is the greatest exponent of Hsing-i and Pa-kua in Taiwan. A big Buddhalike
man scaling well over 230 pounds, he frowns on the hard Shaolin external
methods. Brick breaking and tile shattering, he said, would never prove
anything until bricks and tiles began to think and move like humans.
Wang's private life was something of a mystery. Reportedly he owned several
rice stores and was a leader in a religious movement. I do know he was
a vegetarian and unmarried. Because he lived in Taichung, i saw him infrequently,
but each time i met him he went out of his way to impart solid instruction.
A student of the famed Chang Chao tung on the mainland, Wang's Hsing-i
and Pa-kua were orthodox and machined to perfection. With his bulk, hands
the size of small rosebushes, and his surprising speed, the goal of Hsing-i
- to occupy the enemy's territory - was adroitly done. The internal system
stresses the cultivation of ch'i, deep breathing, and a drastically different
approach to the mechanical aspects of fighting than does Shaolin. But
like Shaolin it has many advocates who can withstand with impunity a foot
or fist to the midriff.
Wang not only has this skill, but he can actually use his vast stomach
against one's fist on impact so as to produce a broken wrist.
Throughout asia he has been tested, and no one comes close to hurting
him. Leading Japanese Karate masters have bowed to him after failing on
But this alone cannot make a fighter. Frank "Cannonball" Richards,
the carnival performer, and various other "marshmallow gut2 types
in the United States have the capability to make a stomach attack. Indeed,
Harry Houdini died as a result of his inability with this feat. After
ineffectually punching Wang's belly once, i asked if he could take a solar
plexus strike. "Try it", he said. I did several time, with no
effect. But beyond this special skill Wang could do something beyond the
ability of all the fighters i saw. He could take any kick to the lower
extremities (excluding, of course, the groin). I kicked him repeatedly
on his knee, calf, and ankle until my feet ached, all with no effects.
"How do you do it?" I asked.
His answer: "Ch'i".
Such skills do not connote anything more than defensive ability. Coupled
in Wang, these skills left an attacker only two target, the head and the
groin, both very mobile and difficult to hit.
But one still might properly ask, could he fight?
He could and did. He has spent much of this time in recent years in japan
and has fought several high ranking karate man. No one has come close
to defeating this seventy year old warrior. In the process he has come
to a supreme depreciation of karate. He feels that the original forms
borrowed from China have been distorted and that the nonsensical high
kicks and vigorous body hardening avail nothing when confronted with real
And technique he has. He uses the Hsing-i fist with a corkscrew twist
from one inch out with more effect than most men get from a full stance
strike. John Bluming Dutch amateur judo champion and Mas Oyama's prize
foreign karateka, even though he had hurt his wrist on Wang's stomach,
disparaged him to me once when i was visiting Tokyo. "What else can
do?" asked John. I took John to Wang and asked that he be shown the
corkscrew, but to keep it gentle.
Wang put his relaxed fingers on Bluming's stomach, curled them into a
fist and screwed. Bluming bent over in agony, and has since been a believer.
The fist is but part of his arsenal. His Pa-kua palm is like iron; his
fingers fall on one like drills. An unlovely trick he likes is to lure
one close and then pull him directly onto himself, while he bumps the
unlucky one with his gut. Early on he perpetrated this tactic on me and
i , too, was converted. Hung I-hsiang later told me that he had been knocked
unconscious by the trick.
A conversation i had with him after prectice one night at Shang Tung-sheng'
s house is revealing. He said that to gain Kung Fu in the fingers, iron
sandas used by Shaolin adepts was not really necessary. Self training
regularly in Hsing-i is all that is required. Many famed boxers never
used iron sand. One boxer he knew on the mainland could break a brick
by slapping it, but this ability had cost him the use of his fingers;
he could not pick up a coin.
And this, he averred, was a real lack because the grasp in fighting is
worth quite as much as the strike. Generally, open hand striking is to
be preferred over the fist; the fingers are longer and have more variation.
The key tothe Hsing-i peng-ch'uan standing fist is that as you hit you
press down, forcing an "up-reaction", which facilitates uprooting.
All good boxers drop their shoulders in punching. Finally, he told me
that one good action is worh ten mediocre ones.
To my query about Chang Chao-tung, Wang replied that he had studied under
Chang from 1929 to 1938. When Chang died, Wang went to Peking and studied
under Hsiao Hai-po there and the famous Wang hsiang-chai at Tientsin.
Wang's students often stood five to six hours in snowy, freezing weather,
their arms held upin an open embrace posture, practicing the breathing
methods of Hsing-i. Wang Hsiang-chai felt so depressed by Chang's death
that he changed the name of Hsing-i to Ta ch'eng Ch'uan ("Great Achievement
Although Wang Shu chin greatly respected his later teachers, he believed
that none could stand with Chang. He felt strongly that Chang was superior
to other great masters such as Sun Lu t'ang and Tu Hsin wu. Chang's teaching
was fairly typical of the great masters. At first he was gentle and watched
from a chair. But if the student made repested mistakes or was lazy, he
struck him. There were many graet boxers in north China during that period
and, Wang believed, Chang was the greatest. Some were publicized; others
were mystery men. One such mystery master (this from a source other than
Wang) was Liu Pan hsien, an albino who lived in Tientsin. Liu never seemed
to age. Skilled in the Taoist methods of retaining semen, he once went
through a whole house of prostitution in the foreign concession, delighting
the girls while never him self climaxing. Liu may have been one of the
teachers of the famed Tu Hsin wu.
Coming from a glorious tradition, this vast man, this vegetatian, this
fine boxeur continues to teach a few students in Taiwan. In recent years
he has spent considerable time in Japan, teaching T'ai chi but, significantly,
not Hsing-i or Pa-kua. Phil Relnick, one of this T'ai chi students in
Tokyo during this period, told me that he and several other Americans
shivered through the exercises done outdoors in the Tokyo cold. To warm
them selves they would grasp Wang's hand, which conveyed heat like a radiator.
One simply could not pratice with Wang and disbelieve in the ch'i.
From: Chinese Boxing masters and methods di Robert W. Smith.