Two Old Generation Xingyi Masters Pass Away

On April 18th, 2003 two renowned experts of Chinese martial arts passed away:
Wu Dianke (1911-2003) was a living legend of Shanxi Xingyiquan. Born in Taigu, Shanxi Province, he began his martial arts practice learning from Wu Yaoke, his older brother, to improve his health. Through practice of Xingyiquan he became helthier and stronger. As a teenager Wu Dianke learnt for 4 years from Bu Xuekuan, famous disciple of Che Yizhai, but also received guidance from Li Fuzhen, Li Guangheng and Che Zhaojun. In 1932 Wu became disciple of his main teacher, Liu Jian (who was Che Yizhai's late disciple). in 1950 Wu compiled "Xingyi Boxing Manual (Quan Pu)". In 1993 a "Complete Book of Xingyiquan" - of which Wu Dianke was main editor - was published and since then has been a bestseller among Xingyiquan practitioners all over China.
Photo on the left: Wu Dianke (R) at the age of 90 practicing Xingyiquan with his student Wu Xiufeng

Liang Kequan (1918-2003), native of Zhuozhou in Hebei province; since childhood learnt Xingyi, Bagua and Taiji from Zhou Luquan (Liu Fengchun's disciple), Cheng Youxin and Zhang Yinwu (student of Li Cunyi). During Japanese aggression Liang joined the army and took part in many battles, often using his martial arts skills in hand-to-hand combat. Once during a martial arts competition which took part at the time of Chinese Spring Festival he defeated Japanese judo expert. Later Liang was breeding fish in Tangshan to support himself so that he could spend more time on martial arts practice. Liang was famous for his fighting skills, tested in many fights. He collected many martial arts texts, many of them very rare. In his teachings Liang stressed importance of soft power, and although his Xingyi was not as aggressive in its appearance, he could strike a tree with his shoulder and cause it to shake. He died of heart attack.

"The Sublime Martial Art" - Shaolin Soldier Monks  Make Their Living

While the millennia of tradition continues at Shaolin Temple, the monks are walking out of their once forbidden world, giving performance of "Shaolin Warriors" by the temple's Wu Seng (Soldier Monks). The show depicts the monks' daily life, their religious rituals, and the amazing physical feats. Music combined with high-tech lighting and a stage setting that evokes Buddhism philosophy has created a visual event that is both vibrant and dramatic. To perform in the outside world, the show is seen as a commercial enterprise. Shi Shenzhi, Shaolin Temple Receptionist Monk, says that giving commercial performance is not as shocking as it may seem; He cites the fact that wit Buddhism's signature tolerance, Shaolin is more open now and has incorporated styles form other fighting forms. This is in contrast to the past, when other martial art techniques were not permitted to "taint" the Shaolin style. Those who did not belong to Shaolin Temple were not permitted to learn Shaolin kungfu. And the art itself has changed, says Shi. "Wushu was once only fighting-oriented, now it's more artistically-oriented," he says. It seems that technology and spirituality go hand-in-hand. Today, most of the Soldier Monks, who in the past were forbidden material possessions, accept gifts during their troupe's tours in South Korea and Japan. Their cloth belts which play an important role in maneuvering the "qi" (life force) inside the body during practice now also hold the latest models of cell phones. Text messaging and pop stars are part of their vocabulary, and indeed, sometimes Shi Yanlu, the temple's kungfu master, seems more like a Hollywood booking agent than a monk. Every few minutes his mobile phone chimes, and he's off, fielding calls from overseas groups and individuals, mostly the Europeans who want to visit the Shaolin Soldier Temple and Soldier Monks, or from film directors who want the monks to appear in the movies, or from art directors who want to include them in a photographic project. Head Abbot Shi Yongxi makes it a point to stay abreast of the latest technology; he commissioned the establishment of the Shaolin Website:
Yet while much has changed, much has also stayed the same. All Shaolin monks are still required to study three basic subjects: Chinese, history, and the classics of Buddhism. Little boys still enter the temple, full of dreams. Clad in a saffron robe, little Shi Xiaobao, 8, is imitating the actions of animals - tigers, leopards, cranes, dragons and snakes, as well as the praying mantis, monkey and eagle, each embodying a Shaolin style. The Hebei native became a Shaolin Soldier Monk two years ago, at an age when most boys are entering grade school. He's used to life here, he says staunchly, but admits he missed his parents terribly when he first arrived. Now, he sees them once a year.

