Master Fu Shu-yun
It was about four years ago that I received a
call from a fellow martial artist. His name is Sifu Mark Mandron and he is
the highest level disciple in the USA of the noted Master Fu Shu-yun of
He wanted to tell me that his teacher knew of me, through Ch'ang
Tung Sheng. She was aware of Ch'ang's accepting me as his son. However,
she was surprised to see her picture in my Tai Chi book entitled Ch'ang
Shih Tai Chi Ch'uan.
On page XII (see figure one) there is a picture
given to me by Ch'ang Tung Sheng which contains noted kung fu masters of
the time. If you look at the top row in the middle you will notice a
woman. This is Master Fu Shu-yun. On the bottom right side is Master
Ch'ang Tung Sheng.
Sifu Mandron went on to say how both Master Fu and
Master Ch'ang Tung Sheng shared training experiences together in China's
most prestigious kung fu training academy, the Central Martial Arts
Academy in Nanking, China. There Master Fu and Master Ch'ang
started their lifetime friendship. It is no wonder that Master Ch'ang favored
her, since Master Fu's Shao-lin kung Fu skills ranked very high amongst her
Master Fu had a relative in the States and Sifu Mandron had
the good fortune to meet Master Fu. Sifu Mandron wrote me a letter, which
he gave me permission to print, concerning his meeting Master Fu. I
a personal level I feel very lucky and honored to have Master
Fu in my life. Perhaps, as my Chinese friends say, fate had a hand in
our meeting. I searched for a number of years for an authentic Chinese
Master. Even though I saw some fairly talented individuals, none of them
gave me the feeling that I was looking for. My first glimpse of Master
Fu was enough for me to know that I was not chasing shadows, that
here truly was a Master.
From the first class that I took with Master
Fu, up until the present time, I never cease to be amazed at her level
of excellence and seeming unlimited knowledge of the Martial Arts. As
she painstakingly brings me from one level of training to the next. I
marvel at her patience and unselfish giving of her time and knowledge.
At times, I forget that she is in her 70's, because she still moves like
a young person with grace and agility. When I do think about her age, I
often wish I had met her earlier in my life, but this cannot be. I will
always be thankful for the time that I had with her in the past and for
time coming in the future.
I have the honor of being Master Fu's senior
student here. Whenever I can, I set up demonstrations for my students
and any interested persons, so that they can experience the beauty and
perfection of seeing a real A Chinese Master perform. At these times,
Master Fu seems to light up and become larger then life. To me the
greatest compliment I can receive is when someone says, I can see your
teacher in your performance.
I am sure I speak for all of Master Fu's
students when I say we love her as a teacher and also as a warm
outstanding human being.
Master Fu had a sickly childhood. Her family wanted her to
study martial arts to improve her
health and stamina. It required large sums of money to pay for
instruction and people of that time needed the money for extra food, plus
there weren't many women who had the talent or interest to study with
the intensity that Master Fu did. Master Fu's family was financially
stable and had a deep appreciation for the martial arts, her father and
grandfather were both military men, so her family encouraged her to
study Shao-lin. The martial arts were not strange to her since her uncle had
studied Japanese wrestling and on many occasions would practice at her
home. Viewing these classes she became interested in learning some kung
She began her training at the tender age of nine in elementary
school. In Chinese grammar schools it is common to have Military
Instructors present to teach the children discipline, and how to form
lines and stand at attention. One day, one of the instructors was
practicing his kung fu and all the children noticed him. When the
instructor volunteered to teach them some Shao-lin, they all jumped at the
opportunity to learn. Master Fu was part of that group. She remembers
that the more she practiced the stronger she became. It was not long
after that she stopped taking her medication.
The group became proficient at Shao-lin and would give
demonstrations at the school. She was overjoyed at the loud applause
they would give after she demonstrated her Shao-lin skills. Master Fu very
much enjoyed the attention which only increased her enthusiasm to
learn more. She continued her training at the Tienjin Martial Arts Club
during her summer vacations.
Master Fu graduated from the Hebei Girls's
Teacher School and then entered the Nanjing Central Martial Arts Academy
(see figure three, Master Fu in uniform in the 1930s). The Nanking
Academy was the very pinnacle of martial arts training. At the Nanking
Academy all forms of styles were taught. The Academy had the reputation
of having the very best of Martial Arts teachers on its staff. Such
names as Yang Cheng-Fu and Sun Lu-Tang and Huang Bo Nan was among those
who taught there. Each one of these instructors in the own right was
among the best Kung Fu had to offer. And Master Fu worked with all of
them. Most students will work under only one or two masters in their whole life.
