BY FRANK ALLEN & CLARENCE LU
"Legends are apt, however, to be as right in substance as they are wrong in detail." - R. H. Tawney
PART I - TUNG HAI CHUAN + YIN FU
Yin Fu was from a poor family in a poor village. That probably had something to do with his being so underweight that he was known as "Thin Yin" throughout his life. He was born in Zhang Hua village of Hebei Province in 1841. By his late teens, drought and flood drove him from his village to seek his fortune in the big city of Beijing.
Beijing was a different world from Zhang Hua village. It was fast, crowded and cutthroat. If you couldn't make the grade you would starve to death on the streets and the proof of this was all around you. Yin Fu was tenacious and industrious, so unlike many others, he survived. At first he was apprenticed to a knife and scissor sharpener. Yin Fu learned quickly and was doing well, but his boss went bankrupt. He then took his meager savings from the sharpening shop and invested in a business peddling hot cakes. Yin became the hardest working hot cake hawker in Beijing. He was always first at the bakery at the morning and he could often be found still selling cakes on the streets of the capital late in the evening.
Just as his finances were coming together, Yin was robbed one early morning on the misty streets of his new home. Needless to say, the young man was not happy about this. His concern led to a slight decrease of his work time so that he could resume the practice of "Snake Tongue Boxing", which he had practiced as a boy in Zhang Hua village. He knew that he needed more than this for his personal protection, but he wasn't sure just what he needed. Yin Fu was street wise enough, by this time to realize that Beijing was saturated with martial arts charlatans.
About this time Yin Fu began to hear stories of the amazing martial arts eunuch in the court of Prince Su Wang. No one was sure how the man did what he did, but they all said that Tung Hai Chuan, had almost unbelievable martial skills. Tung taught his students a solid, basic, Lohan Shaolin system, but this system didn't seem to explain the personal abilities of the Master. Yin Fu set his mind on discovering the secrets of Tung Hai Chuan. He moved his hot cake stand to a street near the palace, that he knew was frequented by Tung. Each time that the Master passed by, Yin offered him a free cake and tried to exchange pleasantries with him. Tung was standoffish at first, but as time passed and he saw how humble and hard working Yin Fu was, he became intrigued and eventually even friendly. Upon finally hearing Yin's story, Tung invited him to become his first student from outside the palace.
On his first day of class Yin found his suspicious nature rising to the surface. How was he sure that Tung wasn't another martial arts phony. He approached the master, who held a tobacco pouch in his left hand, that he was obviously about to open. Rudely giving Tung no time to finish what he was doing, Yin announced his doubts and asked for proof of Tung's abilities. Tung stretched out his right arm and said, "Attack me!" Yin punched like lighting, but the moment that his arm made contact with Tung's, his punch was deflected and Tung's right hand followed with a thrust to Yin's mouth which knocked out his front teeth. The tobacco pouch was still gently nestled in Tung's left hand where it had been at the onset of the action. Yin Fu dropped to the ground, kowtowing and begging to become Tung's disciple; but Tung refused. By chance Prince Su Wang had been watching the encounter and came forward at this time. The Prince said that this strange young man intrigued him and asked Tung to accept him as a personal favor to the Prince. Only due to this did Yin Fu become the number one student of Tung Hai Chuan. To the end of his life he commemorated that day by wearing a large droopy mustache which covered his upper lip and front tooth area.
Tung was teaching a class of guards, eunuchs and scholars each
afternoon behind the palace walls. Yin joined the class and spent
the next year proving himself to Tung. It was 1865 and he was twenty-four
years old. Yin studied harder and longer than anyone. He got to class
first and left last; he stood in deeper stances and did more repetitions
of everything than anyone else. He finally convinced Tung when he
sold his hot cake business so that he could study full time with the master.
In early 1866, Prince Su Wang ordered Tung to lead an expedition to the Prince's land holdings in Inner Mongolia. He was to stay a few years and collect all the back taxes owed to the Prince by the local residents. It was only logical for Tung to bring his top student to be his assistant. He needed a fighter to watch his back and a companion to keep him company. The locals would be a bit too rural for a man from the palace. There was also nothing to hold Yin in the capital, now that he had sold his business.
