Der Artikel erschien im Juli 1993 in der 3. Ausgabe des Pa Kua Chang Journal in Amerika. Die ursprünglich im Original Text verwendete Wade Giles Umschrift wurde aus praktischen Gründen in die Pinyin Umschrift geändert, um die Einheitlichkeit auf diesem Blog zu bewahren.
The information in this article was obtained during interviews with Zhang Junfeng’s wife Xu Baomei (徐抱妹) in September, 1992, Zhang’s students Hong Yimian (洪懿綿) and Hong Yixiang (洪懿祥) (September 1992 and March 1993), and a feature article on Zhang Junfeng in the 35th issue of Li Yu Mei Magazine. Special thanks to Bill Tucker (www.gravityandgrace.net) for translating the interviews and the magazine article.
The farther the transmission of an art form travels in both distance and time from its origin, the greater the probability of that art form undergoing change. The change could be for the better, for the worse, or a combination of both, however, it does change. The more hands the transmission passes through, the more likely it is to change. If those hands happen to be from different cultures, belief systems, social structures and/or physical environments, the changes will most likely be greater. While there will always be special cases, it is safe to say that a fourth generation practitioner teaching Cheng Tinghua’s (程庭華) Bagua Zhang today in Beijing will transmit a system which is closer to the original than a sixth or seventh generation American practitioner teaching in New Jersey. If we accept this to be true and we look at the various Bagua Zhang systems as they spread from Northern China to other parts of the world, it is probably safe to say that all of the recognizable „styles“ of Bagua Zhang, the system taught of Gao Yisheng (高義盛) has remained intact as a complete „system“ more than most of the others.
In order to understand why Gao’s system of Bagua Zhang has remained relatively pure, one only need investigate the time and place Gao taught and the activities of his students. The majority of different Bagua Zhang systems taught today outside of mainland China can be traced to a number of second and third generation practitioners in Dong Haichuan’s (董海川) lineage, namely: Yin Fu (尹褔), Cheng Tinghua, Liang Chengpu (梁掁普), Zhang Zhao Dong (張兆東), Li Cunyi (李存義), Fu Cheng Song (傅掁嵩), Sun Lutang (孫祿堂) and Gao Yisheng. This list is certainly not all inclusive and a number of these systems, like Gao’s, are really sub systems of Cheng Tinghua’s Bagua Zhang. With the exception of Fu Cheng Song, Gao Yisheng was the only one of these practitioners whose life extended past 1938. Gao was still actively teaching during the Japanese War and was still alive after the change of government in 1949. During this period of time, many people fled Northern China and subsequently had a relatively large number of direct disciples leave Northern China and teach abroad. With his direct disciples taking his teaching to other parts of the world, it would make sense that his teaching system would have remained intact as it left China. During the late 40’s, 50’s and 60’s Gao’s teaching spread to Chongqing (in Sichuan Province) with Wu Mengxia (吳孟俠) and Li Chuangfei, to Hong Kong with He Kecai (何可才), to the United States with Yu Yixian (于義賢), and to Taiwan with Zhang Junfeng.
In the Pa Kua Chang Newsletter Vol.2, No.3, we discussed Gao’s Bagua as it was taught by He Kecai in Hong Kong and Yu Yixian in the United States. This issue will focus on the Bagua Zhang of Gao Yisheng as taught by Zhang Junfeng in Taiwan.
Zhang Junfeng’s training in Tianjin
Zhang Junfeng was born around 1902 in Shandong Province, Zou Ping County, Ting Jia Township. At the age of nine he moved to Tianjin to apprentice in the fruit wholesaling business. At the age of 16 Zhang became interested in martial arts. It is not known what style of martial art Zhang first studied, however, by the time he was 21 he had met and become close with a student of Bagua Zhang, Wu Mengxia. Wu, who had spent time studying Bagua Zhang with Han Muxia and had begun studying with Gao Yisheng when Gao moved to Tianjin from Shandong Province around 1917, saw that Zhang had an interest in martial arts and introduced Zhang to Gao. Although Zhang was only about 21 years of age, he had become the general manager of a wholesale business which dealt in fruit, alcohol, cigarettes and other assorted groceries and was located in Tianjin’s French concession. Because he had a well paying job, Zhang could easily support himself.
