Grand Master Liu Jing RuGrand Master Liu Jing Ru is a living legend in China and one of the most famous KUNG FU Masters in the world . He has won 4 gold medals in the national Chinese Championships and has won championships in many local Chinese competitions in the Martial Arts . He is one of the biggest names in the world of Traditional Chinese Martial Arts . Holder of 8 Dan in Wu Shu , he was the coach for the Wu Shu team in Beijing in Ba Gua Zhaug for 10 years . He taught many top athletes and champions . One of his students , Ge Chun Yan , won Gold medals in Pa Kua Zhang in 5 successive annual Wu Shu Championships in China . One other student won first place in Pa Kua Zhang and in Praying Mantis in the Beijing Championships and many others have gained awards and titles in many tournaments.

In the 90's Lu Jing Ru gave up his position of coach in Wu Shu in order to start his own school teaching Traditional Martial Arts in China . With his profound knowledge and broad experience he acquired many students not only from China but from America , Europe , Australia and Russia . Publisher of many books and video tapes on Martial Arts , Liu Jing Ru is mainly known for his skill in Ba Gua Zhang - although he has also mastered several different styles of Kung Fu . His book "Ba Gua Zhang" which was published in 1999 , became the official training manual for Cheng Style Bu Gua Zhang throughout China . In recent years he has made a series of instructional DVDs on Chinese Martial Arts.

Today Grand Master Liu Jing Ru serves as the Vice Chairman of the Research Society of Ba Gua Zhang in Beijing where he now lives and teaches Ba Gua Zhang , Xing Yi Quan and Praying Mantis Kung Fu .
The following interview was given by Grand Master Liu Jing Ru to Master Tang Tung Wing , a personal student of the Grand Master , in Beijing .

Q1. Grand Master Liu , we thank you for having accepted to give us this interview .
A. You are welcome .

Q2. To begin , I'd like to know for what reasons you started to learn Chinese Martial Arts ?
A. As a child I used to listen to many stories about China's heroes , who protected the weak and unprivileged fighting against evil to defend their country , for peace and justice . As most children I wanted to become like one of these brave men helping other people . So from an early age I decided to start training in Kung Fu to become strong and brave so that I would fight the villains . Of course that was a childish dream - today we can't fight against villains with Martial Arts . In modern societies there are laws , police enforcement and courts of law and taking the law in one's hands is illegal . Now the reason for which I continue to train in Kung Fu is to maintain strength and health and spiritual harmony . Of course I don't want my students to fight either . I want them to solve their differences in peaceful law - abiding ways , without the use of violence . But I want them to keep this hero model inside them , the ideal of strength , bravery , virtue , honesty and justice .

Q3. Please , tell us when you started to learn Kung Fu , what style and training you did .
A. When I was a child I had already decided to learn good Kung Fu . But then I couldn't start because I went to school , I had a lot of lessons and when I was home I had to help my mother with the household chores so I had no time for training . When I finished school I started to work - I was about 20 yrs. old . I worked as a school teacher then and having more free time I started training and doing so , realising my dream .
In 1957 I started to learn Cheng style Ba Gua Zhang from Master Liu Xing Wu from whom I also learnt Shanxi Xing Yi Quan . In 1962 I learnt Luo Xuan Quan and Zhang style Ba Gua Zhang from Master Qui Zhi He . Later I also learnt Yin style Ba Gua Zhang from Master He Zhong Qi and the Six Harmonies Praying Mantis Fist ( Liu He Tang Lang Quan ) from Master Shan Xiang Ling .

