Grandmaster Shou-Yu Liang on martial arts’ combating power

Early this year, a Mixed Martial Arts fighter knocked out an alleged Tai Chi (Taiji) master in China in a few quick seconds. The video was shared all over in the social media both in China and overseas. After this incident, the MMA combatant brazenly challenged all traditional Chinese martial artists and claimed that he can beat them all.

Rumors and comments have filled the social media. Some revealed that the beaten Tai Chi teacher did not have proper credentials. Some reported that the Tai Chi teacher was a MMA dropout. There was a conspiracy theory that the entire incident was a setup to gain the publicity. In late May, I met Grandmaster Shou-Yu Liang at Kungfu Tai Chi Magazine’s tournament in San Jose, California. I sought after his opinion. He did not want to speculate any of the rumors or comment the fight. Instead, he stated that the short scuffle was not a fair assessment of Tai Chi Chuan and MMA.

Grandmaster Liang Shou-Yu (Courtesy of

Grandmaster Liang Shou-Yu (Courtesy of

Rooted deeply in the profound Chinese cultural heritage, Tai Chi Chuan is a healing art as well as a martial art. Tai Chi Chuan encompasses many of the martial art techniques, which makes it a powerful combatant regimen. However, since the adoption of hot weapons like guns and cannons, some of the Tai Chi Chuan styles have been modified to be less combative and most practitioners are learning the art for the health purpose instead of fighting.

Born into a family of outstanding martial artists, Grandmaster Shou-Yu Liang started the Emei Kung Fu and Qigong training with his grandfather in 1948 when he was only 6-years old. At the recommendation and introduction of his grandfather, he also studied with other renowned masters of Shaolin and Wudang. He later branched out to Tai Chi, Buddhist Esoteric Qigong, and Taoist Qigong. He had won titles in local, provincial, national, and international tournaments of all different types of martial arts even including Chinese-type wrestling, weight lifting, and gymnastics. He was an all-around champion. Grandmaster Liang was invited to judge in national competitions in China and aboard.

Upon immigrating to Canada, Grandmaster Liang was elected head coach of the first Canadian National Wushu Team in 1985 and his team earned the third place in the first Wushu competition in China. In the following year, in a tournament involving 28 nations, his Canadian team placed second, next only to the Chinese team. Hence, he earned respect from the global martial art community.

Grandmaster Liang Shou-Yu (courtesy of

Grandmaster Liang Shou-Yu (courtesy of

In 1987, he established the Shou-Yu Liang Wushu, Taiji and Qigong Institute in Vancouver, Canada. A year later he and Dr. Jwing-Ming Yang and other martial art experts from Canada, U.S., China, Russia, and other European countries founded the International Wushu Sanshou Dao Association (IWSD). Liang was selected as the chairman and held the position until recently. According to the new Chairman Master Wayne Peng, today the IWSD has branches in more than 20 countries with 60,000 members.

Grandmaster Liang has written and produced numerous books and DVDs and some of them have been translated into French, Polish, Greek, Chinese, and Russian. During my tenure as a journalist on Tai Chi and Qigong in the past 8 years, I have encountered Tai Chi and Qigong experts and masters who proudly claim to study with Grandmaster Liang.

Grandmaster Liang is well admired internationally. He was selected as “Today’s Extraordinary Martial Artist” in China. He has been awarded the “World’s Top 100 Outstanding Martial Art Professional Award”, “World’s Greatest Contribution Award”, and “World’s Outstanding Accomplishment Award” and many others. He has been featured on international television networks including Chinese Central Television (CCTV), Cable News Network (CNN), Discovery Channel and Canadian, Mexican, Greek, British and various European networks as well as on the covers of prestigious Chinese, American, and Canadian newspapers and magazines.

He recalled one of the reasons to form IWSA was because during that time, many people in the West looked down upon all Chinese Martial Arts not just Tai Chi Chuan due to the perception that Chinese Martial Arts only looked cool but possessed no combative value. Liang stated it is true that majority of people who practice Tai Chi Chuan, or any Chinese Martial Arts, do not plan to do street fights. Grandmaster Liang emphasized that a good fighter has to go through rigorous training focusing on all different types of fighting techniques and not just forms. All techniques need to be drilled thousands times if not more so they can become natural responses when needed.

In his open letter to the world martial arts, Grandmaster Liang represents IWSA to welcome all martial artists, Qigong practitioners, and Taijiquan practitioners of all traditions and styles to work with the organization in preserving the value of all these arts. IWSD draws the knowledge from mostly Chinese martial arts and Qigong, but not limited to them. All viable skills and knowledge from Japanese Karate, Korean Tae Kwan Do, and other recognized martial arts have been incorporated into the IWSA system.

The IWSD Association training consists of six major components:

  1. Free sparring techniques
  2. Take down and ground fighting techniques
  3. Taiji (Tai Chi) Push Hands techniques
  4. Qinna (Chin Na) and pressure point attack
  5. Internal energy (qigong) training
  6. Martial arts routine training

The training content and concept of IWSD is not new. Liang stated that they are actually traditional Kung Fu’s kicking (Ti), arm strikes (Da), takedowns (Shuai), and control (Na). Shuaijiao is for taking down the opponent. Qinna training is for grappling the opponent effectively by controlling or attacking opponent’s pressure points. Qigong is essential to cultivate one’s energy. Many traditional Chinese martial arts may have all six components. However, most practitioners do not even have the time to learn them not to mention to master all aspects of the training. Without all six components, one’s training is not complete.

(Edited by Doc Luecke.)

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