Shi Yanying, 20, entered the temple at age of 8, after a heated competition among hundreds of children. "It's a baptism of fire I will never forget," he reminisces, "We were all about the same age, with the same dream. The ultimate goal, for all of us, was to enter the shaolin Temple." Shi Yanying displays a gallery of injuries - a scar on his chest, bruises on his elbows, calluses on his palms that reveal the real rigor of Kungfu. Those rigors no longer include six marks on the scalp, forged by burning incense. Former Prime Minister Zhou Enlai found the practice cruel and inhuman, and the ritual had been eliminated in since 1960s.

Above: Eight-year-old Soldier Monk Shi Xiaobao gets instruction from his master

Initiates of the Soldier Monks need to enter the temple at such a young age, because to master the most difficult "Tongzi Gong" (childhood feats) of Shaolin Kungfu, it must be trained from a young age. Once mastered, the body achieves the ideal Shaolin "state of being" - supple, strong and light. The Soldier Monks rise at 5:30 a.m., and run uphill to Da Mo Cave where the Shaolin Kungfu founder Da Mo was said to have meditated for nearly 10 years. Their physical prowess is such that the run takes them half an hour, whereas it would take even an athletic person twice the time. After an hour of practice, they breakfast on porridge or mantou (steamed bread) before proceeding to three hours of morning drills. Lunch is usually mantou with vegetables and tofu, followed by a brief rest, and then practice again from 3:30 to 6 p.m. After a 6:30 vegetarian dinner, meditation starts at 7 p.m. Their lifestyle is as invariable as their diet, and they perform superhuman feats of strength on vegetarian diet - Six commandments are strictly followed: no alcohol, no meat, no sex, no lying, no killing, no overindulging. On weekends, the monks wear civilian clothes as they go about their chores or go down the mountain. (according to "Shanghai Daily", August 16th, 2002; edited by Jarek Szymanski)

The First Wushu Sanshou World Cup, Shanghai July 25th - 27th, 2002
The First Wushu Sanshou World Cup was hold in Shanghai, China PR in from July 25 to 27th. The event was opened by Li Zhijian, president of International Wushu Federation. Sixteen Wushu federations - from Azerbaijan, Brazil, Egypt, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Poland, Russia, Vietnam, Belarus, Republic of Korea, USA, Iran, Philippines, Romania, Chinese Taipei and PR China - sent their teams to participate in the event. 44 competitors fought in 11 weight categories, 4 persons in each category.
The fights that took place in the first two days were rather disappointing.

The finals were held on Saturday evening, July 27th. Following are the results for each weight category (names of the winners are in bold font):

48kg - Shi Xufei (China PR) won against Rabie Gamily from Egypt; Shi's throws were very effective against Egyptians high kicks.

52kg - Kang Yonggang (China PR) won his fight with Woo Seung Soo from Korea; Kang showed good skill not only in throwing, but also punching and kicking.

56kg - Li Bijin (China PR) won against Diep Bao Minh (Vietnam); in this category both competitors showed very similar skills and the general impression was that Li Bijin won with some help from the judges. The highlight of the fight was Diep's kick that put Li on the ground after Li turned his body following unsuccessful throw.

60kg - Kim Guee Jong from Korea won his fight with Dong Oc Dai (Vietnam); This was the only category China did not put up their competitor.

65kg - Ge Ri Le Tu (China PR) won against Phung Anh Tuan; Phung showed very good skills during earlier fights as well as this one and victory of the Chinese (of Mongolian minority) was not obvious at all.

