Honorary Master, Wu Nanfang of Shaolin Chan Wu Yi and Wugulun
Master Wu Nanfang is the great, great grandson of Master Wu Gulun. He was born and brought up in Bai Yu Gou, the village of his ancestors.
From an early age he studied Wugulun Kung fu -- firstly with his great grandfather, the second Grandmaster, Wu Shanlin, later after he died, with his granduncles, Wu You De and Qiao Hei Bao, and lastly with Zhang Qing He. Master Wu Nanfang has thus inherited the original Shaolin culture and traditions – Gu-Lun Sect that include Buddism, the original Shaolin Wugulun Kung fu, Medicine, and the secrets of XinYiBa -- which have been passed down through the generations of the Wu family lineage.
Sadly, Master Wu Nanfang’s father died when the Master was a young child so, as the only son of the family, he took on the role of caring for his mother and sisters and later his own family. Never for a minute, however, did he forget his heritage and he continued to practice Wugulun Kung fu at every available opportunity. He tells the touching story of how he would visit Master Zhang Qing He, who was a doctor, to study kung fu with him. He would practice quietly by himself while the Master was attending to patients and then, in short intervals between patients, he would quickly have a lesson. With the Master he discussed the lack of time available to him to practice and learned a valuable lesson: Zhang Qing He told him that everything he did, every minute of each day, was an opportunity to practice – even riding his bicycle back home!
Master Wu Nanfang travelled in Henan teaching his Wugulun Kung fu to many students but in about 1988 he needed to return to his home to take care of his family. Many of his students followed him there and he continued to work and teach in the area.
In 1990 Master Zhang Qing He requested that Wu Nanfang come to the Shaolin Temple and introduce him to Dejian. Dejian was Wu Nanfang’s elder brother, not by blood, but because they are fellow students of the same master. This was an important event for two reasons: Master Wu Nanfang became a Buddhist disciple of the then Shaolin Abbot, Master Suxi, who gave him his Buddhist name of She Defang, and he met Dejian for the first time, thus beginning a friendship that exists to this day.
As time went on, Master Wu Nanfang and Master Shi Dejian became increasingly frustrated with the noise and chaos of the Temple and its focus on tourism, financial gain and the promotion of the ‘wushu’ style of Kung fu with its obvious money-making potential. They could no longer find a quiet space to practice or teach.
In 2003 they both left. Master Dejian went to San Huang Zhai, then just a tiny temple inhabited by two nuns and, with the nuns’ happy agreement, embarked on an ambitious project to build a large monastery and healing center there to further the traditions of ChanWuYi, with an emphasis on herbal medicines and healing. Master Wu Nanfang had already opened his school at the foot of the mountain to teach ChanWuYi and Wugulun Kung fu and to continue to pass on his family’s heritage.
Both Masters, in their different ways, are dedicated to the teaching, preservation and promotion of the ancient Shaolin traditions of ChanWuYi and Wugulun Kung fu.
In the past few years, due in part to greater internet coverage, in part to word of, and possibly in part to the BBC documentary ‘Extreme Pilgrim’, more and more people, both western and Chinese, are finding their way to Song Mountain to experience for themselves the origins of the Shaolin Kung fu tradition.