Elements of Chinese martial arts originated more than six thousand years ago as the first
cavemen learned simple blocking and striking techniques to protect themselves. The first
documented form of Chinese martial arts, classical Chinese wrestling, is noted in the texts
written by and about the legendary Yellow Emperor, Huang Ti, in the first half of the third
millennium B.C. Over the ensuing years, other forms of Chinese martial arts evolved.
In about 525 A.D., a holy man named Bodhidharma left his monastery in Southern India to
spread the Buddhist faith to China, later called Ch'an Buddhism (Ch'an is the Chinese
translation for the Sanskrit word "dhyana" meaning yogic concentration. Also known as Zen).
After traveling hundreds of mites to reach Northern China and crossing the Himalyan mountains,
he crossed the Yangtze River and headed North to Loyang, the capital of Honan Province.
in a neighboring forest, he found the Shaolin Ssu (Young Forest Temple). The temple had been
built by Emperor Hsiao Wen of the Northern Wei dynasty (386-534 A.D.)
and was famous for scholarly translations of Buddhist scripture into Chinese. Bodhidharma
located a nearby cave, where he sat in meditation facing a stone wall for most of the next
nine years. Various stories have arisen regarding his meditation practices - it was said that
he could hear the screeching of ants crawling along the rock face. Another time, he supposedly
fell asleep while meditating and cut off his eyelids to prevent that from happening again.
At the end of nine years, Bodhidharma's deep blue piercing eyes had apparently drilled a
gaping hole in the cliff wall and Fang Chang could no longer refuse him entry into the temple.
Bodhidharma became the first Tsu (patriarch, literally, ancestor) of the Ch'an sect in China.
He saw that the monks were weak and could not perform his rigorous meditations so he
incorporated some calisthenics into the monks' training. These in-place exercises were
transcribed by later monks as (1) "The Muscle Change Classic" or "The Change of the Sinews,"
(2) "The Marrow Washing" and (3) "The Eighteen Fland Movements of the Enlightened One"
(The Eighteen Lo Han Shou) and marked the beginning of Shaolin Temple boxing. Bodhidharma
later devised some self-defense movements based on his knowledge of Indian fighting systems.
His emphasis on "Chi" (intrinsic energy which can be cultivated with breathing exercises
and meditation) is still an essential foundation of Shaolin Kung Fu.
Bodhidharma's teachings were further enriched and refined by succeeding Shaolin masters to
become the powerful and graceful Shaolin Temple boxing (also known as Shaolin Ch'uan
[Shaolin Fist] or Shaolin Ch'uan Fa [Way of the Shaolin Fist] ).
Since bandits frequently attacked the temple, the Shaolin hired kung fu masters to teach
the monks to defend themselves. Eventually, the Shaolin fought off the attacking bandits
and became reknown for their martial arts prowess.
Then, in 1644 A.D., the Manchus came to power (Ch'ing Dynasty 1644 -1911 A.D.). Many
of the officials from the previous M'ing dynasty sought refuge in the Shaolin temple and
the Manchus destroyed the temple. Only five masters escaped - those who went north taught
the taller Northern/Mongolian people accustomed to a cold and rigorous climate, while those
who went south taught the shorter Southern people accustomed to a warmer climate.
The first Shaolin Ssu has long since been destroyed, but several branches of Shaolin Kung
Fu stemming from the first temple have spread out throughout China and the world.
Today, the two most well-known branches are Northern Shaolin and Southern Shaolin.
In the colder Northern regions of China the ground was hard, allowing more stability when
kicking and stepping. Therefore, Northern Shaolin styles emphasize kicking, long-range,
acrobatic, and ground-fighting techniques. Many of the fancier kicks are acrobatic and
graceful as well as powerful, but the basic kicks can be effectively applied by any
In the warmer Southern regions of China, the ground was softer and often muddy, making kicking
and stepping more difficult. As a result, Southern Shaolin emphasizes higher stances and hand
techniques. The practitioner of Southern Shaolin will patiently wait for an attack,
then quickly block and counter as the opponent strikes, catching the opponent off guard...
...It is the true traditional Wushu, with
its centuries-old history, that accumulated
methods of acquiring immortality, and achievements
of Chinese medicine and techniques of psycho-
training, as well as the secrets of fighting
techniques of monastery and folk schools,
that is the never-ending source, from which
all the martial arts originate.
When the Oriental martial arts became popular, mass and widely spread to conform to
tastes of the public the tradition itself was lost, the martial arts were known only for
Van Damm's splits. The result of it was appearing of "true western" ("full-contact",
kick boxing) or "true national"("Russian combat") single combats, which either denied any
inner work and were aimed at reaching the highest sporting result, or having in its basis a
"national idea" of some kind.
Nevertheless we made an attempt to return to the origins and to find the skill and the essence
of this greatest heritage of the Chinese culture in the pure folk traditional Wushu.
In China itself there are no masters of the traditional Wushu left. The kind sport that was
presented by the authorities was only a shade of a true Wushu, and, to be precise - just
gymnastics, stylized to look like Wushu.
