Grand Master Yan Shang Wu
嚴尚武 Yan Shang Wu, or Yim Sheung Mo in Cantonese, was a Grandmaster of Northern Shaolin Kung Fu.
Master Yan began his martial arts career studying the Hongjia style. After meeting Grandmaster Gù Rǔzhāng of Northern Shaolin and seeing his superior skills, he pleaded to become his disciple. Although Yan had worked hard in Hongjia, Master Yan never practiced that Kung Fu style again. He instead devoted his life to learning everything Grandmaster Gù Rǔzhāng knew and would teach him.
Grandmaster 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 Grandmaster Gù Rǔzhāng.
Yan Shang Wu practiced and mastered his techniques, tactics, and forms, eventually becoming the prime inheritor of the style. He maintained the tradition, keeping all material and training methods traditional and pristine.
Additionally, Grandmaster 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 Grandmaster 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 the 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. Political enemies soon raided Gu’s home, forcing him to follow suit and head south.
Upon arriving in Hong Kong, Grand Master Yan Shang Wu looked for his classmate, Master Ma Jianfeng, already 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.
Grandmaster Yan Shang Wu taught many disciples in Hong Kong. Among his many disciples were Chan Kwok Wai, Kwong Wing Lam, and Wong Jackman, giants in the Northern Shaolin system, who have helped preserve his teachings for future generations.
Now Master Baptista,Kung Fu Connection’s head instructor, is a direct disciple of Grand Master Chan Kwok Wai, a student of Master Yan, and represents his lineage in the USA. He continues this great tradition of martial art and martial virtue with passion.