Thursday, February 7, 2013, Amsterdam – On the memorial day of grandmaster (or sikong) Wong Suen Ting (1907–1987†) we receive the sad news that,
this morning at his home in Cangzhou, grandmaster Zhang Shaofu passed away. He would’ve been eighty-nine this April.
Grandmaster Zhang was the world’s highest surviving member of the Liu He family. One of the most famous exponents of the Hui-zu , the ancient Chinese Muslim community of Hebei Province that is historically recognized as a cradle of Chinese martial arts.
A direct student of sixth generation master Li Qìnglín, grandmaster Zhang began practicing Liu He at only eight years old (he, a temperamental boy roaming the premises, was invited to learn some discipline inside Li’s gym), committing himself to a mindboggling schedule of full-time training for more than three quatres of a century !
He traveled the whole of China and beyond to prove his famous skill, and was officially pronounced the highest Liu He lineage holder. He continued to appear at prestigious competitions until about five years ago, harvesting golden medals from begin to end.
Although grandmaster Zhang had resigned from accepting succesors to his style many years ago, Henny-sifu started a unique relationship with him in 2010. Only last year, in presence of massive press and government officials, sifu was inaugurated as his final student.
Grandmaster Zhang visited the Liu He Men school in Amsterdam in 2011, during the 100th Anniversary of the Dutch Chinese community, where he oversaw the traditional Guo Shu Cup and the training of some of our students. An beautiful opportunity to collect footage for the documentary “Inheriting Liu He Men”, which is still currently in post-production.
Since 2010 Henny-sifu represented grandmaster Zhang in some of the greatest competitions throughout China, taking gold every single time. Sifu was planning his next trip this month.
Grandmaster Zhang’s health had been failing him the past few years, which let to several hospitalizations. He had been feeling better the past couple of months.
In accordance with Muslim custom, grandmaster Zhang’s body will be buried before sundown.
We could say this is both a great personal and a historic loss. Especially to Henny-sifu and the Liu He familie. But also to the martial arts general. Zhang Shaofu-sikong, like Wong Seun Ting-sikong, represented a world of knowledge and skill that will be forever honored and missed . . .
– Dick Merx filmmaker behind “Inheriting Liu He Men”