On Sunday night, I met up with Master Zhou to interview him. One of his Singaporean students helped out as an interpreter, and I’m grateful to her for giving up her time. We talked for about three hours; I think I got it all recorded, although I haven’t had time to review the file yet (crosses fingers).
To his credit, Master Zhou was very open about his himself, his past, and what motivates him. I learned a lot about him, I must say. I don’t want to say too much until I’ve reviewed the ‘tape’ (why is it that I still feel obliged to say that, even though I used a digital recorder?); I’ll probably write something up after that if I get time, but for the details you’ll have to wait until I write my book 😀
So, in brief: Master Zhou grew up in a very poor part of Shanghai. He was born shortly before the Cultural Revolution started. He got into martial arts because that was all there was; in the absence of any other entertainment, everybody in his neighbourhood studied martial arts. At that time, they had to study late at night and early in the morning, to avoid being seen. With his background, and in that time and place, it was natural for him to become a Red Guard. He got involved in the fighting between different factions, and had to fight for his life, heavily outnumbered, on occasion. (At this time, he was in his early teens). After the Cultural Revolution ended, he was still obliged to fight on a regular basis.
Speaking as someone who has fought for his life against armed opponents, he says that his favourite moves are xingyi’s pi quan, and some bagua techniques.
He gave me a lot of information about the styles he knows, and the masters he’s studied with. He confirmed what Edward mentioned in a comment on the last incarnation of this blog.
What else can I say at this point..? There’s so much! OK, that will have to do for now.