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Islam in China

Muslim Chinese martial arts

Muslim Wushu

Ba ji quanPi Gua Quan
Liu He Quan
Tán Tuǐ

Muslim Wushu Masters

Ma XiandaChang Tung Sheng

Muslim Chinese martial arts have a long history in China, and many Muslims have participated at the highest level of Chinese martial arts. However, the Qing Dynasty persecutions greatly stimulated the practise of martial arts among Chinese Muslims. The Hui started and adapted many of the styles of wushu such as Bajiquan, Piguaquan, Liu He Quan, and other styles. There were specific areas known to be centers of Muslim martial arts, such as Cang County in Hebei Province. These traditional Chinese martial arts were very distinct from the Turkic styles practised in East Turkistan.[1]



Bajiquan ("eight extreme fists") was first recorded as being practiced by Wu Zhong, a Hui Muslim from Meng Village in Cang County in Hebei Province during the early Qing Dynasty. According to tradition, Wu was taught the style by a Taoist priest Lai, and his disciple Pi.

It is believed that at this time, Bajiquan and Piguaquan (chop-hanging palm) were taught together, or may even have been one style. However, after Wu Zhong's death, his eldest daughter Wu Rong married a man in Luotong village, Cang county. For some reason she only taught Pigua, and in the Meng village they only taught Baji.

A few generations later the teaching of the arts was recombined by Li Shuwen (1864 AD-1934 AD). Nicknamed "God of Spear" for his outstanding ability with the spear, Li Shuwen learned Bajiquan from Jin Diansheng in Meng village, and piguazhang from Huang Sihai in Luotong village. Li had many famous students, including Huo Diange, his first disciple, who was bodyguard to Pu Yi, the last Qing Emperor. Huo Diange (and most of Li Shuwen's other disciples) were not Hui, however.

Li's last closed-door disciple was Liu Yunqiao (1909-1992) (also not Hui), who he taught for ten years before his death. Liu was already proficient in long fist and Mizongquan (lost track fist).

Bodyguards of Sun Yat-Sen, Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong were students of grandmaster Liu. One famous disciple of Liu in the west is Adam Hsu.

Bajiquan is sometimes considered an internal system, in that sense more closely related to taijiquan than Shaolin. It is a compact and devastating system, featuring much stamping and weight changing , as well as its own special method of generating power.[2]

Although bajiquan is no longer practiced exclusively by Hui, there are still many famous Hui practitioners of the style today, including Wu Lianzhi (the lineage holder of the style from Meng Village), Ma Xianda, Ma Lingda, Ma Mingda, and others.


Zhaquan or Chaquan is an Islamic longfist (Northern Shaolin) style said to be created by a Muslim named Zhamir (Chinese: 查密尔) who came from Xinjiang in the Ming Dynasty. Widely practiced throughout China, but particularly in Shandong and Henan, Zhaquan features graceful, extended movements, as well as various acrobatic maneuvers and many weapons. The Shandong styles are sometimes divided up into three families: Zhang, Yang, and Li. Zhaquan training includes 10 lines of Tantui (Chinese: 十路彈腿) (see below), 10 forms of Zhaquan (Chinese: 十路查拳), and many other forms in its curriculum (which vary by style).

Famous Hui exponents of this style include those from ancient times, such as Zheng He, an admiral of the Ming Dynasty, as well as famous practitioners in modern times, like Wang Ziping, Ma Jinbiao, and Zhang Wenguang (who was instrumental in created the modern wushu version of Changquan). Still widely practiced by Chinese Muslims, the style nevertheless is now popular with non-Muslim Chinese as well.


Also known as Qishiquan (Chinese: 七士拳 - "the seven warriors"). Originally the name memorialized the seven imams of Islam, but was altered to the seven forms. Starting among Muslims in Henan, it eventually reached Shanxi. The style, as the name implies, is based on seven essential postures from which sets are constructed. Unfortunately, however, the style is becoming increasingly rare and very few people practice it.[3]

Huihui Shiba Zhou

Huihui Shiba Zhou (Chinese: 回回十八肘 - "Hui elbow eighteen style") was so secret that it was considered completely lost. That was until 1970 when researches found a teacher Ju Kui who knew the style. Ju Kui born 1886 was from a Hui family in Hebei. At age six he started learning from Sun Dekui of Dezhou, Shandong. He trained for 17 years learning 19 types of martial arts. At the age of 33 he also tried to improve himself by studying with Yang Wanlu an imam from the Tong Shou Mosque.


