Now we can discuss the generation who received Liu Wan Chuan’s teachings.
In the winter of 1989, my second Baguazhang teacher, Zhang Rong Li’s son, took me to meet Liu Wan Chuan’s Ma Gui Baguazhang student, Yu Zhi Ming. I was surprised to see a 70 years old man with the vitality and ability of a 50 years old person. I began learning from Yu Zhi Ming in 1990, and by 1994 I had totally devoted myself to learning and training Ma Gui Baguazhang.
Yu Zhi Ming started to learn from Liu Wan Chuan very late in life, around 62 or 63 years old, but he was quickly able to cure all his health problems and soon became one of Liu Wan Chuan’s best students.
In early 2007, I started training with my second Ma Gui Baguazhang teacher, Fan Yao Hua.
Fan Laoshi started to train Baguazhang when he was just over 20 years old in the 1950s. He was born very weak and had some health issues growing up. Luckily enough, he was introduced to Liu Wan Chuan, who showed compassion toward his condition and told him that he had to start Ma Gui Baguazhang and that this practice could make him better. Even though practicing martial arts was forbidden in the 1950s, Liu Wan Chuan still taught Fan Laoshi secretly, showing him how to walk the circle and do palm changes.
Fan Laoshi in Tian Tian park, 1999
Fan Laoshi got stronger and stronger as he practiced more, and thus, Baguazhang became part of his life in order to sustain his health.
I was able to study with Fan Laoshi in 1999 and 2000 in Tian Tan Park in Beijing as well as later from 2007 to 2009 for about two years. He passed down all he learned from Liu Wan Chuan to me. I am very grateful for his instruction.
Fan Laoshi in 2007 with me.
During the time I studied under Fan Laoshi, I was lucky enough also to have the chance to learn from Liu Wan Chuan’s other students and benefit from their instruction.
Li Wen Ling in 2007, 60 years old. A great martial artist.
Li Wenling (1947 -). As a youth, Li started Baguazhang training with Cheng style master Wang Fu Sheng. He then spent many years in the army and learned many fighting systems there. By the time he came home, his teacher had passed away, so he was introduced to Liu Wan Chuan and started learning Ma Gui Baguazhang.
He once told me that in his whole life, nobody had ever defeated him, but when he mat Liu Wan Chuan for the first time, he did not feel something special. He expressed his intention that he wanted to touch hands with Liu Wan Chuan. Liu Wan Chuan agreed and began to show some of his skills. Liu Wan Chuan moved slightly and Li Wenling with his fingers. He was shocked. The sensation was stronger than an electric shock. He said even after one year since that day, wherever he saw Liu Wan Chuan, the point Liu Wan Chuan hit with his fingers would feel uncomfortable.
Good time with two Baguazhang masters after training in 2008. Fan Laoshi left, Li Wenling, right. I am in the middle.
left: Fan Yao Hua, right: Zhang Ming. 2008. This is where the 13 killing stick came from. Zhang Ming was 80 years old at that time.
Zhang Ming (1930 -). Through an introduction from Fan Laoshi’s, Zhang Ming started to learn Baguazhang from Liu Wan Chuan in the 1970s. When I learned the 13 killing stick movements from Fan Laoshi, Zhang Ming often came to us and gave me some instructions on the stick movements. He trained the stick movement many decades, and anywhere he went, a stick was always with him.
From left Fan Laoshi, Zhang Ming, Li Wen Ling. 2008
Liu Wan Chuan’s first Baguazhang student was Peng Guang Zhen (1924-1999).
Peng started to train martial art as a child in Shan Dong province in the early 1950s when communists were killing those they called landlords or capitalists. One so-called ‘landlord from Yu Cheng county escaped from this persecution. He possessed a special martial arts skill; he called the sixty-four forms of grappling. Peng with his family, hid that person and saved his life, so in return, he taught Peng Guang Zhen all his skills.
Peng Guang Zheng
After moving to Beijing, Peng Guang Zhen worked in a famous factory called Tong Ren Tang, which is now world-famous. He eventually became a leader of a group working within the factory. Luckily enough, Liu Wan Chuan was a part of this group, as was Fan Yao Hua.
Not long after that, he learned that Liu Wan Chuan was a grandmaster of Baguazhang. And so he started to learn secretly from Liu Wan Chuan.
Tiao Da, pick up and strike
Based on what I have learned from Liu Wan Chuan’s family and many other students, Peng learned more than anyone else among Liu Wan Chuan’s students. Unfortunately, he was also the only one who died at a fairly young age of only 75. This was due to liver problems he had suffered from since childhood.