Gao Yisheng taught Bagua Zhang daily at the sports field located in the English concession in Tianjin. Since Zhang was busy working all day, he studied with Gao privately in the early morning and at night. Since he was making good money at his job he helped support Gao. Gao often taught classes at Zhang’s home. Because Gao worked with Zhang privately, his progress was fast. While studying with Gao, Zhang also practiced and sparred a lot with his elder brother Wu Mengxia and learned a great deal from him. He improved rapidly and gained a reputation in Tianjin.
The exact details of Zhang’s life in Tianjin and his training with Gao Yisheng are vague. Zhang studied, practiced, and/or taught martial arts in Tianjin from around 1920 until he left in 1948. During that time, Tianjin was a hotbed of internal martial arts activity. Besides Gao Yisheng there were numerous other famous Bagua Zhang, Xingyi Quan and Taiji Quan teachers in Tianjin during this period of time. Zhang was known to have studied Xingyi Quan from Li Cunyi, Hao Wei Zhen (郝為真) style Taiji Quan, and Qigong from one of Yinfu’s students whose surname was Tai. Zhang’s Xingyi Quan book, which was written by his students, states that Zhang also studied Xingyi Quan with Zhang Zhao Dong, this may or may not be true. If he did study anything with Zhang Zhao Dong it was only for a very short time. During the 1930’s Zhang also became a follower of Yi Guan Dao (一貫道).
When Zhang was around 36 years old be began teaching in Tianjin and later became the chairman of the Tianjin City Martial Arts Association. Although he was teaching martial arts, he was still very busy with his wholesale business and traveled to other ports in China or to other countries quite frequently. While he was away from Tianjin his nephew, Zhang Xiangjin (張象津) taught his classes for him.
Zhang travels to Taiwan
Zhang Junfengs first trip to Taiwan was around the 1945 or 46 timeframe, but he did not stay for long. He brought twelve of his employees with him on this trip and tried to set up a branch of his wholesale business there. Because of the depressed market in the post- war period and because his employees did not like the environment in Taiwan, they returned to the mainland. However, the political situation on the mainland was rapidly deteriorating and so on June 1st, 1948, Zhang moved back to Taiwan. Because the economic situation in Taiwan made it impossible for him to continue his wholesale business, he tried to make a living selling flour and rice, this market also proved to be difficult. Due to slow sales a large quantity of the flour he had bought got moldy and went bad. Financially, Zhang was having a difficult time trying to make it in Taiwan as a business man. Fortunately people started to become interested in his martial arts.
While working as a rice and flour salesman Zhang would practice martial arts in his spare time near the Round Mountain area in the northern part of Taibei. Zhang was big, tall and strong and his power was extraordinary. The arts he was practicing were unlike any that the Taiwanese were accustomed to seeing and he would frequently draw a crowd when he was practicing. Local martial artists began coming around to see what he could do. He easily defeated many who tried to test his skill and subsequently people became interested in studying with him. Shortly after he arrived in Taiwan, he formed a core group of approximately ten students who began to study with him on Round Mountain. Several of these students had been studying with an instructor, Wu Datiao (吳大條), who had previously come to challenge Zhang. After Zhang defeated their teacher, the student decided that they wanted to study Bagua and Xingyi with Zhang. One of Wu’s students who began studying with Zhang after his teacher was defeated, Zhou Qingshun (周慶順), still teaches Taiji Quan every morning in Taibei’s Pao An Temple Park. Also among the original group of ten students were the three Hong brothers: Hong Yimian, Hong Yixiang and Hong Yiwen (洪懿文). Later all ten of these students became disciples. The first individual of the group to be officially recognized as a disciple was a policeman named Xu Yifei (徐一飛).
