The information in this article was obtained during an interview with Dr. Fred Wu at his home in Worthington OH on 15 November 1992.
When the Japanese invaded China in the 1930's, Tianjin became a dangerous place to live and many of Tianjin's residents fled their homes and moved south. The Japanese were confiscating all weapons and arresting or killing those who owned them, therefore, the martial artists in Tianjin were leaving the city in large numbers in order to avoid persecution. Although the migration south disrupted many peoples lives, it turned out to be a stroke of good luck for a young Wu Min An Both of the instructors who taught him Ba Gua Zhang (^¿h^) had left Tianjin in the mid-1930's as a result of the Japanese invasion.
and Daoist and Chan (Zen) Buddhist philosophy and exercises were in his family and so he started studying all of these aspects of Chinese culture at a very young age. Wu's grandfather was a well known Hung Gar ( ) practitioner and his uncles were skilled in the Southern style martial arts such as Wing Chun, Hop Gar, FuJow, Choi Lei Fut, etc. Another of Wu's uncles had practiced Chen style TaiJi Quan (if^ i^fi with the famous Chen Fa Ke (1in Beijing. Many of his family elders were skilled martial arts practitioners and his father and mother were both western trained medical doctors. Wu studied various styles of martial arts from his family members, belonged to the Jing Wu Association (ifr&.'t*) in Canton, and later studied in Shanghai under various martial arts teachers. At the Shanghai Jing Wu Association school he was able to study Bo Ji Ba Fa with Zhou Shi Bin
In his youth he studied several different martial arts styles and health practices including Seven Star Praying Mantis, Tan Tui (W M), Yi Jin Jing H?i M. ), White Eyebrow, and various weapons.
In 1935 Wu went to Nanjing to attend the University of Nanjing American Missionary College and earn his B.S. degree in horticulture. The Central Martial Arts Academy (Chong Yang Guo Shu Guan - i3^:® #f ft) was five blocks away from the dormitory where Wu lived and he would frequently pass by and watch the students practice. Students enrolled in the Central Martial Arts Academy came from all areas of China and were required to pass a difficult entrance examination before being selected to attend. Training at the Academy was a full time occupation, however, the Academy also offered a part-time program for local Nanjing and surrounding district residents and, fortunately for Wu, the person teaching that program was Ba Gua Zhang instructor Sun Xi Kun ffiMW).
Wu was able to take private Ba Gua Zhang lessons with Sun Xi Kun at Sun's home in 1937. Sun had been a Ba Gua Zhang student of Cheng Ting Hua's ( fi fit eldest son, Cheng You Lung (fl ^ ft - who was also known as Cheng Hai Ting - fliS-'f-). Sun had been one of the chief instructors at a large martial arts school in Tianjin before he moved to Nanjing. Unfortunately, Wu was only able to study with Sun for a few months before the events of the war with Japan caused his college to shut down. While Wu was in Nanjing he also had the opportunity to study Zi Ran Men [k & PI - Natural Style Boxing) with Wan Lai Sheng (Ulti^). Sun Xi Kun had begun Wu's Ba Gua practice by teaching him Ba Gua Zhan Zhuang (/v ^r #- -standing practice) and breathing exercises, Qi Gong ( ), the single and double palm changes and other basic Ba Gua exercises and fighting techniques.
When the University was shut down and moved to Hankow, they told all of the students to go home and wait for notification concerning relocation of the
University and when it would reopen. Wu wanted to continue studying Ba Gua Zhang so before Wu left for Hankow, Sun Xi Kun gave him a letter of introduction toSunLuTang(#^#fr). SunXi Kun heard that Sun Lu Tang had gone to Hankow from Jiang Su, however, he did not know that Sun Lu Tang had already died by the time he gave Wu the letter. Unable to study with Sun Lu Tang, Wu returned home to Canton and enrolled in the National Chong Shan (Dr. Sun Yat Sen) University which had accepted his credits from his previous college.
Wu did not stay in Canton for long. In 1938 he traveled to Hong Kong and stayed with his Aunt for a short time and then, after traveling to Vietnam, ended up in Kunming, Yunnan Province studying at a coalition university for eight months. While in Kunming, Wu received a letter from the University of Nanjing saying that they had reopened in Cheng Du, Sichuan Province. Wu traveled to Sichuan and completed his college education.
After Wu graduated from the University of Nanjing in 1940, he got a job in Chong Jing (Chung King) with the federal government working for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. When Wu was in Chong Jing he met his second Ba Gua Zhang teacher, Li Zhuang Fei Li was working for a local newspaper writing a column on martial arts history and giving martial arts technical advice to the readers. Wu had read his column and thus was familiar with Li Zhuang Fei's name. One day while he was taking a walk, Wu saw an advertisement for martial arts instruction outside a local hotel. The teacher offering the instruction was Li Zhuang Fei. Wu immediately went and enrolled in the class.
Wu Meng Xia and Li Zhuang Fei were close friends and had both been a Ba Gua students of both Han Mu Xia and Gao Yi Sheng Han
Mu Xia was one of Zhang Zhao Dong's & It) top Xing Yi Quan 0 and Ba Gua Zhang students (see Pa
Kua Chang Journal Vol., 3, No. 6). According to Wu, Li had first studied with Han Mu Xia in Beijing and then moved to Tainjin where he studied with Gao Yi Sheng for four or five years.
Wu studied "Guang Hua Mountain" Ba Gua Zhang, Xing Yi Quan, Tai Ji Quan, Yin Yang Ba Pan Zhang ( Qi Gong, Daoist exercises, acupuncture massage, and herbal medicine with Li Zhuang Fei from 1941 until 1946. His teacher granted him ranking in the 5th generation (Yong generation - ^ $■) of Ba Gua
Zhang in 1946 in Chong Jing, China.
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