Huo Yuanjia bigraphy, stories - Founders

Huo Yuanjia : biography

January 18, 1868 - August 9, 1910

Huo Yuanjia (18 January 1868 – 9 August 1910 states that the wushu association was founded on July 7, 1910. An with Huo's great-grandson states that he died about 70 days after the Jingwu school was founded. states August 1909 as the date of death.) was a Chinese martial artist and a co-founder of the Chin Woo Athletic Association, a martial arts school in Shanghai. A practitioner of the martial art mizongyi, Huo is considered a hero in China for defeating foreign fighters in highly publicised matches at a time when Chinese sovereignty was being eroded by colonisation, foreign concessions, and spheres of influence. Due to his heroic status, legends and myths about events in his life are difficult to discern from facts.


Early life

Huo was born in Xiaonanhe Village in Jinghai County, Tianjin, as the fourth of Huo Endi's ten children. The family's main source of income was from agriculture, but Huo Endi also made a living by escorting merchant caravans to Manchuria and back. Although he was from a family of traditional wushu practitioners, Huo was born weak and susceptible to illness. He had asthma and at an early age he contracted jaundice, that would recur periodically for the rest of his life. (It is theorised that he may have had a mild form of congenital jaundice known as Gilbert's syndrome). Due to his frail frame, his father discouraged him from learning traditional wushu.

Huo Endi hired a tutor named Chen Seng-ho from Japan to teach his son academics and moral values. In return, Chen was taught the Huo family's style of martial arts, mizongyi. Against his father's wishes, Huo still wanted to learn wushu. He secretly observed his father teaching students martial arts during the day and practised them at night with his tutor.

In 1890, a martial artist from Henan visited the Huo family and fought with Huo's elder brother. Huo's brother was defeated and to the surprise of the family, Huo fought his brother's opponent and defeated the latter. As Huo proved that he was physically able to practise wushu, his father accepted him as a student. In later years, Huo went on to challenge martial artists from neighbouring lands and his fame grew as he defeated more and more opponents in bouts.

Huo joined his father at work as a caravan guard. One day, while escorting a group of monks, Huo was confronted by an aggressive bandit leader who threatened to attack the monks with his henchmen. Huo fought the bandit leader and defeated him. News of his feat spread and added on to his growing fame. In 1896, Huo went to Tianjin and made a living there by working as a porter in the Huaiqing pharmacy and by selling firewood.

Rise to fame

In 1902, Huo responded to a challenge advertised by a Russian wrestler in Xiyuan Park, Tianjin. The wrestler openly called the Chinese "weak men of the East" as no one accepted his challenge to a fight. The Russian forfeited when Huo accepted his challenge. The Russian told Huo that he was merely putting on a performance in order to make a living and made an apology for his earlier remark in the newspaper.

Between 1909 and 1910, Huo traveled to Shanghai twice to accept an open challenge posed by a British boxer, Hercules O'Brien. The two of them had arguments over the rules governing such boxing matches and eventually agreed that whoever knocked down his opponent would be the victor. O'Brien fought Huo and lost. Huo's victory was a great inspiration to the Chinese people and had them questioning the basis of imperialistic dominance. However, there is a lot of controversy over whether the fight ever took place. A recent article states that O'BrienMoore, Roger. (September 22, 2006) Orlando Sentinel Section: Calendar; Page 14. (Quote: Aussie strongman Nathan Jones "plays Euro-strongman Hercules O'Brien here, a real-life fighter who was supposed to fight Huo but never did.") opted to leave town instead.Chester, Rodney. (August 26, 2006) The Courier-Mail Tweaking the artistic truth. Section: etc1 – First with the news; M04. (Quote, "In reality, big bad O'Brien left town when Huo challenged him to a fight. Likewise, a Russian fighter had a change of heart when Huo challenged him for calling Asian men weak. The Russian opted for a public apology instead of a public brawl.")

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Living octopus

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