November 4, 1928 - December 25, 2005
Photos provided by Greg Watson
Grandmaster, professor and judge, lauded by the Houston Sports magazine as 'the first lady of Chinese martial arts', Madame Wang Jurong passed away peacefully at home in Houston, TX on Christmas Day 2005 in the loving company of her husband of 50 years, Dr. Wu Chengde, and her children.
Madame Wang was born in 1928 in Shanghai, China, the only daughter of the legendary Grandmaster Wang Ziping, one of the most famous figures in Chinese martial arts history. In 1946, Madame Wang won the Women's Guo Shu (martial arts) Championship at the 7th National Athletic Games in China. In 1953, she was twice gold medalist in the Chang Quan (long fist) and Sword divisions by performing the Fifth Cha Quan and Green Dragon Double Sword routines in the First New China National Athletic Games. Madame Wang graduated from the Education Department of the Aurora University in Shanghai and for thirty-six years thereafter served as a first generation professor and coach of both Wushu and Archery at the Shanghai Physical Education Institution (formerly the Eastern China Physical Education College). She developed the Masters Degree of Arts program for Taiji Quan and the first such degrees were awarded to two of her students.
Madame Wang coached the first Wushu team to travel outside of New China and traveled the world as a teacher, coach and judge of archery and Chinese martial arts. In China, she served as the Director of the China Martial Arts Association, Vice-Chairman of the Shanghai Wushu Association, head of the Shanghai Judges Committee, Vice-Chairman of the Shanghai Archery Association, President of the Chinese Martial Arts Research Institute, Advisor to the Wu Dang Research Association and Shanghai Qi Gong Research Association, General Judge, Vice-General Judge, and Honorary Advisor to National and International Wushu competitions. Madame Wang has written and edited numerous books and articles on Wushu and was instrumental in the development of the standardized Taiji Quan routines, such as the 24, 88 postures, 32 sword form and the 48 combination forms.
In 1989, Madame Wang was invited to the U.S. by the director of the United States Martial Arts Council, Sifu Jeff Bolt, and immigrated to Houston. After her arrival in the United States, she continued to promote Chinese martial arts in the U.S. and the world by serving as a chief official and advisor for countless Wushu competitions and organizations locally, nationally, and internationally for the last sixteen years. She traveled extensively to share her knowledge and taught seminars in the U.S. and Canada. She continuously worked with Jeff Bolt at the Houston Institute of Chinese Martial Arts and Medicine for eleven years. Thereafter, she taught regularly in her Houston Taiji Kungfu Health Academy until shortly before her passing. Madame Wang was an advisor to the U.S.A. Wushu Kungfu Federation and the US Kuoshu Federation. She served as an honorary advisor to the Chinese Wushu History Association, was a member of the US Chinese Martial Arts Council, and was an honorary lifetime member of the Pacific Association of Women(s Martial Arts. She was named Woman of the Year by Inside Kung Fu Magazine in 1995 and inducted into the IKF Hall of Fame in 2001. She was honored with the US Association of Wushu Kungfu Federation Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.
A memorial service was held for Madame Wang on Dec. 29th, 2005 in Houston, Texas. The chapel walls and hallways were overflowing with lavish flower arrangements in various shapes from family, friends, students and admirers who conveyed their heartfelt condolences, admiration, love, and respect. The multitudinous colors and the fragrance of the flowers added to the loving energy of the room full of people and made the chapel lively. Many traveled a long way from holiday gatherings to be present. At Dr. Wu(s request, Sifu Jeff Bolt graciously undertook the task of coordinator and Master of Ceremonies. Jeff commenced the service by inviting all to join him in celebrating Madame Wang(s life. In recognizing her generous contributions to both the martial arts and human spirit, Jeff Bolt reminded us, "She greatly enhanced the status of Chinese martial arts throughout the entire US, but we really want to remember how she touched our lives as a kind, generous human being."