Evidently the Prince was owed a lot of back taxes, because a few years turned into nine. With only each other for company, Tung and Yin worked out incessantly. When they weren't working or sleeping they were working out. In the first couple of years, Yin Fu completed the Lohan Shaolin System. For lack of any thing else to amuse himself, Tung made Yin his first Pa Kua student. Yin attacked the study of Pa Kua furiously; this was what he had been looking for all along. By the time they returned to Beijing, in 1875, Yin had mastered the entire Pa Kua System including the Chi Gung and Taoist Meditation aspects of the art. At the time Tung considered Yin to be his one and only Pa Kua student. Yin could carry on the art and Tung would go back to teaching Lohan Shaolin at the palace.
Upon their return to the capital, Tung helped Yin Fu to establish his own martial arts school. Tung returned to his duties at the palace of Prince Su Wang. Soon thereafter, he met a brash young coal merchant named Ma Wei Chi. Tung took a strong liking to the young man and made him his second Pa Kua student.
In his school, Yin Fu was developing the reputation of the thin, stern, new teacher with the calm and deliberate attitude. This reputation brought martial arts master Yang Chun Feng to Yin Fu's door. Yang's reputation was fading and he hoped to enhance it at the expense of Yin. Yin confused Yang by politely inviting him in for tea and highly praising Yang's martial reputation. Yang decided that this man was decidedly too calm to actually fight with, so he proposed a martial contest instead. In this contest, Yin would demonstrate his famous defensive footwork, by letting Yang attack him while Yin's hands were tied behind his back. Yin agreed! Yang Chun Feng began with controlled attacks, but as it became apparent that he couldn't get near Yin, his frustration grew. Soon, Yang was attacking full blast and yet he still couldn't lay a hand on Yin Fu. Yang tried his best technique, The Poison Hand, but still to no effect. Eventually Yang collapsed on the ground from sheer exhaustion. When he could speak again, Yang begged to become Yin's student and Yin agreed.
Yang Chun Feng learned Pa Kua quickly, unfortunately, manners and attitude don't always develop at the same rate of speed. As Yang's skills developed, Yin's cousin, Shih Chi Tung came to visit. He told Yin of his fight with Yin's student Yang, in which Shih had been badly beaten. He wanted to know what Yin could do about this. This put Yin in a quandary; Shih was his cousin, but Yang was his disciple and had upheld the honor of Yin's style. Yin found the answer by asking Tung Hai Chuan to accept Shih as his disciple. Tung accepted, giving Yin's cousin a superior lineage to Yang and assuring Shih of a quality of training with which he could defend himself from almost anyone. In this manner, Shih Chi Tung became Tung Hai Chuan's third Pa Kua Student.
While managing his school, Yin Fu started a protection and bodyguard agency. His students worked for him, guarding the homes and bodies of the well-to-do and the elite of Beijing. The success of the agency was due to the fact that each and every guard was backed by the reputation of Yin Fu. Each of these guard/students learned Lohan Shaolin, Pao Chui and Kung Li before learning Pa Kua Chang, making each of them effective fighters in their own right. As he became wealthy from his two businesses, Yin Fu began to send food and clothing back to his home village every month.
Yin Fu's reputation grew to such a height that when a local wrestler, named Hei Hu, became such a bully as to be recognized as a neighborhood nuisance, Yin Fu was called upon to discipline the young man. When they met, Hu was dismayed to find his opponent to be such a thin man. Hu entered quickly and grabbed Yin's arm, anticipating an easy throw. Yin countered by seizing Hu's wrist between his thumb and index finger and using his internal strength in the Iron Bracelet. Hei Hu fell screaming to his knees and begged to become Yin Fu's student. As a gentleman, Yin Fu accepted him.
Not long after, a contingent of Yin's students came to him to complain about the behavior of Hei Hu. It seemed that Hei was still acting like a bully, just not to Yin Fu. In the next class, Yin Fu called on Hei Hu to assist him in a demonstration of technique. Hei attacked with lighting speed. Yin, Pa Kua side-stepped and applied force in the direction that Hei was already headed; sending Hei, in a shower of splinters, through a window with closed shutters. Hei picked himself up off the ground and climbed back in the window, stating, "The skill of my teacher is very difficult to anticipate!" From that point, Hei Hu became one of Yin's most modest students.
