by Greg Bundage
Cangzhou City is in the South-east of Hebei Province and is called the martial arts and acrobatics village – one of the birthplaces of Chinese martial arts. It has a population of about half a million and is only 90 km from Tienjin, a major port city 180 km south of Beijing.
Cangzhou is the famous hometown of martial arts. Enjoying equal fame with central China’s Dengfeng and southeast China’s Putian, Cangzhou is one of the three traditional martial arts centers. With a long history, Cangzhou has various martial arts sects. A person born in Cangzhou is probably going to be asked whether he is good at martial arts during his first meeting with others.
In the late Qing Dynasty, many martial arts masters emerged. The most famous master is Wang Wu, who was called Big Blade. Another master Huo Yuanjia (1868-1910 A.D.), whose original family home was in Cangzhou, was regarded as a national hero for his continuous victories over foreign challengers.
There are over 600 martial arts schools in Cangzhou now, where martial arts fans from all over the world learn and practice martial arts. In local middle and primary schools, martial arts are listed on sports courses. More than 300 schools established their own martial arts teams. Martial arts have become an important cultural industry in the city. Many people make their living by teaching martial arts. However, most people practice martial arts for body building and health.
Source: (Xinhua/Chen Xiaowei)
Bājíquán (Chinese: 八極拳; pinyin: Bājíquán;Japanese: 八極拳, Hakkyokuken) is a Chinese martial art that features explosive, short-range power and is famous for its elbow strikes. It originated in Hebei Province in Northern China, but is also well-known in other places today, especially Taiwan. Its full name is kai men baji quan (開門八極拳), which means “open-gate eight-extremities fist”.
Baji quan was originally called bazi quan (巴子拳 or 鈀子拳) or “rake fist” because the fist, held loosely and slightly open, are used to strike downwards in a rake-like fashion. The name was considered to be rather crude in its native tongue, so it was changed to baji quan. The term baji comes from the Daoist classic, the Yijing(I-Ching), and signifies an “extension of all directions”. In this case, it means “including everything” or “the universe.”
The first recorded baji quan teacher was Wu Zhong 吳鍾 (1712–1802). Famous teachers that promoted the style included Wu Xiufeng 吳秀峰 and Li Shuwen 李書文 (1864–1934). The latter was from Cangzhou, Hebei, and earned himself the nickname “God of Spear Li”. A Peking opera Wu Shen (martial male character) by training, he was also an expert fighter. His most famous quote is, “I do not know what it’s like to hit a man twice.” Li Shuwen’s students included Huo Dian Ge 霍殿閣 (bodyguard to Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China), Li Chenwu (bodyguard to Mao Zedong), and Liu Yun Qiao 劉雲樵 (secret agent for the nationalist Kuomintangand instructor of the bodyguards of Chiang Kai Shek). Baji quan has since acquired a reputation as the “bodyguard style”.
Baji quan shares roots with another Hebei martial art, Piguazhang. It is said that Wu Zhong, the oldest traceable master in the baji lineage, taught both arts together as an integrated fighting system. They eventually split apart, only to be recombined by Li Shuwenin the late 18th to early 19th century. As a testament to the complementary nature of these two styles, there is a proverb that goes: “When pigua is added to baji, gods and demons will all be terrified. When baji is added to pigua, heroes will sigh knowing they are no match against it.” (八極參劈掛，神鬼都害怕。劈掛參八極，英雄嘆莫及)
Here are two schools in Cangzhou carrying on the tradition for teaching martial arts as well as intensive full time kung fu training in China.
The Bajiquan International Training Center
The Bajiquan International Training Center is school dedicated to teaching students the art of Baji Quan. Located in the Muslim autonomous county of Mengcun, Cangzhou City in Hebei province in the historical home of Baji Quan (Eight extremes fist). The school lineage is steeped in Wu family history and prestige, boasting a long line of family masters. At the school you can learn Bajiquan, Pigua, Sanda, Liu He Fist, Tantui, Cha Fist and Taizu Fist.
Facilities: Impressive training facilities both indoor and outdoor as well as excellent student living conditions.
Training at the Baji Quan International Training Center focuses on Baji Quan. At the school you will train in Baji Quan basics, theory and the history of Baji, “assault methods of Bajiquan” as well as tactics for Baji competition. You will learn a comprehensive system of attack, defense and wrestling and be exposed to Dazhuang and Kaozhuang as well as the school’s Qigong and traditional Chinese medicine.
Additional styles taught to supplement your Bajiquan include the following Piguazhang, Liu He Fist, Tantui, Cha Fist and Taizu Changquan.
Each day students will train for at least 6 hours, 6 days per week with a Monday off as a day of rest. And all students have access to the excellent school facilities, training and conditioning equipment.
Typical Training Schedule:
Morning Training – 9am – 11am
Afternoon Training – 3pm – 5pm
Evening Training – 7pm – 9pm
1. Theory & Philosophy
2. Stance Training
3. Explosive Power Training
4. Internal Training
5. Fighting Techniques
6. Fighting Tactics
Prices: Prices per month start from 6000 RMB / $900 USD for food, accommodation and tuition. You can learn more about the school here.
Cangzhou Technical College
Cangzhou Technical College is a full-time state run vocational college where you can study wushu in China. Students can chose to study for either a full semester or on a monthly basis. Both options are the cheapest I have seen to date in China.
The course includes an introduction to wushu, taiji, baduanjin, wuxinggong and wushu culture. Along side the martial arts studies participants of this course can expect to learn the Chinese language, Calligraphy and also take part in local tours to kung fu schools and visits to various local martial arts masters of interest.
Prices: Tuition and Accommodation for a semester 4600 RMB / $695 USD or for a month 1500 RMB / $226 USD.
Full details of this Wushu Course with Cangzhou Technical College as well as full details on the Bajiquan International Training Center can be provided on request when you visit StudyMartialArts.Org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.