See also: Xingyi

Xinyiliuhequan (Chinese: 心意六合拳 - "Mind, Intention and Six Harmonies Fist") is a martial art that developed in Henan Province among the Hui people. It is considered one of the most powerful and fighting-oriented styles of Chinese Martial Arts, and for a long time it has been known for its effectiveness in fighting, while very few actually knew the practice methods of the style. Xinyiliuhequan, along with Zhaquan and Qishiquan (Boxing of Seven Postures), have been considered Jiaomenquan (Chinese: 教門拳, "religious - i.e. Muslim - boxing") meant to protect followers of Islam in China.

Although practiced and preserved by the Chinese Muslim community in Henan, the style is recognized to be originated by Ji Longfeng (also known as Ji Jike ) of Shanxi province. The Shanxi transmission of this art is carried by the Dai family and transmitted to Li Luoneng, who modified the style more or less into the modern Xingyi practiced widely in Shanxi and Hebei. Since the Dai style Xinyi contains practice originated from the Dai family, the transmission within the Muslim community is considered the most conserved lineage.

Xinyiliuhequan's practice methods are not numerous compared to other styles, and include ten big shapes (Chinese: 十大形), four seizes (Chinese: 四把), single seize (Chinese: 單把), and so on. The style favors close-range tactics, such as shoulder strikes.

For more than two centuries the style had been kept secret and transmitted only to very few Muslim practitioners. Only at the beginning of this century Han Chinese began to learn the style, but even today, many of the most skillful experts of Xinyiliuhequan can be found within Hui communities in China, especially in Henan Province. In modern times, however, the style has been transmitted to Han Chinese as well, especially in Shanghai through Lu Songgao. The style is considered to have two main branches, the Lushan style and the Luoyang style; the latter style is still comparatively rare outside of Hui communities. [4]


A group of school children practice martial arts formation under the watch of their teacher in the Great Mosque of Xi'an.

Piguaquan ("chopping and hanging fist"). It is generally believed to have been founded by Wu Zhong, a Chinese Muslim from Meng Village, Cang County, Hebei Province. Wu initially learned the two styles from two Daoist monks Lai and Pi in 1727. Wu then taught his style to his daughter Wu Rong. She is considered to be the second-generation master of this style. She married and taught her martial art to her husband. Her husband and she taught their style as two separate systems: baji and pigua. They only taught piguaquan to her students in the Luo Tong village and the Bajiquan style was taught only at Meng village. Piguaquan is now widely practiced all over China, and features long-arm swinging and chopping techniques, some of which have been adapted and included in modern wushu forms (for example, wulongpanda (Chinese: 烏龍盤打)).

Famous Hui practitioners of Piguaquan today include Ma Xianda, Ma Lingda, and Ma Mingda.


Tantui ("flicking or spring leg") is a style originally from Turpan usually used as basic training for Zhaquan (see above). Originally, there were 28 lines of tantui, one for each letter of the Arabic alphabet; however, later on, the last 18, which were comparatively complex, were merged into two forms called Tuiquanshi (Chinese: 腿拳勢), still practiced in Zhaquan.

Tantui has been adapted and modified by many other styles of martial arts for basic training, including other styles of changquan, the Song style of xingyiquan, and others. Tantui also exists as its own style in Shandong province (where it is written as Chinese: 潭腿, not 彈腿, however).


  1. ^ NTU Bajiquan Kungfu Club
  2. ^ TRADITIONAL CHINESE INTERNAL MARTIAL ARTS (By Alan W. Ellerton and Master Ji Jian Cheng)
  3. ^ CHA CHUAN and Muslim Systems
  4. ^ Xinyi Liuhe Quan - the secret art of Chinese Muslims: Brief History by Jarek Szymanski


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