Grandmaster Ma Xianda (1932-2013)

Grand Master Ma Xianda was born in 1932 to a Muslim family who trace their martial arts roots back six generations. Since 9/11, Muslims have been so profiled, but it's easy to forget that there are many types of Muslims today. Chinese Muslims, or Hui, represent the largest minority of the largest population in the world and have as much connection with Bin Laden as Christians have with Hitler. Originally from Hebei, Ma Xianda learned from his father Ma Fengtu and uncle Ma Yintu, both noted masters in their own right.

Ma Fengtu was a general under amed warlord FengYuxiang. Ma Yingtu also produced Zhang Wenguang, another ninth Duan holder. Ma Xianda learned many traditional Wushu forms includingTongbei Pigua, Kaimen, Baji, Ba Shan Fen, and Cuo Jiao and also studied western boxing, wrestling and fencing. In fact, Ma was one of the very first Chinese to study western martial sports. The most recent testimony of Ma's expertise that Americans might recognize is his student, Gao Xian, who played a major supporting role in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. But Master Gao is only one of Grandmaster Ma's remarkable legacy. More than twenty of Ma's close students (including Shao Zhao Ming see also Fan Zi Quan Clips) have earned the coveted title of Wu Ying or "martial hero," a title conferred on athletes who have repeatedly placed in the top three positions in national competition.)

Beyond his kin, Ma also coached the aforementioned champion Zhao Chang Jun for a while and even taught Jet Li what would become one of Jet's favourite forms, Fan ZiQuan.

In 1952, the first martial arts championship was held after the founding of the PRC in 1949. Ma captured the Lei Tai championship, a free fighting event where fighters knock each other off an elevated platform, defeating Tongbi master Deng Hongzhao and CuoJiao master Li Xuewen. He also took the Short Weapon Fighting Champion and theWushu Performance Grand Champion. He won all this at the young of 19.The following year, Ma won the Huabei Short Weapon Tournament. This included competitors from Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shaanxi and Inner Mongolia. Ma won every single bout.