Tang Quan (唐拳) is thought to have conceptualized over 1,300 years ago as being developed by the the third son of the Tang emperor Li Yuan, Master Li Xuanba. Also thought to be spiritually impacted by Da Mo earlier. Li Xuanba, had natural martial abilities, strong complex and fierce strength, and refined skills. The boxing that Li Xuanba, out of respect for the Tang Dynasty of the time was named "Tang" Boxing. The Tang Dynasty Taizong, Li Shimin, was the second son of Li Xuanba and had practiced martial arts since his youth. Being trained in both the military and scholarly arts he did much to develop the skills of his father, and became known as the ancestor of Tang Quan.
History and Origins
During the latter part of the Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty, Tang Quan had been spread further and since its practice in the Cangzhou region of Hebei Province in Northern China the art has gained much reputation. In Hebei (known as Zhili at the time) province, one of the descendants of Li Zicheng (Rebellious leader who was instrumental in overthrowing the Ming dynasty), the warrior Li Tianxiang settled in the Bei Tao Yuan Village, Nanpi County of Cangzhou prefecture. For over 10 years he taught many across Nanpi county and the art has since spread over the last few hundred years far and wide.
Li Tianxiang had three most senior disciples which then established their own branches of practice. These were Liu Fang, Han Yunfei and Sun Sheng.
Liu Fang (1735-1815), also known as Liu Fu An, was from the Dashujin village of Nanpi County. He had studied in Bei Tao Yuan Village with Master Li Tianxiang and had acquired reputable skills. He latter taught disciples from across the region such as Liu San, Li Si, Wu Bingshun, Wang Chunyun, Zhou Changchun.
Han Yunfei (1744-1823), also nicknamed as YunliFei, was from the Qijiawa village of Nanpi County. He was reputed for extremely light and nimble footwork and effective kicking methods. His disciples were mainly his family such as Han Yulin, Qi Bangfeng and Qi Shude.
Sun Sheng (1742-1826), also known as Sun Jincheng, was from Linqingzhou in Shandong province. He travelled to Bei Tao Yuan and studied with Li Tianxiang. Sun Sheng was an amazing fighter and was known for the speed and accuracy of his technique. It was said as his arms were stretched out, the hands could not be seen, as the steps entered he would appear behind you and that enemies could not escape his techniques. For this he became nicknamed "Sheng Shou Sun Sheng" (Spritual Hands Sun Sheng. Some of his latter students include Sai Feiyan and Kang Wenli. Other notable students had later become members of the Yi He Tuan and Bagua Uprisings.
From those beginnings Tang Quan spread far and wide with over 2,000 practitioners during the early 1900's in Nanpi county alone. 3rd Generation Masters: Zhou Changchun, Han Yulin and Kang Wenli 4th Generation Masters: Tian Keming (1848-1924), Hao Dingfu (1855-1931), Jiang Gui (1858-1930) and Qi Shuxing (1870-1945). 5th Generation Masters: Geng Jinchang ( 1887-1967), Jiang Yujun ( 1906-1979), Chen Yuchun (1897-1975), Li Shulin (1874-1951), Wang Yuzhi (1883-1964) and San Qinglin (1884-1929), Li Zhongde (1904-1997), Wang Liancheng (1914-1983), Wu Fengming (1913-1986), Ye Bingren (1912-1998), Li Dehai (1883-1954) and Yang Baoxing (1905-1984)
Features and Characteristics
Tang Quan is a style that requires clear physical strength, with relaxed and open or large movements, the interplay between the soft and the hard in order to release power and that changes between techniques are seemless being linked continually together. The techniques are executed very clearly and in combat there is the element of interplay betweel the empty and fullness of force (fakes and real attacks).
In terms of techniques the Tangquan 10 Keywords are: Tui (Push), Tuo (lift), Ling (Lead), Dai (Carry), Ban (Remove), Kou (Detain), Jiang (Plan), Dian (Point), Qin (Grab) and Na (Lock). Footwork is vital and the basic stances are Ma (Horse), Gong (Bow), Xu (False), Pu (Lean), Xie (Cross). Given the emphasis on footwork the key methods are Ti Luo (Rise and Fall), Jin Che (Enter and Retreat), Shan Zhan (Dodge and Evade), Ji Dun (Chicken Squat), Du Li (Single Leg), Gai Bu (Building Step) and Tou Bu (Stealing Step). In Tangquan the saying is " If the Footwork is not lively then the boxing/techniques are in Chaos, if the footwork is not fast then the boxing/techniques are slow".
Tangquan practitioners aim to move like a dragon, turn like the wind, rise like waves, jump as a the rising clouds, Drop like a swallow and stand like a tiger. The Force is released from the waist and movements should be as fast as lightning. Four Combat Approaches: Ti (Kick), Da (Strike), Shuai (Throw), Na (Grapple). Eight Methods: Shou (Hands), Yan (Eyes), Shen (Body), Bu (Footwork), Shen (Spirit), Qi (Energy), Li (Strength) and Gong (Skill). Originally Tangquan consisted of the 108 Hands, and nowadays have evolvd so that the forms of Tangquan include the following:
Shi Er Lu Tantui (12 Roads Spring Kicks )
Dan Liu Tui Shi (Single Kicking Methods)
Shuang Liu Tui Shi (Double Kicking Methods)
Qing Long Quan (Green Dragon Boxing)
Wu Hu Quan (5 Tigers Boxing)
Xiao Shi Quan (Potential Boxing)
Mo Mei Quan (Green Dragon Boxing)
Fei Hu Quan (Flying Tigers Boxing)
Guan Dong Quan ( Protect East Boxing)
Pao Chui Quan ( Cannon Boxing)
Za Quan (Mixed Boxing)
Qunying Quan (Beat Boxing)
Tang Chui Quan (Tang Strikes Boxing)
36 Chui (36 Strikes)
Tao Chui Quan (Sequenced Strikes Boxing)
Mai Fu Quan (Ambush Boxing)
Many of the forms can be practiced individually but also as a two-man combat set. Given its long history and being situated in the Cangzhou area, there are many weapons included in the style such as:
Liu He Dao (Six Harmonies Broadsword)
Yan Ling Dao (Goose Feather Broadsword)
Tongbei Hua Dao (Through the back Flower Broadsword)
Meihua Shuang Dao (Plum Blossom Double Broadsword)