Wang Shujin

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Wang Shujin
Born1904
China
Died1981 (aged 76–77)
Taipei
Other namesWang Heng Sun
StyleCheng Style Baguazhang
Zhanzhuang Qigong
Taijiquan
Xingyiquan
Teacher(s)Zhang Zhaodong
Wang Xiangzhai
Notable studentsChao Piaosheng,
Huang Jinsheng,
Jibiki Hidemine,
Lai Tianzhao,
Rottmann Manfred,
Wang Fulai,
Zhang Yizhung,
Wells Marnix

Wang Shujin (1904-1981), also known as Wang Heng Sun, was a Chinese martial artist, expert in the disciplines of baguazhang, taijiquan, and xingyiquan.[1][2] He was one of the biggest impulsors of those arts outside China, being their first teacher in Taiwan and Japan, and was particularly known for his challenges to other martial artists. Wang was also a spiritual leader in the Taoist sect Yi Guan Dao.

Biography[edit]

Earlier life[edit]

Working as a carpenter, Shujin started training at 18 years old under renowned master Zhang Zhaodong, who he served until his death 1940. He learned as well zhanzhuang qigong under Wang Xiangzhai. He also trained xinyiquan under Wang Xiai Zhai, disciple of Guo Yunshen, and other styles under Chen Pan Ling, apprentice to Yang Shao-hou.[3] He became an adept of the Yi Guan Dao sect and moved to Taiwan in the 1940s. From the next decades until the 70s, he did frequent travels to Japan, where he taught Chinese martial arts.[3]

He was known for being an innovator and the first teacher to teach the taijiquan, xingyiquan, and baquazhang in the country of Japan, established the Cheng Ming School there and in Taiwan. He would initiate eight known disciples during his lifetime: Chao Piaosheng, Huang Jinsheng, Jibiki Hidemine, Lai Tianzhao, Rottmann Manfred, Wang Fulai, Zhang Yizhung and Wells Marnix.

Challenges[edit]

A man of almost 300 pounds, he was considered one of the greatest Chinese fighters, and it was said that his control of zhanzhuang and his immense strength and toughness enabled him to absorb the impact of strikes which would knock out a common person. He was also specialized in a variation of Shang Yun Xiang xingyiquan's most powerful punching technique, bengquan, where he would push his opponent with his large belly.[4] Wang famously hated karate, claiming it was a martial art valid only "to fight children and old women."[5][6] He supposedly fought many karateka while in Japan, with none of them being ever able to hurt him.[5][3]

During the 1950s, Shujin trained in Japan along with Western martial artists Donn Draeger, Robert W. Smith and Jon Bluming, living near the Kodokan Institute. Smith, who was similarly trained in baguazhang and xingyiquan, wrote that Wang "could do something beyond the ability of all the fighters I saw."[7] The Chinese master could especially tolerate any kick to the lower body, excluding the groin. Upon request, Smith repeatedly kicked his ankle, calf and knee without any effect.[7]

Draeger, a judo 4th dan black belt, briefly trained baguazhang under Wang, but he quit by dissatisfaction with the master and after the latter told him, "The trouble with you is you have no control over your body."[8] As the American was unconvinced of Wang's own skills, he put Bluming, who had training at both judo and karate, to test the Chinese master. Bluming punched him in the belly, without any effect, and later tried to throw Wang without the help of a gi, being instead thrown meters away.[8] Wang was also apparently asked to demonstrate an one-inch hand strike to the solar plexus, which made Bluming collapse in pain.[9] Despite this, Draeger and Bluming remained mistrustful of Shujin's fighting skill, arguing that the ability to perform certain physical stunts did not necessarily mean to be a good live fighter.[8]

Another version of the previous, told by Frank Allen, has Wang actually injuring Bluming's wrist bones during the test, as well as Draeger fighting Wang personally in a sparring match. The judoka would have been defeated by the Chinese with a single one-inch palm strike to the gut, and only after this defeat Draeger would have started learning under Wang.[3] This version is doubtful, given that Draeger was famously skeptical of Chinese martial arts until his death, even after his own experiences under Shujin, and apparently never managed to have Wang in a sparring training.[8] Bluming also denied to have been injured, having only superficially hurt his wrist at the punch.[10]

