by Keoni Everington, December 10, 1999
Liu Xiaoling was born in Wan Ping County, He Bei Province in 1950. As a child, he had an ardent love for Wushu. In the beginning of the 1960’s he was apprenticed to a well-known teacher of Shaolin wushu, Mr. Xiang Bao Jin, who was the disciple of a famous wushu and Shaolin teacher, Liuhe Fanzi. This laid a solid foundation for his later wushu career.
In the early 1970’s, Mr. Liu became a follower of a famous internal arts grandmaster, Pei Xirong, with whom he studied Xing Yi, Ba Gua, Tai Ji Quan, Wudang Qi Gong, and wushu. He was also taught by Baodong Gao, a famous master of Shanxi Xing Yi. In the 1980’s, he studied Liuhebafa with Master Daoli Li and Qi Zhong Liang.
From 1978 to 1983, Mr. Liu competed in traditional Wushu contests in Shanghai and won medals every year he participated. In 1982, as part of the Shanghai Wushu team, Mr. Liu went to Xian to take part in the national traditional Wushu competition. He won the gold medal for his Thirteen Xing Yi spear performance. In 1993, he medaled in the First International Fellowship of Ba Gua.
Mr. Liu is recognized for his mastery of Fanzi, Baxian sword, Liuhe spear, Wu Hou sword, Tai Ji Quan, Xing Yi, Ba Gua, Liuhebafa, Miao Sword, Wudang Qigong, Chin Na, and Tongbei big spear. In the late 1970’s, he focused on all styles of Qi Gong with particular emphasis on Wudang Qi Gong. In 1983, he became the coach for the Wushu Association of Fudan University. After a yearlong tenure at Fudan, he went to Hainan province where he became the director of the Chinese Wushu Training Center of Hai Kou City. He was the first person to teach Ba Gua Zhang in Hainan Province. Mr. Liu now lives in Shanghai and has many students who come from all over the world to study with him.
In 1997, he was listed in the Directory of Famous Chinese Folk Martial Arts Masters. In 1999, he was listed in the Directory of Chinese Contemporary Wushu Masters and in the Directory of World Talent. Also in 1999, Mr. Liu reached the level of 6th Dan Wushu. He is a member of the Shanghai Scientific Research Institute of Qi Gong and the Chinese Hua Yue Xin Yi Liu He Research Institute. He is also a member of the Chinese Traditional Medical Massage Association of Shanghai. In addition, he is a member of the Shanghai Wushu Association, Vice Chairman of the Shanghai Dong Hai Chuan Ba Gua Zhang Institute, and Vice Chairman of the China Cangzhou Tongbei Pi Gua Quan Association.
Mr. Liu has been involved in Chinese Wushu for several decades. He has studied Wushu theory and practice, and he has constantly striven to further develop this discipline. He has reached a high level of both internal and external Gong Fu. He is one of the most highly esteemed Wushu masters in China.
Interview with Liu Xiaoling
Keoni: Mr. Liu, with whom have you studied Baguazhang?
Liu Xiaoling: I studied with Pei Xirong here in Shanghai, who was originally from Raoyang county in Hebei province. Pei Xirong had studied with Yin Fu and Cheng Ting Hua’s sons, Yin Yu Zhang and Cheng You Xin, respectively. This makes me a 5th generation disciple of Dong Hai Chuan and my name is inscribed under the Chinese character for the Bagua symbol Ken on his tomb.
Keoni: Did you ever get a chance to meet the famous Li Ziming?
Liu Xiaoling: I knew Li Ziming very well. In fact, whenever he came to Shanghai, he would stay at my place. On one occasion, Li came here to serve as a martial arts choreographer for a movie called Chui Lian Ting Zheng. Two of his disciples that I know quite well are Wang Tong and Di Guo Yong. One of the most famous foreign students of Li Ziming of course is Zuoteng Jinbinwei who was a venerated master in his native Japan.
Keoni: Can you tell me a little about your Baguazhang repertoire?
