Hung Kuen der Familie Wu

The Wushu Taichi Academy has been in Constance for over 30 years. The history of our school goes back even further. Let's get an overview of the Hung Kuen of the Wu family.

In 2017 we celebrated our 30th anniversary at Lake Constance with a big party. There was a special at the festival. We designed an 8m long timeline on which important milestones of our academy could be seen. We have gathered an incredible amount of material for this. And scanned a lot of photos. My god, so many photos ...

And we still haven't digitized all the photos. So if someone wants to apply for an internship knows what to expect. Scan the remaining photos in the Mabou stand in front of the scanner.

Dieser Zeitstrahl war aber tatsächlich ein großes Highlight für unsere Schüler. Vieles war den Schülern gar nicht bekannt und es war wie eine Zeitreise durch über 30 ereignisvolle Jahre.

I don't want to write about this timeline today (yet), but would like to take this memory as an opportunity to write about the Hung Kuen of the Wu family. Because this is at least as interesting and above all an important piece of information that helps to understand our tradition and martial arts lineage.

We use the official transliteration for the Cantonese language (Jyutping / JP). Exceptions are names / terms that have already become known under another transcription or for which Mandarin Chinese has become natural.

Wu Family Hung Kuen

We call ourselves a Hung Kuen (洪拳 / 洪 家 拳) school after Wong Fei Hung (黃飛鴻). Although he was not the founder of the style, he made a significant contribution to how the style has developed to this day. That is why he is usually referred to as the first generation.

In Cantonese, someone is not only referred to, for example, as the "third generation", but "as the third to fourth generation" (三 代 四 代 Kant. Saam Cyun Sei Doi). This means that someone "as the third generation communicates and passes on the art to the fourth". If you come from a line with several well-known masters, you should ideally combine this name with the name of the generation of origin to clarify which counting method is now meant. In my case, I would be the 5th generation after Wong Fei Hung and of course the 4th generation after Lam Sai Wing (林世榮), student of Wong Fei Hung.

Which designation is used depends on the context and the environment and is very important, especially in traditional martial arts. A small counting error creates a faux pas that "makes someone lose face". You could unintentionally stand on the same level as another master or even above him / her.

KUNGFU-LINEAGE OF THE WU FAMILY

There are already hundreds or even thousands of articles about Wong Fei Hung, a similar number also about Lam Sai Wing. Both of these masters have trained a number of students and have made Hung Kuen very well known and thus widely used in the world. They aren't the only significant characters, of course, but we'll find enough names throughout the article. I would like to concentrate on the most important people in our lineage, because many other connections are shown in the graphic. The following graphic should give a rough overview of the context of our lineage to others. Since I can only speak in detail about our own lineage, I will only delve into other lineages to a limited extent.

Stammbaum der Familie Wu
Kungfu Stammbaum der Familie Wu

At this point I would also like to explain that in the case of the Wu family, our “family” tree is very similar to the “Kungfu” family tree. This is because the Wu family continues the martial arts in the 5th generation (2020) within the family . Otherwise, as is customary in other lineages, a student is appointed "heir" by the master, to whom there may be no blood relationship. Seen in this way, we are, in the truest sense, a Kungfu family. In this part of the family tree, I deal with the people who are best known in our school. In a separate article I will delve deeper into other parts of the Wu family, such as i. e. my great-grandfather, siblings of grandfather and their descendants etc. How the martial art is continued in the Wushu Taichi Academy today will be described in more detail elsewhere.

Wu Shaoquan & Xiao Yanzhen

Hung Kuen der Familie Wu
Sitai Xiao Yanzhen und Sigong Wu Shaoquan 

My grandfather Sigung Wu Shaoquan (1909-1967 吳少泉 Kant. Ng Siu Cyun) was a student of Lam Sai Wing (林世榮). Later, with the permission of his master, my grandfather opened his own school, the martial arts school of the Wu family (吳氏 武館 kant. Ng Si Mou Gun). These four characters are also on the wooden panel at the entrance to the Wushu Taichi Academy. Although martial arts had accompanied our family before, here is the actual start of the Hung Kuen of the Wu family.

