Shifu Woolsey with Grandmaster Huang, Taiwan 2013

Shifu Woolsey with Grandmaster Huang, Taiwan 2013

Shifu Woolsey's earliest memory of anything martial arts was in Elementary School. He recalls coming up with his own routines and practicing them in the mirror of an armoire closet in his bedroom. As he entered middle school, he would, on occasion, accompany one of his friends to his martial arts school. He did this off and on for several years, as well as attending occasional seminars.

It wasn't until his late teens that he settled on an American Kenpo School (sometimes written as Kempo), of Nick Cerio lineage, and began formal lessons. With this organization, he attended many Black Sash Reviews, both as a student and as an Instructor. He taught the Tai Chi program at his Instructor School for several years before opening a second Utah location of his own in May 2000. He was the Chief Instructor at this school, producing many Black Sashes who went on to open and run schools in Utah and Arizona. In 2009, he was asked to take over a third Utah location. He ran two American Kenpo Schools only briefly, as it was becoming more and more clear he wanted to follow a different martial arts path.

When asked about his experience with American Kenpo Karate, he had this to say:

"I have some really great memories, and enjoyed my time with Kenpo and the people I trained with. I learned a lot about myself and others, I wouldn't trade it for anything."

 Shifu Woolsey, Uintah Mountains, 2002

Shifu Woolsey, Uintah Mountains, 2002

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“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

After Kenpo, came Shaolin Gongfu with Wang De Qing (monk name Shi Xing Hong) and Chan Wu. Master Woolsey had the opportunity to meet and train with Thirty-Second Generation Shaolin Monk, Shi Xing Hong. Shi Xing Hong is the featured monk in the book, American Shaolin. The first meeting and training sessions were brief, but it definitely stirred the pot. About a year after their first meeting, Woolsey began to correspond with Shi Xing Hong. As a result, Woolsey was invited to train at Shi Xing Hong's school in Budapest, Hungary. While there, a genuine love for Shaolin Gongfu flourished. Woolsey recognized Shi Xing Hong to be a true Master. He had the ability to combine playfulness, firmness, reverence, compassion, and martial arts into one combined approach to life, training, and spiritual presence. Woolsey states, ”Shi Xing Hong was my first Master in Chinese Martial Arts, and I could not have been more fortunate to have trained under him."

While with Chan Wu, Master Woolsey also had the opportunity to learn about Buddhism and Chinese culture. Woolsey described one of his favorite memories: "There was a small cave that they had built at their mountain training camp in Hungary. Shi Xing Hong took a small group of us there and showed us the proper way to enter the cave, to approach the table with relics on it, and to light the incense. I was raised LDS but was open to learning about new things of this nature, in fact, I felt honored to be shown." A senior monk to Hong also happened to be in Budapest Hungary during the time Woolsey was there. Thirty-first Generation Shaolin Monk Shi De Yang, spoke about Chan (Zen). He kindly shared his knowledge of Chinese thought and culture, taught calligraphy classes, and lead Woolsey to prepare and perform a Chinese Tea Ceremony. This is pictured in the gallery above. Woolsey explains, "I did not get the chance to train martially with Shi De Yang, but my journey in martial arts is not over yet and I hope to one day get the chance to do so. A classmate and friend I made while training at Chan Wu told me Shi De Yang had trained a friend of his. His friend said that learning from Shi De Yang was like being presented with a ‘precious gift that no one could ever take away’. I loved that! I had the same feeling learning from Shi Xing Hong. I continue to feel that way when one of my masters chooses to part with a form and present it to me. It is absolutely a precious gift! I have never forgotten that."

 Shifu Woolsey, Mount Olympus, 2004

Shifu Woolsey, Mount Olympus, 2004

 Shifu Woolsey with Master Su Tong Yu, Little Cottonwood Canyon, 2014

Shifu Woolsey with Master Su Tong Yu, Little Cottonwood Canyon, 2014

 Shifu Woolsey, Yukon Territory, 2009

Shifu Woolsey, Yukon Territory, 2009

After his experience with Chan Wu and Shi Xing Hong Woolsey knew that it was the Chinese Martial Arts he wanted to spend a lifetime learning as much as he could.  "The Chinese Martial Arts are so divers and cover so much material that I know I've found where I belong"  He was fortunate to continually get his wish since his meeting with Shi Xing Hong.  It has been further achieved with an introduction to Lien-Shun Huang by his friend Wei Fo Jung.  Woolsey was formally accepted as a student of Lien-Shun Huang.  Years later during a training trip abroad in Taiwan with friend Jung the two of them were accepted by Lien-Shun Huang as Disciples.  Woolsey continues to train regularly with Huang.    

 woolsey receives his 5th degree black certificate from Huang

woolsey receives his 5th degree black certificate from Huang

Other Masters Woolsey Trains with on a regular basis are Master Su Tong Yu and Master Wu Nan Fang.  Master Su Tong Yu imparts his mastery of Chain Whip, Pigua Zhang, Wushu, and other Northern Gong Fu systems with Woolsey.  Through Master Wu Nan Fang Woolsey is a student of Chan Wu Yi and the Shaolin Wugulun System.