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Kung Fu Fit For an Army

In the summer of 1989, one week after arriving in Taiwan, I met who was to become my future Shifu, Shi Zhengzhong. He invited me to join the class at Confucius temple. At Confucius Temple both locals, Chinese travelers from far away and students came to show their respect to education and to Confucius, the man who started the culture and respect of learning and education in Asia.

The students lined up and bowed to Shifu before spreading out across the courtyard to begin the class.

A senior student led us through stretches before we moved up and down the courtyard going through our kicks.

Once our legs were tired out from kicks we had to stand in eight different postures squatting low to the ground.

That is me squatting on the far right.

After standing in the eight horse stances ba shi it was time for forms. We trained the movements of a form called Chu Ji Quan-Basic Fist.

Nationalist Army Trains Chu Ji Quan

Many years later I was to find out that this form was used by the Chinese Nationalist military to train soldiers before World War Two. Following are pictures of soldiers in formation training the first four moves of the form called Chu Ji Quan.

Soldiers line up in formation before practicing their empty hand drills. This posture is called 'bao zhou-hug the waist.'

It is the last chance to take a deep breath before starting the attack and defense sequence.



The 1st technique of the form 'Ji Fu!-attack the abdomen'


The 2nd technique of the form is also called 'ji fu.'



Third technique of the form 'tuo zhang - supporting palm' so named because you catch the opponent's wrist and push it up.


 'Dan gua shou- single hanging block.'


Two Person Chu Ji Quan

After training solo forms, Shifu called out a teenage girl, Fang-Fang, and a guy, Xu-Zhi. They ran to the front of the class and stood at attention facing each other about two feet apart. The girl suddenly stepped forward with her right foot and aimed a right punch to the boy's nose as she said, 'Ji Tou (attack head).' 

Below I have Elena represent Fang-Fang's attack and Phil represents the moves Xu-Zhi made. Notice that Phil is performing the first four moves of the form.

He simultaneously blocks high with his left and punches low with his right while shouting 'Ji fu-abdomen attack.' (1st picture)

She retreats with her right foot as her right hand redirects his punch, just barely avoiding being hit. As her body moves backward her left hand swings around to chop the right side of his neck and shouts, 'lou kan-leaking chop.' (on the right)


He raises up his right hand to block (the right picture) and steps forward to strike, which she blocks (the left picture).


She shifts her weight forward while thrusting her fingers into his throat and shouts 'cha hou-stab the throat!' (the left).

He leans back and then rushes his right hand forward to grasp her wrist 'tuo zhang- supporting palm'.


Her left hand breaks his grip (the left). Her right hand chops his neck 'kan xiang -chop neck.'

He pulls his hand back to protect his neck 'dan guan shou -single hanging hand.' From here he continues with a kick to the groin for a total of 12 advancing moves. Then he does the retreating side as she changes to the advancing side.

Twelve advances and twelve retreats put together make the form Chu Ji Quan.


During that first class Shifu (and a translator) explained to me that this two person sequence that I had just watched matched the solo form that I was learning. That was the first time I had ever trained a solo form that was also trained as a two man form.

Shouting out the names of the target as we perform each technique was the characteristic of my shifu's shifu Wang Zhuezhen. During my first year in Taiwan I had the honor and privilege to attend class with him. Shown here performing in America at 80 years old

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Army pictures from Battle of China available from Synergy Entertainment.

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