Ma Gui’s baguazhang is very lucky, if not for Liu Wanchuan it would be lost. Thankfully, he taught a few people that followed him for many years and were able to learn the whole system. Here is an introduction to the main students of Liu Wanchuan.
Yu Zhiming (1920- ) was from Haiyang in Shandong. He started learning baguazhang from Liu Qingfu when he was sixteen, and trained with him for three years. Then, because of the disruptions caused by bandits in the area, he moved to Beijing. At this time he had a large family and very little income. So, he stopped training for some time so that he could focus on feeding them. He dedicated himself to learning to become an herbalist, hoping that would bring in more income. Unfortunately, due to the stress of the times, his lack of income, and unhealthy lifestyle he developed a stomach ailment. He would suffer from this for over twenty years.
In the 1960s he met up with Liu Wanchuan. He became like an elder brother to Yu, and Yu started training with him. It was like a spring rain after a long drought. He began to heal and grow once again. After over twenty years of intense training morning and evening, and diligent seeking, he cured his illness completely, his spirit was clear and strong, and remains this way today.
Like Liu Wanchuan before him, he systematically inherited the Ma Gui baguazhang skills. He excels in tanzhang (reaching palm), chuanzhang (piercing palm), shoulder striking, zhuangzhang (ramming palm), daishou (dragging hand), yazhang (pressing palm), gaizhang (covering palm), and other high skills. His kicks are skillful and varied. His ‘dan tien’ (A Daoist practice where qi is stored in the navel region) training is very special. At ninety, his ‘dan tien’ is thick, rounded, and full.
Yu Zhiming started to teach baguazhang in 1988, and only taught about a dozen people. Among them are Tu Hingjian, Li Wanjun, and myself (Li Baohua).
Fan Yaohua (1934 – ) was from Ji county in Hebei province. He started working with Liu Wanchuan in 1952 in the same workshop of the Tongrentang pharmaceutical factory. Fan had a naturally weak constitution, and from the age of twenty often had shortness of breath and even fainting spells. Liu Wanchuan sympathized with him, and took him aside and secretly told tell him, that since he was like that from his youth, if he didn’t save himself by training, then he would never get better. At this time due to the Cultural Revolution things such as martial arts were forbidden. To train in them or even talk about them could get you arrested or even killed.
From 1959 on Fan trained with Liu, altogether following him for over thirty years. Now Fan Yaohua is almost eighty years old, and his voice is clear as a bell, his body is light and strong, and he walks like the wind. He is living proof of how a lifetime of baguazhang can bring you to a healthy old age.
Because of Liu Wanchuan’s generosity to help Fan, even when faced with possible punishment, he never forgot and has always been as open and sharing as his teacher was with him. He trains baguazhang for enjoyment, he is someone who really trains for fun and health, he has unselfishly taught many people.
Yu Zhiming introduced me to Fan Yaohua in Tiantan park, in 2000. He taught me the Crab form, the Monkey form, the Snake form, and some partner training methods. Between 2007-2009, for a full two years, I learned everything he could pour into me!
Li Tao (1943 – ) is Liu Wanchuan’s son-in-law, who took care of him for the last half of his life. He has been an invaluable resource as Fan Yaohua and I researched the history of baguazhang. Li has a dignified appearance, imbued with integrity, and the manners of a true gentleman. I have the greatest respect for him. Liu Wanchuan bore extreme skills and followed a great way his whole life. For him, in the last half of his life to have such a son-in-law to take care of him to the end, he was truly blessed.
Li Tao lived with Liu Wanchuan for so long, of course he gained transmission of special skills. I have learned many special training methods and theories with him, many things that were hidden from me before suddenly became clear. For example Li taught me the Paochui routine (A power issue routine that is usually for younger people to study due to it being so dynamic) that I had up until then considered lost. He also gave me all of Liu Wanchuan’s materials on baguazhang, including film on Liu Wanchuan training at 82 years old, all of Liu Wanchuan’s photos, his personally handwritten copy and voice recordings of the baguazhang verses, his training diary and notes, tokens given to Liu Wanchuan by Ma Gui, and other materials about baguazhang that he has collected. Such luck!
Li Lianchang (1943 – ) was Liu Wanchuan’sfirst apprentice. I gained an introduction to him through Li Tao, thus I was able to begin learning from Wanchuan’s first apprentice.
I cannot hope to express my gratitude and feelings for teacher Li. I will write more about him in the member’s section in the future.
Shown in the picture above: first row, in the middle is Liu Wanchuan. On left is Li Lianchang, and on the right is to Peng Guangzhang. In the back row is Yu Zhiming.
I have studied directly from the four that I have written about above. Now I will introduce others who have carried on his teachings.
Peng Guangzheng (c. 1924 – 1999) passed away at the age of 75. He loved martial arts from a young age. He studied many training methods and styles in his hometown in Shandong. When he moved to Beijing and started working in the same factory as Liu Wanchuan, he immediately recognized Liu Wanchuan’s skill and followed his teachings from that time on. Among all the students, he was with Liu Wanchuan the longest and learned the most complete contents of the system.
