Wang Shujin

Wang Shujin was born in 1904 in Hebei province, China.

He lived in his family farm, in the countryside, until the age of 14, when he decided to see the world and travelled to Tianjin. There he found a job in an international tranding company.

Since he was young, Wang Shujin was powerfully built and gifted with uncommon strength. As he was very interested in religious philosophy and martial arts, shortly after his arrival in Tianjin he became acquainted with a senior student of master Zhang Zhaodong. In 1923 he became a student of Zhang, who began to teach him xingyiquan and baguazhang.

In 1934 Wang studied for a whole year the different standing techniques of zhan zhuang, under the tutelage of master Wang Xianzhai (1886-1963), gongfu brother of Zhang Zhaodong and founder of yiquan, a discipline also known as dachengquan. In 1939, in order to deepen his knowledge of baguazhang, Wang Shujin trained with Xiao Haibo, a teacher in his nineties who was a senior classmate of Zhang Zhaodong. He also studies silianquan (“four xxxxxxx fist”), a style similar to taijiquan.

Taiwan

With the end of the civil war in China, the new communist regime decided to suppress religion, arts and painting and martial arts. Wang Shujin was at the time a key figure in the martial arts scene and an important exponent of the religious philosophy of yiguandao (一贯道 “Way of Unity”, a religion merging Daoist, Buddhist and Confucian teachings), so that, in order to continue practicing, he had to leave the country.

As the new home to Chinese refugees, the island of Taiwan saw the preservation and development of many aspects of traditional Chinese culture, including Martial Arts. Wang Shujin arrived in Taiwan in 1948. There he began to trade in rice in a small fishing village. He immediately began to teach the martial arts and in a short time he attracted a good number of students. Some years later he moved to Taibei, where he opened a rice retail business. His fame was widespread and he was very much sought out. In 1952 he moved to Taizhong, where he continued teaching martial arts.

Many martial artists went to Wang to test his fighting skills. Fights at that time were very tough and dangerous and could even result in the death of one of the fighters. Wang consolidated his reputation by accepting all challengers: thus he became famous as a great expert of xingyiquan and baguazhang and was given the nickname “invincible”. In Taizhong he founded the Cheng Ming martial arts institute, where he continued teaching.

In Taiwan Wang Shujin met Chen Panling, a martial arts expert who had studied xingyiquan with Li Cuny: together they trained in earnest collaboration, especially in taijiquan. Chen Panling had been the vice director of the Nanjing Martial Arts National Center and had fled to Taiwan as an important member of the Nationalist Party (guomingtang). Wang Shujin died on the island of Taiwan in 1981.

The martial arts of Wang Shujin

The internal martial arts taught by Wang Shujin (taijiquan, xingyiquan, baguazhang) share many characteristics. They are all based on daoist philosophy and on the use of qi, the word that in Chinese philosophy designates the life force. The three disciplines push the practitioner to involve mind, body and spirit. They could be best described as forms of meditation in motion, and its practice allows reaching martial prowess.

Qi is of great importance in internal Chinese martial arts: it can be defined as the energy that gives life to every living thing and is compared to a fluid or an electric current running through the body. Each of the three martial arts is centred on the control and the use of this life force, as they focus on inner strengthening and development; they invite to introspection and to understand how the mind can interact with the movements of the body through breathing and qi.

These disciplines are also extremely effective in fighting, as the history of Chinese martial arts shows. The fighting ability of master Wang Shujin has been reported in numerous tales: many people tested his skills, in Taiwan and in Japan, and were always favourably impressed.