Yin Fu and Cheng Ting Hwa after Tung Hai Chuans död
Not long after the death of Tung Hai Chuan, Yin Fu became involved in a dispute between the Eastern Granaries and the Western Granaries. The owner of the Eastern Granaries was an old friend of Yin's, so Yin Fu offered to personally protect his friend and his friend's business.
The head of security for the Western Granaries decided to visit his Eastern counterparts and explain to them how business would now be done in the capital. When he arrived he found Yin Fu waiting for him with Yin's Baguazhang Needles silently spinning across his palms. The needles were 8 inch spikes with a finger ring attached to the center of the needle by a swivel. This allowed the needle to spin 360 degrees under the palm and fingers. The weapon was a perfect adjunct to the trap and counter-thrust techniques of Yin Fu's Eastern City Baguazhang. With his Needles, Yin Fu, effortlessly removed the trouble maker from his friend's business establishment.
The Security Chief of the Western Granaries decided that it was time for some outside help. Drawing money from the granary's account, he hired a local swordsman with a reputation as a killer, who simply went by the name of Mr. Yang. This brave killer decided that the most prudent way to approach Yin, was by roadside ambush. Yang did not anticipate Yin's reflexes or his Baguazhang Needles. In two moves, Yin deflected the sword and counter-thrusted with a needle. Yang fell dead on the spot. When the owners of the Western Granaries heard of this encounter, they immediately sued for peace with the East. It is safe to assume that they also hired a new security chief.
Tung Hai Chuan's former patron, the Prince Su Wang also heard the story of the Granaries dispute. He was so impressed that he called Yin Fu to the palace and gave him Tung's old position of house martial arts instructor and the job of inspecting the Revenue Collection Corps. These were quite lucrative positions and a considerable step up in Yin Fu's career.
Meanwhile, Spectacles Cheng's reputation was growing in the South end of the city. One day a local strongman named "Big Han" calmly walked into the courtyard of Cheng Ting Hwa's school and announced that no one could match his strength. Cheng stretched out his right arm in the Baguazhang version of "Unbendable Arm" and flatly stated, "If you can lift my arm, I'll admit defeat!" Han put his shoulder under Cheng's arm and with the combined power of his legs and back, he lifted with all his might. Minutes went by, but Cheng's arm didn't move a fraction of an inch. As soon as Cheng detected Han's loss of breath control, Cheng dropped his elbow a half inch, which deposited "Big Han" on the ground. Han lay there gasping for breath for many minutes before he gathered enough strength to leave.
On another occasion, Cheng was walking just outside the walls of the Forbidden City, when he was attacked by four burly wrestlers. They were training partners from Cheng's old Shuai Chiao days who were jealous of his new success. One by one, each wrestler was tossed into the moat of the Forbidden City.
Cheng also became known for his ability to make the best out of a bad situation and to make a friend out of an enemy. While teaching basic circle walking to his students, one afternoon, Cheng was interrupted by the laughter and heckling of a rather large young man. "This is kung fu? It looks like a blind man feeling fish" bellowed the young giant. He was known as "Tiger Zhou" and was from the south end school of Wang Shen. Wang was a famous swordsman who was called "Fast Broadsword Wang". He had faced ten martial masters of Beijing, and they had all tasted his sword blade. Reaching the position of Wang's number one student had made the Tiger quite confident.
"Strong Gentleman, please bestow a lesson upon us", called Cheng. Zhou looked with disdain at the short middle-aged man with the glasses. "I'll show you something!", he arrogantly quipped. He then walked over to a huge stone plaque, which was half buried in the ground, and with a grunt, he wrapped his arms around it and pushed the thousand pound stone over. Cheng looked over at the Tiger and said, "You're certainly a strong young fellow, but I don't think that you could push an old fellow like myself."
Zhou couldn't believe his ears.
Cheng continued, "If you can push me I will bow to you as my teacher!"
"Today, I accept an old disciple." countered Zhou. The Tiger pushed Cheng three times in rapid succession, but to no effect. An infuriated Zhou, screamed and attacked. The stocky man seemed to simply raise his palm and Zhou shot away and fell to the ground.
