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Central Guoshu Institute

The Central Guoshu Institute (simplified Chinese: 中央国术馆; traditional Chinese: 中央國術館; pinyin: zhōng yāng guó shù guǎn; literally: "Central Martial Arts Academy"); was established in Nanjing by the Kuomintang government of the Republic of China in 1928 for the propagation of Chinese martial arts, and was an important center of martial arts during the Nanjing decade. Guoshu (also spelled Kuoshu) 國術 "national art" was the term for martial arts adopted by the Republic of China at the time. The institute was headed by five selected masters, including Fu Chen Sung, Wan Laisheng, Gu Ruzhang, Li Liejun 李烈鈞 (1882–1946), Li Jinglin,[1][2] and Chang Chih Chiang (Zhang Zhijiang 张之江, 1882–1966). Along with the Jing Wu Athletic Association (established in 1910), the academy played a crucial role in the transmission of traditional Chinese martial arts into the 20th century.

In April 1928, The Institute held its first national martial arts competition in Beijing in the form of a highly competitive lei tai tournament. It was presided by General Zhang Zhijiang. This competition attracted 400 of the best martial artists in China.[3]

In October 1928, the Central Guoshu Institute held another national examination in Nanjing. This event came to be regarded as one of the most significant historic gatherings of Chinese martial arts masters. The tournament was presided by generals Zhang Zhijiang, Li Liejun, and Li Jinglin, who separated the 600 participants into two categories: Shaolin and Wudang.[4] After the first several days of competition, the fighting competitions had to be halted because two masters were killed and many more seriously injured. The final 12 contestants were not permitted to continue for fear of losing traditional knowledge of martial arts by killing off the experts and the overall winner was voted on by a jury of his peers. Many of the "Top 15" finishers (some being Xing Yi Quan boxers) went on to teach at the institute.[5]

Yang Chengfu was named the Institute's head instructor of T'ai chi ch'uan; Sun Lu-t'ang was named head instructor of Xing Yi Quan; and Fu Chen Sung was named head instructor of Baguazhang.[6]

In 1929, the governor of Guangdong invited some of the institutes's masters (including some of those that had competed in the 1928 lei tai) to come south to establish a "Southern Kuoshu Institute". General Li Jinglin chose five masters to represent northern China: Baguazhang master Fu Chen Sung; Shaolin Iron Palm master Gu Ruzhang; Six Harmony master Wan Laishen; Tan Tui master Li Shanwu; and Chaquan master, Wang Shaozhao. These men were known as the Wu hu xia jiangnan (五虎下江南 - "Five tigers heading south of Jiangnan"). In 1933, the institute again hosted the national competition. The rules said, "...if death occurs as a result of boxing injuries and fights, the coffin with a body of the deceased will be sent home."

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