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The Challenge of Master Cui
April 2012 will be a month that I remember for the rest of my life. For a brief time, just over one week, I spent every morning training with Shifu Zhou Zhendong. He shared his kung fu with me as well as stories passed to him from his master Zhang Kaitang.

One morning after practice Master Zhou, Will, my English kung fu brother, and I walked to his house for breakfast, tea and conversation.


Cui Shoushan


We ate a traditional Chinese breakfast of 'oil sticks' and spicy noodles with cucumbers while Shifu poured tea for us all.

Will and I asked Shifu about the old days of training with his Shifu, Master Zhang Kaitang and his Shifu, the famous master of Taiji Mantis, Master Cui Shoushan. This story happened directly to Master Cui himself.

Master Zhou Zhendong demonstrates a technique on me.

Marriage in China

In the old days of China marriage was often arranged through proxies called mei ren. These mei ren were the go-between for the parents of the bride and groom. They were responsible for finding a suitable couple. The Mei ren of Cui Shoushan's daughter was named Xu Fengqi.

Master Xu The Longfist Boxer

Xu Fengqi trained in Chang Quan Boxing, a style of martial art characterized by long large movements. He didn't believe that Cui's Mantis Boxing was effective and wanted to test his skills.

Though we weren't there and couldn't see the action first hand, we do know that Master Cui applied the technique called yin yang die zhang. The story of Master Cui using the technique 'yin yang folding palm' tells us some important details about the encounter. This is how Master Cui applied 'yin yang folding palm'.

Their right arms collided, Master Cui's left hand immediately lifted Xu Fengqi's right arm and that is when Master Cui's right hand collided with Xu Fengqi's ribs. The strike landed on the side of Master Xu's rib cage with such a heavy force that it broke several of his ribs.

What happened next we can only imagine. Based on other stories that I have heard of Master Cui helping those he hit, I can only guess that Master Cui took care of Xu Fengqi and they developed a student-teacher relationship because Xu then performed the bai shi ceremony making him one of Master Cui's disciples.


Master Zhou applies the back hand to a strike.

Master Zhou lifts the attackers arm with his left and drops his right palm to the chest.


Master Xu Challenges Everybody

Life in China was hard to take In the early 80's. At that time Xu Fengqi was about 85 years old and was living in the government provided public housing, with 'house' being a euphemism for a large room full of people sleeping. There was a park in Yantai were Master Zhou, as well as many other kung fu masters were teaching kung fu. He came to Master Zhou at this park one morning seeking help with procuring students so that he could make some money.

To show his skill, Master Xu demonstrated the first road of the Praying Mantis form Luanjie. Master Zhou told Will and I, with a hint of proud surprise in his voice, that Master Xu did an excellent performance of the first section of the form and then Master Zhou exhorted Xu to rest.

Besides our Shifu Zhou being one of the teachers in the park, there was also the great master of Seven Star Praying Mantis Lin Huatang, a disciple of the famous master of Seven Star Mantis master Lin Jingshan. After Xu Fengqi's short performance Xu called out to these other masters in the park, including that Seven Star Master Lin,

Zhoulei, Master Zhou's daughter, demonstrates the move from Luanjie called 'left mantis.'

'This is Master Cui's Wu Dang Fist-Zhe shi Cui Pengnian (Cui Shoushan) di Wu Dang Quan.'

Your kung fu is nothing but flowery fists and embroidered kicks!- Ni men dou shi hua quan shou tui.

Come, I challenge you to free fight!-Ni men lai lu yi lu.'

At this point of the story, Master Zhou stood up from the dining table and demonstrated the traditional free fighting movements and postures that Master Xu had done. He put on a face both tough and challenging, the one that Xu Fengqi must have used that day. I think Will and I must have opened our mouths' in amazement at this point, to hear of an 85 year old man challenging the excellent fighters of the Seven Star Mantis school. Master Zhou returned his smiling face and poured more tea.

Lu quan is the mantis word for free fighting. Master Xu must have been a man full of courage to challenge the other fighters to cross hands with him at 85 years old.

Soon after Master Xu Fenqi left our place of physical existance, leaving behind his example of life long dedication to Master Cui Shoushan

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