While he was away in Mongolia, Yin Fu's first wife had passed away. Confucian etiquette demanded that a widower should not remarry, although he could spend time with all the concubines and courtesans that he desired. Yin Fu committed the mortal sin of falling in love with one of his female companions and marrying her. As a eunuch, Tung Hai Chuan had little sympathy for true love and was appalled at Yin Fu's actions. Tung disowned Yin and quit speaking to him. Yin's personal reputation was strong enough that this did not effect his businesses and he continued to quietly teach and run his guard business.
PART II - TUNG HAI CHUAN + CHENG TING HWA
With the loss of Yin Fu, Tung Hai Chuan decided to accept new
Pa Kua students. He no longer considered Yin Fu to be in his lineage
and he wanted the teachings to continue, so he took on a number of students.
He figured that each student could carry a piece of the knowledge and as
a whole, they would preserve the art of Pa Kua Chang. It was 1876
and Tung would die in 1882. No student would ever spend the amount
of time with him that Yin Fu did.
Strangely, Tung's first new student was brought to him by Yin Fu's cousin, Shih Chi Tung. Although fourth in lineage, Shih's friend was destined to become Tung's most popular student and the most ardent teacher in the history of the art.
Cheng Ting Hwa was born in 1848 and like Tung and Yin, he was from Hebei Province. As a youth, he was fond of martial arts and practiced broadsword and staff in his home, the Cheng Family Village. Cheng developed into a short and stocky, powerful young man who was known for his aggressive and gregariously friendly nature.
While in his late teens, Cheng moved to the capital, where he was apprenticed to an eye glass maker. As soon as he moved to Beijing, he began to study the art of Shuai Chiao, "Chinese wrestling". Two styles were popular in the capital at the time and Cheng studied both of them. He was good at the powerful and deliberate Mongolian Wrestling, but his specialty was Pao Ting, the new fast style wrestling. In Pao Ting, on first contact, the opponent was explosively thrown. Cheng felt that the Fast Style best suited his personality. Within five years he was a known figure in Beijing wrestling circles. He was known as "Cobra Cheng" because the cobra was known as the eyeglass snake and Cheng made and wore spectacles. Later in his life he was to be known as "Invincible Cobra Cheng" due to his many victories. Throughout his life, due to his profession, Cheng was most often refereed to simply as "Spectacles Cheng".
While working in the eyeglass shop Cheng sat with one leg crossed over the other as did his co-workers; the only difference being that Cheng never used a chair! He stood on one leg, and crossed the other leg over the thigh of his standing leg which was parallel to the floor. This was Cheng's major stance work throughout his life. He later augmented this practice with the continual wearing of a ten pound weight vest.
When he was twenty eight years old and had ten years of Shuai
Chiao under his belt, Cheng Ting Hwa was brought to Tung Hai Chuan, by
Shih Chi-Tung. At their introduction, Tung asked to see a demonstration
of Cheng's wrestling skills. He invited Cheng to attack him several
times. Each of Cheng's explosive Pao Ting attacks found only air,
as Master Tung was never quite where he seemed to be. Cheng Ting
Hwa immediately knelt at Tung Hai Chuan's feet and begged to become his
disciple. Tung accepted, making Cheng Ting Hwa his fourth Pa Kua
Cheng worked incessantly on his Pa Kua skills. He practiced his striking palms on a 300 pound basket filled with sand which he hung from a beam in the back of his shop. Each day he would fill a wooden tub with water and tie a rope to the handle of the tub. He would practice his circling exercises while holding the tub by the rope. He kept the tub on the inside of his circle by switching hands when he performed his change of direction. He would practice this exercise for hours while never spilling a drop of water and seeming never to get tired.