When teaching this first group of students, Zhang would simply run through his own individual workout and the students were told to follow. Some of those first students said that it was very difficult to follow Zhang because his workouts were so physically demanding. Zhang would practice Xingyi’s Piquan (劈拳 , splitting fist) very slowly. After each step in the sequence he would hold the posture for extremely long periods of time before taking the next step. The student’s legs would become so tired they could barely stand up. One day they suggested that maybe Zhang could sit and watch them go through the movements instead of them following him. Zhang agreed and began calling out numbers to lead the students through the steps. Zhang would call out one number, the students would step and then hold the posture until the next number was called. The students thought that this would be easier, figuring that Zhang would get bored just watching and call the numbers faster than if he was practicing himself. Unfortunately, their plan backfired. Zhang would call out one number and then begin to talk with friends and leave the class holding the posture for a longer period of time than when he was leading the class. After they realized this wasn’t going to be any easier, they suggested that they should follow him again.
Zhang had tried his hand at selling rice and flour for two years, however, there was no improvement in the business. Around 1950 he gave up the business and began teaching martial arts full time. Huang A Ho, one of Zhang’s first students who had tried to help him in the rice business, invited Zhang to live in his home. Zhang also spent time living with the Hong family.
The Yizong Martial Arts School
When Zhang decided to start teaching martial arts full time he began to hold open classes in several locations around Taibei. He maintained his class on Round Mountain, but also began teaching near the Botanical Garden, at a location beside the Danshui River and in Shan Zhong’s Qi An Hospital. He also taught near Huang A He’s (黃阿合) home on Zhong Shan North Road, Section 2. At this time he also founded the Yizong Martial Arts Central School (Yizong Guoshu Zongguan).
When Zhang started to teach openly there was a lot of opposition to what he was doing. The mainlanders did not want him teaching these arts to the Taiwanese. During that period of time, the mainlanders all thought that the stay in Taiwan was temporary. Many thought they should keep the arts to themselves. However, Zhang needed money and he thought that the martial arts should be spread widely. He felt that passing on the martial art was more important than worrying about whether the students were Northern, Southern, Taiwanese or mainlanders so he taught the Taiwanese openly.
While the Taiwanese who studied with him appreciated his openness, the Taiwanese martial arts instructors had a different opinion. Prior to 1950 the majority of the martial artists in Taiwan practiced various Southern styles of Shaolin, White Crane and Monkey Boxing. Few knew anything about Bagua, Xingyi or Taiji and most teachers taught in private. They viewed their techniques and teaching methods as „secrets“. There were not many martial artists who taught openly and in public places. Zhang felt it was ridiculous to sneak around teaching behind closed doors and thus refused to do so. A number of the local martial arts teachers came to challenge this „outsider“ who was teaching martial arts so openly. When challenged Zhang would not try and hurt his opponent. His skill was such that he could easily control the challenger without seriously injuring them. People quickly acknowledged his skill and respected his moral integrity. His reputation grew and many wanted to study with him.
In 1951, Zhang Junfeng, Han Qingtang (韓慶堂) and others formally established the Taiwan Martial Arts Federation. Wang Cheng Chang was elected president and Zhang Junfeng was the executive chairman and chairman of the teaching commitee. In conjunction with the Federation’s founding, a big martial arts demonstration event was held. Zhang Junfeng demonstrated the power inherent in the internal arts by holding a long staff at one end and breaking it in half with a quick, explosive shaking motion of his body. The audience was stunned at Zhang’s display of power.
Zhang’s Students Buy Him A Bride
Around this same time (1951), Zhang’s students sensed that he was lonely and they felt sorry for him being so far away from his home and family in the mainland, so they all chipped in money to buy him a wife. The woman they bought was a distant relative of Huang A He who Zhang had once seen at Huang’s home. She was only 16 years old at the time (25 years younger than Zhang). A group of 18 students (including the three Hong brothers) went to pick up the girl to bring her to Zhang after she was „purchased“. When they reached her village they were met by a mob of village men who did not want to let her be sold to this outsider. Zhang’s students had to fight the villagers and retrieve their teacher’s bride.
Zhang’s wife, Xu Baomei, says that she was very upset that she had been sold by her family. She disliked Zhang at first because he was so much older and because he insisted that she practice martial arts. After she realized that he was going to force her to practice every morning and there wasn’t anything she could do about it, she said she decided to practice very hard and try to become highly skilled in these arts. Her motivation was in thinking that one day when Zhang got old and his skill deteriorated, she would use his martial arts to kill him. Later after she got to know him better and they had children, she realized he was a good person and gave up on her plans to do him in.