In an anecdote on December 14, 1954, Wang met boxing champion Joe Louis while he was touring Taipei. Shujin challenged him to punch him in the stomach with all his power, claiming he would absorb the blow, but Louis refused on the saying he didn't want to kill Wang by accident.[11]

During the early 60s, aikido student Terry Dobson started to train Chinese martial arts with Wang, impressied by his skill and strength. He was criticized by other aikidoka for doing so, to which he replied: "I could care less [sic] about being O-Sensei's student. I want to be O-Sensei."[4] The opinion of the aikido community towards Wang seemed to come from earlier, as Draeger had tried repeatedly to arrange for Koichi Tohei to face Wang, but the former never conceded.[4]

Around the same time, however, Wang would fight a notorious challenge against an aikidoka, Kazuo Chiba, who had witnessed Wang being punched in the belly by several karateka without effects. By mediation of two common students, Chiba went to Wang's dojo in order to prove him further, and they hosted an impromptu sparring match. According to Chiba, the aikidoka avoided a charge by performing tai sabaki, and then broke Wang's wrist through kote gaeshi. At that moment, and despite being injured, the Chinese retaliated by pushing Chiba across the room with his hands, making the students interrupt the match.[12]

In 1968 Bruce Frantzis, a 19 years old junior karate championship, trained with Wang in China. According to him, he was routinely dominated by Wang with baguazhang techniques every time they sparred. The Chinese master also allowed him to kick him full force in all his body, including his groin, without receiving damage.[5] Frantzis heard Wang had broken opponent's spines by pulling them against his belly pushes, though he was later taught there were ways to avoid this technique.[5] He further claimed Wang was undefeated in no-holds-barred challenges in Japan, that he had beaten down young challengers while in his eighties, that his students were equally strong even at the same age, and that Wang had several supernatural abilities related to qi.[5]

According to Ellis Amdur, a terminally ill and seventy years old Wang once defeated a Kyokushin karate champion by stepping inside his attack, hugging him and throwing him down with his signature belly push.[4][13]

Personal life[edit]

Wang was a vegetarian, remained celibate and was unmarried.[7][14] It was reported that he owned several rice stores.[7]

He died in 1981 in Taiwan due to a melanoma complicated by his diabetes.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Robert W. Smith, Pa-kua Chinese Boxing for Fitness and Self-Defense
  2. ^ Robert W. Smith, Chinese Boxing, ISBN 1-55643-085-X
  3. ^ a b c d Frank Allen, Tina Chunna Zhang, The Whirling Circles of Ba Gua Zhang: The Art and Legends of the Eight Trigram Palm, 2007, Blue Snakes Books
  4. ^ a b c d Ellis Amdur, Hidden in Plain Sight: Esoteric Power Training within Japanese Martial Traditions, Freelance Academy Press, 2018
  5. ^ a b c d e Bruce Frantzis, The Power of Internal Martial Arts and Chi: Combat and Energy Secrets of Ba Gua, Tai Chi, and Hsing-i, 2007, Blue Snake Books
  6. ^ "Wang Shujin, Bagua Linked Palms - Translated by Kent Howard and Chen Hsiao-Yen, ISBN 978-1-58394-264-2 (1-58394-264-5)
  7. ^ a b c d Smith, Robert W. (1990). Chinese Boxing: Masters and Methods. North Atlantic Books. pp. 72-73. ISBN 1-55643-095-7
  8. ^ a b c d Jared Miracle, Now with Kung Fu Grip!: How Bodybuilders, Soldiers and a Hairdresser Reinvented Martial Arts for America, 2016, MacFarland
  9. ^ Robert W. Smith Martial Musings, excerpt here
  10. ^ Jon Bluming, Europe’s first Mixed Martial Artist, Realfighting.com
  11. ^ InYo: Harold Sakata: Svinth
  12. ^ Arthur Lockyear, An interview with Kazuo Chiba sensei, Terry O'Neill's Fighting Arts International (issue #70)
  13. ^ Donn Draeger & Robert W. Smith
  14. ^ O'Brien, Jess. (2007). Nei Jia Quan: Internal Martial Arts. Blue Snake Books. p. 72. ISBN 978-1-58394-199-7
  15. ^ http://www.charlottesvilletaichi.org/cheng-ming-lineage/wang-shu-jin/

External links[edit]