Sifu John Spak – Martial Arts Background and Experience

Martial Arts Background and Training – Instructor Lineage

First, I would like to say that none of the really great teachers that I’ve met have ever boasted about their Kungfu lineages. Though it was usually no secret. The reason?  Well, because instead of working hard to excel many students will assume that they will automatically be as accomplished as their teachers were. Meanwhile the truth is that skill is not gained by association but by diligent hard work over a long time instead.  These teachers all wanted their students to excel on their own merit, not on the “coat tails” of their Kungfu ancestors.

I too hesitate to focus too much on lineage, but people ask, so here it is…


Mark Chan (Chan Wa) – Tiger, Dragon, Snake, Crane, Leopard (Shaolin)

This was during the period between the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties.


Wang Wenshi – Baguazhang,  Xingyi, Yang Taiji,  Bagua-Taiji,  Hua Chuan

This was during the period between the mid-eighties to the early Nineties


Xu Gongwei – Cha Chuan, Baguazhang, Wu Taiji

This was from the period between the early Nineties and his death in 2003.


I was Xu Gongwei’s principle Cha Chuan student. His principle student only because I was lucky enough to live near to him and he could teach me year round. I learned his entire Cha Chuan system, excluding some weapons. He also had a few advanced students in Montreal, Toronto, and Mexico that he would spend a month out of every year visiting and teaching. He also had an advanced student in Australia.


Master Xu was accomplished at other martial arts as well – most notably for Chen Taiji. He studied Chen Taiji as a personal student of Chen Zhaokui. Master Xu hosted Master Chen in his home for many years. This because Master Xu also practiced Chinese Medicine and had treated Chen Zhaokui for a serious illness. Master Chen taught him Chen Taiji to show his appreciation. Master Xu knew many forms of Chen Taiji.

In 1928, the former Chinese government established the “Central Martial Arts Academy” in Nanjing . The head, Zhang Zhejian, invited many famous martial artists to meet and teach there. The list of instructors includes Xing Yi Master Sun Lutang, Taiji master Yang Tenpu, Tong Bei Master Ma Yintu, Pi Qua master Guo Chanshen, and Cha Chuan master Yu Zhengshen.


Yu Zhengshen was the head instructor of Sanda and Cha Chuan at the “Huang Pu Military College” during the 1930’s.  The “Huang-Pu Military College” was the top military academy in China after the end of the Qing dynasty.


Master Xu was one of  Master Yu Zhengshen’s closest indoor disciples. He learned the entire Cha Chuan system and Sanda from him.


Master Xu was also a close indoor disciple of Zhou Yifan.


Master Zhao Yifan was an “Imperial Bodyguard” (along with Yin Fu and his students) under China’s Empress Dowager, Cixi, since his early twenties. After Zhao’s retirement as a bodyguard he taught martial arts and practiced healing arts in Shanghai.  Master Xu Gongwei inherited Baguazhang, Xingyi, Wu Taiji, and Chinese Medicine  from Zhao Yifan.


Our Lineage through Master Xu Gongwei:

  • Ma Laowei and Zhang Jintang to Yang Hongxiu (progenitor of Yang branch of Chaquan) to Yu Zhengshen to Xu Gongwei
  • Wu Yuxiang to Li Yiyu to Hao Weizhen to Zhou Yifan (Xingyi, Baguazhang, Taiji) to Xu Gongwei
  • Chen Zhaokui to Xu Gongwei
  • Xu Gongwei to John Spak (founder of Fists of Mystery and Truth Kung Fu)

Yang Guotai – Baguazhang

This was from the mid-nineties until his death in 2012.


Yang Guotai learned Baguazhang from Xu Zhenbiao and Wang Wenkui (Wang Wenkui was one of Liu Bin’s top students). Liu Bin was one of Cheng Tinghua’s first students. Cheng Tinghua had no official indoor students as he died at a young age himself. But Cheng Tinghua was one of Dong Haichuan’s top students and shared his knowledge freely.


I was Yang Guotai’s second “indoor” student upon his arrival to Vancouver. In addition to Cheng style Baguazhang he also taught me many of his other striking and combat skills.


Current Status

Aside from being a retired electrical engineer, I have a long history in martial arts competition – traditional forms, professional kickboxing, and also as a bouncer and a bodyguard.


I continue to teach ( have been teaching for nearly 50 years), research, and train Cha Chuan, Baguazhang, Taiji and Sanda daily.

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