Zhang and his wife, who is now nearly 60 years old, had eight children, 4 boys and 4 girls. The first was born when Zhang’s wife was 19. Soon after they were married, Zhang and his wife moved into a two story house near the Confucian Temple in Taibei. They lived upstairs and ran a martial arts school downstairs.
In Taibei, typhoons often bring floods to the city and the area around Zhang’s home flooded up to the second floor on a number of occasions. Many of Zhang’s early photographs and materials were destroyed in these floods. Later, in about 1961, Zhang and his wife built a home on some land that he owned off of Xinyi Road in Taibei. The building they lived in had 5 stories. Zhang taught classes on the second and fifth floors. Zhang’s wife and some of his children still live in this building today.
Soon after Zhang and his wife were married Zhang started teaching her martial arts. He taught her Xingyi, Bagua, Taiji and Qigong so that she could teach it to woman. There were a number of woman who wanted to learn and he thought it best if they were taught by another woman. He taught her every morning, starting at 4 a.m. , in a strict and detailed manner. Her favorite arts to practice were Taiji and Bagua. She began teaching Taiji Quan classes for him while they still lived in the house near the Confucian Temple.
Zhang Junfeng and Wang Shujin (王樹金)
Around the same time Zhang Junfeng started teaching the internal arts in Taibei and founded the Yizong Martial Arts School, his friend Wang Shujin began teaching in the Taizhong area and founded the Cheng Ming Martial Arts School. When Wang started teaching he also had problems with local martial artists challenging him and would often call on Zhang to come down south and help him out.
Wang Shujin had also come to Taiwan from Tianjin. Wang had studied Xingyi Quan and Bagua Zhang with Zhang Zhaodong before coming to Taiwan. Zhang and Wang had a common bond in the internal arts, however, they also had a strong bond through their involvement in Yi Guan Dao. Although Zhang was Wang’s senior in boxing, Wang held a higher position in Yi Guan Dao and thus the two considered themselves brothers.
Wang Shujin was brought to Taiwan in September, 1948 by the local leader of Yi Guan Dao in Taiwan, Zhou Yi Shen. In 1947, a prominent Yi Guan Dao leader had died in the mainland and a funeral was held in Shanghai. Followers of Yi Guan Dao from all over China attended the funeral to pay their respect. Zhou Yi Shen met Wang Shujin while in Shanghai attending this funeral and invited him to come to Taiwan the next year to help spread the teaching of Yi Guan Dao. Shortly after Wang arrived in Taiwan, Zhou found him a place to live in Taizhong.
It is said that one reason Wang invited Zhang down to his school to help him „mind the fort“ during the „challenge period“ was because he often injured people. When Wang fought he hit hard and did not hold back. When someone got hurt, Zhang would attend to them utilizing his knowledge of bone setting, massage, and Chinese herbal medicine. Wang Shujin and Zhang Junfeng were said to have fought and won many challenges during this period of time (late 1940s, early 50s). Although nothing was ever documented, stories from this time period are abundant. Both their reputations grew and large numbers of students started studying the internal martial arts. The people in south and central Taiwan studied with Wang and the people in northern Taiwan studied with Zhang.
Up until two or three years after Zhang got married and he and his wife moved into the house near the Confucian Temple in Northern Taibei, Wang was still asking Zhang to come down south and help him with challenges. Sometimes Zhang would stay there for a month at a time. His wife states that it was an unsettled life for newlyweds and she didn’t like it. She said that she didn’t know why he had to go off and fight everyone. When she complained Zhang would say, „You don’t understand.“ It is said that Wang and Zhang practiced and researched Bagua Zhang and Xingyi Quan together quite often during Zhang’s visits down south.
Zhang Teaches The President
Sometime in the late 1950’s Chang Kai Chek invited dozens of well known martial artists to the presidential building to demonstrate their arts. After the demonstration event was over, Chang Kai Chek asked Zhang Junfeng if he would stay for a few minutes. He did not say much, however, he asked one of his aides to give Zhang Junfeng a letter of employment and presented a gift of two bolts of expensive cloth. He asked if Zhang would teach him Taiji and Qigong at his home in Shilin. Zhang Junfeng agreed and was very happy with his gift. The cloth that the President had given him was a very luxurious item and Zhang had two Chinese style suits made out of it. He only wore these suits when he went to the President’s home to teach.
