Martial Art's Masters

Martial arts expert Chris Crudelli travels through China, Japan and the Philippines in his search for the original Masters of martial arts disciplines. He learns about ninja, tai qi, kung fu, the deadly dim mak and many more.

The Masters / Links

An archer, horse & arrow event, Kamakura, Japan

The Masters - Japan

Find out about the Martial Arts masters Chris Crudelli met in Japan.

Master Ogasawara - Yabusame
Yabusame is the ancient horseback archery skill practised within the precincts of a Shinto shrine. Riders have to shoot three successive targets from a horse in full gallop.

The Ogasawara clan have passed the tradition from father to son for over 800 years. They are descendants of the first founder of Japan's very first archery school, Henmi Kiyomitsu.

Play virtual Yabusame

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi - Ninjutsu
Dr Hatsumi started studying martial arts from the age of seven. He learned Judo, Kendo, Karate, Aikido, Okinowan Karate and Jukendo. After taking a break from martial arts to study medicine he became the sole student of Master Toshigatsu Takamatsu, "the last of the true Ninja". Before his death Master Takamatsu made Dr Hatsumi the sole inheritor of the 'nine Ninjutsu traditions'.

Dr Hatsumi passes on his training through his Bujinkan Dojo (Divine Warrior Training Hall) which is now a worldwide organisation.

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi, Grandmaster
The Ninja
The nine traditions

Master Aoki - Shintaido-ryu
Hiroyuki Aoki took up karate to help him in his acting studies and became a black belt. Instead of becoming head instructor at his teacher's school he left to form a group of martial arts instructors, musicians, actors and artists. After many years of intense study, a new form of movement was born - Shintaido or "new body way".

Aoki's students train under waterfalls to enhance their sixth sense, and use their 'kiai' (martial shout) to knock opponents over.

The Shintaido story
Hiroyuki Aoki

Master Tetsuzan Kuroda - Komagawa kaishin-ryu
Tetsuzan Kuroda is a master of ancient sword skills that have been handed down over generations. His sword strikes are extremely fast and accurate and he is renowned for his trademark "hidden" or "disappearing" movements.

Master Kuroda teaches several traditional Japanese styles including kenjitsu, iaijitsu, and jujitsu at his family's martial arts school, the Shinbukan Kuroda Dojo.

Sensei Tetsuzan Kuroda
Interview with Tetsuzan Kuruda

Okinawan Karate Master Ushiro with Chris Crudelli, Osaka
Master Ushiro
Kenji Ushiro competed in many karate tournaments before questioning the competitive nature of karate. He then studied Okinawan Karate under Nikichi Zaha Shihan and is now a master of the Shindo-ryu style. He is an expert in unarmed combat and has the ability to project 'killer intent' to attack an opponent.

Article by Kenji Ushiro about Okinawan karate
h2g2: Karate

Fumon and Midori Tanaka - Enshin-ryu
With roots going back to body guards of the Emperor, Enshin Ryu is characterised by defenses against rear attacks and trains extensively in stabbing techniques. Fumon Tanaka is the leading authority on Japan's traditional martial arts and has published many books on the subject. He is training his daughter Midori to take over his role as teacher.

Master Tanaka is a grandmaster in Kobudo and one of the few living people to practice all the Kobudo styles. This system, from the Okinawa region of Japan, uses a weapon developed from farming tools. Kobudo is also known as Bushido or "the way of the warrior". These traditional martial arts can be seen as a continuation of Samurai culture.

Soko Fumon Tanaka Sensei
The Way of the Warrior



The Masters - Beijing

Find out about the Martial Arts masters Chris Crudelli met in Beijing.

Zhou Minde - Yang Style Tai Qi (Chi)
Master Zhou Minde is over 60 years old and says that he is the 5th Generation Master of 'Real Tai Qi'. His 'real tai qi' is Yang Style Tai Qi, an amalgamation of styles including Shaolin boxing, Xinyi Liuhe Boxing, Shuai Jiao and Tai Qi that Master Zhou has developed since he first started training at the age of eight. He has developed a reputation for saying "I will only retire when someone beats me".

Yang Style Tai Chi
BBC Health: Tai Chi

Duan Bao Hua - Liang Yi Dian Xue Gong Fu (Dim Mak)
Duan Bao Hua is the Master and Inheritor of Liang Yi Dian Xue Gong Fu (Liang Yi Pressure Point Kung Fu), a rare internal martial art that has been passed down within the Duan family for generations. Also known as Dim Mak or the Death Touch, the art, based on the theory of Yin and Yang or the Liang Yi (Twin Poles), combines soft and slow practice methods similar to Tai Qi Quan with the fast and sudden release of power similar to Xing Yi Quan.