Peng was infatuated with the martial arts his whole life. He was heroic in his respect for his teacher, his friendship, and for his ability to learn and train. For example, there is a story where in his youth he had saved a grappling master from being killed and hide him at his house, because of this generosity the master taught Peng his art.
Peng had a serious liver ailment since his youth. Training baguazhang with Liu Wanchuan gave him unexpected good health. My only regret is that he did not live to the ripe old age of 80 or 90.
Peng studied baguazhang very thoroughly and completely. I hope that his students and descendents respect his skills, which were hard won over his lifetime, and continue to teach them, passing them on to future generations and spreading baguazhang.
Sun Wuling (1921 – 2001) was a famous baguazhang master. He studied Yin Fu baguazhang from his father Sun Bolin from a very early age. In 1946 he started with Liu Qingfu’s apprentice, Wang Kuisan, also Yin Fu style. In the early 1950s his teacher Wang passed away, so he started studying Cheng style baguazhang with Miao Pei.
In the 1960s he went to Beijing to study baguazhang with Li Shao’an and Guo Gumin. Later in the 1970s he went to Haiyang County in Shandong to continue studying with Li Shao’an, who had returned there from Beijing. At that time Li was already almost ninety years old, so suggested that he return to Beijing to study under Liu Wanchuan.
In 1981 Sun found Liu Wanchuan in Taoran Pavilion Park in Beijing, and took him as his martial uncle. Over more than ten years he traveled several times a year from his home in the northeast of China to Beijing to train with Liu Wanchuan, staying at his house each time. Sun, already over sixty years old himself, continued to travel to train with Liu Wanchuan for over ten years, until he passed away. His persistence in this path is an example for us all!
Sun held the position of chairman of the Jilin city martial arts association. He massed and organized a great deal of valuable material on baguazhang, and wrote about his experiences and thoughts on training. He propagated baguazhang and taught many students. During his lifetime he gave all his energy and savings to baguazhang. His son, Sun Haibo, is now teaching baguazhang in Jilin city, taking on the responsibilities passed to him from his father.
Bi Jie was one of the earliest students to train with Liu Wanchuan. He is tall and strong. I do not know very much about him, but I have received his handwritten notebook with the Baguazhang’s Seven Word Verse dictated by Liu Wanchuan. I also know that he learned the Paochui routine from Liu Wanchuan. He was born in the 1920s, so would now be in his nineties. I hope that he is enjoying a healthy old age, and that he has students who are continuing to practice his teachings and pass them on to others.
Shown in the picture above: In the middle of the first row is Liu Wanchuan, on the left is Yu Zhiming, and on the right is Peng Guangzheng. In the back row is Bi Jie.
Li Wenling (1947 – ) studied Cheng style baguazhang for many years in his youth with the famous teacher Wang Fusheng. He then taught fighting at the army special services school. He was brave and an excellent fighter of great strength, with no peers in fighting. After Li retired from the army, his teacher Wang had passed away. Li continued his training though, and after gaining an introduction to Liu Wanchuan, started studying with him.
At that time Liu Wanchuan was already seventy-six. When Li Wenling just started training with him, he said that Liu lightly touched his body and caused a pain that lasted for half a year. Li said that he had never admitted defeat to anyone in his whole life, but he admitted defeat to Liu Wanchuan. He often said, “No matter how hard anyone in this day and age trains, they will never be able to reach Liu Wanchuan’s level.”
Li has a superior moral character, generous conduct, and is a faithful son. He respectfully took care of Liu Wanchuan in his old age. He accompanied Liu in his last training session, his last walk home from the park, and his last breakfast. He is the only student to have asked to be Liu Wanchuan’s apprentice using the traditional ceremony for apprenticeship. The important factor in this is that at that time no one could do such ceremonies. The Cultural Revolution would not allow it. To do this could have gotten him arrested or worse.
He is a teacher whom I respect and admire immensely. Because Li started training with Liu Wanchuan fairly late, there are many things that Liu was not able to pass on to him. Fortunately, his martial brother Fan Yaohua was more than willing to share what he knew.
I hope that Li will teach more students in the future and help to spread the Ma Gui School of Baguazhang that comes to us through the great teacher Liu Wanchuan.
Liu Wanchuan had other apprentices and i will introduce them in the future, in the member’s section, as I gather more information.
I cannot express how much I respect all of the ancestors of Baguazhang and the teachers I have had. I have started this site to try to share the wonderful art they have worked so hard though adversity that we can never understand to keep alive. Baguazhang and its teachers have changed my life in ways I cannot express. I would love to write more about all of these wonderful teachers and people that I respect so much. Unfortunately, because this is only the introduction I must limit it. I will write more about them and their incredible lives later though, and put it in the member’s section. So if you have enjoyed what is here and wish to know more, I encourage you to join me in this journey that is Baguazhang.