Cheng walked over and apologized, "If I, Spectacles Cheng have hurt you, please forgive me." Realizing who he had faced, Zhou felt set up by not having been informed who he was facing at the onset of the encounter. He leapt to his feet and ran back to the south end school of Fast Broadsword Wang.
Upon arriving at his home base, Zhou went into a tirade about his loss of face and how it was his teacher's responsibility to get revenge for him. Wang knew who Spectacles Cheng was and wouldn't even grace his student with a word of response. A few days later, Tiger took a few of his martial brothers to Cheng's school and invited Cheng to their practice hall. Zhou then ran back to tell Wang that Cheng was on the way. Wang was apprehensive and not pleased with Zhou, but Cheng appeared and greeted Wang with complete respect and as a martial brother. The two of them spent the morning in friendly discussion. When Cheng prepared to leave, Tiger saw his plan falling apart and decided to take a last shot at revenge for himself. As Cheng turned to leave Zhou leapt forward and attempted to stab him in the back. Cheng turned his head quickly, causing the coin in the end of his braid to strike the Tiger in the center of his right eye, dropping him to the ground in a shower of blood. Cheng chuckled coldly and left.
Wang knew that Zhou was in the wrong, but he also felt that he had lost face by having his student blinded right in their training hall. He felt a strong need for revenge so one evening he took his broadsword and set out to ambush Cheng. He hid in an alley near Cheng's home and waited for the Pa Kua master's return. "Cheng will pay for my student's eye with his two legs", Wang thought to himself. When Cheng appeared, Fast Broadsword Wang explosively chopped for his legs, but the sword only cut air. Cheng had seemed to disappear. Suddenly Wang felt a blow to the back of his right shoulder and his arm went numb and then filled with pain as he dropped his sword. He turned to face a cold eyed Cheng. "There was no problem between us" admonished Cheng, "the problem was your student, but now I see why he didn't know how to act. Now take your broadsword and go home and behave!"
Wang didn't go home. He travelled China in search of a style which would allow him to defeat Cheng. He found and mastered Buddhist God Warrior's Iron Palm Technique which gave him the ability to chop wood with his hands. After five years of training he returned to Beijing and found Cheng Ting Hwa alone in his shop. Wang attacked immediately and his chop split Cheng's bench in a flurry of flying glass, but Cheng was again gone. Wang knew he was in trouble and he turned just in time to see Cheng's famous Single Pounding Palm headed for his face. It was a potential death blow, but Cheng recognized Wang at the last moment and pulled the blow by fractions of an inch. In a hurt voice, Cheng asked Wang why his mercy had been repaid with another vicious attack. He explained that he would show Wang mercy this one more time, but if it happened again, no strikes would be pulled. Wang fully expected to die and was amazed at Cheng's kindness. He begged for Cheng's forgiveness. Cheng was happy to oblige, stating that many a friendship began with a fight. From that day on Spectacles Cheng and Fast Broadsword Wang were best friends and each of their students referred to the other teacher as their martial arts uncle.
In 1900 a coalition of martial artists tried to drive the Western and Japanese armies off Chinese soil. The ill fated Boxer Rebellion was mostly ignored by the top Baguazhang men. Many of them had connections to the palace which precluded their involvement. Cheng Ting Hwa had no intentions of becoming involved in the conflict, but he was a passionate man. When returning home one afternoon, he found German troops raping and looting in his neighborhood; and he lost his temper. He calmly walked into the middle of the Germans and drew his elbow knives. These were single edged, forearm length, slashing weapons which were his specialty. Cheng turned into a whirlwind of edged death until the Germans retreated, leaving a dozen of their comrades lifeless in the dirt. Oozing blood from a score of wounds, with his last stand successfully over, Spectacle Cheng sunk down among his defeated foes and joined them in the dust of destiny.
Thin Yin did not intend to participate in the Boxer Rebellion. This lack of intention evaporated when he received a summons to the Palace. Upon arrival, Yin Fu was asked if his security agency would protect the Empress Dowager during her escape from the capital. This could be the most dangerous position of the campaign, but it was an offer which he couldn't refuse. The Empress Dowager had been the patron of the Boxers, but had withdrawn her support under pressure from the foreign powers. Now she was despised by one group and hated by the other. Leaders of both groups felt that their cause would be better off when the Empress Dowager was under ground. Being her bodyguard was the last position in the capital that anyone wanted! But she was still the Empress - a personage that people didn't say no to. With the help of his student/guards, Yin Fu safely escorted the Empress Dowager to another palace. It was an act which was to bring him undying fame.