Shortly after Zhang began teaching Chang Kai Chek he was also invited to teach the staff at the Presidential Building, at the Air Force headquaters, at the Police Headquaters, at the Central Investigation Bureau, and the Intelligence Bureau. In 1961 he began training officers in the Department of Defense and taught a number of famous Generals.
Zhang’s Teaching Method
Zhang Junfeng’s internal arts programm included Xingyi Quan, Bagua Zhang, Hao Style Taiji Quan, Qigong and weapons. He had personally spent the most time studying and practicing Bagua Zhang and thus Bagua was his favorite art. The two arts he is best known for are Bagua Zhang and Xingyi Quan. Some say that because Zhang was primarily a Bagua man, his Xingyi Quan had a Bagua flavor.
There are those who say that Zhang had a strict teaching method whereby beginning students were required to start out in Xingyi Quan before they could learn Bagua Zhang and then after learning Bagua Zhang they could learn Taiji Quan. Zhang’s wife said that this isn’t true. She said that his teaching sequence depended on the student. Some started with Xingyi, others started with Bagua and many started with Taiji. Zhang held weekly group Taiji Quan classes at the Presidential Building in Taibei for students who were only interested in Taiji. Today there is a plaque reads: „For martial ability one must have martial virtue. Righeousness is more important than skill. To respect the Way, one must first respect the teacher. He may readily teach, however the teaching should not be taken lightly.“
Many of Zhang’s early students started out learning Xingyi before they started Bagua Zhang. The most serious students, the ones whom had plans to teach these arts in the future, were probably told to learn in this sequence. Zhang’s wife said that he would prepare students who wanted to become teachers in a special way. In comparing the internal arts learning process to the educational system, Zhang’s student Hong Yimian says that Xingyi is like middle school, Bagua is like high school, and Taiji is like college. His brother Hong Yixiang feels the same way. Hong Yixiang stated that if the student starts out in Taiji it is very difficult to develop and understand internal power. He suggests that students learn Shaolin when they are very young, progress to Xingyi Quan to learn how to develop internal power and then progress to Bagua Zhang and Taiji Quan to learn how to refine the power.
It is possible that Zhang Junfeng felt the same way in principle, however, all of Zhang’s arts were complete in that they all contained components which were designed to develop the student’s ability in progressive stages. Because Xingyi Quan, Bagua Zhang and Taiji Quan are complete systems, there should not be a need for a student to first study one, and then the other, and then the other to develop complete internal skill. Zhang’s Bagua Zhang contained components, such as the Tiangan (天干 , heavenly stems) exercises and the Houtian (後天)“straight line“ Bagua which develop the gongli and internal power in a manner similar to Xingyi’s five elements and twelve animals. Additionally, the movements of the Xiantian (先天) Bagua certainly faciliate a development of refined power, sensitivity and suppleness which is trained in Taiji. So why did Zhang train his early students in a Xingyi, Bagua, Taiji progression?
For about the first ten years Zhang lived in Taiwan he always had intentions of returning to the mainland. The students he taught during those years were given relatively short, intensive programs of study so that they could learn as much as possible before he went back to the mainland. This being the case, it seems natural that Zhang would design this programm to be taught in a Xingyi, Bagua, Taiji progression. Later, when Zhang realized he would not be returning to the mainland, he taught more systematically and students did not necessarily learn all three arts or learn in a Xingyi, Bagua, Taiji order.
If one takes the three Hong brothers as an example, it appears that after Zhang taught the intesive Xingyi, Bagua, Taiji program to give his early students exposure to all three arts, he then encouraged students to specialize in one of those arts. Hong Yixiang was the Xingyi Quan specialist, Hong Yimian was the Bagua Zhang specialist, and it is said that Hong Yiwen specialized in Taiji. When I mentioned to a number of people in Zhang’s lineage that I wanted to interview the Hongs for the Bagua Zhang Journal, they all said that I would want to talk with Hong Yimian because he was the one who specialized in Bagua. Even when I called Hong Yixiang’s school and spoke with his son to arrange the interview he said that I should speak with Hong Yimian first because the agreement in the family was that Hong Yimian would handle any questions concerning Zhang Junfeng’s Bagua Zhang.