Striking the pressure points can cause different results; some might lose their power of speech, others might be paralysed temporarily. The opponent can only be restored to 'normal' by striking alternative pressure points.

Dim Mak
Yin and Yang

Zhang Shengli - Wushu
Master Zhang started studying wushu aged seven at the Shaolin Wushu School in Henan Province and has been teaching it since 1994. He has taught San Da, Tae Kwan Do, Competition Tai Qi, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan at Beijing's Capital Sports Institute. Master Zhang has also taught martial arts for self-defence/attack at the China Public Security University, Beijing No 3 Policeman School and Beijing Anbo Special Policeman School. Most recently Master Zhang has been teaching classes at his own school, the Beijing Milun School of Traditional Kung Fu.
History of Wushu

Wu Yue
Wu Yue is a martial artist, choreographer and film and television actor. Having studied various styles and forms of Chinese martial arts since childhood, Wu has made his name in Chinese film and television circles as a top stunt man, choreographer and actor.


The Masters - Hong Kong

Find out about the Martial Arts masters Chris Crudelli met in Hong Kong.

Sifu Cho - Shen Gong
Sifu Cho is a Taoist (pronounced Dowist) priest and the head of a group that invoke spirits. Their particular method for ghost possession originated in Southern China and is now carried out by a select few. They believe that the spirits protect them from harm; once the group has been possessed they have the 'power' to carry out otherwise potentially harmful 'stunts'. These stunts include eating glass, cutting themselves with knives, lying on broken glass and having a concrete block smashed on their chest with a sledgehammer.


Ip Shui & Ip Chee Keung - Chow Gar (Southern) Praying Mantis
Ip Chee Keung was appointed as Grand Master of the Chow Gar Praying Mantis Kung Fu system in 2002, taking on the mantle previously worn by his father, Ip Shui. This system of Kung Fu started around 250 years ago and originated from the Shaolin monastery in Henan Province, China. It is considered a more secretive and difficult style to learn than its northern counterpart. The style is not tied to one type of technique, the stances are low and more firmly set to the ground, high kicks are not used. Practitioners are skilled in death/destruction techniques (Dim-Mak) as well as arts of healing.

Both Ip Shui and Ip Chee Keung have the ability to withdraw their testicles within their body (thereby closing his body's 'gates' or vulnerable zones) and thereby withstand full kicks to the groin without flinching. Few masters can perform this without cheating (by keeping the legs close together to take the force of the kick).

Chow's Family Praying Mantis Kung Fu

Ip Chun - Wing Chun
Master Ip is the eldest son of the late Grandmaster Yip Man who brought Wing Chun to Hong Kong. In 1949 Ip Man was forced to flee to Hong Kong to escape persecution from the Communists. A year later he began teaching Wing Chun and over the next 22 years taught hundreds of students, one of whom was Bruce Lee who he taught for four years. Ip Chun followed his father to Hong Kong and in 1967 began teaching Wing Chun. Yip Man passed away in 1972 but before he died, he made sure the various forms of Wing Chun were recorded on 8mm film in order to preserve the pure Wing Chun system.

h2g2: Wing Chun
Wing Chun resources
The Bruce Lee Foundation

Leung Ting - Wing Tsun
Leung Ting is the Permanent President and the only Grandmaster of the International WingTsun Association. Leung Ting was accepted as the "closed door student" of Yip Man, aged 20, although he started studying Wing Chun when he was 13. Leung Ting developed WingTsun Kung Fu based on the Wing Chun techniques he learnt from Yip Man.

Since 1976, Leung Ting has designed and directed over 24 TV Kung Fu series and six movies. He has taught Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan Wing Tsun techniques for them to apply when filming action movies.

Grandmaster Leung Ting
The Story of Wing Tsung

Zhu Dashi (Chu Hok Ting) - The Living Treasure Of China
Master Zhu was born into a family of Chinese medical doctors. Both his grandfather and father were doctors. His father, Xuan Zho Zhi, travelled all over the country for seven years, visiting famous temples and teachers to learn secret methods and recipes for health and longevity.

Master Zhu has followed in his father's footsteps. He systematically studied Western and Chinese medical theory since he was in middle school and combines the two medical techniques in his practice to diagnose symptoms. He integrates diet, acupressure, Qigong and herbs in his treatments. Master Zhu has studied, researched and practiced medicine, diet and sports medicine for decades. Overall he has produced more than ninety theses on diet, Qigong, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine.

