The Central Guoshu Institute (Zhōng Yāng Guó Shù Guǎn; literally: “Central Martial Arts Academy”); was established in Nanjing by the Kuomintang government of the Republic of China in 1928. It was as an educational facility with the mission preserve traditional Chinese martial arts, was to train up masters, in order to spread the practice of Wushu KungFu in China.

Guoshu (Also spelled Kuoshu – literaly: “national art”) was the term for Chinese Martial Arts (KungFu) adopted by the Republic of China at the time.

In April 1928, The Institute held its first national martial arts competition in Beijing and attracted 400 of the best martial artists in China.

In 1929, the governor of Guangdong invited some of the institutes’s masters (including some of those that had competed in the 1928 lei tai) to come south to establish a “Southern Kuoshu Institute”. General Li Jinglin chose five masters to represent northern China: Baguazhang master Fu Chen Sung; Shaolin Iron Palm master Gu Ruzhang; Six Harmony master Wan Laishen; Tan Tui master Li Shanwu; and Chaquan master, Wang Shaozhao. These men were known as the Wu Hu Xia Jiangnan (“Five tigers heading south of Jiangnan”).

Along with the Jing Wu Athletic Association, the Central Academy played a crucial role in the preservation and transmission of traditional Chinese martial arts into the 20th century.

The center relocated several times during World War II and returned to Nanjing in 1946. It closed in 1948 due to lack of funding.

The Legacy of the Central Guoshu Institute

The legacy of the Central Guoshu Institute goes beyond his high level traditional Chinese martial arts content, it’s motto was “Morality and Martial Arts are Equally Important, One Must Train Both Martial and Academic Endeavors” [shu de bing zhong, wen wu jian xiu], according to which the purpose of Wushu KungFu was to defend oneself and strengthen the nation.

A martial artist should not use his skills to show off, nor should he bully others. If one is forced to defend oneself, one’s response should be measured, you should not try and severely hurt the opponent. At the same time as learning wushu, a student had to learn the health side of the arts, investigate academic knowledge and science, and ‘digest’ martial art theories and materials. This ‘Central Guoshu Institute spirit’ meant that the majority of its graduates were both skilled martial artists and men of letters.

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