Monday, 17 March 2008

Introduction of a master #1: Grandmaster Wang Chieh

Introduction of a master is an ongoing display of (grand)masters who not only have high level skills, but as extraordinary individuals whose integrity, focus, commitment and hard work in life set a good example to future generations of martial arts practitioners. It is my honor to start this series of introductions with Grandmaster Wang Chieh, the teacher of Mike laoshi. Grandmaster Wang Chieh is a rare treasure in Taiwan and China. When I saw Grandmaster Wang in Beijing, it was the image of a kind, humble man with a great sense of humour. Yet his power is beyond words. The following 2 texts are taken from the offical Wu Tan Belgium site:

"No two flowers grow on the same tree, all martial arts are the same in the end." — Wang Laoshi

Grandmaster Wang Chieh was a disciple of Praying Mantis Grandmaster Wei Xiao Tang, seeing him on a daily basis in the Botanical Gardens Park and at Shifu Wei's home. He specializes in Ba Bu Tang Lang, Bai He Chuan, Yue Jia San Shou, Tai Chi Tuei Shou, Shuai Jiao, and Chin-na. He is in Wei Xiao Tang's definitive Book of Praying Mantis Techniques. Wang served as instructor for the Taiwanese army and has taught at numerous universities throughout Taipei.

Wang Chieh began his study of kung fu as a young child in Hunan province in mainland China. He moved to Taiwan in 1958, and, to this day, can be found practicing and teaching in Shin Long Gong Yuan, Taipei City everyday from 8am till 11:30 or later. His unique contribution to Chinese kung fu is utilizing techniques of both the Praying Mantis and White Crane systems and integrating complex joint locking skills to create a subtle and powerful fighting style.

In spite of his accomplishments, Master Wang does not refer to himself as a Master or Laoshi, he simply says, "One must enjoy the practice of Chinese martial arts and be humble, as we are not Masters but students forever practicing."

- by mike martello -

Translated from - Wu-Lin Magazine Taiwan 2004 -

Master Wang Chieh was originally named Wang Shaochang, born on the 16th day of the 10th month in the 16th year of the Republic (1927) in Xiangxiang County, Hunan Province. Master Wang came from a martial arts family, his father Wang Zinan was a legitimate expert of Yue Family Sanshou.

Wang Chieh was the seventh child within the family. His older brothers and sisters have all passed away, and his younger sister now resides on Mainland China. One of his brothers, Wang Shaoye, was the inner chamber disciple of Hunan martial arts master Liu Senyan. When the Communist Party came to power, both Wang Shaoye and his wife were arrested by the CCP and died from starvation in prison. Liu Senyan too was captured by the Communists and publicly executed as a warning for the local population.

It is said that the case of Liu Senyan had a great impact at the time, not only did the local gentry used all their means to have him released, it also drew the attention of Central Government official Zhou Enlai who sent a letter urging the authorities to postpone the execution, but unfortunately this letter arrived too late, and in the end all efforts were in vain. Alas! For a great martial arts master to suffer such tragic fate saddens the hearts.

Although Master Wang Chieh grew up in a rural village, he was gifted with intelligence and good physical abilities. Because of this, he already received training on the courtyard from an early age on, and his father Zinan was particularly fond of him. At the age of eight he started learning Yuejia Sanshou from his father. During that time martial arts practice was very popular in the rural areas of Mainland China, and this was especially so in Hunan Province. Master Wang often says: "The men from Xiang (ancient name for Hunan Province) are fierce, that's why throughout the history of China no army was raised without warriors from Hunan."

Since ancient times the soldiers and generals from Hunan have formed the backbone of the Chinese army, for example: Zeng Guofan , Zuo Zongtang , Hu Linji and others were all talented men on which the country could rely on, heroes who change the tides in periods of turmoil. Wang Chieh believes that this is the result of the simple living conditions of China's rural society. In the North of China, each year when Fall sets in there will be frost lasting till Spring in the next year. During this period the farmers could not work on their lands, and would often hire martial arts teachers from outside the village to teach. Training the martial arts was something to make them pass their time and keep the youngsters busy and out of trouble, also it provided them with skills to defend themselves when necessary. After three years, the best fighter amongst the students would have a match with the teacher as a final test. If the teacher won, he would receive a big salary as a reward and leave with pride and honor to teach elsewhere. If he lost he would sadly leave with nothing. Some teachers, to make a living and saving face, would keep certain techniques secret in order to use against their own students. This was the origin of the so-called "Secret Techniques". To be continued.

translated - by ming fai ho -

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