Q4. Could you tell us the differences between modern competitive Wu Shu and traditional Kung Fu and how their results differ ?
A. Today in modern competitive Wu Shu each movement is designed to look more beautiful and impressive . The goal of its training is to win in tournaments and competitions - it is not to learn , to understand and to absorb correctly the art of Kung Fu . Contemporary Wu Shu contains many spectacular movements , however many practical , self - defense techniques , movements and training methods have been removed , altered or distorted . All the contemporary Wu Shu practitioners train like machines , doing exactly the same thing in exactly the same way without having any self expression or creativity in their art . They do everything without feeling , without soul , simply like a kind of physical exercise .
But in traditional Kung Fu training , everything is done for health development , for self-defence skills and for practical application in combat and also for spiritual cultivation . Moreover , in traditional Kung Fu training , different people express their different characters and their special talents when they perform the techniques , they don't do everything in the same way just like machines .
In modern Wu Shu it is very easy to injure oneself during training because everyone trains in very difficult movements , like high jumps , somersaults , acrobatics etc. This is why the practitioners often suffer from many injuries . As they get older they are not able to continue with this kind of training successfully .
But traditional training always aims at the development of health , strength , fighting skills and harmonising body and spirit . In traditional training we practice to benefit ourselves - not to win trophies and medals but to improve our health and to bring about harmony , by training the body to be strong , flexible and agile and the mind to be peaceful , clear and awake . Also in traditional training each movement aims at practical fighting effectiveness , not at appearance . In addition we have ways and methods of training suitable for people of all ages , levels of physical condition and ability .
So generally speaking I can say that the training of contemporary Wu Shu is for show whilst traditional training is for practical use in real life and in real combat . And the results of these two ways of training are not necessary for me to say . Everyone can figure it out for himself and can choose for himself which way to follow - the traditional Kung Fu or the modern competitive Wu Shu .

Q5. Grand Master Liu , many people are now starting Martial Arts but some want to train many different styles believing that in this way they'll become better fighters and that they will learn more things . Others want to learn only one style , one they believe to be the best , or the perfect system . Which of the two ways is the most correct ?
A. I can honestly say that there is no "best" or "perfect" system . Each system has its own specific characteristics , its own advantages and disadvantages . If you wish to reach a really high level as a fighter and as a martial artist , one style is not enough . But you must know the procedure of how to learn more than one Martial Art system well . I advise the beginner student to train only in one system and to do so until he has reached a fairly advanced level , because although the various styles are different , many fundamental principles and techniques are common in all . In this way , if you are good in one system you can easily learn another system . But when you try to train another system , you must try to understand the particular way of training and application of that style and the way to correctly combine it with the system you already know . We have to understand the methodology , the training procedure , kinesiology , strategy and mechanics of the different systems that we are learning and to absorb the strong points of every system , its philosophy and its fundamental principles . If you don't do this and you just learn mechanical movements , techniques and forms of the different systems , you will be like those who train the techniques and forms of competitive Wu Shu .
Unfortunately today I see a lot of people using Kung Fu as a kind of theoretical knowledge . They continually talk about Kung Fu and the different systems , about its history , its philosophy , its methodology and training procedures of the different styles but they are just useless empty words , without any value . Their knowledge is just intellectual , not real . They know the theory but not the practical function . They speak nicely but they cannot apply any system correctly . They are eloquent speakers , but they are not good fighters . They are well learned but they are not real martial artists , but rather scholars and theorists of the Martial Arts .
Traditional Kung Fu is a practically applied and combat effective art , not a theory . It must be trained practically to be learnt correctly . Just to talk about it is not enough .
Like when you cook a meal , you must cook the food , not talk about the food . If you cook , you will have food to eat . If you just talk about the food and the cooking , you will never eat .

Q6. When learning Chinese Kung Fu , what goal should we have in mind ?
A. Chinese Kung Fu is a cultural tradition dating back thousands of years . Kung Fu training contains many different aspects , levels and stages . First of all , our main goal is to improve our health through training . This does not mean developing only our physical skills , muscles and bones , but our breath , blood circulation and the balanced function of our internal organs .
Secondly , Kung Fu is a Martial Art . It is necessary to understand and to practice the martial application of every movement. If you don't practice and understand the fighting use of every movement , you cannot prove the true value of each movement or form . Wu Shu without the Martial aspect cannot be called Wu Shu ( Martial Art ) , it is just a dance . I don't mean that you have to fight with someone else . We learn to fight because maybe one day that will save our life or the life of our family .
Thirdly , in Kung Fu , morality is very important . Practicing morality is essential . We must always try to keep our mental balance , we must be more humble - and this morality is not a pretence , it is not a lie , or a false image that we are trying to project . It is something which directly affects our character , our personality and ourselves .
So , while training Kung Fu , we must aim at these three goals : health improvement , achievement of fighting skill and cultivation of morality and character .

