NOTABLE MASTERS OF XINGYIQUAN:
GENG JI SHAN
Geng Ji Shan was born in Hebei province in 1860, and lived until 1928. In his youth, he studied under the Xingyi Grandmaster Liu Chi Lan and eventually became his successor. Along with Li Cun Yi, they became known as two of Liu Chi Lan’s most prominent students. Master Geng’s comprehension of Xingyi was profound, to the point that he took the art to the highest level. He was well known for his skill in the Xingyi Great Spear and thereby earned him the nickname of Scholarly Iron Spear Geng. The renowned Maze Fist Master Huo Yuan Jia greatly admired Geng’s skills and when Huo established the Jin Woo Athletic Association, he asked Master Geng to impart the skills of the Great Spear. Huo praised Geng’s Great Spear skills as being unique and Huo’s inner-disciple, Liu Zheng Sheng, asked to be taught by Master Geng.
Master Geng also specialized in Sanda sparring and in his youth he traveled widely and became well-known. During his travels he crossed hands with various martial artists and most of the time he was victorious. Xingyi Grandmaster Guo Yun Sheng praised Master Geng as the future hope of the Xingyi style. Master Geng, when he reached middle age, established a martial school, called the Shi-Ming Wushu Academy. It was known as one of the very first martial arts academies, whose goal was to spread martial arts to the general public. The Academy was a place for various prominent martial artists to come together. Geng was humble and did not discriminate between any martial styles; he was able to unify various martial schools and thereby made his academy well known within the world of martial arts. Frequent visitors of the Academy included Xingyi’s Li Cun Yi, Zhou Ming Tai, Bagua’s Chen Ting Hua, Liu Feng Chun, Ma Gui, and Taiji’s Song Su Min.
The academy became a central gathering place for the prominent martial artists in Beijing. After 1911 of the Republic of China Grandmaster Sun Lu Tang, revered Bagua Master Zhang Yu Quei, Xingyi’s Grandmaster Shan Yun Xiang, Taiji Grandmaster Yang Jian Hou, Wu Jian Chuan, Wong He Zhi, Liu Chai Chen, and Yang Zhun Pu all went to the academy. The reason for the academy’s success was because of Master Geng’s exemplary character and personality. Near the end of his life he retired to the countryside and passed on the governance of the Shi-Ming Wushu Academy to Inner-Disciple Deng Yun Feng.
His son Geng Xiaguang was invited by the Jin Woo Athletic Association branch that was located in Wuhan to impart the ways of Xingyi. At that time his name also became well known. During Geng Ji Shan’s retirement to the countryside he was frequently visited by various prominent marital artists for the sake of martial exchange and sparring. In all the martial exchanges, there was not a single martial artist who wasn’t in awe of Master Geng’s abilities. Prominent Xingyi Master Shu Zhan recounted: “In this generation Master Geng’s skill is unparalleled yet he is able to maintain an air of humility. Regardless of other’s level of martial art Master Geng retained all their merits. When he sparred with others, he rarely injured his opponent(s). At that time there were many martial critics and one of them, Ah Shun lead twenty highly skilled martial artists to challenge Master Geng. At that time Master Geng was over 60 and from morning to afternoon he took on the challengers one by one and defeated them all without injuring any one of them. Eventually all the challengers admitted defeat and became his ardent admirers of his skill. Afterwards all the challengers came to know Master Geng’s character and realized that the critiques by Ah Shun were all hearsay and slanders. Eventually all of the challengers befriended Master Geng and amongst them 5 became his disciples.”
Geng was humble by nature and avoided showing off his skills; everyone around him acknowledged his martial prowess. He did not practice showmanship, and yet all those around him came to regard his martial art as having to having a legendary level of skill. He was indeed a Grandmaster of a particular era.
Master Geng Ji Shan’s grandson, Geng De Fu, inherited his family’s martial prowess and ethics. He was well known in Hubei for having cultivated a vast number of highly skilled Xing Yi practitioners.
