Imperial Baguazhang Fighting System (Gong Baotian lineage) Teaching in Bay Area/ online


White Belt
Jun 28, 2019
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Hi, all,

For anyone interested in learning baguazhang with applications to fighting, my teacher Steven Zhou (Zou Zenghua) is currently teaching at the Bay Area (Fremont/Union City) in Northern California as well as through online curriculum. The website (imperial bagua or just google “The North American Imperial Bagua Quan Association Zou Zenghua” ) is where you can find the relevant information of email contact address and locations. The system that Sifu Zhou teaches is the baguazhang fighting system of Wang Zhuan Fei (王壯飛), who was a student of Gong Baotian (宮寶田), the last Chief Bodyguard of the Imperial Palace of Qing Dynasty (for cultural reference, Gong Baotian is the figure that the character of Gong Bao Sen from the movie The Grandmaster was based off of). Sifu Zhou’s teaching is based from both his traditional training as well as actual fighting experiences, and he is very open to share the various training and fighting methods within baguazhang. Below is a basic sketch of the curriculum and teaching philosophy of Sifu Zhou’s baguazhang:

Body conditioning:

The core of the Wang Family baguazhang body conditioning is the Zhou Zhang (走掌), or Walking Palm, with circle walking as the basic form. With specific requirements on the positioning of the elbows, wrists, upper and lower body along with stepping, the practitioner can build tremendous strengths in the tendons in ways that conventional weight lifting can’t easily achieve- it’s a different type of strength training. There are also a variety of stance, dynamic stretching and bodyweight training within the system to build up the practitioner’s lower and upper body, as well as increasing flexibility. In short, there is a spectrum of both “soft” as well as “hard” training methods in Sifu Zhou’s teaching.

Fighting Footwork:

The Wang family fighting system has a comprehensive repertoire of footwork patterns that go far beyond circle walking. From the foundational forward& backward speed stepping and pivot step, to some of the more advanced footwork that would set up for leg kicks/maneuvers, those footwork patterns are useful in training the practitioner’s agility, with an understanding of distance & degree with respect to the opponent.

Distinction between hand-to-hand combat and weapons fighting:

Many of the kung fu empty hand routines are actually built with weapons fighting as the end goal. As it turns out some of the fighting approaches that are relevant in weapons fighting may not be applicable in hand to hand combat. The Wang family system is one of those lineages that makes such distinction. The reason is a historical one – at the time that baguazhang was taught in the Imperial Palace, very few bodyguards were actually allowed to carry weapons alongside the Qing Dynasty royal family except for the most trusted. Thus all the bodyguards had to be experts in both hand to hand combat as well as weapons; that is the system that Sifu Zhou inherited, a system with a great focus on the practical aspects of fighting without weapons.

Endless attack/defense combinations building from simple movements:

The core of hand striking training in Wang family system is Chuang Zhang (穿掌), or Piercing Palm. The most basic form of Chaung Zhang is the outer piercing palm, which on the surface will look a little like the western boxing jab- cross combination, but coming from a subtle attack angle and with specific requirements regarding body alignment. From such basic movement comes different variations of lead -rear hand positioning, elbow angles, palm shapes as well as footwork patterns and striking angles that form an infinite attack/defense combinations involving not only the hands, but also the elbows and shoulders. Sifu Zhou also teaches how to train to chain multiple striking movements into combinations.

The simultaneous development of fighting skills and fighting power:

In the past, kung fu students would often start off with learning different basic routines. After the students developed power and body alignment through the forms, those trusted by the teacher would learn the fighting methods within the routines and develop practical fighting skills, such as the footwork patterns as well as learning distance/degree control. Sifu Zhou is one of the old school practitioners that believes that fighting skills should be developed in conjunction with foundational training, because while power and body methods can be developed throughout a practitioner’s lifetime, realistically one only has a limited amount of window to develop fighting skills. Thus, in additional to foundational training, Sifu Zhou would simultaneously teach materials on fighting footwork and angling that in the past were reserved only for indoor disciples. Such method of teaching would help the students to put the movements of basic training into relevant context.

Integration of shaolin long fist striking techniques:

Sifu Zhou is now in his 70’s, and prior to baguazhang he started his kung fu training in the shoalin long fist system when he was under 10 years old. Sifu Zhou trained with the family of Cai Hong Hsiang (蔡鸿祥), who was skillful in the long fist system and one of the founding fathers of modern Chinese Sanda fighting. Sifu Zhou now integrates the striking techniques in shaolin long fist as modules into his teaching of baguazhang fighting footwork. In the past students would eventually learn the fighting techniques in its modular forms, but only after spending years in form repetition. Sifu Zhou’s philosophy of teaching is very application oriented, which is why he decides to teach the techniques directly in the context of combat, rather than in routines.

Once again, those interested in learning more about the system are welcome to check out the website (imperial bagua or just google “The North American Imperial Bagua Quan Association Zou Zenghua” ) for information, or you can message me if you want. Look forward to meeting you all.
Looks interesting. what are the fees for each class? There was no mention on the website.
And it looks like we would only meet once a week sunday?
Looks interesting. what are the fees for each class? There was no mention on the website.
And it looks like we would only meet once a week sunday?

For the tuition I think it is best for you to ask Sifu himself. On the "Contact us" section of the website is the school email where you can ask him directly about class details. There is also a facebook page of the school (Bagua Master Studio) and you can send him message there. Right now the regular group classes are on Saturday morning (application focused) at Fremont and Sunday morning (health focused) at Union City. Recently Sifu has also created a Meetup group page for his Sunday class "Union City Wellness Meetup Group" ( Union City Wellness Meetup Group (Union City, CA)) which is introductory for first comers who may or may not have heard of baguazhang before.

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