Master Fu had the rare chance to work with many of the top names, all
under one roof.
Master Fu mentioned how
demanding all her instructors were. Many of her classmates could not
handle the intensity of the training, and soon left the Academy. Master
Fu not only kept up with her training but also excelled in it, becoming
a favorite of many of the instructors.
Master Fu remembers the principal
of the school, Zhang Zhi-Jiang, a high ranking government
official who had a special place in his heart for martial arts. It seems
he had a terrible fall from a horse and injured his back seriously. He
practiced Eight Pieces of Brocade (Ba Duan Jin) to help him recover from
his injuries. Because he understood the value of martial arts training
he made every effort to bring only the best instructors to the Academy
to teach Shao-lin.
Master Fu remembers she studied a
different art form each semester. Some of her teachers were Yang Cheng-Fu who taught
Yang Style Tai Chi, Wu Jun-Shan taught her Ba Kua Lian Huan and Ba Kua
Tai Chi. Huang Bo Nan taught her Hsing-I and Ba Kau Ch'uan. Sun Lu-Tang
taught her Ba Ka Zhang and Ba Ka Dragon Sword Form. Ma Hong-Tu taught
her Shao-lin Ba Ji Ch'uan. Yang Song-Shan taught her Shao-lin Tan Tway,
Shao-lin Sword, and Kuen Wu Sword. Sun Yu-Ming taught her Si Lu Cha
Ch'uan, Xin WuShu, Mei Hua Sword, Shao-lin Staff and knife. Master Fu
not only stood up to the intense training but she also excelled where
many fell short.Ê
It was at the Academy where Master Fu and Master
Ch'ang became friends. She noticed Master Ch'ang because he too had a
passion for perfection of his art. Both Master Fu and Master Ch'ang had
the same training habits. They would both arise at 4:30 a.m to practice
Kung Fu even before formal classes began. She remembers seeing Ch'ang
running up hills to strengthen his legs and kicking trees. To develop
his arms and upper body he would practice wrestling on large ceramic
jars. Master Ch'ang also noticed Master Fu as she practiced her various
Master Fu and Master Ch'ang did not socialize
while at the Academy, as this was forbidden. However, their friendship
grew when both Master Ch'ang and Master Fu returned to Taiwan. They
stayed in close communication with each other for the remainder of
Ch'ang's life. Master Fu said Ch'ang was already famous when he came to
the Academy, his position at the Academy was that of an upper classman
and assistant professor.
Master Fu remembers some of his fights and
observed Ch'ang to be a careful fighter, always eyeing his opponents and
learning their weaknesses. He never rushed into a challenge, but rather
carefully figured out how he would defeat each opponent well before the
fights even began. Master Fu rarely gives compliments, but she describes
Master Ch'ang as a genius at Shuai Chiao, and it is seldom Master Fu said
this about anyone.
At the1936 Olympic Games, Master Fu
represented China performing her Tai Chi. This was indeed a great honor
as there were only nine people picked from all of
China to represent their art style. She did so well that she began
traveling to Hong Kong, Singapore, Bombay, India, Venice, and Rome. On
her team were some of China's best martial artists, names such as Liu
Yu-Hwa, Jing Shi -Sheng and Kou Yun Xing all from Henan, and Zheng
Huai-Xian and Zhai lien-Yuan from Shanghai and Zhang Er-Ding form
Beijing. In 1971, Master Fu was invited to teach at the National Taiwan
normal University in Taipei.
Her fame became so well known, she was soon
asked to star in some Martial Arts movies. One famous movie,
"A Sunset in the Forbidden City" today is a classic
of martial arts movies. Master Fu still has a full life,
teaching her Kung Fu to those she thinks have the potential to
Although no longer a young woman, she still travels
between Taiwan and the United States teaching her arts. It is our hope that
Master Fu on her return to the United States will come to our humble
center and share with us the her wealth of knowledge.
Masters such as
Master Fu Shu-Yen are fast becoming rarities. These are the great
masters who have given birth to today's generation of martial artists.
Because of masters like Master Fu Shu-Yun our art has endured
the passage of time, unchanged, and is ready to be handed down to the next
generation of followers.
I think I can speak freely for all of us who
truly love the Shao-lin Arts when I say; Master Fu, you have our deep
gratitude for all you have given so willingly to foster our beloved art.