Q7. All the styles of Kung Fu contain training in their forms . What are the benefits of forms training ?
A. In the past no style had forms . They only had many separate movements . One day they would train some movements , the next some others , and so on . Kung Fu styles did not have a connecting system of techniques . In this way , it was very easy for the practitioners to forget some of the movements and techniques . As the art was being handed down from generation to generation some masters began to combine different movements so creating the forms - in the same way as combining different words to create a book . In this way we can have an organised method of training technique for every system .
The training of the forms is very important . When practicing the forms , you must understand the underlying fundamental principles as well as the fighting applications in the forms . If you neither understand nor apply the fundamental principles and the fighting applications that are behind ( or within ) the forms , this is called "Kung Jia Jou" Empty Form . This is only for show or simple gymnastics . It cannot have good benefits .
If you understand the form , the basic principles , the requirements , the applications and its use , in this way training the form benefits the body , the mental and physical balance as well as the goal of self - defence .

Q8. Training in traditional Kung Fu weapons has almost lost its practical use today . Should we spend time training Kung Fu weapons or not ?
A. In the past traditional Kung Fu weapons were used in warfare to defend our country . Today we use aeroplanes , missiles , bombs etc. as war weapons . So the ancient Kung Fu weapons have almost lost their practical use . However , I wish to emphasize that we still should spend some time training with weapons . Besides their practical use in a fight or battle , training with different weapons can improve our physical condition , exercising the whole of our body as well as many physical skills . Training with traditional Kung Fu weapons can help us improve our body coordination and it can make our body more alive , flexible , agile , strong and fast . Besides that , training with weapons is beautiful . This is why I feel that it should not be ignored .

Q9. Chinese Kung Fu contains "External" and "Internal" Kung Fu . What is the difference between the two ?
A. In the past in China , Siou Lam ( Shaolin ) styles were called "External" systems . The Wu Tang styles were called "Internal" systems . But it's not that simple . Generally , the difference between "External" and "Internal" Kung Fu is that the "External" system put more emphasis on training the muscles , the bones and the skin - with jumps , powerful movements and the use of yells in order to produce power in their techniques . The "Internal" Kung Fu systems put more emphasis on exercising the tendons , the internal organs and the internal energy . Their movements are slow , relaxed , flowing and calm , and in battle , force against force is not used . We can say that in the "External" system we begin training from the external part of the body , from the hard way of fighting and we proceed towards the soft . This is more suitable for strong , young people .
The "Internal" system starts from the inside of the body , from the soft way of fighting and proceeds towards the hard . However this system is suitable for people of all ages .
Generally whether you want to become good in the "External" or "Internal" Kung Fu , you must learn to combine the soft with the hard and you must train "externally" as well as "internally" . There are two sides to everything - you cannot overemphasize the one while ignoring the other . This is why we must understand our body , our physical condition , our personal abilities and needs , to use the "Internal" and the "External" Kung Fu training in order to find our balance .

Q10. Can you tell us something about the true character of Ba Gua Zhang ? Even if it is famous in the west , it is often covered by a veil of mystery . Does it have anything to do with Taoism ?
A. Ba Gua Zhang is one of the Chinese Martial Arts . It was created by Grand Master Dong Hai Chuan . The basic technique of Ba Gua Zhang is based on the palm ( in the palm techniques ) . Circular stepping patterns are used for practical fighting use emphasizing different directions of movement , different circles , spiraling movements , etc. Its movements seem to follow the Eight Trigrams , this is why it is called Ba Gua Zhang . ( Eight Trigrams Palm ) .
In reality Ba Gua Zhang does not have any direct relation to Taoism . But many of its principles , such as the breathing techniques , the Yin Yang concept and the Eight Trigram Theory are the same with Taoism . Only at this level does the Ba Gua Zhang have any relationship to Taoism . On the practical level it has no relationship .
The creator of the system was a Taoist , this is why he created Ba Gua Zhang inspired by the theories of Taoism . But in his real life he did not live as a Taoist . Unlike the Taoists of his time who lived as monks or as hermits in the mountains , he lived in the emperor's court in the capital of China , Beijing . He lived a very different kind of life than the Taoists . So I can honestly say that Ba Gua Zhang does not have any real relationship with Taoism . But some people do not understand this and they use the Taoist religion as a veil to cover Ba Gua Zhang , making it seem like it is surrounded by a religious or mystical atmosphere , thus causing confusion to the people . This is very bad and it is not right .

