Grandmaster Liu Yun Qiao
"The Man I Knew"

By James Guo
Compiled, Edited, and Translated by Allen Chen

The Training
"Little Titan of ShanDong"
Defeating Japanese Kendo Master
Fighting the Japanese
Defeating a Shaolin Teacher
As a Police Detective
Living in Taiwan
Training Presidential Bodyguards
First Meeting
Martial Art and Daily Life
"Liu The Old Daoist"
Special Techniques
The Warm and Gentle Man

When I was studying martial arts under Grandmaster Liu, I was also his personal secretary for some time, helping him organizing his various personal history and writings. Below are some portions of his personal history selected for publication in his memory.

The Training

Grandmaster Liu became the close door disciple of the bajiquan master Li ShuWen, at a very young age. His family was rich and influential and was able to hire Li ShuWen to live in the Liu family to provide young Liu's martial education. Liu's daily routine included martial art training in the early morning, reading and writing in the morning, and martial art training again after lunch. Li's teaching style was extremely harsh. About half year in the beginning of Liu's discipleship involved practicing nothing but "post standing". The young Liu was quite bored and asked his father to ask li to teach something that a kid would find interesting. Li replied with a stern face that if they don't like it his way and train one step at a time, he would leave right away. Liu had no choice but to follow the rigid training of Li. Somehow, Li created in Liu a competitive and strong willed spirit, and it greatly assisted Liu throughout the almost unbearable training. It gave the young boy a unusually strong foundation in many aspect of the martial art taught by Li, including the so called "light body skill". At that time, Li was already in his 60's, and he used the time living with Liu's family to re-organized and summarized his life-long experience in training and fighting. So the art of bajiquan and piguazhang went through an important change in Li's old age. This was the reason Grandmaster Liu's bajiquan was significantly different from that of other students of Li ShuWen.

Martial Art and Daily Life

Of the times I studied under Grandmaster Liu, there was a period of more than one year when I have trained and chatted with him in his house every day. Grandmaster Liu instructed the bodyguards at the Presidential Palace from three to nine in the morning, and afterwards he would sleep for a couple of hours. Then I would go to his house until the people from the Palace came to get him again. This continued until I left Taiwan for my graduate study in the U.S. Grandmaster Liu always carried himself with a straight back and waist, with his chin tucked in and his head slightly tilted to the right and facing the left. He maintained this posture throughout his waking hours, regardless of whether he was sitting, standing or walking. According to him, this is a habit acquired from years of bajiquan training. I could always pick him out of a crowd in a busy street because of his unique posture. To achieve a higher level in one's martial art training, one needs to combine one's martial art training with one's daily life. According to Grandmaster Liu, when Grandmaster Li ShuWen was practicing his palm techniques, he slept without a pillow and instead used his palm to suspend his head during sleep.

"Liu the Old Daoist"

Grandmaster Liu rarely demonstrated when he was teaching most people, and it was even rarer to see him sparring with students. Once he was demonstrating an application to me, and I felt his arms were extremely slippery and hard to detect. When he said he was going to use his right hand to strike, it was always his right hand to hit me at the end... and my reactions to his movements were seemingly under his control. The bodyguards at the Presidential Palace used to call Grandmaster Liu "Liu the Old Daoist" precisely because of his seemingly magical techniques -- like an old daoist performing an illusion.

Special Techniques

Among Grandmaster Liu's disciples there was a rumour that his one special technique was mong hu ying pa shan, or "ferocious tiger climbs the mountain ruthlessly", because this was the one technique that made Grandmaster Li ShuWen famous. Before I left Taiwan, Grandmaster Liu asked me to select one or two techniques and practice them constantly as my personal secret techniques for self-protection. I used the opportunity to ask him what was his specialty. He laughed and said he likes to practice ta zhang ("collapsing palms") regularly. The collapsing palm technique uses two sequential jings to cause damage. It's a difficult technique to perform well, especially the generation of the second force. When I was learning this technique, I was not able to reproduce the flavour of my teacher even after some time, which is rather unusual for me. When I knew this was his specialty, I realized that kungfu cannot be faked by practicing merely one or two days, but rather achieved after years of practice. When I went to Grandmaster Liu's house to bid my farewells two days before I left Taiwan, he asked me to strike his body. He was sitting in the chair smoking at the time. I asked him whether this was a test for technique or for strength. He replied "just hit me with fajing". I was rather confident with my kungfu at the time and I was afraid to hurt him, so I gave him a warning by signaling before I punch. I felt my fist made contact with his body, but it seemed to have hit nothing. At the same time he suddenly let out a big yell, and I bounced back and fell on the ground. He smiled and nodded, saying "don't lose your kungfu, practice hard, there are still higher and further goals to reach!".

{More to come...}