When the Empress Dowager returned to Beijing in 1901, she often called upon Thin Yin to appear at the palace and demonstrate the art of Baguazhang for the amusement of the Empress and her friends. For Yin Fu, it was relatively easy work, the pay was exceptional, and of course, there was no way to turn it down. He was making the best of it until one day he got a little carried away and performed his very best set, the "Swimming Body Continuous Returning Eight Trigrams Palm". The Empress was more impressed than ever. She asked Yin Fu if Baguazhang could be used for more than fighting. When he answered that it was for strengthening the body, she wanted to know if it could prolong life. When Yin Fu answered in the affirmative, the Empress Dowager announced that she must learn this wonderful art and that Yin Fu would begin to instruct her - soon. Yin Fu broke out into a cold sweat. The Empress was over sixty, overweight, and out of shape. She didn't have the strength, flexibility or will power to learn Baguazhang, but you couldn't say no to her; and live! Yin Fu stalled for time by mumbling something about devising a special, ah - Royal study program for her excellency and left the palace to find a quiet place to think. A defensive idea was not forthcoming so Yin Fu tried avoiding the Empress while he tried to think of one. He knew that he couldn't avoid her for very long and the thought of headlessness was beginning to depress him. His state of mind was noticed by Tung Hai Chuan's old friend, Du Bao, the pharmacy eunuch. Upon hearing and pondering Yin Fu's plight, the clever Du Bao came up with a solution.
The following evening Yin Fu presented himself to the Dowager Empress at her Hall of the Everlasting Spring. She was not in a good mood and wanted to know why Yin Fu had been obviously avoiding her. Yin Fu explained that when he left the hall previously that he had realized that he had a problem. He knew that the best way to instruct the Empress was with a personal and secret Baguazhang manual of her own, which she could refer to in his absence, therefore allowing her to obtain perfect Baguazhang. He had wondered for days in the shame of his illiteracy until he had remembered his Baguazhang brother, the eunuch Du Bao of the Imperial Pharmacy. Du Bao had been a student of Tung Hai Chuan and was completely literate, so he was the perfect person to write the manual for Yin. He then presented her with a thin manuscript containing drawings of very simple martial arts stances with extremely elaborate written explanations. He carefully explained that it was a secret Baguazhang manuscript, meant only for her eyes. The Empress was thrilled and named her book THE SECRET ART OF THE PALACE. When she could actually perform the stances within a couple of weeks, she was beyond thrilled. She recalled Yin Fu to the palace and rewarded him with dozens of taels of silver. In this manner Yin Fu fooled the Empress Dowager while increasing his fortune and saving his head.
As Thin Yin spent more of his time guarding and teaching the well-to-do of the capital, many of the teaching duties at his school fell to his number one student, the lumber merchant, Ma Kui. Due to his profession, Ma was often called "Wood Ma" and due to his diminutive size he was sometimes called "Ma the Dwarf". He had long been the champion of the Yin Fu Pa Kua School and met all challenges for his master. One can imagine the ire of a challenger who has been informed that he will not face "The Thin Man", but the school champion instead. Expecting to fight a giant young athlete, the challenger would find himself squaring off with the only man in the school who was smaller than Thin Yin; Ma the Dwarf. The Dwarf never lost a match. Among the men he defeated were; Single Spear Liang Ching, Yang Pan Hou's student Huang Chun, and a visiting Russian strongman.