Q11. I know that you have students from all over the world who have been following you for a long time . What method do you use to make your students respect you so highly and follow you all these years ?
A. What is my secret ? ( he smiles ) . In reality , this is very easy - but most people cannot do it . It is heart-felt honesty and truthfulness . When I teach my students I always use my heart to teach , I never hide my Kung Fu . I always teach the true art , I never cheat my students .
If I feel I have to tell them something , I don't care whether they like to hear it or not . As I am the teacher I am obliged to tell my students what their mistakes are and what problem they have . I try to find their mistakes , to correct them so that they can improve . I also use myself as a living example , to guide my students to do what I tell them . You can't just teach others by saying one thing and doing another . For example , I teach them to respect others , so I must do the same , not just talk about respect . I want my students to be honest and true towards me , so I must first be honest and true towards them . Sometimes truth is not very easy to accept . But if someone can truly understand it , he will stay with me - because this is the truth , the reality , what we are faced with every day . I think that this is my secret . I hope that everyone can share this secret .

Q12. What do you consider to be a good student ?
A. For me , a good student should first of all have a good character . He should be humble , he should respect and obey his Teacher , he should train seriously and always try to improve . I want my students to be good fighters - but I don't want them to be aggressive , trouble makers or brawlers . It is very important that they are peace-loving and law-abiding - not bullies .

Q13. Could you please tell us what the beginners of Kung Fu should give more attention to ?
A. First of all they should have a lot of patience in the basic training , so as to build a good foundation in learning Kung Fu . They must try to understand the basic principles and the details of every movement . They should avoid training excessively and carelessly and they should not be in a rush to learn many things all at once . They should proceed step by step . When they are able to understand the basic Kung Fu principles well , all the rest is easy . The secret is patience and persistence in trying .

Q14. Grand Master Liu , some people say that you prefer teaching foreign students who come to China to learn from you and that you don't like to teach Chinese students . Is this true ?
A. That is nonsense ! I don't care who I teach . Whoever comes to learn from me is equal to anyone else . However , because many students from foreign countries come here to learn and it is not easy for them to come to China leaving their country . . . they also have to spend a lot of money for their trip as well as their stay in China . In addition their time is limited so I don't want them to come here and not to have anything to take back with them to their country . This is why I try as much as I can to dedicate more time , to correct them and to teach them more . This is so that when they return to their country it is easier for them to continue their training and to improve . This is honesty and truthfulness in my teaching towards my students . So they come from thousands of miles away to learn from me , therefore I must take full responsibility to teach them to the best of my ability . This is why I have many students worldwide . On the other hand my students in China can come to me every day and whenever they please . They have more opportunities of training with me on a daily basis . Foreign students don't . So according to the different situations of training for each student I try to make a suitable training programme . When I accept someone as a student he is equal to all my students . This way I always try to do the right thing - I don't care what others say about me .

Q15. Grand Master Liu , would you tell us what your future plans are ?
A. My future ? ( he laughs ) I'm already 68 years old . First of all , I will continue to train so as to maintain my body in good physical condition . If I don't train for one day , I don't feel well . I feel as if my body does not have enough vitality . Secondly , I plan to write yet another book ( Master Liu Jing Ru has already written 5 books , 3 on Ba Gua Zhang , one on Xin Yi Quan and one on Praying Mantis ) . This book will contain extracts from my training experience throughout my life , knowledge from my teachers and from myself . I want to record it so that this knowledge will not disappear but can be passed on to future generations of Kung Fu practitioners like a treasure from the ancient Kung Fu tradition of China . Thirdly , I plan to transmit my arts - Ba Gua Zhang , Xin Yi Quan , Tang Lang ( Praying Mantis ) - and to develop them in other parts of the world . Furthermore , I would like to travel to different places not only to teach but to see these places first hand .

Q16. Are you planning to come to Greece in the future to visit our country and to teach ?
A. Yes , I am . I've been hearing many things about Greece for a long time . I've heard about the Acropolis and some people have told me about the islands , Mykonos and Santorini . I'd like to see all this so I plan to come to Greece as soon as I get the chance . ( Grand Master Liu Jing Ru will be in Greece from the beginning of March to the beginning of April on holiday as well as to teach in Ba Gua Zhang , Xin Yi Quan and Tang Lang Quan or Praying Mantis ).

Kung Fu Figures