In the early years, Zhang usually led his students through the Tiangan (heavenly stems) exercises at the beginning of class using these exercises to help the students warm up and stretch. In the later years he taught the Tiangan more strictly with emphasis on using it as a training method, not just a warm up. Zhang almost taught the five elements of Xingyi to his new Xingyi and Bagua students with a special emphasis on Pi Quan (splitting fist). Two person five element application practice was also emphasized. Additionally, all students were taught and practiced „single hand pushing“ and san shou (free style pushing or sparring). The Bagua Zhang students were taught both the Xiantian (circling) and the Houtian (straight line) Bagua, however the Houtian was practiced much more frequently. When Zhang taught the Xiantian, he taught one new section every four months.
When Zhang taught the Houtian to early students the emphasis was placed on Fajing (發勁). Later when he began teaching Bagua more systematically, he taught beginners the Houtian in longer and lower postures with more attention on proper structuring of the body. After the students learned to coordinate and align the body in the extended posture Houtian practice, they were then taught to shorten the posture and express power (fajing) in the movement. The longer and lower Houtian postures appear to be Zhang’s modification. Observing practitioners who still practice Gao’s Bagua Zhang in Tianjin demonstrating their Houtian, they execute these sets in shorter stances and it is evident that their focus is on the fajin component of the practice.
Zhang Junfeng also had a special Qigong method. While he most likely received Qigong methods from all of his instructors and practiced Qigong in conjunction with the arts that he studied, the primary Qigong method which he practiced was taught to him by a student of Yin Fu whose surname was Tai. Zhang’s wife stated that this Qigong method was seperate from his other arts and he did not teach it to many people. Zhang did not teach this method to anyone who was married because he said that it was difficult to practice it correctly if the practitioner was having sex frequently. He did not teach his Qigong to anyone who was not a disciple unless they had a specific medical problem which could be improved through Qigong practice.
When Zhang Junfeng and his wife were first married, he even kept his Qigong practice from her. She states that he would go into an air raid shelter under the house and practice every day. Every time he would go to practice Qigong he would lock the door and stay in the air raid shelter for a long time. His wife became very curious and so one day she snuck into the shelter and hid before Zhang went down to practice. Zhang came in and placed a hard piece of bread (steamed bun) down, sat on top of it, and began to meditate. After a while his wife got impatient and made a noise. Zhang opened the door and saw her. She said, “ Why did you sit on top of that piece of bread?“ He said that he was practicing his Long Men Qigong (龍門氣功). Because she was so curious and had seen him practicing, he began to teach her his Qigong.
Zhang’s Long Men Qigong came from Yin Fu’s lineage. Zhang had portraits of Gao Yisheng and Yin Fu hanging in his home. These portraits still hang in his house today and some who have seen them incorrectly assume that Zhang’s Bagua Zhang came from both Gao and Yin Fu. Some have also assumed that these portraits indicate that Gao studied with Yin Fu. When I asked Zhang’s wife why there was a portrait of Yin Fu in the home, she said it was because Zhang’s Qigong came from Yin’s lineage. In a back room of Zhang’s home there is also an alter and a tablet that bears the names of Dong Haichuan, Yin Fu and Gao Yisheng. He had this tablet next to his alter to show respect to his Gongfu ancestors.
Through the practice of his internal arts and Qigong Zhang developed internal strength which was legendary. He was known to have broken heavy hard wood staffs like they were toothpicks and could crush thick pieces of bamboo with his giant hands. It is said that he could alsotake a very thick rattan staff and, placing one end against the corner of the floor and wall and the other end on his belly (丹田 , dantian area), he could bend the staff’s center to the floor. The staff Zhang used to demonstrate this is still in his home. On one occasion when Zhang was teaching on Round Mountain, someone came to test his skill. Zhang told the visitor to spear him in the stomach with a staff. When the staff’s tip hit his abdomen, Zhang applied his internal Dantian strength and the man was knocked back about 6 feet.
