Han, Mu-Xia 韩慕侠
The great master Han, Mu-Xia was a 4th generation master of Xingyi Chuan and a 4th generation master of Baguazhang coming from Dong, Hai-Chuan. He was a high-level master of both Xingyiquan and Baguazhang.
Grandmaster Han was born in 1877. He was born to a poor farmer’s house in Jing Hai County of Tianjin. His original name was Han, Jing-Yong.
From a young age, grandmaster Han had always been big and strong. At the age of 5, he began training in Mi Zong Quan with his grandfather which helped build a solid foundation in martial arts. At the age of 16, with the recommendation from a master in the Bureau of Bodyguards, he was taken as disciple by the great master of Xingyiquan and Baguazhang, master Zhang, Zhan-Kui.
After becoming a disciple of master Zhang, grandmaster Han practiced diligently day and night and made big progress. He received the nickname “Jade Face Tiger” because of his fighting abilities and his good-looks.
In his twenties, grandmaster Han’s Gong Fu became more mature and more famous, but he was not content. He traveled between provinces, learning more and more about the practice of Xingyiquan. Through his travels, grandmaster Han learned more about northern and southern style Xingyiquan.
During his travels, grandmaster Han met a Taoist Baguazhang master named Ying, Wen-Tian. The great master Ying, Wen-Tian, also known as “Ying Xia”, had been living the life of a hermit. Great master Ying took grandmaster Han as disciple and taught him all he knew about Baguazhang. After training for four years, great master Ying passed all his techniques to grandmaster Han, then changed his name from Han, Jing-Yong to Han, Mu-Xia.
After great master Ying, Wen-Tian died, grandmaster Han followed the ancient rituals and waited on his body for 49 days. He was very pious and treated great master Ying as if he was his parent.
After training with great master Ying, grandmaster Han combined his Baguazhang with the northern and southern branches of Xingyiquan to create his own style of Xingyiquan. The Han Pai, or Han Branch, of Xingyiquan focuses heavily on fighting and applications as those were grandmaster Han’s specialties.
In 1918, the Russian strongman and wrestler, Kang Tai Er, visited China. He was a world champion in fighting competitions and in two years had traveled the globe, fighting in forty different nations. In every country, he had emerged as the champion. He had won the titles “World’s Top Hercules” and “Globe Shocker”. When Kang visited China, he boasted that he could beat any Chinese fighter, and that Chinese were the “Sick Men of Asia”.
The Tianjin Chinese Martial Arts Association was very upset by Knag Tai Er’s claims, so they decided to take him up on his offer. The Chairmen of the Association, Li, Cun-Yi and Zhang, Zhao-Dong, invited Han, Mu-Xia to fight on their behalf. Grandmaster Han, who was already 42 years old, decided to take the challenge and fight for his country’s name and honor.
Grandmaster Han met Kang Tai Er in Beijing at the Liu Guo Hotel, where their fight took place. The event was short and brutal, but in the end, Grandmaster Han was the champion. Grandmaster Han struck Kang to the ground, and left his opponent vomiting and unable to move. Grandmaster Han was awarded with 11 gold medals from Kang himself.
After this fight, Han was received as a national hero and large celebrations were put up in his honor. He donated the gold medals to the Chinese Martial Arts Association, but its members decided that he should keep the largest one for himself.
As a high level martial arts master, Grandmaster Han, Mu-Xia pursued two things in life: promoting martial arts amidst the general public so as to build up the strength of his country’s people, and building a grand martial arts school.
In September of 1919, Grandmaster Han wrote to the Chief of Zhi Li Province to register the martial arts school that he had built up for over three years. After the registration, his school’s reputation became better and better. There were numerous students who came to learn from him. Among the students was the eldest son of then-president Yuan, Shi-Kai, Yuan, Ke-Dong.
Throughout his life, Grandmaster Han taught students for free. Some students, who were very poor, were not only allowed to train, but also given free room and board and his martial arts school.
Grandmaster Han, Mu-Xia was a strong advocate of the practice of martial arts in the schools by school children. To accomplish his dream, Grandmaster Han went to the Nan Kai School, where he gave a lecture on the strengths of martial arts and patriotism in the nation’s schools.
After succeeding in making martial arts practice mandatory in public schools, Grandmaster Han ordered his disciple to draft a letter advising countrymen to practice the art of Xingyiquan to promote martial arts ability. This letter was published in the newspaper, and attracted a large number of followers who wished to study with the Grandmaster.
Through all of these accomplishments, Grandmaster Han never forget about his dream of promoting traditional Chinese Martial Arts in the country’s military. Han made contact with the Chief of the Northwest Army, Zhang, Xue-Liang. Zhang was quite interested in Han’s suggestions. He ordered the Chief of the 16 Jun to send 1,000 soldiers to form a martial arts team. Grandmaster Han was assigned as their head coach.
Grandmaster Han devoted much of his time to the training of this team. He taught them Han Pai Xingyiquan, and devised new methods to enrich their training. He simplified the Xingyi Spear set and taught the soldiers with an emphasis on applying the techniques in a direct and deadly fashion. After the members of the team learned to improve their own techniques in combat, they were taught to fight together as a group and apply the traditional methods that were taught to them.
During the Second World War when the Japanese invaded China, Grandmaster Han trained the soldiers to break the attack of their enemy. Grandmaster Han trained these soldiers in the use of the two-handed broadsword. He combined techniques from Xingyi Broadsword and Bagua Broadsword to create the unique system of combat. After the soldiers became adept at these methods, the name of the group was changed to Da Dao Dui (Big Knife Squadron). The movements employed by Da Dao Dui were simple, but hard to defeat. They were so effective in combat, that the Japanese soldiers began wearing special mesh-iron collars to protect them from blows to the neck.
After the Northwest Army was broken up, Da Dao Dui was included in the 29 Jun that was led by Song, Zhe-Yuan. They fought bravely in the battles of Xi Feng Hou and Gu Bei Kou. In one night, Da Dao Dui killed more than 1,000 Japanese soldiers.
After the occupation of the Japanese, Grandmaster Han trained students to fight against the Japanese police were presiding over Tianjin. Grandmaster Han, along with the help of disciples like Grandmaster Ma, Jie , trained students behind closed doors to fight using guerrilla tactics against those who had invaded their land.
In October of 1947, Grandmaster Han passed away at the age of 70.
Grandmaster Han, Mu-Xia’s martial arts techniques were spectacular, and shocked the whole world. In his entire life he was always upright, noble, knightly, and loyal.
In his life he took many disciples. Grandmaster Ma, Jie is one of the current leaders of Han, Mu-Xia’s Gong Fu techniques in China today.