Above: The cover of "Chinese Wushu" (Zhonghua Wushu) magazine focused on the Sanshou World Cup

70kg - Li Jie (China PR) won his fight against Janhuvat Beletov from Russia.

75kg - Hosein Ojaghi from Iran won his fight with Yuan Yubao (China PR); Yuan is famous for his oblique kicks, but Hosein intercepted them all, throwing Yuan many times and winning in good style before the second round was over.

80kg - Liu Hailong (China PR) won against Gamal Ghanem from Egypt; Liu is considered China's best Sanda fighter, one of "Sanda Kings", with good skill in throwing, punching and kicking; his throws and sweeps gave him clear victory over Egyptian.

85kg - Mohammadreza Jafari from Iran won against Assis Andre (Brazil).

90kg - Ali Asghar Shabani (Iran) won fight against Timur Kamutaev (Russia).

90+kg - Ataev Bozigit from Russia defeated Ren Yanbi (China PR)

Chinese competitors scored six golden medals, competitors from Iran - three, while from Russia and Korea - one each.

Taking into consideration that this was the world-level event and the competitors were representing the highest level in Wushu Sanshou, it seems that Sanda has still a long way to go and in spite of strong efforts in China to make such events also commercially successful, it seems that unless both the fighters and the judges perform better, Sanda will have difficulty in becoming internationally recognized sport attracting crowds.

Li Jie, the president of the Chinese Wushu Association and director of Wushu Administration Center of the State Sports General Administration of China, met in the Chinese Wushu Training Base Chinese Sanda contestants preparing for Sanda against Muay Thai event. Li Jie said that China is not invincible in Wushu. These words were connected with the poor performance of Chinese Sanda team during the first day of Wushu Sanshou World Cup. Li Jie said Chinese contestants did not display the level of skill they should posses and that they should not fight with a burden of being afraid of defeat and only thinking of victory; they should fully display their skills and even if defeated, they should clearly understand why they were defeated. Li Jie highly praised foreign contestants for using many techniques - leg sweeps and oblique kicks with full body turn - coming from traditional Chinese martial Arts; Chinese contestants, on the contrary, were over-cautious.

Li Jie also said that efforts would be made to make Sanda an official Olympic event and for this reason some outmoded regulations and irrational practices would be rejected.


New VCDs to be released in 2002

The following VCDs series are scheduled to be released in the second half of 2002:

"Baguazhang" series - demonstrated by Zhang Quanliang (Liang Zhenpu Baguazhang; disciple of Li Ziming): Walking Methods, Single Techniques, 64 Free Fighting Palm, Eight Basic Single Techniques (practiced along the straight line), Bagua Footwork, Bagua Standing Methods, Bagua Gun Shou (Rolling Hands) Broadsword, Three Harmonies Sword, Bagua demos [Already Released - Click Here To Read More]

"Mei Hua Zhuang" (Plum Blossom Boxing) series - demonstrated by Han Jianzhong (Han Qichang's son): Basic Routines, Techniques (in two parts), Practical Qin'na (Grappling), Mei Hua Zhuang demos;

"Wu Xing Ba Fa" (Five Animals Eight Methods Boxing) series - demonstrated by Qin Qingfeng, main inheritor of the style: routines (in two parts), Shaolin Zhenshan Stick (in two parts), Shaolin Jingang (Vajra) Halberd [Already Released - Click Here To Read More]

"Mian Zhang Fanzi" (Cotton Palm Fanzi Boxing) series - demonstrated by Qiao Xiuchuan: 1st Set (Mian Zhang - Cotton Palm), 2nd Set (Sui Shou - Following Hand), 3rd Set (Heart Chopping Palm), 4th Set (Linked Pigua), 5th Set (Zhan Lan Pa Da - in three parts), Six Harmonies Spear, Ni Hong (Rainbow) Sword, Kui Long Broadsword, Weapons Basics, routines demos [Already Released - Click Here To Read More]

