Subject: 武侠 wǔxiá Bagua 'eight trigrams' martial artist as 保镖 private security guard
Culture: northern Chinese
Setting: late Qing empire, north China 19th-early 20thc
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* 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."
* Kennedy & Guo 2005 p139-140
"In the latter half of the Qing Dynasty, beginning in about 1800, the first organized private security businesses started. The most famous one, and the one most people thought of when they thought of private security, was called Hau You Biao Ju, the 'Meeting Friends Guard Service.' Its prominence was due to the fact that it was owned by Li Lian Ying. Li was the head eunuch of the Empress Dowager, and his influence was considerable. As a result, his private security company, headed by a martial artist simply known as Sun, was the best known.
"It was not the only one, however. Each province had one or more organized private security companies that generally offered personal bodyguard services, residence protection, and convoy protection.
"The golden years for these businesses ran from about 1850 to 1900. By the opening of the 20th century, improvements in transportation and communications made the private guard business -- particularly the jobs guarding convoys -- less profitable, and it soon fell into decline."
* Shahar 1998
"During the late Qing, insurance companies, known as biaoju, hired armed guards to escort goods in transit."
* Yang 1999 p55-56
"Zi Wu Mandarin Duck Axe, Deer Hook Sword or Deer Antler Saber (Yuan-Yang Yue or Lu Jiao Dao). There are many names for this weapon. It was also called Zi-Wu Mandarin Duck' (Zi-Wu Yuan-Yang Yue) or 'Sun-Moon Heaven-Earth Sword' (R Yue Qian-Kun Jian). 'Zi' means 'midnight,' which implies 'Yin,' while 'Wu' means 'noon,' and implies 'Yang.' Sun and Heaven are also classified as 'Yang,' while the Moon and Earth are classified as 'Yin.' This is a special weapon, originating from Baguazhang style. It was said that this weapon was specially designed to defeat the sword. Its shape is like Baguazhang's Yin-Yang fish (Yin-Yang Yu). It was commonly used in a pair, like the male and female mandarin duck which are always together. The weapon is called 'Sun-Moon' or 'Zi-Wu,' because when one manifests its intention (Yang), the other is already prepared for an attack (Yin).
"The weapon has been mis-translated in the past as 'Deer Hook Sword.' However, the correct translation is really 'Deer Antler Saber,' because of the weapon's resemblance to a stag's antlers. There is a double hook saber and a single hook saber, referring to the number of antler 'branches' or blades on the weapon."
* Kennedy & Guo 2005 p142
"By the mid 1800s, the favored secret weapon of bodyguards was a Colt pistol. Although it goes against the romantic image of the kung fu bodyguard, firearms were becoming more and more available by that time, and people in the security business were quick to see the advantages of this new technology. The popular image of a Qing Dynasty bodyguard is a skilled swordsman using his saber to drive off bandits. In reality, he was an intelligent man using his reputation, his connections, and his diplomatic skills to protect his charge, all backed up by a gun."
* Judkins 2013-03-25 online
"A number of historians have noted that firearms were common in southern China during the last half of the 19th century, when the modern Chinese martial were really beginning to assume a recognizable form. We know that bandits in the hills found an ample supply of rifles, and that caravan guards and armed escorts carried Colt revolvers along with their pudao (horse knives) and swords."