Chi Master Professor Peng-Si Yu and I

Column by Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong
September 2003 Issue

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Professor Peng-Si Yu (1902-1983) was born in Wuxi City of Jiangsu province, China. He graduated from the medical school of Tong Qi University in Shanghai. He was a famous dermatologist in Shanghai and received his medical doctorate degree from Heldelberg University in Germany. His medical career was very successful in Shanghai and he was the highest authorized dematologist in South China.

In 1949, he became the head of the dermatology department of the Shanghai's top-ranked People's Hospital. He was also a professor at the top Medical College of Shanghai.

Peng Si Yu's name was not only famous in the medical field; he was even more famous in the martial arts world. He studied shaolin kung-fu from a famous local master named Mi Jian Hua in Shanghai. In 1928, he was introduced to the study of "I-chuan" (yi quan) or mind and intention boxing from the famous great grandmaster, Wang Xiang Zhai, after an introduction by a lawyer named Jiang Yi Ping.

Yu turned out to be master Wang's closest disciple and most steadfast supporter. Yu also provided for his teacher's personal and financial needs. Dr. Peng Si Yu asked master Wang to teach him only the true heart of internal martial arts practice and to refrain from teaching him anything that was not pracical in the art of I-chuan. Yu eventually added Tibetan Buddhist chi kung practices to Wang's I-chuan system. The 3,OOO-year-old exercises of chi kung are designed to promote internal energy (chi) through breathing, meditation, moving exercises, and standing postures. He developed the "empty force" practice, creating a chi kung method which helps practitioners achieve an even deeper and more effective level of chi control.

During the Cultural Revolution in China (1968-1978), Dr. Peng Si Yu was imprisoned and tortured by the Red Guards. Following his release from prison, his renown as a chi kung medical practitioner led to an invitation from the Stanford University Research Institute to conduct medical research in California. In 1981 professor Yu moved to California with his wife, Madame Min Ou-Yang. I joined his I-chuan and chi kung class at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco at the outset of his teaching in America. I learned about professor Yu from my choy li fut and tai chi teacher, grandmaster Hu Yuen-Chou. At this time I had an established martial arts teaching career. Nonetheless, I immediately became one of professor Yu's most committed and supportive students. I studied with him and his wife until he died.

tragically, professor Yu soon fell seriously ill from diabetes. This was a result of sudden dietary changes experienced in the course of his move and alleged medical misdiagnosis. My respect and friendship was so great that I served professor Yu as his personal assistant until he died July 21, 1983. Some people in China recorded his death as July 22, 1983, however the actual date was on the 21st, the local date in San Francisco. Over the dateline it was the 22nd of July in China when Yu's daughters received the news of his passing.

I continued my chi kung and I-chuan studies with professor Yu's wife, Madame Min Ou-Yang. She also is a master-level chi kung practitioner, because of her experience as an assistant instructor under professor Yu.

After diligent training, I had my chi opened up by Madame Min Ou-Yang. She adopted me as her godson and I continued training and assitanting her as a teacher of I-chuan and chi kung for nine years after professor Peng Si Yu's death.