Masters & Elders

Grandmaster Wong Wai Yi


Grandmaster Chen Qingzhou

Grandmaster Chen Qingzhou was my teacher's teacher. He passed in 2015, so I never had the chance to meet him. I know him only through Sifu Tony's stories and books and articles on his life. I wrote the following to honor his life's work and legacy:

As a young child, Chen Qingzhou withstood life-threatening illness through his practice of Taijiquan, and then as an adult, continued to train even during the Japanese occupation and Cultural Revolution. Taiji saved his life, and like a loyal friend, he returned the favor, and saved its life. He kept it alive, practicing and sleeping in a snowy cemetery where he could not be seen and caught.

Before his martial arts school, the yet-to-be Grandmaster made his living as a calligrapher. Seeing a seal-carver sell at festivals, his reaction was, "I'm going to do that!" He saw tiger paintings sold better, gave it a try, and gained the attention of a painter willing to teach him. Whatever craft he found, he dove in.

Who at those festivals might have passed by a young Chen Qingzhou and his table of seals, scrolls and paintings without notice? Who stopped to recognize his budding talent? For that reason, I sought out a young artist with a painting style reminiscent of Chinese calligraphy who could merge two of the Grandmaster’s beloved art forms, Taiji and painting.

Do teachers realize the legacy they leave behind for the generations beyond their lifetime? I never trained with him, yet I was so moved by his story that I wanted something to remind me of his perseverance, and ultimately, of the conviction possible in each of us too. The grandmasters of tomorrow are among us. They are out there, making their living. Just like he did.

Dr. Plearnjai Kundhikanjana

Sharon Bridgforth