Wednesday, September 30, 2009

All About Ditangquan (地躺拳)

Ditangquan (地躺拳) is a style well-known for its spectacular acrobatics in wushu competitions, and is hardly even seen outside of modern wushu. But where did this athletic, exciting style come from?

Pan Qingfu (潘清) and then-competitor Zhao Changjun (趙長軍) created the modern ditangquan together after the latter was rejected from the historic "White House Tour" of 1974 because his specialties were the monkey and drunken styles. As they believed that the original ditangquan was already lost, they "built" a new ditangquan using the drunken style as a base. As a result, modern ditangquan appears as something of a demonstration of fantastic acrobatics more than a martial art, and often features movements like the head flip (頭翻), pouncing tiger (撲虎), and tornado kick to fall.

Video of a young Zhao Changjun performing his ditangquan can be seen here:

In actuality, though, traditional ditangquan has in fact survived, and in various forms in both Taiwan and Mainland China.

In Taiwan, traditional ditangquan has been passed down via several old masters who escaped to the island during war. Of these, the most extensive ditangquan style is the digongquan (地功拳) passed down by Su Kegang (蘇克綱,名克剛,號起三) (1909-) from Qingdao City in Shandong Province, whose lineage is as follows: Li Ermiandazi (李二麵袋子) -> Liu Xiwei (劉希維) -> Su Kegang (蘇克綱).

His extensive digongquan curriculum consists the following:

Single Forms:

Linked Five Palms, with Extra Version and 2-Person Version (連五掌(附‧對打))
Kicking in Eight Directions (踢八方)
White Horse Descends Mountain (白馬下山)
Slippery Cart 1, 2, and 3 (滑車一,二,三段)
Drunken Style (醉拳)

Partner Forms:

Black Tiger Mountain (黑虎山)
Seizing Forgiveness Mountain (奪諒山)
Small Five Hands (小五手)
Hooking Parrying Fist (抅樓拳)

A video of the first form of Su Kegang's digongquan can be seen here:

A more thorough overview of Su Kegang's digongquan can be seen here:

Watching the above videos, one can see extensive hand and leg attacking movements; in fact, the first form has very few acrobatics at all! Later forms do show various acrobatics, however, including the drop-kick from one-handed cartwheel, scissors kick from spin-up, and kicking from arm stand back to standing.

In Mainland China, traditional ditangquan has survived as well; one notable example that has been described in literature is the ditangquan (also called "ground hopping stomping" (地踅卡) or "plum blossom falls to ground" (梅花落地)) as passed down within the Beijing style of chuojiaofanziquan (戳腳翻子拳). This lineage, passed down by Wu Binlou (吳斌樓), includes an extensive ditangquan curriculum in addition to its large chuojiao (戳腳) and fanziquan (翻子拳) curriculum:

Single Forms:

Son and Grandson Cinnabar (子孫丹)
Flying Scissors (飛剪)
Swallow Stuck (燕子卡)
Five Hopping Feet (五踅腳)
Golden Thread Hands (金絲手)
Small Eight Immortals (小八仙)
Drunken Eight Immortals (醉八仙)

Weapon Forms:

Rolling Dragon Saber (滾龍刀)
Ground Prone Whip (地躺鞭)

This style of ditangquan seems to favor some unique movements such as toad jumping (蛤蟆式); as a part of chuojiaofanziquan, it also mixes in the unique kicks of that style as well, such as mandarin duck kicking. The existence of weapon methods in this style is also very interesting.