Grand Master Geng Xiaguang (1887 ～ 1972; also known as Geng Wen Chi) was born in Hebei Province, China. Geng learned Xingyi boxing his father, Master Geng Ji Shan, since his childhood. He also got instructed from a famous Master Li Cun-yi for years, and therefore, mastered three internal arts, Xingyi, Bagua, Taiji, as well as spears and board sword. Geng was also well known for the Chinese medicine and bone corrections. In 1919, Master Geng moved to Hankow, and taught martial arts in Chin Woo Association. Master Geng is the main representative who introduced Xingyi Quan art into Wuhan. In 1929, together with 66 Chinese martial artists, Master Geng launched the first Chinese national martial arts sparring competition. In 1937, Master Geng established an institution in Hankow, where he taught martial arts, physical and mental cultivation arts, as well as operating a Chinese medical clinic.
After the liberation of China, Master Geng served as the vice chairman of Wuhan martial arts association. Master Geng also represented Hubei Province and demonstrated chairman martial arts at the National martial arts competition awards, and served as judge of martial arts competitions. In 1954, the Wuhan Telecommunications Union invited Master Geng to teach their workers Xingyi Quan. In 1959, Wuhan City official shot a documentary of Master Geng's Xing boxing form “Xingyi Mixed Hammers".
In 1963, Master Geng opened an acupuncture and bone correction clinic, and cured countless patients. In his later years, he orally transmitted and completed a Xingyi Quan Guidance manuscript.
GENG DE FU
Master Geng De Fu’s Grandfather, Geng Ji San, from 1850-1929 during the Qing dynasty, was a famous Xingyi Master of the Hebei lineage. He was known as the Scholarly Iron Spear Geng. In 1900 Beijing, he founded the Shi Ming Wushu Athletic Association. Working with other martial art masters, he created Geng style Taiji Quan. In doing so he made significant contributions to the Chinese martial arts world. In 1926 his family moved to the city of Wu Han. Three years later, in 1929, he passed away.
Master Geng De Fu’s father, Geng Shia Gwang, from 1883-1971 learned the essence of Xingyi style and was an expert in the fields of Bagua, Taiji, Xingyi Great Spear, and broadsword. His specialty was the Thousand Pounds Sinking (illustrating his structure and mastery of rooting). He taught in the cities of Wu Han, Shanghai, and Beijing. In 1931 he officially established a school at Wu Han and was the first to introduce Hebei style Xing Yi to the Wu Han public.
Geng De Fu (1926-1995) was born into a martial art family in Hebei province. From a young age, he learned from his father and his father’s martial brother Zhao Cheng Yao. With Zhao Cheng Yao as his master, he studied Xingyi, Bagua, Taiji, and Chinese medicine. His understandings in those respective fields were profound. In 1950 he participated in the Wu Han Wushu Youth Team to contribute in the donation for the Korean War. In 1979 he won second place in the World Martial Art Exchange Tournament that was held in Nan Ming city. In 1985 he participated in the World Martial Art Tournament and received the honorary award. In 1987 at An Yang city, he participated in the Shaolin Martial Art Elite Tournament and received first place. For a long period of time he taught at the Zhong San Park for free and passed on the family lineage of Xingyi, Bagua, and Taiji with heavy emphasis on the Xingyi Great Spear.
The Xingyi Great Spear was the secret teachings and technique of the Geng family. The Great Spear was learned in order for the fist and spear to become one. When one’s progress in the Xingyi style was within a certain level, s/he must start learning the Great Spear, as the spear was designed to supplement the fist’s shortcomings. Only through training in the Great Spear would one be able to elevate their Xingyi to a higher level.
Geng De Fu was an old martial artist who made significant contributions to society. As a Chinese herbalist he treated the sick from day to night; he did it all without any expectations of wealth or fame. He was a righteous man throughout his life that bore an exemplary character. As such, Master Geng De-Fu expected nothing less of his students as he stressed the importance of martial ethics. He taught his students to respect one’s Master, be humble to others, not to oppress the weak, not to be arrogant, and to not seek to be the center of attention.