Double palms change posture
He left videos containing a series of Baguazhang movements with Liu Wan Chuan in 1985 before his death. This has become incredibly valuable for the training of future generations.
Bi Jie was another Liu Wan Chuan’s early students and devoted the whole of his life to Baguazhang. Liu Wan Chuan first, Bi Jie behind, Yu Zhi Ming left, Peng Guang Zheng right. Photo taken by Li Lian Chang in 1985.
He wrote down all of Liu Wan Chuan’s teaching, including the Baguazhang songs.
I was lucky enough to receive the manuscript and protect it as a treasure for future study.
Sun Wuling (1921-2001). Sun Wuling was a very famous Baguazhang master in Jin Lin province. He was also very special to me and the whole Magui Baguazhang system. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to meet him before he passed away.
Sun Wuling in Beijing
Sun Wuling and his students to erect the tombstone for his Yin style Bagua teacher, Wang Kui San, in Ji Lin province.
He was a person who devoted his whole life to Baguazhang. As a child, he learned Yin style Baguazhang from his father, Sun Bo Lin. Then, from 1946, he began studying under Liu Qing Fu’s student, Wang Kui San. Unfortunately, his teacher, Wang Kui San, passed away suddenly in 1950. Sun Wuling knew he had not received the full transmission of his teacher’s Baguazhang, but during that time in the1950s, it was impossible for him to travel to learn from others in his teacher’s hometown in Hai Yang, Shan Dong province.
In the 1940s, Sun Wuling fell in love with a very talented woman. Sun supported her during her time studying at Beijing University, but she left him after graduating. Sun Wu Ling was deeply hurt; thus, he gave up getting married to another woman and wholeheartedly devoted himself to his Baguazhang training and study.
Once, when he went to Beijing to see his then beloved, he had the chance to look around in Jing Shan Park. Under a pavilion, he saw Li Shao An practicing Baguazhang. He said when Li Shao An issued power, the pavilion seemed to vibrate. And when Li Shao An waved his long spear, he felt a gust of wind blow through the park.
That was his first time meeting Li Shao An.
Sun Wuling then started to learn Cheng style Baguazhang in Ji Lin from Miao Yu Chun, who was a student of Cheng You Gong, the nephew of Cheng Ting Hua.
Early In the 1960s, it was finally possible for him to travel to Beijing, but Li Shao An had already left Beijing for his hometown in Shan Dong province. Sun began learning from Guo Gu Min, a very great and famous Baguazhang master in Beijing. Guo Gu Min was the only one who carried Liang Baguazhang in Beijing and spread it through China.
In the last year of Guo Gu Ming’s life, Guo lived by himself without a wife or family. This was also the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, so he was not able to get any assistance from the government. Sun Wuling and his students in Ji Lin city, in Ji Lin province, decided to take care of Guo Gu Ming and bring Guo to Ji Lin city to live with them. Guo Gu Ming agreed with this. After all the preparation, Sun Wuling went to Beijing to pick up him, but Guo had passed away the day before he was to leave Beijing.
In the late 1960s, it was finally possible for him to travel to Li Shao An’s hometown and begin learning from him. He went to Hai Yang from Ji Lin three times during the year. Each time he would have to spend days on a train and a bus; he even had to ride a horse to get there. Li Shao An was very happy and excited every time he visited and taught him Baguazhang and many kinds of Baguazhang weapons.
Liu Wan Chuan and Sun Wu Ling in Beijing
Li Shao An was very compassionate toward the young Sun Wu Ling. He worried not only about the time and suffering of such a long trip, but also the cost, as one trip from Sun might cost a year’s wages. Li Shao An worried about Sun’s wellbeing, so he told him that he should locate Liu Wan Chuan and learn from him in Beijing. Li Shao An told Sun that Liu Wan Chuan as good a teacher as Li himself.
Sun Wu Ling, left. Liu Wan Chuan, right. The early 1990s.
From the 1960s to the early 1980s, almost 20 years, Sun Wu Ling tried to find Liu Wan Chuan in Beijing, but he could not locate him.
Sun Wu Ling finally found Liu Wan Chuan in 1981, after he began teaching publicly. He immediately began learning from him. He traveled to Beijing until Liu Wan Chuan passed away at the end of 1992.
Li Tao, 1943—. Liu Wan Chuan only daughter’s husband, who lived with and took care of Liu Wan Chuan at the end of his life.
Li Tao Laoshi teaching me Pao Chui in 2008 in Beijing
I met Li Tao Laoshi in 2008 and studied with him for several months. I was lucky that I could learn Pao Chui from him, which was passed down to him directly from Liu Wan Chuan.
