Master Dong Hai Chuan was born in 1797 (or 1798 or 1813 according to various sources) in the Shanxi province of China to a family of farmers. Then he went by the name Dong Ming Kui. At a very young, he was initiated to the practice of martial arts through a connection to the family called Dong Xian Zhou. His investment in the practice of wu shu brought him to neglect his responsibilities on the family farm.
MasterDong Hai Chuan
He decided to move to Beijing in order to make a reputation for himself in martial arts circles. He realized very quickly that his training was not at the same level to those in the capital. He then decided he would perfect his form by studying with any person capable of teaching him something in wu shu. He equally launched challenges to gaine experience in combat. During this time, he would change his name from Dong Ming Kui to Dong Hai Chuan. He also traveled to many different provinces in China seeking to further perfect his training.
It was during this more than 30-year period of traveling and studying that he formalized his martial arts method which became the basis of a new art called ba gua zhang (hakkesho in Japan). Certain sources also credit Taoist monks with influencing his training and his art.
Dong Hai Chuan returned to Beijing around 1855. He accepted many challenges like the famous one with the master of xing yi chuan Guo Yun Shen. Over the course of several years he trained many high level students such as: Sheng Ting Hua, Shi Ji Dong, Ma Wei Qi, Liang Zan Pu, Fan Zhi Yong and Liu De Kuan. Master Dong Hai Chuan died in 1882 (or 1879).