Gong Bao Tian and Bagua Zhang

Bagua on a basket

Gong Bao Tian (c. 1870-1943)

Bagua Zhang (Eight Trigrams Palm) was created by a man named Dong Hai Chuan. His longest studying student who became a famous Bagua Zhang teacher was named Yin Fu. One of his top students was a man named Gong Bao Tian. Gong has a number of names such as Gong ZiYing and Gong HouZi (Monkey Gong).

He studied under the first-generation student, Yin Fu, but also worked with two fellow students who would become famous Ma Gui and Men BaoZhen.

In 1879 GBT, a boy, was taken by his great aunt to Beijing to learn a trade. He began work in a granary but his aunt found out that when he delivered the grain he would pass a martial arts school and then spend horse jumping around (after work) and imitating what he saw. The teacher at this school happened to be Yin Fu who spotted GBT and noted that he had talent . He taught the boy for free and even took him to his own teacher, Dong Hai Chuan, the Creator of Bagua. When Dong saw the boy practice he agreed that he had real talent.

Eventually when even helped with Yin Fu’s school. His own skills grew and grew until he was one of the leading exponents of “light body” skills such as walking the rim of a wicker basket. When Yin Fu got a job teaching in the royal palace he recommended GBT to teach some of the Banner Men soldiers. For a while he even became a bodyguard to the Empress and Emperor. He also began teaching the boy who would become his top disciple, Sun RuWen.

On one visit he communicated for the last time with his teacher, Yin Fu, and—through tears— promised that he would spread Bagua. Part of that was taking on challenges. One was offered when a Praying Mantis Master, Jiang HuaLong, attacked the much smaller Gong with a bear hug. Twisting and applying his fingers he left his attacker with already swollen lumps the size of fists on this ribs. After becoming the bodyguard of a Chinese general who was killed in battle, Gong decided to retire, left Beijing to go back home, and never returned.

The death of his son and his own opium addiction of decades finally robbed GBT of his qi and contributed to this death in 1943.

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