Tung was pleased with Cheng's hard work and the speed with which Cheng learned the foundations of Pa Kua. Once Cheng had digested the basics of the art, Tung taught Cheng a form of Pa Kua which best utilized Cheng's wrestling skills. It was quite different from the palm thrusting, oriented Pa Kua of Yin and Shih or the Pa Kua fist techniques of "Coal" Ma. Within a relatively short time, Cheng was the new thumb student and the boxer who answered all challenges to Tung's school. Cheng was never bested in a match while defending the honor of his school. He defeated most of his opponents with his first technique, which was always "single pounding palm". This was when he became known as "Invincible Cobra Cheng". Cheng befriended and became training partners with a number of the leading Hsing-I masters in Beijing. They probably found common ground in the explosive first move orientation of their arts. Hsing-I, Pao Ting Wrestling, and Cheng Style Pa Kua are all known for their explosive first move, which is designed to end the encounter as it begins. Cheng taught Pa Kua to Li Tsun-I, Liu Te Kuan, and Chang Chao-Tung. Because they were already recognized martial arts masters when Cheng met them, they were given the lineage of Tung Hai Chuan, although they actually studied with Cheng. From these friendships, began the tradition of students studying both Hsing-I and Pa Kua.
Because of his many Hsing-I friendships, Cheng received a visit from "The Divine Crushing Fist", Hsing-I master, Kuo Yun-Shen. Kuo was the famous master of Half-Step Crushing Fist, which had sent many men to heaven, hence it was known as Divine. Kuo had spent time in prison for killing an opponent without first checking his political connections. During his confinement, Kuo practiced his Half-Step Crushing Fist while dragging his ball and chain along. When he was released his primary technique was more powerful than ever. Now he wanted to test his skill against the famous Pa Kua of Tung Hai Chuan, but first he wanted to talk to Cheng, an impartial Pa Kua boxer.
Over dinner, Kuo expounded his theory that Half-Step Crushing Fist could defeat everyone under heaven. Cheng begged to differ that Pa Kua Chang might be of, not under heaven and Tung Hai Chuan was not like ordinary men. Kuo tried to demonstrate his hand speed, but found his hand pinned to the table by Cheng's chopsticks. Infuriated, Kuo marched out into Cheng's garden and challenged Cheng to come out and taste the power of his Crushing Fist. As Cheng cleared the door, Kuo exploded at him. Cheng was suddenly behind him. Kuo wheeled and again exploded with crushing fist. Cheng effortlessly circled behind him and calmly went back in the house. He then called for Kuo to come in and finish dinner with him. His rage spent, Kuo complied. As they finished dinner Cheng explained that he didn't want to really fight the famous Kuo Yun Shen, but that if he could avoid two of Kuo's blows, perhaps Kuo shouldn't risk his unbeaten record on Master Tung. It was only because they were all from Hebei province that he didn't want to see anyone's reputation tarnished. Kuo thanked him, rethought his position and returned to Hebei province.
Cheng Ting Hwa brought his younger brother, Cheng Tien Hua, to
the capital to learn to make eyeglasses and study Pa Kua. Together
the Cheng brothers were successful and each month they returned to their
home village for a few days to bring money to the family and to teach Pa
Kua to the young men of the clan.
As Cheng's seventh year of Pa Kua was about to begin, Tung Hai Chuan became deathly ill. All the Pa Kua students were sorrowful, but, they were also apprehensive about who would now lead the school. The obvious choice was Cheng, but on his death bed Tung recalled Yin Fu and they reconciled. It was a tense moment as the old and new number one students eyed each other across their master's death bed. In a final moment of inspiration, Tung decreed that the capital would be split into four Pa Kua schools. Yin would be in the Eastern sector of the city, while Cheng taught in the Southern section. In time, Cheng's Pa Kua became known as "Southern City Pa Kua", the grappling style; while Yin's Pa Kua was called "Eastern City Pa Kua", the striking style.
PART III - YIN FU AND CHENG TING HWA
Not long after the death of Tung Hai Chuan, Yin Fu became involved
in a dispute between the Eastern Granaries and the Western Granaries.
The owner of the Eastern Granaries was an old friend of Yin's, so Yin Fu
offered to personally protect his friend and his friend's business.
