Subject: wuxia Bagua 'eight trigrams' martial artist
Culture: northern Chinese
Setting: late Qing empire, north China 19th-early 20thc
Context (Event Photos, Period Sources)
* Kennedy & Guo 2005 p143-144
"The internal systems of Xingyi and Bagua were ... common systems of choice for men working in private security. It is important to keep in mind that the majority of private security guards spent their martial arts training time with weapons work, just as it was in the military.
"it is crucial to note the importance of the private security industry in employing martial artists, especially since discussions of Chinese martial arts are too often romanticized. The focus is usually on how some martial arts master drove off a hundred bandits with his favorite weapon. Those kinds of statements have more to do with Shaw Brothers movies than they do with the reality of the bodyguard business in China. If the martial arts are to be discussed intelligently then they must be placed into a realistic social and historical context, such as the bodyguard business in old China. ...
"The bulk of Qing-era martial artists who made a living from their fighting skills were either in the military or working for private security companies. There were also those who taught privately or worked as bonesetters -- practitioners of a type of traditional Chinese medicine that involved massage, herbal remedies, and plasters. Oftentimes the two professions were combined. In fact, people who teach martial arts while also working as a traditional Chinese doctor are still quite common in Taiwan, China, and in the United States.
"Teaching duties were often part-time, especially in rural areas that had some form of village martial art, most likely brought home by a local farmer after a stint in the military. This was often an amalgamation of different systems and styles to which the village martial arts master had been exposed. This village martial art was often taught to kids simply as a form of recreation, although certainly with the idea that, by the time they became young adults, they might be able to form a village militia should circumstances dictate."
* Yang 1991 p