“”When I emit my power, the ghosts and gods are all afraid.”
(attributed to) Dong Haiquan
Dong Haiquan (or Dong Hai Chang) was born in 1813 in the Hebei Province of China. Late in life, possibly in his forties, he travelled south and spent a good deal of time in the mountains. At some point, he joined a sect of Daoism called Quan Zhen (Complete Truth/Reality). This sect used a circular walking meditation. This was to help calm the mind and realize stillness in motion. The method was meant to help the practitioner move toward enlightenment.
Dong Haiquan was “discovered” working in the Imperial Palace. His martial abilities had somehow become supremely developed during his travels. He was able to defeat all comers. He was made the Head of Security and put in charge of training others in martial arts. He started teaching around 1870, when he was in his fifties, and taught until his death in 1882, twelve years later.
This story was told to me by my teacher in this context (don’t blame him if I am remembering this one wrong!) – the thing about Dong Haiquan was that he didn’t teach beginners a new “system.” He took already proficient martial artists and upgraded their skills. He taught them something that made what they were already doing better and my teacher suspected that this special sauce was structure.
This is why there are five or more styles of Bagua (eight trigram palm) – these are the schools that have been passed down to us that were already existing styles that Dong enhanced with his knowledge of structure.
I talk about structure a lot on this site because my teacher has shown me that this is one of the pillars of high level martial arts. Others pillars are angle and timing.
Structure is the use of the ground connection for power. The upper body is supported by the lower body through a power chain created by the flexation of joints: the ankle, knee, hip, and elbow.
Its important to note that structure that you create in yourself to generate power cna be destroyed in your opponent to steal their ability to create power, as we see in many of the techniques in the above video. The Masters use their own structured stances to apply power to the bodies of their opponent’s in such a way that their opponent’s structure is destroyed.