Li Tao Laoshi is a great man with a very high level of education in his background. He spent his time writing down the many valuable things Liu Wan Chuan passed down to him orally. Almost 15 years after Liu Wan Chuan passed away, he gave all of these priceless documents to me.
All the photos of Liu Wan Chuan, the Baguazhang songs, the oral recording of Liu Wan Chuan discussing Baguazhang songs, as well as original videos of Liu Wan Chuan were given to us from Li Tao Laoshi. As were various other documents and valuable things passed from Ma Gui to Liu Wan Chuan.
When I think to myself about the process of transferring Baguazhang to each generation, I see that there have always been so many great people who will appear and preserve the different parts of this great system. Spreading Baguazhang far and wide for the benefit of the entire world is the true way to honor all of those who had spent their lives preserving this art.
Li Lian Chang is one of Liu Wan Chuan’s most important students.
Li Laoshi is my third Ma Gui Baguazhang teacher, and it is through his teaching that I was able to become the true Magui Baguazhang inheritor. Thanks to him, I am able to teach Ma Gui Baguazhang with complete confidence.
Li Lian Chang Laoshi, 2012
Liu Wan Chuan front, Yu Zhi Ming behind, Li Lian Chang left, Peng Guang Zheng, right. Photo taken by Bi Jie in 1985.
Li Laoshi’s family and Liu Wan Chuan’s family lived in the same Si He Yuan, a traditional Chinese shared courtyard with many families, in the Da Qi Jia Hu Tong close to Liu Qing Fu’s rice store in the Qian Men district. Li Laoshi’s father did not just live in the same neighborhood with Liu Wan Chuan; they were also best friends, and two families supported each other in hard times.
In 1968 when Li Laoshi was 24 years old, he asked his father to introduce him to Liu Wan Chuan so he could learn from him. He surely got the best teaching and received the best Baguazhang from Liu Wan Chuan.
Li Laoshi used to work in an electronics factory until his retirement in 2003. He never had any physical issues in his life. He learned Baguazhang from Liu Wan Chuan and was favored by him. Li Laoshi’s Baguazhang movements are the height of pure Baguazhang and were gained only through Liu Wan Chuan’s teachings.
Li Laoshi is a kind of person with a very humble and compassionate heart. He is such a kind individual; you would never believe he is also a very high-level martial artist.
I am very fortunate that through introductions from Liu Wan Chuan’s daughter and her husband, I was able to Li Lian Chang and learn from him. Otherwise, nobody, not even those in his neighborhood, would have known he was a great Baguazhang master.
From left: Liu Wan Chuan’s daughter and her husband Li Tao, Li Lian Chang, myself. February 2009, Beijing
Li Laoshi was an attentive person his entire life. Even during the ten years, I learned from him; he took such good care of me. I often feel that gratitude is not a strong enough word to express my feelings toward him. In my almost forty years of learning martial arts, I feel deeply blessed that I could have such an amazing teacher as him. The way he taught me and the way he valued Baguazhang and its traditions have greatly changed my life!
There were times I wanted to show my gratitude and honor him with gifts or money. In return, he would give me back twice what he received. Even now, I know there will never be a way for me to fully express my gratitude for his teachings and his kindness to me and my family!
“Fame comes to great people. Most who seek fame will not gain it. One with superlative skills who lives in retirement and hides himself will usually stand out from the crowd, and his fame will become apparent. Our teacher Dong Hai Chuan was this sort of man.” These words were written on Dong Hai Chuan’s memorial stele by his students. They succinctly sum up the second half of Dong Hai Chuan’s life.
I often feel strongly that Li Laoshi is that kind of person within the history of Baguazhang. These words succinctly sum up the whole life of Li Lian Chang Laoshi.
Luckily, Li Laoshi and his family visited Japan in early 2016, and we were able to host him and have a seminar here in Tokyo with my students.
Getting instructions from Li Laoshi, 2016.
I have studied with Li Laoshi for more than ten years since 2009. During the ten years, he taught me only single palm change. He did this in order to change my old habits and incorrect ways. I can clearly remember and count how many times he showed me. It must have been hundreds of times. Any problem I had, he corrected me time after time, year after year.
Liu Wan Chuan and Li Lian Chang, 1985.
Li Laoshi really is the most important person among Liu Wan Chuan’s students. Not only did he write down everything he learned from Liu Wan Chuan. He also was able to borrow a video camera, despite going through hard times, and videotape Liu Wan Chuan’s Bagua movements in 1985 with Peng Guang Zheng. This is a great treasure for us for us.