Liu Xiaoling: In addition to Liang Zhen Pu’s circular style, I am also familiar with Baxing Bagua or Eight Element Bagua, Longxing Yongshen or Swimming Dragon, and the 64 Straight Line (linear unlike Liang Zhen Pu’s style), not to mention the whole range of Bagua weapons including unusual weapons such as the Sun and Moon Wheel and the Tiger Tail Whip.
Keoni: What is the state of affairs today with Bagua in Shanghai like?
Liu Xiaoling: Shanghai is a very deceptive because as we say in Chinese it is, “Canglong Wohu”, which literally translates to hidden dragon crouching tiger. It basically means that there are a number of great martial artists in this city but they keep a very low profile and at first glance appear to be ordinary people with no special talents. Only when the need arises do they bring their martial arts prowess to bear. Shanghai’s status as China’s commerce center belies the fact that it is also one of the main centers of Bagua practice in China and there are actually thousands of people who practice the art in the city. Thanks to influence of masters such as my teacher Pei Xirong and others from Beijing, Shanghai Bagua is very close to Beijing Bagua in most respects. Many Bagua practitioners in Shanghai can be found in Hong Kou Park from 6 to am. This group consists in large part of martial arts descendants of the late Zhang Rong Qiao. Our group in turn, carries on the tradition of Master Pei Xirong and meets in The People’s Park from 6 to am. Unfortunately, in Shanghai and China in general, Gong Fu was much better in the old days in that although there is a wider variety of techniques practiced now, the effectiveness and power in the old days was far superior. Take sparring for example. Before 1949 sparring was real fighting using full force and basic techniques. Today there are more flowery techniques but less force and there is more concern about protecting oneself from injury.
Keoni: How did the Cultural Revolution affect Bagua in Shanghai?
Liu Xiaoling: During the Cultural Revolution Bagua like all other traditional martial arts in China suffered what we refer to as The Severed Period. Bagua was banned and thus the art could only be practiced in secret by a few brave souls. Despite the danger and hardships, I continued to practice during this time. Unfortunately, with the passing of my master and Hong Kou district’s Master Zhang Rong Qiao the old generation is gone now from Shanghai with little opportunity to pass on knowledge to younger generations. This is due in large part to the fact that The Severed Period kept these masters from passing their knowledge to younger generations at a time when they would have been in their teaching prime.
Keoni: What is the current governing body for Bagua in Shanghai?
Liu Xiaoling: The overarching organization is the Shanghai Municipal Physical Culture Committee, below that is the Shanghai Wushu College, and below that are a wide variety of organizations for specific martial arts styles including our organization; The Shanghai Dong Hai Chuan Baguazhang Research Institute of which I am Vice chairman along with two of my classmates. There are over 300 members of our Baguazhang institute in Shanghai and was officially founded last year. Due to current problems with Falungong, which is completely unrelated to our art or organization, our institute is temporarily inactive and all public activities are prohibited by the government.
Keoni: Do you know of any Bagua stylists in the U.S. or San Francisco Bay Area?
Liu Xiaoling: Yes, there is a well known Taiwanese master in Cupertino, California named Xu Ji who is a disciple of the famous Taiwanese master Liu Yun Jiao. Liu Yun Jiao was Gong Bao Tian’s student who was one of the few students of Yin Fu. In addition, there is a Bagua stylist in Los Angeles named Jiang Zhichen. I have an American student in Silver Spring, Maryland named Paul Ramos who studied Xing Yi and Bagua under with me for a few years. I also have students in Washington D.C. and British Columbia.
Keoni: Thank you very much for your cooperation, is it true that you are going to Maryland soon?
Liu Xiaoling: Yes, I will be going to Maryland in December of this year and will be permanently immigrating to the U.S.
Although Liu Xiaoling will soon be immigrating to the US, there are still a few direct disciples of Pei Xirong that will continue to teach in the People’s Park in Shanghai. Tuition is $10 per hour for foreigners but is for free for those that become direct disciples (Tudi). Class is held every day from 6am to 9am and runs later on Sundays at Hong Kou Park until 7am.