My grandmother Sitai Xiao Yanzhen (1923-2012 蕭燕珍 Kant. Siu Yin Zan) also learned from a well-known master: Dang Yi (鄧 二 Kant. Dang Yi), the younger of a famous pair of brothers, the Dang brothers. Dang Yi was a very progressive master at the time, you would say today. Because under his leadership my grandmother was in the first lion dance team from Guangzhou, which was exclusively occupied by women. So both of my grandparents learned from renowned masters and later brought their knowledge together in their own school.

Hung Kuen der Familie Wu
Sitai Xiao Yanzhen mit ihren Schülern. Huang Daxiong vorne, zweiter v. r. 

THE FIRST SCHOOL

They opened the first school in Guangzhou, on Wing Faat Street (永 發 新 街 Kant. Wing Faat San Gaai). My grandparents opened another school in Xintang (新塘 Kant. San Tong) at the end of 1949. This school later, even before the Cultural Revolution, was taken over by my grandfather's younger brother Wu Can (吳 燦 kant. Ng Caan) so that he could continue it. His son still runs a medical practice in Xintang and privately teaches a few, particularly interested students. I call him Uncle Ming (吳潤明), a small man without hair, somewhat conservative but incredibly strong. Somehow, all the little Chinese masters are incredibly strong ... that's probably due to the tea.

Erste Wu Shi Wu Guan Schule in der Wing Faat San Gaai, Reisegruppe 2017

Let's stay at this level first of the Kungfu family tree. In addition to my grandparents, there were other well-known masters in Guangzhou. Many of them fled to Hong Kong because of the Cultural Revolution, some went into hiding and unfortunately too many died in the chaos of the Cultural Revolution.

Wu Shaoquan mit seinen Schülern. Wu Rungen, Wu Mei Ling & Wu Wansong v. l.

FIRST ORTHOPEDIC HOSPITAL IN GUANGZHOU

Sigung Wu Shaoquan was not only a master student of Lam Sai Wing, but also a renowned doctor who focused on the art of bone straightening (Dit Da). In his previous schools and practices (Wing Faat Street and in Xintang), he was able to demonstrate his expertise and looked after many, many patients together with his wife Xiao Yanzhen. At a time when much of the neighborhood did not have the financial resources to see a doctor, my grandparents were still helpful and did all the treatments and provided the necessary medicine to the patients. Their reputation preceded them because they were called 義 公 and 義 婆, which roughly translated means fair step-grandparents. You will also find this in the family tree of the Wu family.

After returning from Xintang, Wu Shaoquan became a founding member of an orthopedic hospital, one of the first at the time. Around 1959/1960 this was still in Jiefang Zhong Lu (解放 中路), where the following photo was taken. After the hospital moved to Huifu Zhong Lu (惠福 中路), Wu Shaoquan slowly retired. The hospital was then expanded and moved to its current location in Dongfeng Zhong Lu (東風 中路), where it has now also received the official name of the Guangzhou Orthopedic Hospital (廣州 正骨 醫院).

Wu Shaoquan (zweiter v. l.) mit Arztkollegen

MARTIAL ARTS COLLEGUES

A martial arts brother (師 兄弟 kant. Sihingdai) of my grandfather was Lau Zaam (劉 湛), a well-known martial artist. Together they strongly shaped the Hung Kuen in Canton / Guangzhou. One of the special features of their generation is the distinction between "old Hung Kuen" and "new Hung Kuen". The "old Hung Kuen" was slower, closer to the ground, smaller and concentrated mainly on short to medium arm techniques. Grandfather, together with his martial arts friends, saw the need to further develop the Hung Kuen and adapt it to his time. The footwork became more flexible, the execution was quicker and movements also increased because of long arm techniques.

They therefore called this section of the Hung Kuen "new Hung Kuen" and added a special greeting at the beginning of their forms. These two movements are "Without ancestors there are no descendants" (承前啟後 ed. Sing Cin Kai Hau) and "the white crane opens its wings" (白鹤亮 翅 ed. Bak Hok Leong Ci). The first movement shows that further development can only take place on the basis of the old knowledge, so one should show respect for the old knowledge.

Lau Zaam was active in Hong Kong after the Cultural Revolution and very widely spread Hung Kuen there. Last but not least, his son Lau Gar Leung (劉家良), who was to be seen in almost all good kung fu films. Incidentally, he was also the mentor of the so-called "dragon trio" Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao.

The beginning, developed jointly by grandfather and Lau Zaam, can therefore be seen in many choreographies of the old Lau Gar Leung films.

