Liu Dekuan (劉德寛), whose style name was Jingyuan (敬遠), was born in Cangzhou, Hebei Province (河北滄州). In Cangzhou, Liu Dekuan learned Six Combinations Boxing (六合拳) from Li Fengyan (李鳳崗); in Beijing, he learned Yue Family Free Fighting (岳氏散手), today known as Eagle Claw Overturning Boxing (鷹爪翻子拳), from Liu Shijun (劉士俊). In the south, he also learned six lines of halberd (方天劃戟) methods. In Beijing, he also learned Baguazhang (八卦掌) from Dong Haichuan (董海川) and Taijiquan from Yang Luchan (楊露禪) (via Yang's son-in-law Xia Guoxun (夏國勛)).
In addition, in the 20th year of Guangxu (光緒二十年) (1894), Liu Dekuan, Liu Weixiang (劉維祥) (Guo Yunshen's (郭雲深) disciple of the Xingyi school), Cheng Tinghua (程廷華) (Dong Haichuan's disciple), Geng Jishan (耿繼善) (Liu Qilan's (劉奇蘭) disciple of the Xingyi school), and Li Cunyi (李存義) (also Liu Qilan's disciple) met in Beijing to combine the three families of Taiji, Bagua, and Xingyi into a single family, removing stylistic boundaries to study together and improve the arts. Through these exchanges, Liu Dekuan was able to further his study of Baguazhang and learn Xingyiquan as well.
As Liu Dekuan was well-versed in many styles and methods, he is an enigma in that a great many schools of martial arts are connected to him.
Liu Dekuan taught his taijiquan, which in modern times has been called "baguataijiquan" (八卦太極拳), to Cheng Youlong (程有龍) (Cheng Tinghua's eldest son), Guo Gumin (郭古民) (Liang Zhenpu's (梁振浦) disciple), and Wu Junshan (吳俊山) (Shi Jidong's (史計棟) disciple). Cheng Youlong taught Li Cunyi's disciple Guo Zhushan (郭鑄山) in his father's name. Guo Gumin taught Wu Yue (吳岳). Wu Junshan taught Zhang Xiangwu (張驤伍) of the Baji school, Fu Shuyun (傅淑雲) who later emigrated to Taiwan, He Fusheng (何福生), and Zhang Wenguang (張文廣) of the Cha school.
Liu Dekuan taught Six Combinations Boxing to Liu Caichen (劉彩臣) and Zhao Xinzhou (趙鑫州)； Liu Caichen in turn taught Ma Yuqing (馬玉清), Wu Zizhen (吳子珍) who later founded the Simin Martial Arts Society (四民武術社), and Yin Ruchuan (尹如川) who later emigrated to the United States. Zhao Xinzhou taught Wan Laisheng (萬籟聲) who later learned the Natural Style (自然門) from Du Xinwu (杜心五) (who was famous as a bodyguard of Sun Yat-sen (孫中山)) and Liu Hongjie (劉洪傑) who later joined the Bagua school.
The Bagua school in particular benefited greatly from Liu Dekuan's efforts, absorbing Liu's qinna (擒拿) methods, spear skills, halberd skills, and the 64 hands (六十四手). The 64 hands are a linear Baguazhang set of 8 lines of 8 techniques, based on Liu's rich experience in baguazhang as well as his experience in the other arts outlined above. Another method that is often attributed to him is the fighting body spear (戰身槍), a well-known Bagua spear set. Liu Dekuan taught his baguazhang methods to Guo Gumin, Cheng Youlong, and others, who in turn passed them on to others in the Bagua school.