Eventually the fame of Thin Yin reached all the way to the Emperor Guangxu. He called upon Yin Fu to be received in audience and while there, to perform the marvelous art of Baguazhang for the Royal Retinue. Yin Fu was not sure why the Emperor wanted to observe his martial art, but he was determined to put on an impressive show. When the day arrived Thin Yin stripped to his light green pants and began to walk the circle. Slowly, at first, but as his speed increased, he appeared to lift a millimeter off the ground. His hands moved like blowing clouds as he performed the techniques of White Snake Coils Upon Itself, Great Roc Spreads its Wings and Purple Swallow Opens the Scissors. He followed these with Unicorn Hands Over the Book, Black Bear Rolls over on its Back, and Lion Rolls the Ball. The Emperor was duly impressed and he caught Yin Fu by surprise when he asked to become his student. Yin Fu was thinking about training troops or guarding palaces not private lessons for the Emperor. He didn't realize yet, that the Emperor had decided that the best way to build China, was to first build himself. When he heard this motive, he dedicated himself to training the Emperor of China in the most efficient method possible.
For the first six months of his training, the Emperor Guangxu was instructed to circle the Arhat Pine Tree in the Imperial Garden 300 times each morning. Thin Yin would appear each morning and correct the form of the Emperors posture and movement. One morning when Yin Fu arrived, the Emperor was not at the Arhat Pine Tree. When a servant informed Yin that the Emperor had taken the day off to go hunting, Yin Fu left the palace and wouldn't return until the Emperor came to him to apologize and promise that it would never happen again. Once even the Emperor had chosen a teacher, he must show the man the respect due one's teacher. From that day forward, the Emperor became a model student and learned the skills of Baguazhang quite quickly.
In his second year of training, the Emperor Guangxu encountered a situation which allowed him to practice his Baguazhang skills. A young maid, while relieving herself one midnight was badly frightened by what she claimed to be two white ghosts. The young girl's constitution was so upset by her fright, that she died within two days. Being fond of the girl, the Emperor resolved to uncover the mystery of the two white ghosts.
A few nights later, at the still of midnight, two white forms appeared in opposite corners of the Imperial Garden. They both approached the Ten Thousand Spring Pavilion, where the two white forms met and combined into one. A black form leaped from a flower bed and at the white form which immediately split into two forms. One white form screamed like a banshee and floated off. The other was snagged by the black form and the two began to grapple. As they backed off, each threw off a black and white cloak, respectively, revealing green and white clad men who silently returned to the struggle. The white man attacked with Fierce Tiger Scoops Out a Heart, but the green man circled away. The white fighter attacked with Jade Lady Works the Shuttles and again the green man was gone; this time to return with Close the Door and Push the Moon, which held the white man fast. "Arrest the thief!" called out the green man and the garden was filled with Imperial Guards. The torch light of the guards revealed the green man to be the Emperor Guangxu. The white form was the eunuch Cui from the Imperial Kitchen. Upon questioning he revealed that the other white form was the middle aged maid Yu Qiao. They were meeting in the garden to play ghost and perform such lewd and lascivious acts as a eunuch and his girlfriend were capable of. They had frightened the little maid by mistake was their story. Showing that he had no sense of humor and perhaps why the Republic was soon to replace the monarchy, the Emperor Guangxu promptly had them both executed.
Late in life, Yin Fu became so well off from his involvement in the Royal Palace, that he no longer needed to work at all. The peasant boy from Hebei province was able to spend his final days in leisure.
Thin Yin and Spectacle Cheng represent the origins of the opposite ends of todays Baguazhang spectrum. One man was a thin, stern, deliberate poor man, who worked his way to riches by the patient development of his art and reputation. The other was a short and thick, gregariously friendly, passionate man who didn't experience economic troubles in his life time. He just plain liked to teach and fight and his whole life was dedicated to his Baguazhang and his honor. Yin developed the Ox Tongue Palm and the striking style of Baguazhang. Cheng developed the Dragon Claw Palm and the grappling style of Baguazhang. Together they have fathered most of today's styles of Baguazhang.
The philosophy of Taoism states that from nothing came the one thing, the Tao; and from the one thing came the two things - Yin and Yang; and from the two things came the three things - the lines of the trigrams. From the three things comes everything else. In Bagua, from nothing came the one thing; Tung Hai Chuan; from Tung Hai Chuan came the two things, Thin Yin and Spectacle Cheng; from them came the third thing, the mix of Thin Yin and Spectacles Cheng's teachings. From this comes all other Bagua, making Thin Yin and Spectacles Cheng the Yin and Yang of Baguazhang.