The head of security for the Western Granaries decided to visit his Eastern counterparts and explain to them how business would now be done in the capital. When he arrived he found Yin Fu waiting for him with Yin's Pa Kua Needles silently spinning across his palms. The needles were 8 inch spikes with a finger ring attached to the center of the needle by a swivel. This allowed the needle to spin 360 degrees under the palm and fingers. The weapon was a perfect adjunct to the trap and counter-thrust techniques of Yin Fu's Eastern City Pa Kua. With his Needles, Yin Fu, effortlessly removed the trouble maker from his friend's business establishment.
The Security Chief of the Western Granaries decided that it was time for some outside help. Drawing money from the granary's account, he hired a local swordsman with a reputation as a killer, who simply went by the name of Mr. Yang. This brave killer decided that the most prudent way to approach Yin, was by roadside ambush. Yang did not anticipate Yin's reflexes or his Pa Kua Needles. In two moves, Yin deflected the sword and counter-thrusted with a needle. Yang fell dead on the spot. When the owners of the Western Granaries heard of this encounter, they immediately sued for peace with the East. It is safe to assume that they also hired a new security chief.
Tung Hai Chuan's former patron, the Prince Su Wang also heard the story of the Granaries dispute. He was so impressed that he called Yin Fu to the palace and gave him Tung's old position of house martial arts instructor and the job of inspecting the Revenue Collection Corps. These were quite lucrative positions and a considerable step up in Yin Fu's career.
Meanwhile, Spectacles Cheng's reputation was growing in the South end of the city. One day a local strongman named "Big Han" calmly walked into the courtyard of Cheng Ting Hwa's school and announced that no one could match his strength. Cheng stretched out his right arm in the Pa Kua version of "Unbendable Arm" and flatly stated, "If you can lift my arm, I'll admit defeat!" Han put his shoulder under Cheng's arm and with the combined power of his legs and back, he lifted with all his might. Minutes went by, but Cheng's arm didn't move a fraction of an inch. As soon as Cheng detected Han's loss of breath control, Cheng dropped his elbow a half inch, which deposited "Big Han" on the ground. Han lay there gasping for breath for many minutes before he gathered enough strength to leave.
On another occasion, Cheng was walking just outside the walls of the Forbidden City, when he was attacked by four burly wrestlers. They were training partners from Cheng's old Shuai Chiao days who were jealous of his new success. One by one, each wrestler was tossed into the moat of the Forbidden City.
Cheng also became known for his ability to make the best out of
a bad situation and to make a friend out of an enemy. While teaching
basic circle walking to his students, one afternoon, Cheng was interrupted
by the laughter and heckling of a rather large young man. "This is
kung fu? It looks like a blind man feeling fish" bellowed the young giant.
He was known as "Tiger Zhou" and was from the south end school of Wang
Shen. Wang was a famous swordsman who was called "Fast Broadsword Wang".
He had faced ten martial masters of Beijing, and they had all tasted his
sword blade. Reaching the position of Wang's number one student had
made the Tiger quite confident.
"Strong Gentleman, please bestow a lesson upon us", called Cheng. Zhou looked with disdain at the short middle-aged man with the glasses. "I'll show you something!", he arrogantly quipped. He then walked over to a huge stone plaque, which was half buried in the ground, and with a grunt, he wrapped his arms around it and pushed the thousand pound stone over. Cheng looked over at the Tiger and said, "You're certainly a strong young fellow, but I don't think that you could push an old fellow like myself."
Zhou couldn't believe his ears.
Cheng continued, "If you can push me I will bow to you as my teacher!"
"Today, I accept an old disciple." countered Zhou. The Tiger pushed Cheng three times in rapid succession, but to no effect. An infuriated Zhou, screamed and attacked. The stocky man seemed to simply raise his palm and Zhou shot away and fell to the ground.
Cheng walked over and apologized, "If I, Spectacles Cheng have hurt you, please forgive me." Realizing who he had faced, Zhou felt set up by not having been informed who he was facing at the onset of the encounter. He leapt to his feet and ran back to the south end school of Fast Broadsword Wang.
