ATS & Yin Style Bagua

ATS’ greatest sucess to date is saving the art of Yin Style Bagua from extinction. Reaching great fame at the end of the Qing Dynasty, by the 1980’s the only fully trained Yin Style Bagua practitioner left was the late Dr. Xie Peiqi (1920-2003). ATS discovered a traditional practitioner disillusioned with modern China and spent 10 years documenting this incredible man. Rebuilding estranged relationships with his students and taking Dr. Xie to Europe and the USA, Yin Style Bagua can now be learned by everyone anywhere in the world.

While many claim to be Dr. Xie’s student, there are only 3 people alive who truly learned from him. Liu Shichang (1928-), who was Dr. Xie’s first student and began studying in 1958; He Jinbao (1955-) who began studying with him in 1972 and is one of the most skilled martial artists of this age; and myself (1967-) who began studying in 1993 and is the only person Dr. Xie trained in all three aspects of the art: martial, medical, and internal cultivation. ATS features educational videos from each of us. As we learned from Dr. Xie at different points in his life, our different focuses and training methods offer different glimpses into the art–only by watching all can one appreciate how broad the system is.

Today, you can watch what I believe to be the most comprehensive training videos of any martial art anywhere in our Animal series featuring He Jinbao; you can see the incredible spirit within the art in our Penetrating Palms series featuring Liu Shichang; you can see Dr. Xie himself in our first shoot ever in the Qinna Applications video; and you can track my own passion at returning real weapons and live blades back into the practice of Yin Style Bagua, lost when the government melted down everyone’s metal in the Great Leap Forward and then outlawed using sharpened weapons of any kind.

While I have had the good fortune to meet and interview several of the last martial artists trained before 1949, it was not until discovering Dr. Xie Pieqi in 1993 did I fully understand what a traditional lineage art is or how rare of a find Yin Style Bagua was post Communism. I channeled ATS’ efforts to documenting the complete system of Yin Style Bagua as passed on from Dong Haichuan to Yin Fu to Men Baozhen to Xie Peiqi. Despite Dr. Xie’s passing in 2003, the art continues to flourish. He Jinbao teaches full time and is releasing a growing library of new videos on his personal site, www.yinstylebaguazhang.com; Liu Shichang quietly teaches a few students as he enjoys being almost 85; and the many foreign students who met Dr. Xie in China and on his travels continue to train and have their own students as the years roll by.

With his passing in 2003, I was left as the only student directly trained in all three aspects of the art and taught to see the interconnection between them. This sad truth that Dr. Xie was unable to leave the complete system in any more hands despite over 40 years of teaching is a reflection of the difficult contemporary history of China, the previous secrecy of this lineage and a lack of long term commitment by the many Chinese and foreign students who came and went throughout Dr. Xie’s life. I only wish my own skill was a better reflection of the effort he put into me. For my part, I swore to him on his deathbed to carry on the art as a complete system of martial arts, medicine and internal cultivation, striving to maintain the integrity and authenticity he felt it should have. He believed that while you have to practice every day, Yin Style Bagua is not a daily practice, but a perspective and way of life. In the years since his passing I have slowly come to understand what those final words truly meant. Rest assured, the promise I made him is one I shall keep.

Andrew Nugent-Head

Founder & President, ATS

Hangzhou, December 2011