Wu Tunan

Once Wu Tunan was so exhausted by training that he decided to throw himself into the well and commit a suicide. Seeing this, Wu Jianquan said: “You want to be cured of your diseases and at the same time you are afraid of difficulties, you are such a worthless person”.

Master Wu Tunan was born in the family of top rank militarists in 1884, January 23 (Lunar Calendar). His grandfather was a well-known combat general – Xian Kui (祥煃). He was a feudal lord, who got the first rank out of three from the Qin Dynasty and became a royal guard. He carried Dao sword in the presents of top public officials.

Wu Tunan’s father named Qin Bin (庆滨) was a martial arts teacher. Wu Tunan was a late child for his parents. That is why he had a lot of inborn chronic diseases like epilepsy, asthma, hepatitis, pulmonary tuberculosis, unthriftiness, anemia and his left leg was seven centimeters shorter than his right one.

At the age of nine Wu Tunan began to study taijiquan with master Ai Shen (爱 绅), nicknamed Jianquan (鉴 泉). Later Ai Shen (爱 绅) got the Chinese family sign Wu (吴), and used this sign as signature of his own style in taijiquan. Wu Tunan became Ai Shen’s first student and spent with him eight years. As a result, Wu Tunan mastered basic training complex “fixed positions” ( liànjià 练 架, dìngshì 定 式), practice of “pushing hands” (tuīshǒu 推 手) and weapon practices. Such training was a real challenge for a weak and sick boy.

Wu Tunan’s training of the taijiquan complex lasted for hours, he was sweating profusely in every season. Every muscle in the boy’s feeble body ached, and he just could not bear it. Once Wu Tunan was so exhausted by training that he decided to throw himself into the well and commit a suicide. Seeing this, Wu Jianquan said: “You want to be cured of your diseases and at the same time you are afraid of difficulties, you are such a worthless person”.

These words hurt Wu Tunan’s pride greatly. His blood boiled with anger. Wu Jianquan awoke Wu Tunan’s feeling of national pride and genes of warrior ancestors, who have come down with military expedition to Europe itself. Wu Tunan vowed not to bring shame to Mongols (Wu Tunan was Mongol) and continued training with tripled eagerness. First of all he mastered so called “art of relaxation” (sōng gōng 松 功), without which art of taijiquan is impossible to learn. Wu Tunan gained the ability to direct internal energy to any part of his body, turning it into a deadly weapon. Soon all his diseases disappeared, bones of his legs became equal, and Wu Tunan became a skillful taijiquan fighter.

In 1901, by the recommendation of Wu Jianquan, Wu Tunan became a student of Yang Luchan’s grandson, the master Yang Shaohou (杨少 侯). On his watch for four years, he obtaibed the skill of low-amplitude speed complex (Yòng jià 用 架, Xiǎo jià 小 架, Kuài jià 快架) and Yang Shaohou’s famous unseeable (distance) power (Língkōng jìn 凌空 劲). However, despite good basic skills, these four years were also very difficult for Wu Tunan.

Yang Shaohou was known as an incredibly tough fighter who loved to “shoot people with distance power”. For this reason not everyone was ready to learn from him, fearing for their health and even lives. Yang Shaohou agreed to give Wu Tunan private lessons. He came to his parents’ luxurious house, ordered to close the doors in specially designated training pavilion and began his brutal but fair way classes of real fighting.

Each hit of Yang Shaohou either knocked down or threw Wu Tunan into the wall. Sometimes

it was very difficult to bear the pain. On hearing Wu Tunan’s groan, his master shouted angrily: “What? You’ve already lost your will?! “. Wu Tunan shouted the response as quickly as he could: “I have my will! Have no doubt! “. Also Wu Tunan had to demonstrate his will and determination to win, when he was ordered to perform a speedy complex of low-amplitude movements under heavy mahogany tables.

While mastering the taijiquan, Wu Tunan was studying at Beijing University (京师大学) at several divisions, learning both the classical traditional science of China and the latest achievements of Western science. One of the main teachers for him became the famous doctor Lee Ziyu, who treated him in childhood. Lee Ziyu revealed Wu Tunan the secrets of Chinese medicine and the ancient “doctrine of nursing life ”(yǎngshēngxué 养生 学).

Afteryears, Wu Tunan improved and developed the skills he learned from his teachers and researched classical works on taijiquan theory, “Book of Changes” (“Yì jīng” 易经) and other historical materials. In 1911, during the Xinhai Revolution he wrote a script “Judgment about the Practice of Relaxation” (sōng gōng lùn 松功论) and his famous paperwork “Speech on Dimensional Force” (líng kōng jìn gē 凌空 劲歌) enlighting the mysteries of taijiquan and its’ training stages.

Wu Tunan has always emphasized that above all he was a scientist, and his approach to martial and health-improving arts was based on scientific analysis of traditional Chinese and modern European sciences. He was well-versed in the classical terminology of ancient Chinese philosophy and medicine, but his studies of the Taijiquan phenomena of “inner strength” were based on physics, chemistry and biology. Wu Tunan was the first who suggested studying the movements of taijiquan and the “release of inner power (energy)” with X-rays of bones, muscles, organs and biological field radiation. He tried to describe his extraordinary results in his book “National Taijiquan Art in Scientific Exposition”.

He was one of the first Chinese masters, who had started a scientific research of human bioenergy (Shēngwù diàn 生物电) both for combat use and for human health and well-being. He found out that an untrained humans in taijiquan and qigong had only insignificant degree of opening of dermic porus, while taijiquan and qigong masters could use so-called skin respiration that allowed them to manipulate biological energy, releasing it to a long distance from the inside as well as taking it from the outside.

Such energy force helped to strengthen the immune system and raise the health level of any human body. What was more, since bioenergy was a microwave (Wéibō 微波), it could pass up to three hundred thousand kilometers in a second. It helped to scan the surroundings, which was especially important in a battle. If a master was able to identify an enemy in a distance, he could react at the right time and win the fight. Wu Tunan had done all these things repeatedly, and that strengthened his ability to use the “distance” power of taijiquan several times.

Master Wu Tunan was a long-liver. His followers created a Research Center in Beijing to honour Wu Tunan’s memory. SInce then similar centers and societies are being created all over the world. Moscow Wushu Federation with the support of Master Zhou Yi, one of the Wu Tunan’s students, has created Taiji Research Society, which aim is to study Chinese health culture and particularly Wu Tunan’s heritage. Its head at the moment is Andrey Milanyuk, candidate of historical sciences, sinologist, student of master Zhou Yi and master Li Lian. The work of the Society is attended by large orientalist organizations such as the Institute of the Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Asian countries and Africa at Moscow State University, etc. “Taiji” Society organizes scientific expeditions to Chinese places related to Taijiquan history, as well as meetings with the best representatives of this art of all styles. It maintains contacts with the Research Society of Wushu spiritual heritage of Wu Tunan, as well as with all the Wu Tunan’s students.

The material is taken from the website of Andrey Milyanyuk:

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