Sing Cin Kai Hau
Bak Hok Leong Ci
Bewegungen Sing Cin Kai Hau (links) und Bak Hok Leong Ci (rechts)

OTHER INFLUENCES

Grandfather had not only made deep friendships with other Hung Kuen masters, but also masters from other styles. In his time there was always a friendly exchange and therefore there are influences in some forms, for example Choy Lee Fut (蔡李佛). In some cases, even whole forms from other styles were included in our training program. A typical example is the Sei Ping Kuen (四平 拳), which we often train and teach in our annual training camp in Saanen.

Wu Mei Ling & Huang Daxiong

Hung Kuen der Familie Wu
Wu Mei Ling (r. h.), Huang Daxiong (r. v.), Wu Runjin (l. h.)

Up to this section, much had happened before the Cultural Revolution. Unfortunately, my grandfather died in the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution, all martial arts schools were forcibly closed, and Chinese martial arts could under no circumstances continue to be practiced. The knowledge that we can gather today, including the forms that we train today, has only been preserved because my mother Wu Mei Ling and her brothers secretly continued to train with improvised utensils behind closed curtains. A sword became a chopstick, a shield an envelope ...

After the Cultural Revolution, Chinese martial arts were advertised under the term "wushu". Simply put, something was created on the basis of the Chinese martial arts and expanded with gymnastics elements in order to establish a new "Chinese popular sport". At that time martial arts were not allowed to be taught in private schools, but were only taught and trained at state institutions. In each province there was a special Wushu team in which only the province's top athletes trained and later took part in the Chinese national championship. In these and the following years, our Sifu Mei Ling also won the national championship and numerous titles, including the all-Chinese Wushu championships in southern Fist (Nanquan) in 1982 in Xi’an. Many of her students were also successful, including the so-called "Nanquan-König / Südfaust King “Yang Shiwen (楊世文 Kant. Jeong Sai Man), who was the southern Fist national champion nine times in a row until he was prohibited from participating.

Hung Kuen der Familie Wu
Wu Mei Ling bei einem Turnier ca. 1982
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Yang Shiwen – “Nanquan-König“

GUANGDOCH PROVINCE-TEAM

In order to keep up with the Wushu competition after the cultural revolution, my mother was invited to teach the Guangdong Wushu provincial team together with Huang Daxiong (黃達雄 Kant. Wong Dat Hung). Huang Daxiong was with his two siblings as a teenager from my grandfather's younger brother (Wu Can 吳 燦). They later switched to my grandfather's school to deepen their martial arts knowledge. Even before the Cultural Revolution, they learned traditional forms, performed lion dancing at Chinese festivals and took part in a lot of shows.

Huang Daxiong was considered a genius of Chinese martial arts at the time. Among other things, based on his work, the basis for modern Nanquan routines was created, which is one of the most important categories in Wushu today. I myself was very lucky to be privately taught by him in 2006 before he unfortunately died of a serious illness in 2007.

His influences can still be seen in our forms to this day. Because as Sifu Wu Mei Ling (吳美玲 kant. Ng Mei Ling) the Yap Mun Kuen / Jap Mun Kyun (入門 拳), suggestions from Huang Daxiong were integrated.

The students in the Guangdong Province team have had numerous successes in tournaments. Many of them still run their own schools abroad, such as China. B. Chen Weixiong in Australia, Xie Xiaojuan and Wu Yongmei in Switzerland, Lu Zhanxiang in Jinzhu, Lin Yongsheng in Hong Kong and Liang Yanhua in China, Hong Kong and Macau. Huang Mingjian, son of Huang Daxiong, has also made a name for himself as a fight choreographer and director in China and Hollywood (Pacific Rim, Scott Pilgrim etc.)

FIRST KUNGFU-TOUR IN EUROPE

In 1985 the first kung fu tour in Europe was organized, which was jointly organized by Reinhard Sander and my father Dr. Martin Rüttenauer was launched. Sifu Wu Meiling and Huang Daxiong were there along with many other artists and performed in Belgium, Holland , the Switzerland and of course Germany and had several television appearances , e.g. in the ZDF sports show . Among other things, there was a spontaneous performance at the market place in Konstanz , which fortunately was taken up by our longtime student Urs Krebs.

