Monkeys can learn martial arts

Tongbeiquan - boxing like a monkey gone wild

In the Tongbeiquan, the movements of monkeys such as orangutans or gorillas are imitated.

The name Tongbeiquan is often translated as: boxes from the back.

The technique is used to push the arms out from the back over the shoulders.

First of all, arms, shoulders and back are relaxed and their range of motion is expanded.

Great physical strength then develops, which comes from the spine.

The basis for this is swinging the body.


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The video (duration 07:12 minutes) shows techniques from a master below.


The name: TongBeiQuan


Tong = open, unhindered, continuous, connected, mastering something

At = back, shoulder, arm

Quan = fist, martial art

Translations for the word combination "Tong Bei" are:
Open your back.
Connect the shoulders.
Force opening from the back.
Boxing from the back.

This martial art is often called simply: monkey boxing.

Other names are: Tongbiquan, White Monkey Boxes, Long Sleeve Monkey Boxes, Wuhou (Five Monkeys), Wuxing (Five Elements), Liuhe (Six Combinations), Pigua (Ax blow).
Sometimes it also describes different styles.


Inner Martial Arts Overview - Journal: Different internal martial arts are presented. This martial art is described in more detail in the chapter "Tongbeiquan" by Angela Menzel. Unfortunately, this is the only book I know about Tongbeiquan in German: Inner Martial Arts - A special of the Taijiquan and Qigong Journal. - view on Amazon


Tongbeiquan belongs to the internal martial arts


Originally, Tongbeiquan was not an independent fighting style, but rather a method of performing and expanding techniques.

Many masters in Tongbeiquan were also masters in internal martial arts such as Tai Chi Chuan, Ba Gua Zhang or Xing Yi Quan.

In any case, the exercises from Tongbeiquan are an excellent addition to other martial arts, especially for the internal martial arts.

The philosophical basis for this martial arts is the teaching of the five elements (fire, water, wood, metal, earth).


Learn Tongbeiquan: punches, steps and the form


First in this martial arts I learn the Striking techniques.
In the 24 striking techniques (Dan Chao) I mainly practice long strikes from a distance. Just as a monkey can reach properly, these blows come from the power of the back, reinforced by the technique of the explosive force Fa Jin.

The punching techniques then expand by learning the Step techniques.
The step techniques (Xing Bu) combine the steps with an upright posture, a good flow of energy and the punching techniques.

Everything then combines into one shape.
A form has not been around for long in this martial arts, it is more of a tribute to the new era. In the form, all movements are combined into a dance of attacks and blows. The practitioner moves on an imaginary line.


Tongbeiquan makes noise


Tongbeiquan not only means to fight like a monkey, it also means to make a noise like a monkey.

The flinging of the arms makes a clapping noise because the hands uncontrollably hit your own arms and trunk.

That irritates the opponent and it impresses him. Because he can hear the power that must be behind such blows. He can see the speed at which they bump.

Practicing is not a civilized walk through form, as is the case in the other internal martial arts. The form is downright rioted. After that, the practitioner is so full of energy that he would like to pull up trees if it weren't forbidden in Germany.

Put together your own training program with Tongbeiquan exercises

In Tongbeiquan, form is not as important as in other Chinese martial arts.

The focus is on the individual exercises. The individual exercises are also not restricted to specific applications.

This has the advantage that the practitioner can put together “his” Tongbeiquan creatively. I can even combine the exercises to create new movements.

So younger people can let off steam with the lightning-fast, powerful movements.

Older people can choose movements in which, for example, alternate fast and slow.

Then condition, age and gender do not play a role.

Shui Gong is also often practiced for Tongbeiquan. Also a specialty. This “sleeping qigong” is practiced lying down. It puts the body in a kind of half-sleep.


A long story full of legends


The martial arts Tongbeiquan is said to be over 1000 years old.

Numerous legends belong to this story.

For example the story of martial arts master Yuan Gong, who turned into a white monkey after losing a fight and disappeared into the woods. From then on he was called Baiyuan Laoren (white monkey - old man). To this day, as an immortal, he is said to pass on his skills to the chosen ones.

Some fighters are said to have only trained in the dark so that no one could learn their techniques.

The exercises in Tongbeiquan first became known to the public in 1910 through Lu Yunqing. Masters began to teach techniques that they had previously only taught behind closed doors.

Today Tongbeiquan also teach sports universities in China and it is also part of the competitions in modern Wushu.


For this, the text "Origin, Development and Evolution of Tongbeiquan" by Wei Haihong .: T o n g b e i q u a n - PDF text


Here then more information about this martial art T o n g b e i q u a n in the English edition of the free lexicon Wikipedia.


See also: T o n g b e i q u a n - at the free lexicon Wikipedia



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