So much more remarkable is the fact, that the famous master Ma Menta, son of the founder
of Tongbei style in China, decided to develop this most powerful Wushu style in Russia.
The number of the Moscow schools teaching a mixture of gymnastics with a strange kind of
karate instead of Wushu surprised even the experienced master. He was equally impressed by
the enthusiasm of our sportsmen. And in China the traditional Wushu was not still in favor...
So master decided to revive his family style ... in Russia.
For some years his best pupils, the leading masters of the traditional Wushu have been
coming to us and generously sharing their knowledge. The result is that the accumulated
potential of knowledge and experience formed the basis of the methodic of our Tongbei school.
Ma Menta's closest disciples and followers made an invaluable contribution to
the development of the traditional Wushu in Russia for the last years, when they came
to Moscow to share their precious experience during seminars and master - classes.
Brief Information about Ma Shi Tongbei Ui System
Ma Shi Tongbei Ui System (Wushu Tongbei big system of the Ma family) belongs to the systems
of traditional folk Wushu, that have their own history, traditions, methods of psycho- physical
training and an enormous arsenal of techniques and complexes.
There are the best "ancient and modern flowers" of Chinese martial art collected here.
Ma Shi Tongbei Ui System has a rich outer form and a deep inner content, and what's more,
it all is founded on a strong theoretical base of the traditional Wushu schools. Being a
powerful system of a real fight, Ma shi Tongbei Ui lets everyone, who seriously and
purposefully works to improve themselves, achieve the deep penetration of the martial
arts apart from mastering the practical aspects, keep fit, find excellent health, inner
balance and harmony, "embrace everything and touch the Only".
The main part of the Tongbei theory is defined by the terms "acquiring and mastering" or
"clearing and mastering", and the practical part draws attention to the work of Tong Bei
Chin powers and is translated as "mastering the penetrating power".
In the famous book "Tongbei Quan Lu" Tongbei is described as an elitist Wushu system.
Here are some extracts from this book:
"In the Min dynasty there was a famous Wushu master called Fei Da Huan who founded
"Tongbei Quan Lu". In this work he mentioned for the first time the name of the martial
art system "Tongbei" (two hieroglyphs) and showed that in practice it is a guarantee from
losing, and in theory it meets all the requirements of Quan Fa ("The Law of Wushu").
It was Fei Da Kuan who defined the "inner" and the "outer" work in Tongbei.
There are three hieroglyphs in Chinese that can be read as "bei": the first meaning is
"shoulder", the second- "back" and the third -"to have". Though the meaning of "to have"
is rather vague, it should be noted that it emphasizes the unity and continuity in passing
the traditions of Tongbei as a system. In Ma Shi Tongbei Ui this very meaning of "bei"
(i.e. "to have") is used.
There was a famous teacher of Wushu and fencing - Pan Vynsie who taught Humanities at
Juanshen institute. The method "Tongbei Quan Fa" became famous thanks to him. Pan Vynsie
never divided "external" and "internal", never separated the fighting practice with the
improvement of the health, and considered the development of the spiritual power to be
most important in Wushu.
His best disciple Lin Yun Be did not widely spread Tongbei system among the people, but,
following his teacher's will, taught only some "external" forms to the "uninitiated", i.e.
that, what was included into the meaning "shoulder". Only a few most devoted pupils got the
knowledge about the whole Tongbei system. Such an orthodox approach could lead to losing part
of Tongbei Quan Fa knowledge in the coming troubled times.
An unknown master Ma Fentu started studying Tongbei by Juan Ling Be, soon achieved great
success and became famous far beyond his district. Teacher Juan gave Ma Fentu the right to
spread the true knowledge of Tongbei ( in the meaning "to have"). In 1909 Ma Fentu founded
a society of "Chinese Warriors", the rising of Tongbei to the top of the Chinese martial art schools began from that moment…"
The popularity of Wushu with the people was due to the fact, that Ma Fentu and Ma Intu
were the real Wushu "stars", always winning at various contests of that time. Having carried
out a great amount of work in studying of such famous styles as baji-quan, piqua-quan,
phanzi-quan and chuojio-quan, Ma Fentu found the thing that united these different schools
and managed to create a unified system including the close- and short-distance fight,
techniques of entries, breaking open the defense of the opponent and using the "explosive
power" and concentration, and, at last, subtle leg techniques.
The system he created became very famous among the numerous followers of Wushu in China .
But as time went by Ma school had to quit its activities because of persecutions, only a
few masters were left- mostly the members of the Ma family, the keepers of the true Tongbei
knowledge. They were the four brothers, Ma Fentu's sons, famous Wushu masters in China and
in the world: Ma Inta, Ma Sinta, Ma Linta and Ma Menta.
Nowadays the traditional Wushu is revived in China. Professor Ma Menta is the compiler of a
complete encyclopedic dictionary on the traditional Wushu in China. During his visit to Moscow
a decision was made to develop Wushu in Russia; the disciples of the Ma school conducted
seminars and classes for the instructors of Federation. The work in this direction is continued.
More and more Wushu fans all over the world are getting acquainted with the priceless
treasure of the Chinese culture - the heritage of the Ma family.