Bibliography of Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia (1868 – 1910)

Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia was a Chinese martial arts master during the reign of Qing Dynasty. He was born in 19th January 1969, and died on 14th September 1910 at the age of 42.

Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia was born in a family who practiced the martial art style, Mi Zong Quan. His father, Huo En Di had three sons: Huo Yuan Qing, Huo Yuan Jia and Huo Yuan Dong, where Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia was the second son in his family. According to literature, Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia was weak and susceptible to illness when he was young. Therefore being a famous Mi Zong Quan master, his father Huo En Di did not allow him to take up martial arts because his father did not want his family reputation to be ruined by him. However, Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia did not give up and he learned martial arts by watching and paying detail attention when his father was coaching his brothers, and then practised on his own in secret. Unfortunately, his father found that and scolded him, but Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia promised that he would not ruin his family’s reputation and thus he was allowed to practise with his brothers. With gifted wisdom and endurance in martial arts, Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia soon became an outstanding student among his brothers. When his father noticed his talents, he changed his mind and started to give more attention in coaching Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia. Since then Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia started gathering friends from different schools and genres for martial arts discussions. Finally, they managed to develop a new Mi Zong Quan from the one descended from his ancestors, and thus elevated his family’s martial arts to a new climax. At the age of 24, Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia defeated a wushu expert from another village.

After entering the age of adulthood, Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia went to Tian Jin for trading herb medicines and had contributed greatly in promoting Chinese martial arts. In 1896, a warrior from Shang Dong named Liu Zhen Sheng came to Tian Jin and pleaded Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia to take him as a student. Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia had then ended the former family tradition by taking a non-family member as a student due to Liu Zhen Sheng’s good characteristics. In 1989, a man named Wang Zi Bin took refuge in Tian Jian and became a good friend of Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia. Later, Wang Zi Bin was killed by Eight-Power Allied Forces, and his head was hung for display in public. Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia and Liu Zhen Sheng then managed to sneak into the city and got back his good friend, Wang Zi Bin’s head to burry with the body, with the help of Lao Chan You Ji’s author, Liu E.


In 1901, a Russian wrestler advertised on a newspaper that he was the strongest man in the world and no one in China was able to defeat him. When grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia saw the advertisement and heard about it, he was angry and decided to meet the Russian wrestler with Yao Huai Qing Hui Guan’s owner Nong Jing Shun and his student Liu Zhen Sheng. The Russian wrestler had insulted China on the stage by mocking Chinese as incapable, a country of sick men and claimed that he was the strongest. He then challenged anyone to go on stage for a fight. Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia then furiously jumped on stage and said: “I am an Asian sick man named Huo Yuan Jia, and I would like to fight with you on this stage”. The translator told Russian wrestler about Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia’s fame and he was frightened and quickly pleaded Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia to go backstage. However, Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia reprimanded the Russian wrestler and asked: “Why did you insult us Chinese?” He gave three conditions to Russian wrestler: First was to advertise on newspaper and removed the title as strongest man in the world. Secondly, to make public apology that it was a mistake to insult China and thirdly, he wanted the Russian wrestler to fight with him to decide who was better in fighting. The Russian wrestler did not dare to take the challenge and had accepted the first two conditions: To make public apology that it was a mistake to insult Chinese and quickly ran away from Tian Jin.


In 1909, Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia accepted a challenge offered by Britain boxer O’Brien, who insulted Chinese as Asian sick men on advertisement. Due to the fame of Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia, O’Brien demanded for money as pledge and Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia agreed to pay for the sum through the help of his friends. When O’Brien delayed the match, Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia advertised on newspaper, saying: “You called my country as a country of sick man, I am one of the patient in this sick man country, and I am willing to take challenge to fight with you”. O’Brien was actually frightened by Grandmaster Huo Yuan jia’s fame even before the fight and had then escaped with notary.


On 1st June 1910, Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jian had established Chinwoo Athletic Association in Shanghai with the assistant of Nong Jing Shun and many other martial arts practitioners. The father of modern China, Sun Yat-sen honoured Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia’s mission: “Everyone has to learn martial arts so that our nation can be strong”, and thus rewarded Chinwoo Athletic Association with the words “Esteem Spirit of Martial Arts”. In September 1910, a judo master leaded more than ten judo experts to fight with Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia, but were all defeated by him. The Japanese then offered a feast with Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia. During the feast, the Japanese noticed that Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia was coughing. They then introduced him to a Japanese doctor who had poisoned him when he was not aware. Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia died at the age of 42.


Students from Chinwoo Athletic Association and martial arts enthusiasts in Shanghai organised a grand ceremony for Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia’s burial in North Shanghai after he passed away, and has rewarded him with the title of righteousness. His burial site was shifted to Xiao Nan He Chun Nan by his student Liu Zhen Sheng in the following year. Shanghai Chinwoo Athletic Association was taught by Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia’s younger brother, Yuan Qing and his second son, Dong Ge. Other branches then started to develop and few decades later, there were 43 Chinwoo branches around the world with over 400 thousands members.


There were also legends which claimed that after being poisoned by the Japanese, Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia’s favourite student Chen Zhen took revenge for his master. This legend was then being staged on movie in the 70s by Bruce Li, with Bruce Li acted as Chen Zhen in the movie Fist of Fury. However, there is no true record of Chen Zhen in the history.


Memorial of Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia Former Residence

In 1986, citizen of Xi Qing, Tian Jin had renovated the memorial of Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia which was located in Xiao Nan He Village, Xi Qing, Tian Jin in remembrance of this famous martial arts master. In 1997, the memorial was again renovated, and expanded with a new Huo Yuan Jia cemetery. So Memorial of Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia Former Residence was separated into two areas, with one as his former residence, and the other as the cemetery. The cemetery also displayed the life of Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia, and the displays are divided into four sections:

  1. The fame of early life
  2. Ceasing national scandalization through wisdom and courage
  3. Establishment of Chinwoo, building a stronger nation and stronger race
  4. Promoting love and patronization for country

Grandmaster’s coffin was shifted to this place on 29th April 1989.

Since Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia’s former residence was being renovated, there were thousands of patronages who came to pay respect to this hero of the country. Currently, the memorial was regarded as a precious archeological relic of Tian Jin city and also an education spot for youngsters in Tian Jin city.


Grandmaster Huo Yuan Jia’s legend was filmed and broadcasted in many movies and drama series. These include “The Legendary Fok” by Rediffusion with Huo Yuan Jia portrayed by Wong Yuen Sun, “Chen Zhen” by Asian Television Limited with Donny Yen as Chen Zhen, and the latest movie “Fearless” with Huo Yuan Jia played by Jet Li.