Ying Zhao Fan Zi, Mizong Luohan, and the Connection with Jing Wu
Jing Wu Tiyuhui, (Elite Martial Athletic Association), is more commonly known as the Jing Wu Athletic Association and as Ching Mo in Cantonese. It was founded in 1909 to develop fitness and lift the morale of the Chinese people, and to promote and advance traditional Chinese martial arts.
Huo Yuanjia is traditionally regarded as the founder of Jing Wu. However, his tenure there was brief as he died at 42 years of age, only a few months after his arrival in Shanghai. After Huo’s passing, Zhao Lianhe, an expert in Xing Yi and Tan Tui, became chief instructor and developed a standardized curriculum based mostly on the Northern Tan Tui system. The curriculum consisted of ten routines, which were prerequisites for all trainees before they embarked on other studies with the various masters who were teaching at Jing Wu.
The 10 original routines are still practiced at the Shanghai Jing Wu Association today, as well as at other Jing Wu branches throughout the world. They are also popular outside of Jing Wu proper and are taught with slight variations in different northern style based schools. Following is a complete list of names for the 10 forms:
- Shi Er Lu Tan Tui (Twelve Rows Springing Legs)
- Gong Li Quan (Power Training Fist)
- Jie Quan (Quick Fist)
- Da Zhan Quan (Big Battle Fist)
- Bagua Dao (Eight Diagram Broadsword)
- Qunyang Gun (Sheep Flocking Staff)
- Wu Hu Qiang (Five Tiger Spear)
- Tan Tui Dui Lian (Tan Tui Partner Set)
- Tao Quan (Set Fist)
- Dan Dao Dui Qian (Broadsword versus Spear)
Some elucidation on the 10 forms:
The forms listed above have nothing to do with Huo Yuanjia and do not represent the Mizong Kung Fu system. Most of the leading masters who taught at Jing Wu, like Huo Yuanjia, were from Hebei province. Likewise, the 10 forms that derive from that region are probably the contribution of more than one master, and most likely represent more than one style.
- Shi Er Lu Tan Tui – Traditionally, there are five major systems in what is referred to as the Long Fist School. These Are: Cha Quan (a style that gets its name from a popular Chinese surname of Hui nationality, a Moslem), Hua Quan (Flower Fist), Pao Quan (Cannon Fist), Hong Quan (Family surname), and Tan Tui (Springing Leg).
- Gong Li Quan – There is a Northern Chinese martial arts system called Gong Li Quan that is popular in Hebei, especially in the Cangzhou region (Grand Master Ye Yuting’s birthplace). It is not clear whether the Jing Wu set derives from this system.
- Jie Quan – This is an excellent form for building typical Northern Long Fist kicking and punching combinations. The techniques are simple, direct and easy to learn. Practicing Jie Quan helps build stamina and agility and enhances jumping skills. This form derives from the Tan Tui system.
- Da Zhan Quan – This form is lengthy and usually divided in two sections referred to as the Upper and Lower sections. It introduces the student to other fundamental techniques of the Northern school. The form expresses more sophisticated techniques than those learned in Jie Quan.
- Bagua Dao – This set has nothing to do with the Internal system of Ba Gua. The name derives from the pattern of the routine. Nowadays, it is not unusual to see this set performed in a more linear pattern, which facilitates learning and large group practice. However, many traditional teachers stick to the original pattern of the set.
- Qunyang Gun – The original name of this form was Hupu Qunyang Gun, or Five Tigers Pouncing on a Sheep Flock. This set was popular in Hebei province and is a sound set for introducing staff work of the Northern School. It is not known when the name of this set was shortened.
- Wu Hu Qiang – This introduces the most fundamental and important spear techniques. The name, Five Tigers, referred to the legendary “Five Tigers Generals” of the Three Kingdoms Era. The name serves as a reminder for the kind of fighting spirit that should be displayed during practice and in combat with an opponent.
- Tan Tui Dui Lian – This set is also known as Jie Tan Tui (Tan Tui Duet). It is a representation of the solo Tan Tui set practiced with a partner.
- Tao Quan – This is a partner routine that introduces the most basic Qin Na (the Chinese art of joint manipulation) techniques as well as some fundamental grappling skills. Various joint locks and escape techniques are practiced with a partner to acquire a basic knowledge of how to properly apply the locks.
- Dan Dao Dui Qian – This Saber versus Spear set is instrumental in introducing the basic fighting applications of both the saber and the spear. Timing, gauging distance, focus and reaction speed are developed while practicing this set.
The Ten Routines were well thought out and served to give a solid foundation to all Jing Wu trainees. They further provided a platform from which to launch more advanced training in the various Northern Styles available through different masters who were part of the Jing Wu faculty.
In many ways, the foresight demonstrated by these masters, to establish a standardized curriculum at a time when secrecy and preference for one’s system were prevalent, is admirable and worth careful thought and consideration on the part of modern exponents of Chinese martial arts.
Both Chen Zizheng and Ye Yuting had spent time teaching at Jing Wu. Chen Zizheng was among the original handful of masters to hold a teaching post there. Later, as Jing Wu became better known, many more masters found their way there.
The original Jing Wu sets instituted by Zhao Lianhe are taught both within the Ying Jow Fan Zi and Mizong Luohan systems with slight variations that emphasize the intrinsic characteristics of the two styles. Without a doubt, both Chen Zizheng and Ye Yuting learned the sets while at Jing Wu and incorporated them in the body of work of their own systems, lending the forms the particular characteristics innate in their own styles. These sets are still taught today as fundamental practice within these two schools.
It has been my observation that there are other sequences from these two systems that bear the same name and have similar patterns, which leads me to believe that these two masters picked up other sets from various sources during their tenure at Jing Wu.