Leo Gaje, river training

The Masters - Philippines

Find out about the Martial Arts masters Chris Crudelli met in the Philippines.

Grand Tuhon Leo T Gaje Jr -
Pekiti Tirsia Kali

The Pekiti-Tirsia system of Kali was formulated by the Tortal family. The family patriarch, Conrado B Tortal, passed this system and its attributes onto his only grandson, the sole heir, and its present guardian, Grand Tuhon Leo Tortal Gaje Jr.

Since 1972, Leo Gaje has been in the USA promoting Pekiti-Tirsia Kali on the east coast and introduced full contact stick fighting across the US. Pekiti-Tirsia Kali places great emphasis on metaphysical training and Leo Gaje believes that if you are not well trained in the metaphysical then you are not fully trained or equipped to fight. He wears an anting anting (amulet) around his neck which he believes protects him from harm.

What is Pekiti-Tirsia Kali?

Rommel Tortal - Manila Pitbulls
Rommel is the nephew of Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje and an instructor of the Manila Pitbulls, a group that trains using the Pekiti-Tirsia Kali system. He is also the edged-impact weapons tactical combat instructor for the Philippine Force Recon Marines.

The Manila Pitbulls train for combat, not for competitions. Their training includes empty hand techniques, hand-to-hand manipulation and ground fighting as well as the use of weapons including long blades, knife fighting, spears and the use of guns. They are trained in tactical strategy and for real combat situations rather than tournaments. The core group of Pitbulls regularly provide combat training for the Marines, the Police Force and the Military.

Pekiti-Tirsia and the Military

Grandmaster Ernesto Presas -
Modern Arnis / Kombatan

Ernesto Presas is the creator and founder of the Kombatan System. It does not classify itself as sport, rather "an effective three-dimensional street art descended from Arnis - a very unique martial art that originated in the Philippines over 1000 years ago. Kombatan involves combative hands, knife, and sticks. It differs greatly from other martial arts in that it covers all ranges of conflict: weapons, kicking, punching, and grappling."

Ernesto Presas holds the rank of Lakan Sampu (10th Dan) in Arnis, Lakan Sampu (10th Dan) in Mano-Mano (hand to hand combat) and 8th Dan in Filipino Weaponry. He is recognized as a ranking expert in Judo, Jujutsu, Bo Jitsu, Kendo, Tonfa, Sai, Chaku, Balisong, and Karate.

Presas has also developed the technique of fighting blindfolded (his speciality), a trick he learnt from his blind grandfather.

Grandmaster Ernesto Presas

Daniel Foronda Ii - Instructor Of Pekiti Tirsia Kali
Daniel is a Pekiti-Tirsia Kali instructor. He started his formal martial arts training aged 14 under Grand Master Romy and GM Ernesto Presas. He met Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje aged 20 and began studying with him. He belongs to the Igorot tribe of Cordilleras (mountain province in Northern Luzon) but was raised in Manila.

He is a fervent believer in the metaphysical and wears an anting anting (amulet) of a bull's horn around his neck. Traditionally, at 18, boys in his tribe go through a rite of passage whereby the boy has to decapitate a cow in one stroke using a bolo. He believes the bull's horn protects him from harm.

Christopher Ricketts - Bakbakan International (Kali Illustrisimo)
Christopher Ricketts is the co-founder and Chief Instructor of Bakbakan (Kali Illustrisimo). With Master Rey Galang (now in the US), the two formed Bakbakan International in the early 1970s. Bakbakan International is a 'fraternity' of martial artists with headquarters located in Metro-Manila. It started as an informal gathering of martial artists from different disciplines and now prides itself as "a veritable 'Who's Who' in Filipino martial arts".

The Bakbakan system comprises of various elements adapted from other established systems including Kali Illustrisimo, the Sinwali Fighting System and the Tulisan Knife-Fighting System. It is unique as there are no pre-arranged sets or set forms and movements are not set to a pattern. The term bakbakan refers to a 'free-for-all' fight.

Illustrisimo Kali

Commander Emilio Nareja & Haring Bakal Group
Commander Emilio Nareja is a faith healer and leader of the Haring Bakal Group (literally "King of Steel"). He uses amulets as a means to protect himself - he has seven inserted under his skin and believes that each one gives him a different skill or ability. Members have amulets inserted under their skin using an ice pick and a match. They do this in case they lose the amulets that they wear around their necks. In order to test the amulets' power, they are then struck on their torsos and thighs using a large knife (bolo). They emerge unscathed.

Religious belief in the Philippines is a mixture of Christianity and Paganism and this is demonstrated in the daily lives of Filipinos and can also be found in various styles of Filipino Martial Arts.

