Portsmouth Square 1965 - 1985
A site honoring the teachings of

Kuo Lien Ying

and the magical time that we were able to learn from Si Fu

"Release the chi,
and let it penetrate like a sword
into the bones."











Kuo Lien Ying, born in Inner Mongolia, China, in 1895, was one of the most distinguished and revered martial artists of the twentieth century. He is credited with bringing the rare and powerful Guang Ping Yang Tai Chi Chuan to the United States.
Early Years
Kuo Lien Ying’s father was a silk merchant, and the family was independently wealthy. As a youngster, Kuo reportedly had no interest in an academic education, wanting only to learn the fighting arts.
In 1907, at the age of 12, Kuo started training in Northern Style Shaolin Kung-Fu, studying for five years with Master Li Lin, who was especially skilled in Chang Chuan (Long Fist). Kuo became very proficient and skillful at this powerful and rigorous martial arts system, which was originally developed by Buddhist monks in China.
At 23, Kuo became one of only four inner-door disciples of Wang Jiao-Yu, himself one of only two inner-door students of Yang Pan-hou. Yang Pan-hou was the son of the originator of what has become known as Guang Ping Yang Tai Chi Chuan: Yang Lu-ch'an born Kuang-p'ing (Guangping) and known as the founder of Yang style tai chi chuan. After completing “Chin to Toe” in 100 days Kuo was taught the Guang Ping Yang Tai Chi Chuan from the 100-year old master Wang Jiao-Yu.
Kuo, at age 28, studied Xingyiquan for two years with Master Huang Gin Yin, a highly skilled student of Guo Yunshen, himself the teacher of Wang Xiangzhai, who was reputed to be the best Xingyiquan fighter of his time.
Kuo also studied Baguazhang with Chang Hsin Zhai and Chung Ting Hua.
Kuo Lien Ying reportedly was a bodyguard for awhile on the gold caravans through China, protecting the caravans on horseback with his unrivaled rope-dart techniques.
He allegedly became a governor of a province in China, and later a general in the army of Chiang Kai Shek. In 1947, after the Communist takeover, he fled to Taiwan, became a congressman and opened up a martial arts school. Although he left his four wives and eight children in China when he fled Mao Tse Tung, Kuo wooed and married the 21 year old sister of one of his students, Ein Simmone Kuo.

Kuo Lien Ying in America
In 1965, he immigrated to the United States and settled in San Francisco’s Chinatown, leaving his young wife behind in Taiwan. At the request of his first U.S. student, David Chin, Kuo began teaching a few students on the roof of a local hotel.
After less than a year, Kuo returned to Taiwan to bring Simmone Kuo to San Francisco. While he was in Taiwan, his students in San Francisco located an empty storefront at 11 Brenham Place, an alley which faced Portsmouth Square Park, which was unfortunately adjacent to a funeral parlor. The empty storefront was available due to the superstitions of the local residents who did not want to inhabit a place next to a mortuary. But according to one of his later students, Henry Look, Kuo often told him, “Don’t worry about dead people, worry about live ones.” The students converted the storefront into a martial arts studio, with living quarters in the rear. Kuo named his new school, “Lien-Ying Tai-Chi Chuan Martial Arts Academy.”
In 1967 Kuo and Simmone had a son, Chung Mei Kuo. Chung Mei was trained in the Shaolin Kung Fu and Tai Chi Chuan styles at an early age, achieving Chin-to-Toe at 18 months.
Kuo was one of the major theorists of the Chin school, which offers the closest blend of the hard and soft styles. Chin stylists claim there is a 50-50 blend of the two because while you are yielding, you are most conscious of unyielding and that is the only way you can take advantage of all things.
Kuo Lien Ying was among the first Chinese martial arts masters in America to teach Asian fighting arts to American students, and was often admonished by other Chinese teachers to not teach to Westerners.
In 1983, Kuo returned to Mongolia, and passed away in 1984.

thanks to Donald and Cheryl Lynne Rubbo for their use of this article.