Upon arriving at his home base, Zhou went into a tirade about his loss of face and how it was his teacher's responsibility to get revenge for him. Wang knew who Spectacles Cheng was and wouldn't even grace his student with a word of response. A few days later, Tiger took a few of his martial brothers to Cheng's school and invited Cheng to their practice hall. Zhou then ran back to tell Wang that Cheng was on the way. Wang was apprehensive and not pleased with Zhou, but Cheng appeared and greeted Wang with complete respect and as a martial brother. The two of them spent the morning in friendly discussion. When Cheng prepared to leave, Tiger saw his plan falling apart and decided to take a last shot at revenge for himself. As Cheng turned to leave Zhou leapt forward and attempted to stab him in the back. Cheng turned his head quickly, causing the coin in the end of his braid to strike the Tiger in the center of his right eye, dropping him to the ground in a shower of blood. Cheng chuckled coldly and left.
Wang knew that Zhou was in the wrong, but he also felt that he had lost face by having his student blinded right in their training hall. He felt a strong need for revenge so one evening he took his broadsword and set out to ambush Cheng. He hid in an alley near Cheng's home and waited for the Pa Kua master's return. "Cheng will pay for my student's eye with his two legs", Wang thought to himself. When Cheng appeared, Fast Broadsword Wang explosively chopped for his legs, but the sword only cut air. Cheng had seemed to disappear. Suddenly Wang felt a blow to the back of his right shoulder and his arm went numb and then filled with pain as he dropped his sword. He turned to face a cold eyed Cheng. "There was no problem between us" admonished Cheng, "the problem was your student, but now I see why he didn't know how to act. Now take your broadsword and go home and behave!"
Wang didn't go home. He travelled China in search of a style which would allow him to defeat Cheng. He found and mastered Buddhist God Warrior's Iron Palm Technique which gave him the ability to chop wood with his hands. After five years of training he returned to Beijing and found Cheng Ting Hwa alone in his shop. Wang attacked immediately and his chop split Cheng's bench in a flurry of flying glass, but Cheng was again gone. Wang knew he was in trouble and he turned just in time to see Cheng's famous Single Pounding Palm headed for his face. It was a potential death blow, but Cheng recognized Wang at the last moment and pulled the blow by fractions of an inch. In a hurt voice, Cheng asked Wang why his mercy had been repaid with another vicious attack. He explained that he would show Wang mercy this one more time, but if it happened again, no strikes would be pulled. Wang fully expected to die and was amazed at Cheng's kindness. He begged for Cheng's forgiveness. Cheng was happy to oblige, stating that many a friendship began with a fight. From that day on Spectacles Cheng and Fast Broadsword Wang were best friends and each of their students referred to the other teacher as their martial arts uncle.
In 1900 a coalition of martial artists tried to drive the Western and Japanese armies off Chinese soil. The ill fated Boxer Rebellion was mostly ignored by the top Pa Kua men. Many of them had connections to the palace which precluded their involvement. Cheng Ting Hwa had no intentions of becoming involved in the conflict, but he was a passionate man. When returning home one afternoon, he found German troops raping and looting in his neighborhood; and he lost his temper. He calmly walked into the middle of the Germans and drew his elbow knives. These were single edged, forearm length, slashing weapons which were his specialty. Cheng turned into a whirlwind of edged death until the Germans retreated, leaving a dozen of their comrades lifeless in the dirt. Oozing blood from a score of wounds, with his last stand successfully over, Spectacle Cheng sunk down among his defeated foes and joined them in the dust of destiny.
Thin Yin did not intend to participate in the Boxer Rebellion. This lack of intention evaporated when he received a summons to the Palace. Upon arrival, Yin Fu was asked if his security agency would protect the Empress Dowager during her escape from the capital. This could be the most dangerous position of the campaign, but it was an offer which he couldn't refuse. The Empress Dowager had been the patron of the Boxers, but had withdrawn her support under pressure from the foreign powers. Now she was despised by one group and hated by the other. Leaders of both groups felt that their cause would be better off when the Empress Dowager was under ground. Being her bodyguard was the last position in the capital that anyone wanted! But she was still the Empress - a personage that people didn't say no to. With the help of his student/guards, Yin Fu safely escorted the Empress Dowager to another palace. It was an act which was to bring him undying fame.
