Grand Master Yan Shang Wu
Northern Shaolin Kung Fu Grand Master Yan Shang Wu (1882-1971) was born in Linxi, Guangxi province, China.
Yan Shang Wu began his martial arts career studing the Hongjia style. After meeting Grand Master Gù Rǔzhāng and seeing his superior skills, he pleaded to became his disciple and never practiced Hongjia again. Instead he devoted his life to learning everything Grand Master Gù Rǔzhāng knew and would teach him.
Grand Master Yan Shang Wu also learned Bei Shaolin Style from Grand Master Bai Zhixiang, a classmate and travel companion of Grand Master Gù Rǔzhāng.
Due to his constantly practicing the forms and techniques, Grand Master Yan Shang Wu became one of the main inheritors of the Bei Shaolin Kung Fu style. He kept all he learned traditional and pristine under the diligent tutelage of Grand Masters Bai Zhixiang and Gu Ru Zhang.
Grand Master Yan Shang Wu was nicknamed “Iron Head” for his skill of breaking things with his head. Often, Grand Master Yan would train by hitting a kicking bag with his head, sending the bag flying high into the air. Iron Head is one of the skills taught in the Small Golden Bell series learned from Grand Master Gù Rǔzhāng.
In 1950, Gù Rǔzhāng, sensing that political problems were afoot, told Yan Shang Wu that it would be a good idea for Yan Shang Wu to move to Hong Kong. Shortly after, Gù Rǔzhāng’s house was raided by political enemies.
Upon arriving in Hong Kong, Grand Master Yan Shang Wu looked for his classmate Grand Master Ma Jianfeng who was already established as a Martial Arts teacher. Grand Master Yan taught at Grand Master Ma Jianfeng’s Kung Fu school and, as many other Kung Fu teachers of the time, at the rooftop of the building he was living in.
Grand Master Gù Rǔzhāng taught many disciples in Hong Kong. Among his many disciples were Chan Kwok Wai, Kwong Wing Lam and Wong Jackman, who have made important contributions towards preserving his teachings for future generations.
Master Baptista, Kung Fu Connection’s head instructor, is a direct disciple of Grand Master Chan Kwok Wai and represents his lineage in the USA.