History of Yi Chuan

Grandmaster Wang Sheng Chai, the founder of Yi Chuan

Grandmaster Wang Sheng Chai was born in 1885 in Sum County, Hopei Province. In order to improve his health, since he was quite ill as a child, he began to study Hsing Yi Chuan from the famous Master Kuo Yun Shun. As a diligent learner, Wang earned the respect and attention of his teacher and was able to dedicate himself fully to learning both the theory and practicality of this form of kung fu.

In 1907 Grandmaster Wang began to travel throughout China to expand his kung fu knowledge. He also taught at the Peking Army Academy (1913) and at the Fuchoo Military School in Fukien Province (1918).

In his travels Grandmaster Wang met many masters, gained first hand knowledge of other martial arts, and was able to analyze them thoroughly. He also visited the Shaolin Temple, where he stayed several months. There, he met Hung Lin, a monk and representative of the Sum Yi Chuan and a big and strong individual very well known for his kung fu power. Wang, who was small and thin, was able to impress this monk with his own explosive power. Since Hsing Yi and Sum Yi come from the same roots, the time that Grandmaster Wang spent at the Shaolin Temple was very significant to the future establishment of Yi Chuan.

With a solid, down-to-earth spirit and approach to the martial arts, Wang Sheng Chai ultimately became enlightened as to the main theories of kung fu. In the mid 1920's he took his experience and learnings and founded Yi Chuan; this crystallization of his kung fu knowledge into Yi Chuan being truly a revolutionary event.

In this same period of time Grandmaster Wang moved to Shanghai to teach. In 1938 he moved once more, this time to teach in Peking again. In the summer of 1940, in praise of Grandmaster Wang and his Yi Chuan kung fu, many kung fu practitioners began calling Yi Chuan by the name "Da Cheng Chuan" (Grand Achievement Fist). While he was somewhat embarrassed by this, since he believed that learning has no limits, Master Wang accepted this new name for his art.

In the 1940's Wang Sheng Chai began to express his martial arts viewpoints in Peking newspapers. Besides discussing Yi Chuan characteristics, he invited people to come test his abilities. Many martial artists challenged but never defeated him. Among those that visited, many eventually became his humble students and friends.

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