Taiji Mantis Master Cui Hao

Cui Hao, in the centre of the photo below with me and Master Zhou Zhen Dong, is the great-nephew of Cui Shou Shan. Recently, I met with him to talk about his training under his great-uncle and get some pointers in my own training.

Master Cui, please could you tell us a little about yourself…


Cui Shou Shan
 (to the left) was my great uncle. I started training with him in 1961 when I returned to Laiyang from Qingdao and he
returned to Laiyang from Yantai. I was around 15 years old at the time, and had previously learnt some Chang Quan from my father.

And what about your great uncle, Cui Shou Shan…

Cui Shou Shan from Dong Zhu Lu village. He was a very weak and sick child. The doctor said he wouldn’t even live to his twenties. His father, a school teacher, took him to a local Chang Quan master, and he became much stronger and healthier. He trained so hard that after three years, his master said “I have nothing else to teach you, you don’t need to come back.”

He then went to a teacher of Shui Kou Men, a local groundfighting style, and learnt for another three years. That master, named Wang, was very strict and beat his students with a stick if they made mistakes. Master Cui never got hit once in the whole time. The master again had nothing left to teach him and recommended a man named Song Zi De in Zhao Ge village.

Song Zi De also knew Shui Kou Men, right…

Yes, that is how Master Cui got the introduction. He became very close to Song Zi De and called him “uncle”.

Did your great-uncle ever tell you about the training under Song Zi De…

Yes, often. Master Song was super rich and had a large property. He had three kind of students: the first lived and ate in his house, the second lived in the nearby village, and the third half trained and half worked for him. Master Song was very strict. Your movements had to be perfect. The students trained hard too. They were so diligent, that during the night, one by one, they would go out to the toilet, only to sneak into the training hall and practice!

So what was your training like under Master Cui…

There were around 4 or 5 of us. He made us learn basics for a whole year, so some of the kids got bored and left. In the second year, I spent six months learning Luan Jie. Everytime we learnt a move, Master Cui would demonstrate the move full power on someone, so we often had bloody noses! We had to train with full power at all times; whether forms or drills or sparring. It was really tiring and nobody dared be lazy. If we practiced alone, we could relax and go half power, but in front of Master Cui, it had to be full!

And what about the actual training routine? Was it organised into a formal class or just everyone did what they liked…

Generally, we would all stretch and do basic kicks together. Then push ups and stances. You had to hold horse stance until you couldn’t stand up any longer. After that we did all our basics, then started to train forms and drills. Generally we trained a couple of hours in the morning and night.

What was Master Cui like as a person…

He was very warm and gentle. But his eyes were piercing like an eagle. As soon as it came to kung fu, he switched and became cold and focussed. Even into his late seventies, he was rock hard, my uncle in his forties couldn’t touch him!