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Our School Logo: What Does it Mean?

To the average American, the logo that is used for our school is quite strange and has little meaning. Filled with what seems to be odd symbols and unknown Chinese characters, lack of exposure in this area can lead to a number of misconceptions or misunderstandings. People tend to fear what they do not understand. Or they simply ignore it altogether, which does nothing to help bring more people into the martial arts.

Well, within those symbols and characters is some history, lineage, and the essence of Ba Gua Zhang itself.

Note: There are two main ways in which Chinese words are Romanized. In the Wade-Giles system you’ll see, Pa Kua Chang, Ch’i Kung, and Kung Fu. Using the Pinyin system, you’ll see, Ba Gua Zhang, Qi Gong, and Gong Fu. Pinyin generally results in better pronunciation (except for a word like “Qi” that is pronounced, “chee”), some words are more easily recognized with the older Wade-Giles system (i.e. Kung Fu).

What’s in a Name?
First of all, our name, “Blue Dragon” comes from the original name of this Ba Gua Zhang system, as taught by Lu Shui Tian to Master Bok Nam Park. The original name in Chinese was, “Ch’ing Lung Pa Kua Chang”. The Chinese character for “Ch’ing” (also written as “Qing” in Pinyin) can mean “blue”, “green”, or even “blue/green”. When Master Park taught me the Dragon Posture for the first time, he used English and called it, “Blue Dragon”.

A Strong Root
In the center of our logo we have the Ch’iang Shan Pa Kua Chang Association logo. This means we do not stand alone. Our root is with an international association. In 1987, Master Park set out from Inchon, Korea to spread this sophisticated, powerful, and very complete Ba Gua Zhang system. I am very thankful that he did. It has become a never-ending challenge.

After focusing on Ba Gua Zhang for four years, I was on the verge of moving to China to teach English and train with the best Ba Gua Zhang instructor I could find. Well, I found what I was looking for and I didn’t have to move to China. In my opinion, there is no instructor who understands Ba Gua Zhang and natural principles better than Master Park, anywhere.

The Lineage
“Ch’iang Shan”, meaning “Strong Mountain”, was the name given to Master Park when Lu Shui Tian accepted him as a lineage holder of his system. “Ch’iang” represents the sixth generation of the Yin Fu lineage under Dong Hai Chuan.

On the bottom of our school logo you see the two lines of Chinese characters. Chinese is normally written from top to bottom and from right to left.

The first line, on the right, reads, “Ch’iang Shan Pa Kua Chang.” The second line, on the left, reads, “Yi Fu Wu Guan”. It reads, “Yi Fu’s School of Ch’iang Shan Ba Gua Zhang.”

The name, “Yi Fu”, meaning “Firm Father”, is the Chinese name I was given by Master Park in 1995, when I was accepted by him as a lineage holder of his system. “Yi” represents the seventh generation of the Yin Fu lineage under Dong Hai Chuan.  The “Wu Guan” is understood to mean, “School of Martial Arts”, but there are other ways to write this in Chinese. I chose to use Wu Guan because it has more significance below the surface.

The Chinese character for “Wu”, translated as, “martial” is actually a combination of two characters, one is “Ge“, meaning “weapons”; the other is, “Zhi” and it means “to cease” or “to stop”. From this you can see that the original meaning of martial arts was “to stop the usage of weapons” or more clearly “to stop the fighting”. “Guan” most simply means, “a place”. Therefore, this School, “Wu Guan” is, “the place to learn how to stop the fighting.” And the “fighting” is really both externally around us, and internally within us.

Who was Dong Hai Chuan?
The only written records of the origination of Ba Gua Zhang can be traced to Dong Hai Chuan, who is historically credited with creating the style, somewhere around the 1850s. It is believed that Dong learned a meditative circle walking method from monks at a mountain monastery, and combined it with the martial arts he had experience with. However, Lu Shui Tian first learned from one, Li Qing Wu, and stated that his Ba Gua Zhang did not come from Dong Hai Chuan, and was at least 500 years old. In fact, he believed what he learned from Li Qing Wu was much deeper and complete than what he learned from his second teacher, (believed to be Lu Shui Kui, though unconfirmed) who was a Fourth Generation lineage holder in the Yin Fu lineage under Dong Hai Chuan.

Preserving the Lineage
Thanks to Dong Hai Chuan’s foresight, a Ba Gua Zhang practitioner will be given a new name when he or she has been formally accepted into the lineage. The first character of this new “Ba Gua name” will designate which generation of Dong’s lineage the person represents.

Before he died, Dong Hai Chuan wrote a poem which designates 20 generations of his lineage. Dong was afraid that there would be subgroups and sects of Ba Gua Zhang and he wanted students in his lineage to be easily recognized by their Ba Gua generation name.

The second character is given by one’s teacher and combined with the first, denotes both what the teacher sees in this student, as well as the teacher’s hope for what this student will become.

All seventh generation lineage disciples’ “Ba Gua name” will start with “Yi”, which means, “firmness” (in determination, purpose & perseverance). The Ba Gua name of any eighth generation lineage holders will start with, “Ding”, meaning “set” (as in “certain” or “fixed in place”).

Blue Dragon School of Martial Arts Association Logo

Monkey Offers Fruit
Even the silhouette of Master Park in the Monkey Offers Fruit posture of the Eight Animals has siginificance. The monkey is very quick and agile and is regarded as the wisest and most intelligent of the animal kingdom. The monkey is closest to the human and so can be considered humanity’s link back to the natural world.

Yin Yang
Behind Master Park’s silhouette in the center is the Yin Yang symbol. This symbol is more well known today but it simply represents: positive and negative; male and female; hot and cold; or the two most basic complimentary forces of the universe from which all things manifested. The symbol shows the two forces following each other and as one diminishes and runs out, the other arises.

The Yin Yang symbol is also used in circle walking footwork training to help develop quick spiraling patterns of movement and directional changes.


Originally published in February, 2004

About Shifu Ahles

Shifu Raymond Ahles, the owner and Chief Instructor of the Blue Dragon School, is a certified instructor of Ba Gua Zhang Kung Fu & Chi Kung and a 7th Generation Lineage Disciple in the Ch'iang Shan Pa Kua Chang Association. In addition to his 25 years plus teaching experience in the martial arts, Shifu Ahles also holds a B.S. degree in Exercise Physiology and has an extensive background in the healing arts of Oriental Medicine including certifications in Advanced Amma Therapy, Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture.

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