When the Empress Dowager returned to Beijing in 1901, she often called upon Thin Yin to appear at the palace and demonstrate the art of Pa Kua Chang for the amusement of the Empress and her friends. For Yin Fu, it was relatively easy work, the pay was exceptional, and of course, there was no way to turn it down. He was making the best of it until one day he got a little carried away and performed his very best set, the "Swimming Body Continuous Returning Eight Trigrams Palm". The Empress was more impressed than ever. She asked Yin Fu if Pa Kua could be used for more than fighting. When he answered that it was for strengthening the body, she wanted to know if it could prolong life. When Yin Fu answered in the affirmative, the Empress Dowager announced that she must learn this wonderful art and that Yin Fu would begin to instruct her - soon. Yin Fu broke out into a cold sweat. The Empress was over sixty, overweight, and out of shape. She didn't have the strength, flexibility or will power to learn Pa Kua, but you couldn't say no to her; and live! Yin Fu stalled for time by mumbling something about devising a special, ah - Royal study program for her excellency and left the palace to find a quiet place to think. A defensive idea was not forthcoming so Yin Fu tried avoiding the Empress while he tried to think of one. He knew that he couldn't avoid her for very long and the thought of headlessness was beginning to depress him. His state of mind was noticed by Tung Hai Chuan's old friend, Du Bao, the pharmacy eunuch. Upon hearing and pondering Yin Fu's plight, the clever Du Bao came up with a solution.
The following evening Yin Fu presented himself to the Dowager Empress at her Hall of the Everlasting Spring. She was not in a good mood and wanted to know why Yin Fu had been obviously avoiding her. Yin Fu explained that when he left the hall previously that he had realized that he had a problem. He knew that the best way to instruct the Empress was with a personal and secret Pa Kua manual of her own, which she could refer to in his absence, therefore allowing her to obtain perfect Pa Kua. He had wondered for days in the shame of his illiteracy until he had remembered his Pa Kua brother, the eunuch Du Bao of the Imperial Pharmacy. Du Bao had been a student of Tung Hai Chuan and was completely literate, so he was the perfect person to write the manual for Yin. He then presented her with a thin manuscript containing drawings of very simple martial arts stances with extremely elaborate written explanations. He carefully explained that it was a secret Pa Kua manuscript, meant only for her eyes. The Empress was thrilled and named her book THE SECRET ART OF THE PALACE. When she could actually perform the stances within a couple of weeks, she was beyond thrilled. She recalled Yin Fu to the palace and rewarded him with dozens of taels of silver. In this manner Yin Fu fooled the Empress Dowager while increasing his fortune and saving his head.
As Thin Yin spent more of his time guarding and teaching the well-to-do of the capital, many of the teaching duties at his school fell to his number one student, the lumber merchant, Ma Kui. Due to his profession, Ma was often called "Wood Ma" and due to his diminutive size he was sometimes called "Ma the Dwarf". He had long been the champion of the Yin Fu Pa Kua School and met all challenges for his master. One can imagine the ire of a challenger who has been informed that he will not face "The Thin Man", but the school champion instead. Expecting to fight a giant young athlete, the challenger would find himself squaring off with the only man in the school who was smaller than Thin Yin; Ma the Dwarf. The Dwarf never lost a match. Among the men he defeated were; Single Spear Liang Ching, Yang Pan Hou's student Huang Chun, and a visiting Russian strongman.
Eventually the fame of Thin Yin reached all the way to the Emperor Guangxu. He called upon Yin Fu to be received in audience and while there, to perform the marvelous art of Pa Kua Chang for the Royal Retinue. Yin Fu was not sure why the Emperor wanted to observe his martial art, but he was determined to put on an impressive show. When the day arrived Thin Yin stripped to his light green pants and began to walk the circle. Slowly, at first, but as his speed increased, he appeared to lift a millimeter off the ground. His hands moved like blowing clouds as he performed the techniques of White Snake Coils Upon Itself, Great Roc Spreads its Wings and Purple Swallow Opens the Scissors. He followed these with Unicorn Hands Over the Book, Black Bear Rolls over on its Back, and Lion Rolls the Ball. The Emperor was duly impressed and he caught Yin Fu by surprise when he asked to become his student. Yin Fu was thinking about training troops or guarding palaces not private lessons for the Emperor. He didn't realize yet, that the Emperor had decided that the best way to build China, was to first build himself. When he heard this motive, he dedicated himself to training the Emperor of China in the most efficient method possible.