"Mei Hua Tanglang Quan" (Plum Blossom Praying Mantis Boxing) series - demonstrated by Sun De of Shandong, 8th generation inheritor of Taiji Meihua Tanlang Boxing: Four Parts of Eight Pieces of Brocade (Ba Duan Jin) of Immortal Taiyi, Luan Jie Routine, Beng Bu Routine, Eight Elbows, Zhai Yao (Routines 1 to 5), Mei Hua Lu Routine, Willow Leaf Double Handed Mantis Sword [Already Released - Click Here To Read More]

"Qi Xing Tanglang Quan" (Seven Star Praying Mantis Boxing) series - demonstrated by Wang Qingzhai, famous expert of the style: Lei Bian Routine, Lan Jie Routine, Second Routine of Qing Ping Sword, demos of Seven Star Mantis Boxing barehand and weapons routines;

"Liu He Tanglang Quan" (Six Harmonies Praying Mantis Boxing) series - demonstrated by Zhang Daojin of Yantian in Shandong Province: Kai Men Shuang Jin (Gate Opening - Double Brocade) Set, Jie Shou Quan Set, Shuang Feng (Double Wind) Set, Tie Ci Set, Cang Hua (Hidden Flower) Set, Zhao Mian Deng Set, Xian Shou (Immortal's) Adze Set, Duan Chui (Short Boxing), Six Harmonies Sword, Six Harmonies Broadsword, Six Harmonies Stick, routines demos [Already Released - Click Here To Read More]

"Wudang Boxing" series - demonstrated by You Xuande, Taoist monk from WUdang mountains: Secret Wudang Taijiquan, Wudang Sword, Xuan Wu Sword, Taiyi Horsetail Whisk, 18 Forms of Wudang Boxing, Bagua Broadsword, Wudang Health Preserving (Internal Elixir) Methods, Long Teng (Tumbling Dragon) Hatchet, demos of secret Wudang routines [Already Released - Click Here To Read More]

"Course of Traditional Yang Style Taijiquan Pushing Hands (Tui Shou) Methods" series - Fixed Step One Hand Tui Shou, Moving Step One Hand Tui Shou, Fixed Step Two Hands Tui Shou, Moving Step Two Hands Tui Shou [Already Released - Click Here To Read More]

The above VCDs will be offered on this web site as soon as they are released.

In early June I was invited to a meeting attended by the managing staff of Guangzhou Beauty Co. (the main company specializing in producing Wushu VCDs in China), as well as managers from People's Press Audio and Video Company. Both companies are seriously interested not only in releasing material for enthusiasts of "Wushu for health", but also in documenting demonstrations by old experts as well as provide detailed instructions on traditional styles. We discussed their plans concerning future releases. They are going to publish series on Wu Xing (Five Elements) Tongbei Boxing [Already Released - Click Here To Read More] of Zhang Ce's lineage, Yue Family Boxing (which was passed by Yue Fei's sons and is still practiced in Hubei Province) [Already Released - Click Here To Read More] and Yi Quan (by Cui Ruibin). I suggested several styles and names: Ma Chuanxu (Liang Zhenpu Baguazhang), Li Hong (Shang Yunxiang's Xingyiquan), Wang Yinghai and Huo Yongli (Dai Family Xinyiquan), Li Zunsi (Henan Xinyi Liuhe Quan), as well as Chen style Taijiquan Xiao Jia (Small Frame; they already made contact with Chen Peiju), Taijiquan Hulei Frame [Already Released - Click Here To Read More], Zhaobao He Style Taijiquan (Small and Big Frames), Chang Naizhou's Boxing [Already Released - Click Here To Read More], Songxi Neijia Boxing, Zi Men Boxing (rare style from Wudang) and many other. Hopefully at least some of the styles will come out on VCDs.


Mr. Wang Fu, Yin Style Baguazhang expert from Beijing, passed away on May 17th 2002

Mr. Wang Fu, famous Yin style Baguazhang expert from Beijing, passed away on May 17th.