Although Zhang knew a number of weapons sets, he did not pass on this knowledge to many of his students. The weapons were the last thing that students learned and many of the students did not stay and study long enough to get the weapons from Zhang. The weapons he taught to the students who progressed far enough to learn them were the staff, long spear, and Bagua straight sword. He also taught the large broadsword, the double sword and two man sword, but few learned these sets. His wife and his first disciple Xu Yifei may have been the only two. Zhang’s wife said that because the double sword and the large broadsword were very difficult, he didn’t teach these weapons to many people. Zhang’s weapons still sit in a weapons rack in his home.
Many of Zhang’s early students also learned traumatology. Zhang’s knowledge of bone setting, Chinese medicine and Chinese herbs for traumatology was extensive. He knew that in the practice of martial arts, internal and external injuries were unavoidable and thought that students should have fundamental training in how to heal injuries. When he helped establish the Taiwan Provincial Martial Arts Association he recommended that they offer this training as part of curriculum. Zhang often treated people and set bones.
Zhang’s wife began learning the bone setting and medicine 3 or 4 years after they had been married. He taught his wife how to make the herbal formulas and poultices. After apprenticing with her husband for a number of years she was also able to treat people. She says that a few years ago she was hit by a car and broke her leg in several places. She reset the bones herself right after the accident occured.
Zhang’s students say that he was a very strict teacher. There was a very serious atmosphere in the class. The students were not allowed to talk or joke. He had quick temper and often used a rattan stick to press his point. If students practiced hard, he would instruct them in great detail. If students appeared lazy, he would hit them with his rattan stick in a heartbeat. Zhang was also a hard working teacher who would lead the students through most exercises.
Zhang Junfeng’s Books
Around 1954 Zhang Junfeng privately published two books, one on Xingyi which was simply called Xingyi Quan and another on Bagua Zhang which was called Zhou Tian Shu (周天術) (teaching of the Yijing). These books were hand written by one of Zhang’s students, Cai Wan Cheng, who is now over 90 years old. The Bagua Zhang book lists the names of 41 students who helped him compile the book, the Xingyi book lists 28 names. While Zhang’s students had more to do with actually compiling these books than he did, Zhang placed a signed photograph of himself and his „chop“ in both books. Among the names included in the books are the three Hong brothers as well as one of Zhang’s earliest students Huang A-He.
The Bagua Zhang book included much of the information which is contained in Gao Yisheng’s original book, which he completed in 1936, was inherited by his student Liu Fengcai’s (劉風彩) grand nephew Liu Shuhang (劉樹行). While I was visiting with Liu Shuhang in Tianjin in April, 1993, he was kind enough to let me look at Gao’s book and take a number of photographs of its pages. The book is written in six volumes and contains detailed information on the Xiantian and Houtian Bagua as well as Xingyi’s five elements and a section on „health exercises.“ Comparing the contents‘ of Gao’s book with Zhang Junfeng’s Bagua Zhang book, it is evident that Zhang had a copy of Gao’s book with him in Taiwan and allowed Cai Wan Cheng (蔡萬成) to copy much of it when he wrote Zhang’s book. A majority of the information is exactly the same.
It has been rumored that Gao Yisheng kept his book private and only showed it to two students, Wu Mengxia and Zhang Junfeng. While this rumor would make Zhang’s book appear to be very precious, the fact is that there were obviously other students of Gao’s who saw and copied the book. During the 1950’s one of Gao’s students, Tu Shao Tang published a book in Tianjin called You Shen Lian Huan Bagua Zhang (swimming body continuous circling eight trigram palm) the contents of which is all copied verbatim from Gao’s book. Also, Liu Fengcai and his students Wang Shusheng and Liu Shuhang, who have inherited Gao’s original book, published their book Cheng Pai Gao Shi Bagua Zhang Pu (Gao Yisheng style of Cheng Tinghua Bagua Zhang) and subtitled and subtitled Bagua Youshen Lianhuan Zhang in 1990. This book also contains much of the information that is in Gao’s book.
