yin/ Cheng Style Baguazhang are Northern Shaolin martial arts branching from Qi Jiguang and Yu Dayou- which were separated through modernization since the Ming Dynasty. Yin and Cheng Style Baguazhang has roots in the Imperial Court during the mid-1800s at Chongwenmen, Beijing, where Dong Haichuan served as Imperial tax collector and Bodyguard for Prince Su (Shan Hao). Dong Haichuan (1797 – 1882) was born in the Jiaqing period of Qing Dynasty, formerly known as Dong Mingkui, and was born in Zhujiawu Village, Wen’an County, Hebei Province. Dong Haichuan synthesized Baguazhang, a sophisticated martial art, adapted to each individual by his own experience while retaining the essential principals and structure. The Senior Disciple of Dong Haichuan, Yin Fu, adapted principals of the art to his own martial background (Qing Military/Intelligence), developing Yin Style Baguazhang. Yin Fu’s style is influenced by Shaolin Luohanquan and Eight Animal Systems- through a lifetime of elite security applications and the observation of Nature. To note (19th century), officers in the Qing army were taught by Shaolin (and Bajiquan) instructor Wang Zi-Ping. Liu Jin Sheng, who authored “Shaolin Chin Na Fa, 1936” was a student of Wang. The book documents the no-nonsense martial strategies of Qing law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The photos depict seizing and grasping methods near identical to Yin Style Baguazhang of the Xie Peiqi/ He Jinbao branch. Cheng Ting Hua is the other top student of Dong Haichuan- a candidate for the royal bodyguards of Empress Cixi. The Cheng style of Baguazhang popularized the Dragon Claw Palm, characterized by fluid (weaving/interlinking) body (serpent/dragon-like) movements with complex coiling and spiraling. The style is more dynamic and smooth externally, with intricate footwork patterns, wrestling/ restraint methods. Aside from fighting, Cheng Ting Hua was fond of science and design. His experience in the cutting-edge field of eyeglass craftsmanship supplemented his evolution in martial artistry and patriotism.