Sifu Pat Rice, director of 'A Taste of China,' came from Winchester, VA, and remembered getting to know Madame Wang through the many tournaments and seminars. "Madame Wang smiled. Never raised her voice at any time, and she did not hold a Master's pose. So at first you might ask, "Is she really that good?" Then you saw her giving a demonstration. The way she moved commanded instant respect." But, Pat remembered, "Once she asked me if I would mind if she gave a little correction to my sword form. Mind? I was thrilled! She took time to teach us the basics and the fundamentals, the necessary elements that will make one become great." Pat shared the story of how she and Madame Wang accompanied the US Wushu team to an international event. Madame Wang was excited to see the Chinese team. She waved at them happily. Then, she really cheered for the US team. Pat very much admired how Madame Wang was both loyal to her motherland and dedicated to her new country, the US.
Sifu Nick Gracenin flew in from Sharon, PA, and expressed how he had witnessed Madame Wang working diligently and tirelessly to promote Chinese Martial Arts in the US. He remembered the many sleepless nights when Madame Wang was there with them working to get a tournament going. Nick shared that both Madame Wang and Dr. Wu stayed with his family for weeks and helped him and his family through their difficult times. "Madame Wang would always remember to pull me aside after work," related Nick, choking back tears, "and ask, 'How is your family?'" Nick said he will always be grateful to Madame Wang for helping him become a better husband, father, and coach ? "a better human being."
Greg Watson, longtime student and friend, gave tribute by remembering Madame Wang's passion for life and how she loved flowers and trinkets.
Sifu Randy Li read the condolences of Mr. Anthony Goh, president of the USAWKF and vice-president of IWSF, faxed from Beijing. Sifu Goh offered his deep sympathy to Dr. Wu and his family and lauded Madam Wang's contribution to martial arts in the US for the past 15 years. On a personal note, Randy Li said that Madame Wang had always "been there for me when I served as a judge. I wanted to be here today for her even it meant driving from Kansas City overnight."
Coach Lu Xaolin, an official of the USAWKF, also drove overnight from Baltimore and, in Chinese, read a letter from Mr. Wang Xiaoling, president of the China Wushu Association. On behalf of CWA, Mr. Wang offered his condolences on the loss of Grandmaster Wang and expressed his most sincere gratitude to her for her contributions to Chinese culture and Chinese martial arts.
Emily Buckles, a student of Madame Wang, also read a translation of Mr. Wang's letter in English.
Sifu Wu Wen-Ching flew in from Riverside, RI, and translated and read one of the many letters of condolence dispatched from China and all over the world.
Throughout the ceremony, Sifu Jeff Bolt fondly remembered many of his experiences with Madame Wang. He said, "No matter how late in the day it was, if the tournament still was going, you would always see Madame Wang sitting straight at the Chief Judge's table, watching the event attentively." Outside work, at dinner time, "Madame Wang always made sure that there was at least one dish I would eat since I am particular about food."
Recalling those personal moments with Madame Wang brought many tears and good laughter. Mr. Dan Monnat, Madame Wang's son-in-law and husband to daughter Grace, extended the family's heartfelt appreciation and gratitude for everyone's love and respect for Madame Wang. In conclusion, Jeff envisioned how Madame Wang would want the memorial service to be: "She would not want this to be a moment drowned with sorrow; rather, she would want it to be as she lived her life --- a precious moment of embracing life and people with great kindness and humility."
Many attended the open reception at the Houston Taiji Kungfu Health Academy where Madame Wang, Dr. Wu, and daughter Xiaoping have worked and taught for many years. People visited each other and continued their story sharing. Once again, Madame Wang brought martial arts lovers together as good friends. She still inspired many to be better in martial arts and to be better human beings. Madame Wang will be missed dearly, long remembered by those she taught, she trained, she guided, she loved and she respected. Her work will be continued by her three daughters, all university-educated martial arts instructors: Lucy Xiaoping Wu will continue teaching classes at her mother's school in Houston; Helen Xiaorong Wu is responsible for the Chinese Martial Arts courses at York University in Toronto, Canada; and Grace Xiaogao Wu-Monnat operates and teaches at the Grace Wu Kung Fu School in Wichita, KS. Madame Wang's work will be continued, also, by you, who were inspired, touched and loved by her.
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Photos provided by Greg Watson for KUNGFUMAGAZINE.COM