In compiling Zhang Junfeng’s Xingyi Quan book it appears that his students borrowed heavily from the Xingyi books of Sun Lutang and Zhang Zhongqiao in a few sections. This book contains information on Xingyi’s five elements and 12 animals as well as general Xingyi theory. There are also sections on the creative and destructive cycle sets, An Shen Pao, strength training, mixed beating, continuous fist, and Yue Fei’s „nine essentials.“ The appendix of the book contains „livesaving techniques“ and a few herbal prescriptions.
Another book which Zhang wrote detailed free fighting applications in a series of photographs showing each application with attack and counter moves. The book also included a set of staff exercises. Zhang’s wife and three other students worked with Zhang on the book and posed with him for the photographs. Zhang worked on this book for 2 or 3 years before it was complete. When he was finished with the book, he sent the original to Li Yingang (李英昂) in Hong Kong as he hoped Li would be able to help him get it published. Li promised to have the original back to Zhang within three months. A year after Zhang had sent the book to Li, it still had not been returned. Zhang and his wife saw Li at a tournament and Zhang’s wife wanted to go ask him for the book. Zhang told her that he probably didn’t bring it with him and so it was not convenient to go greet him. He said, „I am here and my gongfu is with me. That is more important than any pictures. He will return the book in the future.“ Unfortunately, Li never returned the book. Li Ying Ang is now dead and no one in Taiwan knows what happened to the book.
Zhang Junfeng’s later years
In a story about Zhang Junfeng’s life in the 35th issue (March 93) of Li Yu Mei Magazine, Zhang Junfeng’s wife stated that in about 1966 or 1967 a friend of Zhang’s who he had not seen in 20 years came to visit him. During this visit Zhang mentioned to his old friend that he was slightly diabetic. The friend told Zhang that he had a herbal formula which would help his condition. Zhang’s wife said that her husband trusted this friend and took the herbs he prescribed. In taking that one package of medicine she says, „He lost half his life.“
The day after Zhang had mentioned his condition to his old friend, the friend showed up with a pack of powdered medicine. Zhang took the medicine at once and that night in class became to ill to teach. He asked his wife to teach the class and he went to lay down to get some rest. After his wife finished teaching the class she went to check up on him. He had vomited and looked very sick. He told her that he wanted somthing cold to eat. His stomach felt like it was on fire.
The next day was Sunday and Zhang’s wife took him to the hospital. His skin was discolored and he looked very sick, however, the hospital was short handed that day and the doctors and nurses would not pay attention to him. Zhang’s wife got upset and calles one of Zhang’s students who worked in the Presidential Building, and therefore could pull some strings. She asked him to call the hospital and tell the chief medical officer on duty to look into Zhang’s condition quickly. After the phone call Zhang was cared for properly. Zhang was given a blood transfusion and was fed intravenously for several days before he got better.
The doctors could never find what the problem was exactly, however, his wife reports that for the next seven years of his life he was treated periodically for complications resulting from this incident. Although Zhang got better, he never fully recovered. After this incident, his wife taught most of the martial arts classes. He would give her detailed instruction in a morning practice session and she would teach the group classes in Bagua, Xingyi and Taiji. While Zhang would attend the classes and make corrections, his wife did most of the physical work in teaching the classes during the last seven years of his life. Zhang would usually sit in a chair and yell out corrections to the students.
Three days before Zhang died, he told his wife that he only had three days left to live. He called each of his children in to talk with them. He told two of them to continue his work and three others to help in the administration. He told the five eldest to take care of their mother and the younger children. On the third day his wife was with some students and they heard a loud sound of exhalation come from Zhang’s room. She immidiately phoned the doctor at the Presidential Building to come and try to save him. The doctor came, however there was nothing he could do. Zhang Junfeng died on the 16th day of the 5th lunar month in 1974. On the day Zhang was buried there were more than 3000 people in attendance, many were high ranking government officials.
Zhang’s wife Continues his Teaching
After Zhang Junfeng died, his wife continued to hold classes and teach the Xingyi, Bagua, and Taiji. She carried on with the same classes that she taught when Zhang was alive. During the last six or seven years of Zhang’s life she led all of the classes and Zhang acted as the disciplinarian and functioned as quality control. After he passed away she became much stricter in her teaching because she had to prove that she could do it without her husband. Today Xu Baomei is still teaching, however, she prefers to only teach the Taiji.