Ground Dragon Classic Boxing of Shandong Province

Dì Lóng Jīng Quán “Ground Dragon Classic Boxing”, short piece on ground dragon boxing in Gaomi county Weifang prefecture Shandong province. Di Long Jing Quan is a system of martial arts known for it’s wide range of ground fighting techniques. The style has traditionally been practiced in several counties along the border between Weifang and Qingdao prefectures in Shandong. It consists of 24 roads of boxing methods. Aside from ground boxing the style is also known for it’s saber skills and it’s Six Harmony Big Spear methods.

Today, Di Long Jing Quan has become relatively rare in it’s traditional areas of practice. While it’s practice is still going relatively strong in Dawang village on the northern outskirts of Gaomi city it is all but dead in most other areas.

The oral traditions of the Di Long Jing style claim that the system traces back to the reign of Emperor Yongzhen in the early 18th century. At this time there was a corrupt government official in Beijing who had retained a number of highly skilled martial artists to serve as his henchmen. After an investigation the court sent out an order to arrest the official and the martial artists he had hired to carry out his criminal activities.

Many of these fighters attempted to flee and were chased down by agents of the court. Among the fighters one made it to Pingdu county in western Shandong. There the Qing agents found him and attacked him. During the fight the man was seriously wounded, however he was able to flee and before losing consciousness he hid himself in a stack of hay. The court agents were unable to find him and due to the severity of his injuries ended up writing him off as dead.

Shortly after this a local farmer found him in the haystack, took him in and treated his injuries. Eventually he regained consciousness and after a long period he fully recovered. As thanks to the farmer who had saved his life and cared for him during the months he was bedridden, the man stayed and for the next two years taught the farmer and local villagers the skills of ground dragon classic boxing.

During the mid 19th century the style spread out from Pingdu county into a number of villages in several counties directly on either side of the Qingdao / Weifang prefecture border.

The Di Long Jing Quan tradition in Gaomi county in Weifang is generally traced back to the famous mid 19th century Gaomi martial arts master Zhang Qiao. He was born into a well known local family which already hosted a strong martial tradition. His ancestor Zhang Fuzhen was a palace graduate who had served in two posts as county magistrate before being appointed to the upper 6th rank as a high official in the 4th department of the Ministry of Warfare.

By the 1850’s Zhang Qiao had become the best known martial arts teacher in Gaomi county. He practiced local methods of Shandong longfist and was known for his skills with staff and spear. Among his exploits he became famous for leading his students against a notorious gang of local bandits who had attacked and robbed the local pawnshop. In this incident ten bandits were killed.

Later it said that during the Nian rebellion he helped organize the defense of the city and single handedly blocked the entrance to the market street, using his skills in Yue family Longspear methods to hold off a dozen Nian rebel fighters.

Later on as he was visiting friends in neighboring Pingdu county he witnessed the practice of Ground Dragon Classic Boxing in his friend’s village. After much pleading he was able to convince his friend to teach him this system of boxing. He stayed in Pingdu until he was able to learn all 24 roads of Di Long Jing Quan.

After returning to Gaomi he popularized this style with his descendants becoming well known for their ground boxing skills. However, while the Zhang family was known for their skills in this style there were three families in Gaomi who were acknowledged by the Zhang family as being the direct inheritors and public representatives of their family lines of ground dragon boxing. These are the Guan, Lu, and Li families. These families have continued to preserve the main lines of Di Long Jing Quan up until the present day with the Guan family being the best known up until present times.

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