Mr. Wang Fu was born in 1919 in wealthy Manchurian family in Beijing. Thanks to Luo Xingyuan, his mother's father, who was a court physician, Yin Fu was employed in the imperial palace. For this reason both families have been in very close relations since then and Mr. Wang Fu at the age of six began his Bagua studies under Yin Yuzhang, Yin Fu's son. In 1938 Wang Fu represented Yin Yuzhang in All-China Famous Experts Martial Arts Competition and received favorable comments for his performance. In 1945 Mr. Wang Fu graduated from Beijing University. Wang  studied Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) from his grandfather as well as from two most famous TCM orthopedists in old Beijing (belonging to the group called "Four Elders") - Liu Daoxin and Sa Renshan - and became very respected orthopedist in Beijing.

Master Wang Fu practicing Yin style Baguazhang

As early as in 1956 in Sun Yatsen Park in Beijing Mr. Wang Fu proposed eliminating sectarianism in Martial Arts and uniting of all Baguazhang practitioners in Beijing. This happened only in early 1980s when Beijing Baguazhang Research Association was established. Before that Wang Fu's home was a place for meetings of many old generation Bagua experts from Beijing, including Li Ziming and Gao Ziying.

It was also Mr. Wang Fu who suggested that Dong Haichuan's tomb should be moved from its original location where it was threatened with destruction because of new constructions. Thanks to his efforts the stone tablets from Dong's tomb were moved to Beijing Institute of Physical Education. They were later moved with Dong's remains to Wan'an Cemetery in western suburbs of Beijing.

Mr. Wang Fu was famous not only for his medical and martial skills, but also for his generosity and participation in charity activities. He considered good health to be very important factor for happiness of a human being. Mr. Wang Fu established Beijing Longevity Association and served as its president. On the basis of his experience in Baguazhang and knowledge of TCM he created a set of life-prolonging exercises - "Longevity Method" (Chang Shou Gong) which was published as a book in 1993.

Mr. Wang Fu was also a vice-president of Beijing Martial Arts Association and head of Yin Style Baguazhang Association of Beijing Xuanwu District.

Another great Baguazhang master left us. Our deepest condolences go to His family and friends.

(biographical info according to interview with Mr. Wang Fu conducted by J. Szymanski in 1994)

The president of International Wushu Union Li Zhijian reveals there is still hope that Wushu may enter Olympic Games
Li Zhijian, the president of International Wushu Federation and secretary of the communist party committee of the General (China) National Sports Bureau, recently revealed that Wushu may enter the Olympic Games that will be held in 2008 in Beijing.

Li Zhijian said the fact Beijing succeeded in the bid for 2008 Olympics was also a chance for Wushu to become official Olympic event. Wushu originated in China and has high value both in keeping good health and as competition event. In the last years Wushu has been rapidly developing, there are over 80 (foreign) organizations and six international Wushu competitions have been held. In November last year Li Zhijian held working talks with the president of Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge. Li Zhijian expressed that to make Wushu Olympic event without enlarging the scale of the Olympics (which is prerequisite)  is a difficult matter, although he said: "solutions for even more difficult questions can always be found. While it is very difficult for Wushu to become olympic event, the hopes are big as well."

During the session of International Olympic Committee held this year in Salt Lake City, International Wushu Federation was officially recognized by the Committee, which increased chances for Wushu to become Olympic event. Currently International Wushu Federation already put forward a plan concerning Wushu becoming an Olympic event. The plan suggests that the follwoing routines of competition Wushu: Men's Chang Quan (Long Fist Boxing), Nan Quan (Southern Boxing), Dao Shu (Broadsword), Gun Shu (Cudgel); Women's Chang Quan, Taijiquan, Jian Shu (Straight Sword) and Qiang Shu (Spear) would become Olympic competition events.

President of Chinese Wushu Association, Li Jie says Wushu circles are currently preparing for the next step in promoting Wushu, mainly among internationally, and no matter how difficult it is going to be for Wushu to enter Olympics, everybody will do his best. ("Bo Ji" magazine, May 2002)


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?Jarek Szymanski 1999-2002. All rights reserved

? 2002. All rights reserved