Gouquan Dog Fist

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Dog Kung Fu, i.e. Gouquan (狗拳), is a martial arts style from China. This is a southern style of Chinese boxing that specializes in takedowns and ground fighting. The fighter often assumes stances in which one or more of the hands and feet and even the torso are on the ground, resembling a dog.

This martial art also teaches Iron Shirt and Iron Palm fighting methods as well as specialized leaping techniques. It is mainly practiced in Fujian Province and was historically often practiced by women who were victims of foot binding, for whom any form of standing physical exertion was difficult. Its creation is traditionally put down to a Buddhist nun who developed the style to defend herself from bandits on her travels.

Gouquan or Dog Boxing is a Chinese martial art created by a Buddhist nun. This martial art specializes in takedown maneuvers and ground fighting and encourages the practice of Iron Shirt and Iron Palm training. In this art, the fighter starts with a crouching stance with both hands and both feet on the ground. Offensive forms of this style often come in leaping movements or grappling techniques.

History: Gouquan originated in Fujian Province in southern China, created by a Buddhist nun who was a victim of foot binding, which was common in China before the 20th century.

(Foot binding was the practice of binding a girl’s feet so they would stay small, supposedly making them more attractive to her future husband but also crippling her for life.) She created this style so she and other women in the same circumstance could defend themselves.

This style is also known as shaolin dilong (Shaolin ground dragon) and dishang gongfuquan (fist of ground kungfu). Legends link this style with Southern Shaolin temple. According one of them, this style was developed by Wumei nun. Wumei taught her student Miao Jinhua, Miao Jinhua taught her son – Fang Shiyu.

Fand Shiyu combined dishu quanfa and huaquan in one style. When Southern Shaolin temple was burned, Fang Shiyu escaped to Yongchun, then to Datian, then to Zhuyuansi temple (today’s name is Guanyansi temple), and taught inside this temple. Style was transferred from generation to generation among monks, and was studied by Huikai monk. Huikai wondered on Fujian and Guandong provinces. In Fuzhou he taught Zheng Yishan from Nantai, Laoyazhou county. Zheng very appreciated this skill and was very hard in choosing students. Once he had to escape to Yongzhou, and taught medicine-trader Zhuang Zishen, who lurked him.

According to another legend, in front of Southern Shaolin there was Bailiansi temple. Nuns from Bailiansi studied dog-fighting ground skill, and Qi Jiguang’s methods, which were developed by General Qi during anti-japanese war. During Qing dynasty one nun, who is known as “mother Siyue”, escaped to Yongchun – Yongqin – Fuqing – Fuzhou. In Yongqin she lived some time with Chen family, and taught them dishu quanfa. So this art became Chen family’s art. It was transferred inside the family. Chen Yin studied this art from his grandmother. Occasionaly he killed a bandit and had to escape to Fuzhou, then to South-Eastern Asia. It is a reason why dog style is popular now in that places.

All legends link the creation of this style with women. The reason for this – women couldn’t use “man”‘s styles because wasn’t strong enough, and their feet were deformed by tying, therefore woman couldn’t stand strong during the fight. It was more comfortable for women to fight from the ground surface.

Methods of dog’s groundfighting are divided on three levels. High-level methods are usual shaolin fighting methods (pic.1,4). If they don’t help – you can sit and use middle-level methods (pic.2,5). From this position you can continue by high-level methods (stand up), or by low-level methods (lay down). Low-level methods are used from laying position (pic.3,6).

Naturally a style known as “Dog Boxing” is going to have at least one other name. So Dog Boxing is also called by such names as Shaolin Di Shu Quan (Shaolin Ground Arts Boxing), Shaolin Di Long (Shaolin Ground Dragon Fighting) and Di Shang Gong Fa Quan (The Skill of Groundwork).

Many people consider Dog Boxing to have originated in the Southern Shaolin Temple. Some say its creator was the famous martial teacher and nun, Wu Mei. From Wu Mei it was passed to Miao Jin Hua. Miao, another woman, taught her son: Fang Shi Yu who make a hybrid style containing Dog Boxing and Hua Quan. After the Southern Shaolin temple was burned down, Fang did as many others and escaped.

He went to Yong Chun, then Da Tian, then to Guan Yan Shi Temple known at the time as Zhu Yuan Shi. Fang started teaching at this temple. Thereafter Dog Boxing became a monk’s style for generations. One of its students was the monk Hui Kai. In his wandering Hui Kai visited FuJian and Guan Dong. He taught one students Zheng Yi Shan who was a native of Nan Tai, Lao Ya Zhou county. Zheng did not pass on the art to many but after an incident force him to flee to Yong Chuan he did teach one Zhuang Zi Shen.

A completely different legend traces Dog Boxing to a Bai Lian Si Temple near the Southern Shaolin Temple. Nuns at White Lotus studied methods invented by the martial genius Qi Ji Guang and also dog boxing. This continued into the Qing Dynasty until a nun, by the name of ‘mother Si Yue’ learned the art then went to Yong Chuan – Yong Qin – Fu Qing – and Fu Zhou. She stayed with one family in particular in Yong Qin and she gave them the art.

Once it was in the Chen family it became a family treasure. It passed from one grandmother to Chen Yi who killed a bandit and had to flee to Fu Zhou. Women often did the style – not unlike today in “self defense courses – because it was considered that women could more easily fight from the ground – especially those who might have bound feet and lacked normal stability.

What are the components of Dog Boxing? It contains Rolling, Ground Flowers, Cross Scissors kicks, Push Scissors kicks, Leg Wrapping, Stomp kicking, Diving, Dropping, Kneeling, Grappling, Pulling, Leg Hooking and more.

What is the strategy? To reach retreat to a place of familiarity unfamiliar to the opponent where you neutralize his advantages and emphasize yours. Though uncommon in the West Dog Boxing has had a few advocates such as Allen Lee ShihFu in New York.