Grand Master Gu Ruzhang

Grand Master Gù Rǔzhāng (顾汝章) or Ku Yu-Cheung [1894–1952] was a famous Chinese Kung Fu Master who disseminated the Northern Shaolin style (北少林 – Bei Shaolin / Bak Siu Lum) in southern China in the early 20th century after being invited to join the famous Zhōng Yāng Guóshù Guǎn (中央國術館), which can be literally translated as the “Central Martial Arts Academy” established, in Nanjing, China.

The Central Academy was established by the government of the Republic of China in 1928. Its sole purpose was the spreading of Chinese martial arts, known as Guoshu or Kuoshu (國術), literally translated as “national art.” This was a generic term used by the Chinese Government to refer to their martial art,s better known in the west as Kung Fu. The Central Academy, along with the Jing Wu Athletic Association (精武體育), played a very important role in preserving many traditional styles of Kung Fu into the 20th century.

The Vice President of the Central Academy, General Li Jinglin (李景林) invited five famous masters from northern China to join the Central Academy.

Gu Ruzhang and the Five Tigers

Those five became known as the Wu Hu Xia Jiangnan (五虎下江南), which can be translated as the Five Tigers Heading South of Jiangnan.

Grand Master Gù Rǔzhāng was one of them.

Gu Ru Zhang | Ku Yu Cheung | Northern Shaolin Kung Fu
Gu Ru Zhang of Northern Shaolin Kung Fu

Grand Master Gù was a son of Gù Lizhi (顾利之), a practitioner of the Tan Tui style of Kung Fu and a security escort businessman, a common business for martial artists in China in those days. Grand Master Gù learned from his father’s friend Yán Jīwēn (嚴機溫) the authentic Northern Shaolin style, including numerous weapon routines, and rare martial Qigong techniques such as Iron Palm, Iron Body and Small Golden Bell.

Later, at the Central Academy, he exchanged knowledge with other famous masters learning Zhaquan from Yú Zhènshēng (于振聲); Yang Taijiquan and Bajiquan and Wudang Sword from Li Jinglin (李景林); and Baguazhang, Xingyiquan from Sūn Lùtáng (孫祿堂).

Grand Master Gù Rǔzhāng taught many disciples during the time he spent in southern China. Among his disciples were Ma Jianfeng (馬劍風)、Long Zixiang (龍子祥) and Yan ShangWu (嚴尚武), who have made important contributions towards preserving his teachings for future generations.

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