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Live a Wushu Life for Half a Century, Commit to Spread Shou Bo

Date 2010-2-22    Source : In-Kungfu

---In-Kungfu’s Exclusive Interview with Yuan Zumou

At the end of 2009, Yuan Zumou, the president of the International Federation of Shou Bo, founder of the French Association of Wrestling and founder of the discipline of Shou Bo, returned from France. His plan was to go to Shandong Province to give lectures to the first batch of modern Shou Bo coaches and referees, but, for personal reasons, he came back to his hometown of Shanghai. And so, In-Kungfu got the precious chance to interview this widely recognized Wushu master.

Master Yuan Zumou

Unexpectedly, the interview was taken in hospital, as Master Yuan’s elderly mother was gravely ill. Yuan is already in his 70s and still looks healthy and strong. He was very upset as he sat at his mother’s bedside, saying that he had been too busy spreading Chinese wushu abroad to take care of his mother all these years.

Master Yuan’s Legendary Life

Master Yuan Zumou, was born on 10 December 1940, in Baoying, Jiangsu Province, China, entering Shanghai Middle School in 1955. Due to his good physical condition and personal passion for sports he started to practice wrestling and boxing and became the captain of the wrestling team.

In 1958, through wrestling he was admitted to the preparatory class at Shanghai University of Sports. By the end of the year, he was chosen to become a formal member of the Shanghai Wrestling Team, the start of his professional wrestling career.

He went on to win the National Championship of All-In Wrestling in 1965, retiring in 1979 to become a coach of the Shanghai Wrestling Team, where, under his training, many students became champions of the national games.
In 1985, in his 40s, Yuan decided to travel to France by himself to spread Chinese wushu. As a matter of fact, life there was very hard for him at first. However, he never gave up trying every way to introduce traditional Chinese wushu to French wushu fans.

In 1991, he was invited to give a performance at the World Martial Arts Convention. He and his students gave such an outstanding performance that even Jacques Chirac, the former French president and Mayor of Paris at the time, was impressed by Yuan.  

In May 1992, with the support of the Mayor and Town Hall of Paris, Master Yuan Zumou organized the first National Championship of Wrestling in France. At the end of the same year, still supported by the Paris Town Hall, the French Association of Wrestling obtained permission from the French government to organize the first International Championship of Wrestling. Held once every two years, teams come from all over the world to take part in the championship, with the ninth championship being held in 2010. 

In 2002, the French Ministry for Youth and Sport gave him the bronze medal for his contribution of spreading the wushu spirit in France. In 2004, during Chinese New Year, Master Yuan, as a representative of overseas Chinese in France, was granted an interview with Chinese President Hu Jintao whilst Hu was visiting France.

In 2006, the China’s General Administration of Sport awarded Yuan the prize of Exceptional Contribution to Chinese Wrestling.

There are many other honours given to Master Yuan, the most respectable being his hard work to bring Chinese traditional martial arts into the Olympic Games. Since 1999, under the guideline of inheriting the tradition as well as being innovative and creative, he united wrestling and Sanshou together, then put forward a new kind of competitive martial art—modern Shou Bo. Modern Shou Bo could give some hints to the reform of Chinese martial arts, so to speak.

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