Grand Master Yan Shang Wu
嚴尚武 Yan Shang Wu, or Yim Sheung Mo in Cantonese, was a Grand Master of Northern Shaolin Kung Fu.
Master Yan began his martial arts career studying the Hongjia style. After meeting Grand Master Gù Rǔzhāng of Northern Shaolin and seeing his superior skills, he pleaded to become his disciple. Although Yan had worked hard in Hongjia, he never practiced that Kung Fu style again. He instead devoted his life to learning everything Grand Master Gù Rǔzhāng knew and would teach him.
Grand Master Gù Rǔzhāng was not Yan’s only teacher of this style of Chinese Martial Arts.
He also studied with Bai Zhixiang, a classmate and travel companion of Grand Master Gù Rǔzhāng.
Yan Shang Wu practiced and mastered his techniques, tactics, and forms, eventually becoming a main inheritor of the style. He continued to maintain the tradition, keeping all of the material and training methods traditional and pristine.
Additionally, Grand Master Yan also learned Liuhe Men (Six Harmonies style of Kung Fu) from Wan Laisheng and Beisheng / Buk Sing Cailifo, more popularly known as Choy Li Fut, from Tam Sam (譚三), in addition to all of the knowledge acquired from Grand Master Gù Rǔzhāng.
Nicknamed Iron Head, Yan would often train by hitting a kicking bag with his head, uniquely sending the bag flying high into the air. To clarify, “Iron Head” is one of the skills he learned from Gù Rǔzhāng Small Golden Bell series.
Master Yan Shang Wu goes South to Hong Kong
Gù Rǔzhāng sensed that political problems were afoot in 1950 and told his student Yan that it would be a good idea for him to move to Hong Kong. Gù’s house was raided by political enemies shortly after, and so he then also moved southward.
Upon arriving in Hong Kong, Grand Master Yan Shang Wu looked for his classmate Master Ma Jianfeng, who was already established as a Martial Arts teacher in the area. Master Yan taught at Ma Jianfeng’s Kung Fu school and, as many other Kung Fu teachers of the time, on his apartment building’s rooftop.
Grand Master Gù Rǔzhāng taught many disciples in Hong Kong. Among his many disciples were Chan Kwok Wai, Kwong Wing Lam, and Wong Jackman, all of whom have made contributions towards preserving his teachings for future generations.
Now Master Baptista, Kung Fu Connection’s head instructor, is a direct disciple of Grand Master Chan Kwok Wai, student of Master Yan, and represents his lineage in the USA. He continues this especially wonderful tradition of martial art and martial virtue with passion.