Pigua Quan or axe-hitch Chuan was known in ancient times as armor wearing Chuan. It is popular in Gansu Province. Ming Dynasty General Qi Jiguang included the move of putting on armours while fighting as laid out in his book, A New Essay on Wushu Arts.
When the National Wushu Institute was founded in Nanjing in 1928, Pigua Quan specialist Ma Yingtu was put in charge of the fist play department of the Institute. He invited another Pigua Quan pugilist Guo Chang-sheng from Hebei to lecture. The two of them delved into the Chuan adjusting the moves but keeping the excellent essentials and adding speed and explosive power as well as the skills from the 24-form Tongbei Quan. The revised edition of Pigua Quan turned out to be a com-pletely new art, which was said to be feared by even deities and demons.
Pigua Quan in fashion at present has come mainly from this revised version. The axe-hitch Chuan consists of axe-hitch, blue dragon, flying tiger, Taishu and Dajiazi Quan (big frame Chuan ) while the popular version in Cangzhou is made up of axe-hitch, blue dragon, slow and fast axe-hitch and cannon Chuan.
Execution of the axe-hitch Chuan demands accuracy, fluency, agility, continuity, speed, power, dexterity, excellence, subtlety and uniqueness. Be it single moves, combinations of moves, or the entire routine, the axe-hitch Chuan requires a learning process which ranges from simplicity to complexity. In the first place, the stance and execution of movements must be accurate and standard. The emphasis then goes from accuracy to fluency, to agility and continuity, and then to speed, power, dexterity, excellence, subtlety and uniqueness.
Pigua Quan also concentrates on combinations of movements which are complementary to one another and is known for its slowness in pitching stances but its swiftness in delivering fist blows and its subtle use of tricks. The execution of moves and tricks involves tumbling, strangleholding, axing, hitching, chopping, unhitching, scissoring, picking, brushing, discarding, stretching, withdrawing, probing, feeling, flicking, hammering and beating.
The features of the axe-hitch Chuan include abrupt starts and stops, powerful axing and hitching, straightening arms, holding arms and connecting wrists, twisting waist and hips, restraining chest and protruding back, standing high and creeping low, closing knees and clawing feet to the ground, lowering shoulders and breathing deep, as well as continuity of movements. Different styles of axe-hitch Chuan, however, have different stresses in execution
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