The Wandering Sifu – Peter J. Chang
I am a third generation martial arts practitioner on my father’s side.
My grandfather had learned the complete system of Southern Praying Mantis, aka: Kwong Sai Jook Lum Praying Mantis, from Cheung Yiu Chung, who also had resided in his home. Cheung Yiu Chung was the most famous & skilled martial arts figure of this particular style & was the catalyst for its worldwide recognition. During my grandfather’s training, he had become the head instructor of his village.
My father had also practiced this martial art but did not spend the time required to train and reach the higher levels of proficiency. At that time, it was much more important to become productive and to earn money for his family.
Martial Arts Background…
My martial arts journey started right after my eighteenth birthday, January of 1978.
I learned the Southern Shaolin-Hung Gar Kung Fu System under the tutelage of Sifu Cheung Shu Pui of Hong Kong. His studio, at that time, was located on Garrett Rd. in Upper Darby, PA but had since moved to Cherry St. in the Chinatown section of Philadelphia, PA. Being that he was a professional martial arts teacher, he offered instruction 6 days a week, two times a day
On January of 1980, Sifu Cheung took a group of his students to Hong Kong to demonstrate for his teacher, Ho Lap Tin. The demonstration was held in a stadium with 1200 onlookers, numerous martial art dignitaries and television cameras. My performance of the spear versus the sword made it on Hong Kong television’s “Bang Bang” show…a show very close in format to our “60 Minutes”.
Sifu Cheung’s martial arts program was intense and also included the “Southern Lion Dance”. I attended his classes five days per week for two and a half years.
I left Sifu Cheung in the summer of 1980 to further my education and study with his top student, Michael Dillard. Michael’s understanding of Hung Gar’s usage was second to none.
In 1987, Michael had introduced me to Tai Chi and Baguazhang. It was also at this time that I had met my next teacher, Mario DeGiacomo. Mario was well versed in the Chinese Internal Martial Arts and had studied with many renowned masters of the time. During 1987-1988, Mario taught me Yin Fu Baguazhang and Chen Style’s Lao Jia Yi Lu form. Mario had learned the Chen form from 19th generation heir, Chen Xiaowang.
During the summers of 1989 and 1990 I had studied under fourth generation heir, Madam Fu Shu Yun.
Although her home was in Taiwan, she came to visit her son, Wayne, at his Sommerset, NJ home every summer. She spent one summer teaching me Sun Lu Tang’s Baguazhang and the other summer, Sun Lu Tang’s Xing Yi Quan. Madam Fu attended The Nanjing College of Martial Arts where she learned from the greatest masters of that period. She also demonstrated for Adolf Hitler during the 1936 Summer Olympics that was held in Germany. It was the first time western eyes got a glimpse of Chinese martial arts.
From 1991-1994, I had studied with fifth generation BaguaZhang heir, Master Bok Nam Park of VA. Master Park held an advanced class in Baguazhang on Saturdays in Towson, MD. It was a three hour intensive that covered many of his system’s training regimen. During the time that I had spent with Master Park, I had become an indoor student. Recognizing my progress and my demeanor, he entrusted me to lead his advanced class in MD and offered me to be his closest disciple.
My latest teacher was Master Luo De Xiu of Taiwan. I have attended his annual seminars from 2000 – 2008 & currently practice his system of Gao BaguaZhang.
I have also attended countless seminars and workshops along my martial arts journey.
My teaching of martial arts started in 1990 when I took over the responsibilities of my
roommate and mentor, Michael Dillard. He had relocated to Atlanta, GA. & I continued teaching his students Hung Gar, for about a year, but later transitioned to the Chinese system of Internal Martial Arts (Baguazhang, Xing Yi Quan and Tai Chi Chuan). To this day, I still teach these original students.
This experience prepared me to run Master Park’s advanced class in Towson, MD from 1992-1994.
I currently teach privately on weekend mornings in Broomall, PA. I have a number of diverse students with different backgrounds and abilities. The class is intense and usually lasts up to three and a half hours.
I am also currently teaching at The United Martial Arts & Fitness Academy located at 701 (rear) West Chester Pike, Havertown, PA.
Please understand that I am not a master by any means. I am just a practitioner trying to become one
with myself. Most of my knowledge and experience has not been spoon fed to me. This skill and understanding came from years of dedicated hard work and diligent practice. I do not necessarily teach how to fight but self-defense just so happens to be a by-product of the training.
I am responsible for my students and their actions. The way that they conduct themselves is a direct correlation from my teachings. I teach for the development of character, discipline of mind, spirituality and enlightenment. The results are improved overall health and a better quality of life. I do this for the love of the arts and will continue to do so until I am unable to.