Just me… Tong Bei

Over the course of my experience I’ve bumped into a number of lesser known styles—at least outside China—that have delighted me or seem to contain the essence of Kung Fu. This is one I really like.

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Tong Bei (or Tong Bi) is a big style in China and lately it’s been getting a lot of attention. Some people, such as Wang Pei Sheng, considered it eligible for inclusion in that exclusive club, the Internal Styles. Why those who’ve been exposed to Tong Bei like it is easy to understand. It’s a beautiful style combining PiGua and many other fists. Though a classical style it was completely renovated in the 20th century and has emerged with an amalgamation of practical techniques and attractive movements. There are a lot of branches of Tong Bei each with its own flavor. These include White Ape (one of the oldest forms), Chi Family, Five Element, Hong Dong and more. There’s even a Praying Mantis Tong Bei.

I particularly like the Chi Family and the Five Element Tong Bei with their dynamic and practical faces. Chi Family is extensive, with weapons sets and a lot of emphasis on groups of basic skills termed “roads”. Not only do they have roads practice for empty hand but also for weapons. Chi style movements are agile and powerful combining big sweeps with very snappy little jabs.  Where Chi appears to have faster hand combinations,  Five Elements goes in for a bit more forceful engagement with bumping and crowding added. White Ape seems to have the taste of Long Arm with a lot of folding and elbow work. Hong Dong TB likes weapons and has some more exotic forms. Anyway there’s a lot of Tong Bei out there. The overall quality, considering the many branches, is pretty high. Worth a look and your time.

Got a style that you think is interesting, exceptional or just a little weird? Write up some comments and share them with your fellow plumsters.