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Wáng Xiāng Zhāi

Wáng Xiāng Zhāi

History is important, it is a record that is essential to us humans because whether we like or not, we tend to forget. In the world of martial arts, when people look back, they mention the likes of Bruce Lee and the likes of Ip Man, because these two men have been popularised by the media. Recently it has been Ip Man, with the series of movies that have been made that those who are not deep in the martial world, think it is only him.

Those movies that have been made are grossly exaggerated, and that is not really the issue, the issue is that these movies only show a few martial art masters.

Amongst the populary movies made of Traditional Chinese Martial Art masters, Wong Fei Hong of Hung Ga, is another character most popularly known. However, the history is richer, and one could say greater masters than the ones mentioned above had lived and yet no modern movie or story has been made of them. And their names are slowly disappearing into extinction.

Bruce Lee is popular noted as a Chinese Martial Artist that went against the grain, although this true, he is not the only one. In fact, there is a man, a master, who was also challenging the status quo long before in Mainland China when it had become a Republic. This man was Wáng Xiāng Zhāi, a Xing Yi exponent, he was the last student of Guō Yúnshēn, his Xing Yi master.

Wáng Xiāng Zhāi, is sometimes said to have been the man who coined the term “Zhan Zhuang” for the standing meditation practice. He also changed the name of his martial art “style” from Xingyi to Yi Quan, simply meaning “intent boxing”. He did so not to create a new style, however his aim was in advocating the essence of his original style Xingyi; that it was not the forms of the martial art that were of paramount importance. Same way Bruce Lee years later criticized the uselessness of forms. If the essence or principle behind forms is not understood, then the forms are just mere dances.

Wáng Xiāng Zhāi, travelled through whole of mainland China in the pursuit of better understanding of the martial sciences, before he came to his conclusions. It would be great if a movie of this man is made in those Hong Kong studios, him, and the long line of other masters the world do not know about.

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