Wu Runjin

He Yuhai und Wu Runjin

He Yuhai und Sibak Wu Runjin

Runjin (吳 潤 錦, 1954-2007) is the second oldest brother of Sifu Wu Mei Ling. He also learned Kungfu from an early age with his parents. After the Cultural Revolution, he worked with sports acrobats to develop Wushu in this direction. His shows with Wu Mei Ling and his training colleagues therefore had a legendary reputation. Runjin received traditional training from a master of Chinese medicine and later became a sports doctor for the Wushu Group in Guangzhou. In his early years he expanded his knowledge of Kungfu by regularly learning new styles and deepening it with his longtime childhood friend and training partner Lam Zeon Hei (林進熙), whom I call Uncle Hei. Of particular note are the Zhaobao Taichi and a variety of animal styles. 

FROM GUANGZHOU TO GERMANY

On the first of our kungfu training trips, which Sifu Wu Meiling and Dr. Martin Rüttenauer, he was essential in developing the training program. This also includes the middle-class form of the Wu-Family "Zung Kap Kyun" (吳氏 中級 拳), which was later taught by travelers under false names (e.g. Zum Kap Kuen).

At the end of the 80s, Sifu Wu Mei Ling invited him to Germany, , to teach in her academy. With his well-founded specialist knowledge and his humorous manner, the doctor and martial arts teacher managed to build up a large and enthusiastic group of students in Germany and Switzerland. In addition to Kungfu, Taichi and Qigong, he taught TCM and Chinese tea science. With Dr. Martin Rüttenauer he led several tea trips and Qigong trips to China.

Wu Rungen

Wu Rungen

Sibak Wu Rungen

Sifu Wu Meiling's eldest brother is Rungen (吳 潤 根 kant. Ng Jeon Gan) and has been the most important key person for the development of our school for the last several years. As the eldest son of grandfather, Rungen naturally experienced a lot, both before and during the Cultural Revolution. However, his active time in martial arts stopped after the end of the Cultural Revolution and has almost been forgotten for over 20 years. In fact, not even my Guangzhou cousin knew about Rungen's martial arts skills. Fortunately, he's like a walking encyclopedia, with stories, meanings, anecdotes, routines, and more.

Sibak Rungen had spent most of his time in martial arts since childhood. His training program included not only the Hung Kuen training, but also the Chinese lion dance, the Chinese percussion and above all the old art of bone straightening (跌打 正骨 kant. Dit Daa Zing Gwat). So he was mainly taught and trained in the old knowledge of martial arts before the Cultural Revolution. At tournaments before the Cultural Revolution, he performed traditional Hung Kuen forms such as tiger-crane form (虎 鶴 雙 形 拳 kant. Fu Hok Seung Jing Kyun) and fifth-brother-eight-trigram stick form (五 朗 八卦 棍 kant. Ng Long Baat Gwaa Gwan) and always placed front places.

REDISCOVERED KNOWLEDGE OF THE WU-FAMILY FAMILIE WU

Today he runs a TCM practice in Lishui (里 水) and specializes in the art of bone straightening and old tinctures and elixirs, which are mixed from recipes of my grandparents. In 2008, together with other martial arts colleagues, he received the honorary title of the "new ten tigers from Foshan".

Since 2011 we have been documenting and recording his knowledge. Through him we found many old forms and stories that no one else remembered. Through him, we were able to establish contact with other people of the Guangzhou martial arts scene and exchange ideas with them. This includes an important student of Huang Daxiong, whom I only call Uncle Cheong (何炳祥 Kant. Ho Bing Ceong). Because he has only concentrated on a few forms for decades but studies them with immense depth, it is wonderful to learn from him.

We not only learned new forms from these different sources, but also got insights into different variations of well-known forms. Since then, we have continuously incorporated and integrated the knowledge we have gained into the classroom so that we not only continue the tradition of martial arts, but also convey the cultural background.

The bridge from old to new

The martial art of the Wu family has developed over decades and has been continuously passed on to numerous interested students. Our school bridges the gap between old martial arts and new martial arts. The traditional knowledge enables us to bring traditional concepts into a modern context. We will soon write in a separate article how we are continuing the martial arts of the Wu family and to what extent we are developing this tradition. In the article Family Tree of the Wu Family, I will also shed light on other parts of our family. Then it becomes clear that martial arts have accompanied us for almost a century and even go back to the beginning of the 20th century.

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