Though popular now, one against one dueling is rare in ancient China. This is a modernized approach influenced by combat sports, and in regards to China- post 1928 reform with the sports/calisthenics movements borrowed from the west. In feudal era, and much like the urban environment of today, the opponents are often unpredictable, abundant, with armed tendencies. Unarmed pugilism is a supplement for armed tactics, or as the founders of Northern Shaolin (Ming General Qi Jiguang) stated “empty hand boxing seems to be without the skill of the war, but the activities of the hands and feet are used with the body, for beginners to enter the door… If the boxing is a matter of the city and the small people, there is no use for the military, and the bare hand is used for the poor”. Bajiquan and Chen Taijiquan are northern Shaolin styles descending from Qi Jiguang and Yu Dayou. For centuries, unarmed tactics serve as the gateway to becoming a more complete fighter- martial instruments/strategy has always been the core of Chinese Kungfu.
Liu Yun Qiao and Chen Fake exchanged martial concepts in Beijing during the late 1920s. Both masters at the time- Chen Fake (Beijing Chen Taijiquan) and Liu Yun Qiao (Bajiquan) agreed there was a great similarity between the systems. Both fighting arts utilize segmentation of elbows, short-range power, the similar tempo of footwork etc. In the Ming Dynasty, Bajiquan and Chen Taijiquan were one system- gradually separated through modernization, with the fall of Qing Dynasty. The fusion and historical artifact are preserved in Beijing Gongfu Jia of Chen Yu (Chen Zhaokui’s son).