An abridged history of this 400 years old martial art

Tongbei Quan is a popular Northern Chinese Martial Art that has a long documented history, and was very influential to the development of many other Northern Kung Fu styles native to Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei provinces such as Bajiquan, Northern Mantis and Fanziquan. 

The earliest known documentation of “Tongbei Quan” dates back to the 17th Century in late Ming and early Qing dynasty. The style has produced many key figures in Chinese history such as General Li Yun Biao, the ‘Iron Palm’ soldier who resisted the Sui Army in the late Qing Dynasty; and Ma Ying Tu, the dean of the Central Guoshu (Martial Arts) Institute. 

Over the course of the last few centuries, Tongbei Quan styles has developed including several distinct branches such as Bai Yuan, Wu Xing, Houyuan, Er Lang and, Pigua Tongbei to name a few. Although branch has its own distinct characteristics, their roots are all quintesentially “Tongbei” in that they all pay attention to the mechanics of generating power “through the back and arms” to deliver swift and powerful blows. 


Our style is Pigua Tongbei Quan which originated from the Zuo village in Cangzhou, Hebei Province, by Zuo Baomei around 300 years ago during the warring period of the Qianlong Emperor’s reign.

Pigua Tongbei emphasizes practicality, adaptability and efficiency by fully utilising the body’s natural torque to maximise energy generation and power delivery. Pigua Tongbei is known for it’s powerful offense and elusive footwork which makes the practitioner hard to track and hit. 

Well known forms include Mo Mian Quan, Jade Dragon Fist, 12 Grand Fists and 24 Sanda Drills. 


Pigua Tongbei is also well versed in the martial art of weapons, famous are the Gwun (staff), Miao Dao (katana like sabre), Guan Dao, Big Spears, whips, double handed swords, twin swords, twin hooks and more.  It should be noted though that despite the various weapons, the mechanics of Pigua Tongbei power generation is the same as the fist and sparring, which is that power is generated through the back and arms (Tongbei) to hang (Gua) and chop (Pi).


Of all Tongbei Pigua’s weapons, the Stick and Miao Dao are the most representative of the style. The stick is the ‘Grandfather of all weapons’ as from it you can learn much of the foundational techniques and transferable knowledge that can be applied to the various other weapons. Pigua Tongbei is famous for it’s Feng Mo Gwun, the Frenzied Demon Cane.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you primarily Tongbei or Pigua Quan?

The best way to explain this is that there are many “types” of Tongbei Quan, and we are the Pigua Quan type of Tongbei Quan, just as there are White Ape and Wu Xing “types” of Tongbei Quan.

How is Pigua related to your Tongbei Quan?

Simply put Pigua Quan originated as just 1 of many forms in Tongbei Quan that became widely popular and eventually grew into its own training system. Traditionally the form was known as Mo Mian Quan (Wiping Face Fist) and that’s how people referred to it eg) Tongbei Quan’s Wiping Face Fist Kata.

Mo Mian Quan was the designated form that Tongbei Quan martial artists were allowed to share and exchange knowledge with other martial artist of other styles. Famously, Baji Quan adopted Mo Mian Quan into their system, and the collection of techniques within the form became its own training system that became referred to as Pi-Gua Quan (Chopping and Hanging fist techniques.

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