During the early part of this century the Chinese, who had been labeled "the sick men of Asia" by foreigners, were being bullied by imperialist powers seeking to exploit China's labor force and vast natural resources. The foreign concessions in China's major port cities had grown large and powerful and the foreigners were taking advantage of the "weak" Chinese. Wang Tzu-P'ing's feats of strength and boxing skills, which were demonstrated in challenge matches against many foreigners during this period in China's history, helped the Chinese "save face" and made Wang a national hero. On one occasion some German railway workers heard about Wang's great strength and wanted to put him to a test. They set a large millstone in front of the Jiaozhou railway station and bet Wang that he could not lift it. Wang asked, "What if I do lift it?" The Germans replied that if Wang could lift it, the millstone was his to keep. If he couldn't lift it, he had to pay for it. Wang nodded, stepped up to the millstone, lifted it over his head and carried it away. The Germans stood silent in disbelief.
The word of Wang's bet with the Germans reached an
American physical education teacher at the American missionary school in Qingdao. The American boasted of being a strongman of unequalled strength and challenged Wang to a fight. When the two men met and shook hands across a table, the cocky American grasped Wang's hand tightly and attempted to pull him into the table. Wang didn't budge. When the American had spent his effort, Wang yanked on the American's arm and pulled the him across the table and onto the floor. The embarrassed American, who was not a skilled boxer but had previously beaten Chinese opponent's relying on his strength and size alone, realized he was no match for Wang Tzu-P'ing. After telling this story, Grace Wu proudly adds, "My grandfather was very strong."
The next day the American returned with a German boxer and demanded that Wang fight the German. As always, Wang accepted the challenge. When the fight began it was obvious that the German's skill was far inferior to that of Wang Tzu-P'ing. Every time the German would thrust forward with a powerful attack, Wang would evade him and knock him to the ground using the German's own powerful force against him. After being knocked to the ground several times, the German admitted defeat and asked Wang if he could teach him.
In 1919 a group of Judo instructors from Japan came to China to demonstrate their martial skills. During the group's tour, they had the opportunity to watch a demonstration given by a group of Wang Tzu-P'ing's students. After the demonstration, one of the Japanese commented that he did not think the Chinese arts could match the fierce fighting arts of Japan. Wang heard the comment and replied, "Really? How about if you and I give it a try - I with a staff and you with a spear." The Japanese man picked up the spear. Charging directly at Wang he lunged repeatedly, stabbing with the spear. Wang calmly deflected all the attacks from his opponent's flurry and then announced, "Now it is my turn to attack." Before the words had gotten out of
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