Article about Haring Bakal ritual


SWAT Team, Taiwan National Police, Taipei, Taiwan

The Masters - Taiwan

Find out about the Martial Arts masters Chris Crudelli met in Taiwan.

Coach Chang (En-Huang Chang) -
San Da

Coach Chang is the head coach for Taiwan's national San Da team and is extremely well respected with the Martial Arts community. An ex-San Da champion himself; Coach Chang has been preparing students for competitions with China since 1991 and has produced numerous champions. Since 1999 he has been travelling to Japan to help teach San Da.

Coach Chang also teaches regular classes to the Taiwanese SWAT team and it was thanks to him that permission was given to film the Taiwanese SWAT team in action - the first time a foreign television crew has done so.

San Da
Chang Shuai Chiao Homepage

Firebird Liu - Fight Club
Firebird Liu is an ex-student of Coach Chang and David Chang and national San Da Champion. He has also competed at national level in Shuai Jiao competitions. He now runs the Hao Ten Chinese Boxing Combat School, which he established in 1999. Firebird Liu sits on various official Martial Arts boards/societies including the Taiwan Wushu San Da Association and the Taiwan Thai Kickboxing Association. He is responsible for organising and establishing the Taiwan Full Combat Kung-Fu Association and the Fight Club.

History of Wushu
Article about Taipei's Fight Club

Mr Pan Sheng De & Taiwan Shaolin Temple Wushu Association
The Hard Qigong group led by Mr Pan have been performing together since they were children. They are adept at performing a range of stunts to demonstrate the power of 'Qi' (Chi). These range from the more basic such as breaking bricks over their hands to the more incredible - breaking bricks over their heads while their throat rests on a guillotine or placing iron rods against their eyes and bending them in half. The Shaolin Temple Wushu Association is also the world's only museum dedicated to the history and culture of the traditional Lion Dance.

The history of Shaolin

Tu Jin Sheng - Iron Crotch Qigong (Jiu Jiu Shen Gong)
Jiu Jiu Shen Gong is Tu's unique Penis Qigong, which he has been practicing for over 25 years. This method is based on Iron Shirt Qigong and Taoist nine-circle alchemy. Reputedly a skill used in ancient China to train the lower parts of the body, Iron Crotch is practiced for a variety of health reasons. It supposedly nourishes the kidneys and strengthens yang. It supplements qi and strengthens one's general health.

Tu believes this type of qigong kung fu has been kept behind closed doors for two main reasons. One is the conservative nature of the Chinese people and the other is because "this kung fu focuses on the reproductive organs, the very base of human life, so it is immensely powerful. Masters had to find the right pupils to received the teachings or they would not pass it on". Tu cites three main benefits of his practice: it strengthens your immune system, it increases your energy, and it makes you "bigger, longer and harder".

Today Tu promotes his qigong as a preventative for old age and disease and says it will increase energy and vitality, make muscles and bones stronger, reduce arterial blockages and cholesterol levels. It can also greatly enhance sexual performance.

Article on Tu Jin Sheng

For more on Grandmaster Tu, see Iron Penis: Not for Men Only in our Sep/Oct 2001 issue or see his videos and the Long Life Health Bar .


Mind, Body & Kick Ass Moves - About the show

The world of martial arts is shrouded in centuries of myth and mystery. But are the moves and impossible physical feats that are the hallmark of cult martial arts movies merely the stuff of urban legend?

Chris Crudelli is a unique figure on the UK martial arts scene, who trained in the Far East with a number of real-life masters. An expert in a range of disciplines, including Tai Chi, Kung Fu and Chi Gong, he is the perfect guide to the world of martial arts for the initiated and the uninitiated alike.

Chris travels to far-flung corners of China, Japan, the Philippines and Taiwan to meet the ultimate martial arts masters. Meetings with the masters often took place in the most extraordinary circumstances and Chris sparred with them, learnt new techniques and got a real insight into some of their most secret ways of self defence. He witnesses skills which range from the obscure to the bizarre.

From the secret fight clubs in Taiwan, to the Special Action Force in the Philippines, who volunteered 90 of their best fighters to show off their weapon techniques, Chris gains access to this notoriously secretive world. Along the way, he meets Dr Hatsumi - one of the last living Ninjas, Hong Kong movie star Sammo Hung, and 80-year-old masters more agile and sprightly than many people a quarter of their age.

Armed with his new knowledge, Chris travels round the UK where he demonstrates how martial arts can benefit anyone from a hairdresser in Glasgow to a rugby player in Cardiff.


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