For the first six months of his training, the Emperor Guangxu was instructed to circle the Arhat Pine Tree in the Imperial Garden 300 times each morning. Thin Yin would appear each morning and correct the form of the Emperors posture and movement. One morning when Yin Fu arrived, the Emperor was not at the Arhat Pine Tree. When a servant informed Yin that the Emperor had taken the day off to go hunting, Yin Fu left the palace and wouldn't return until the Emperor came to him to apologize and promise that it would never happen again. Once even the Emperor had chosen a teacher, he must show the man the respect due one's teacher. From that day forward, the Emperor became a model student and learned the skills of Pa Kua quite quickly.
In his second year of training, the Emperor Guangxu encountered a situation which allowed him to practice his Pa Kua skills. A young maid, while relieving herself one midnight was badly frightened by what she claimed to be two white ghosts. The young girl's constitution was so upset by her fright, that she died within two days. Being fond of the girl, the Emperor resolved to uncover the mystery of the two white ghosts.
A few nights later, at the still of midnight, two white forms appeared in opposite corners of the Imperial Garden. They both approached the Ten Thousand Spring Pavilion, where the two white forms met and combined into one. A black form leaped from a flower bed and at the white form which immediately split into two forms. One white form screamed like a banshee and floated off. The other was snagged by the black form and the two began to grapple. As they backed off, each threw off a black and white cloak, respectively, revealing green and white clad men who silently returned to the struggle. The white man attacked with Fierce Tiger Scoops Out a Heart, but the green man circled away. The white fighter attacked with Jade Lady Works the Shuttles and again the green man was gone; this time to return with Close the Door and Push the Moon, which held the white man fast. "Arrest the thief!" called out the green man and the garden was filled with Imperial Guards. The torch light of the guards revealed the green man to be the Emperor Guangxu. The white form was the eunuch Cui from the Imperial Kitchen. Upon questioning he revealed that the other white form was the middle aged maid Yu Qiao. They were meeting in the garden to play ghost and perform such lewd and lascivious acts as a eunuch and his girlfriend were capable of. They had frightened the little maid by mistake was their story. Showing that he had no sense of humor and perhaps why the Republic was soon to replace the monarchy, the Emperor Guangxu promptly had them both executed.
Late in life, Yin Fu became so well off from his involvement in the Royal Palace, that he no longer needed to work at all. The peasant boy from Hebei province was able to spend his final days in leisure.
Thin Yin and Spectacle Cheng represent the origins of the opposite ends of todays Pa Kua spectrum. One man was a thin, stern, deliberate poor man, who worked his way to riches by the patient development of his art and reputation. The other was a short and thick, gregariously friendly, passionate man who didn't experience economic troubles in his life time. He just plain liked to teach and fight and his whole life was dedicated to his Pa Kua Chang and his honor. Yin developed the Ox Tongue Palm and the striking style of Pa Kua. Cheng developed the Dragon Claw Palm and the grappling style of Pa Kua. Together they have fathered most of today's styles of Pa Kua Chang.
The philosophy of Taoism states that from nothing came the one
thing, the Tao; and from the one thing came the two things - Yin and Yang;
and from the two things came the three things - the lines of the trigrams.
From the three things comes everything else. In Pa Kua, from nothing
came the one thing; Tung Hai Chuan; from Tung Hai Chuan came the two things,
Thin Yin and Spectacle Cheng; from them came the third thing, the mix of
Thin Yin and Spectacles Cheng's teachings. From this comes all other
Pa Kua, making Thin Yin and Spectacles Cheng the Yin and Yang of Pa Kua
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