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Many biographies on Master Chang already exist and a number of episodes of his life, handed down by his scholars, have become either mythic or legendary.
The following biography is a "Personal" one, based on what Master Bestetti had listened directly from Master Chang in the fourteen years he remained faithfully close to him.
 
Master Chang Dsu Yao (second name Chang Ch'eng Hsun) was born the 15th of June 1918, in China at P'ei, in the Kiang Su Province; one of his ancestors had been a monk of the Shaolin Temple.
He came from a region rich in traditions regarding this mythic Temple. Handed down from generation to generation, those stories were often reminded by the same Master Chang.
His grandfather used to tell him these stories. "Once, a monk was living in the Shaolin Monastery. He had been able to make his head so strong that other four monks could use him as a ram to break doors".
"A noviciate was assigned to the kitchen with the job both to keep fires alive to cook and never to make lacking firewood that he used to break with his own hands. When, after years, the monk went back home, his relatives persistently asked him what he had learned at the Shaolin Temple. The monk, becoming impatient, stood up, beating the hands on the table and finally went away. How astonished his relatives were when they saw the monk's fingerprints left on the table!"
And moreover "Once, a monk with a very powerful body, tired of living at the Temple, decided to leave it. He dived in the small river, flowing close to the Temple, and arrived as far as the iron bars were forbidding him to go out. The monk could break the iron bars and run away. But soon two monks recaptured him and drove him back to the Temple."
 
Master Chang used to talk about his grandmother, a very wise woman with extraordinary dowries, who lived until 120 years old.
Some months before dying, feeling that her death was near, she called around her all the relatives and divided her belongings among all equally.
    
At the age of three years old the little Chang was taken by his parents to see some exercises of Kung Fu in a gymnasium. Even if he was very young, he was so caught by that visit that, on the way back, he immediately tried to practice what he had seen (about that Master Chang reminded his fighting with his elder brother before going to sleep).
At the age of six, he was presented by his parents to Liù Pao Ch'uin (1877-1973), a grandee Master of Shaolin Mei Hua Ch'uan (literally of "Flower Apricot tree")  (In the picture the Master Chang in Bologna in 1976.)
 
Master Chang reminded that: "Liù Pao Ch'uin, in front of me, asked to my parents if I was a good son and if I was respectful to them. My parents answered yes and so he accepted me as a scholar".
Since then his parents, coming from a rich and noble family, started to pay Master Liù Pao Ch'uin to teach the young Chang at home.
The young Chang loved so much Kung Fu that he started to practice it hardly. He used to say that he didn't agree the methods his Master's used to train his scholars: he was too hard, inflexible and very ugly!!
Liu Pao Ch'uin, for example, obliged the young Chang to remain immovable in Kung Fu positions for long, beating him and making him falling down when the position wasn't executed properly.
The training with Master Liù Pao Ch'iu lasted for 22 years, until 1946.

During the summer season, Master Liù Pao Ch'uin used to take his scholars to the close monastery to practice all together Kung Fu for one month. Master Chang reminded that, among the elder teachers, Yan Su Wen was able to fling up and fall down both on the chest and on the back without using his hands. Even during the spare time the young Chang considered only Kung Fu and used to train himself in the green field close to his house.
He used to tell that, once, his grandfather was watching him, sitting in the veranda and smoking his pipe. He was so caught by the braveness of his nephew that he came back to his senses only when the pipe, fallen down, started to burn his trousers.
Even at school, during the break, instead of playing with his fellows, the young Chang used to practice Kung Fu in the corridor.
When Master Chang saw some of his scholars biking to the the lesson, he reminded, laughing, that he himself used to bike to school,but his bike was full of the arms he used to practice Kung Fu.
One day he stole the gun of his father and didn't go to school to shoot to the birds nests. Discovered by his parents he was kept without eating and going out for three days. Back to school, he was violently beat on the hands by his teacher in front of all the classmates.
At the age of six the little Chang saw Master Yang Chen Fu, already Master of Liù Pao Ch'uin, teaching Tai Chi Chuan. At the age of 12, Chang started to learn Tai Chi always under the guide of Liù Pao Ch'uin.

Meeting of the most famous Masters in Shanghais in 1929. From left to right:  Yang Chen Fu (Tai Chi Ch'uan) , Sun Lu T'ang (Pa Qua, HsingI), Liu Pao Ch'uan (Lohan Shaolin), Li Ching Lin (Wu Tang Chieh), Tu Hsin Wu. (Scuola naturale

At that time Master Chang was asked by his Master to fight against the Neo- Kung Fu Champion, himself scholar of Liù Pao Ch'uin and elder fellow of Chang. In the empty tent where the Kung Fu Championship had just taken place, Liù Pao Ch'uin placed the two guys one in front of the other in order to make them fight. The young Chang started with the seventh kick (the sweep) but, in the impetus, he broke the leg to the antagonist!
One day, the young Chang was practicing the sabre in the gymnasium. He was turning it around so fast that the sabre slipped out of his hand and hurt the shoulder of a fellow (luckily without any serious consequence). His parents were obliged to pay all the costs for curing the injured guy.
The years passed and the young Chang joined the Military academy. This was the Master Chang's golden period. At the top of his physical form, he was able to counter-attack the push of ten persons and to raise one up using only one hand.
He used to remind how he was able to make himself respected. Once, in front of the insolent behaviour of a soldier, he reacted and gave him such a strong slap that the poor guy fell down five metres further and with the five fingers printed on his face.
During this period Master Chang had also a motorbike accident. He had such a violent bump that he fell down further away. But he could fall down doing the ninth fall of Shaolin and to stand up again without any serious consequence. So far Chang approached the car driver, who convinced he had killed him, was scared thinking to be in front of a ghost.

He continued to study Kung Fu under the coaching of Chang Ching Po and Sun Lu Tang. He learned the Hsing I from the first and both the Pa Qua and the Liang I from the second. From Master Fu, instead, he learned the Szu Hsiang Ch'uan.
On this life period, Master Chang liked to tell the following story: "One day he went to the market to buy some meat. When he realized that the butcher was cheating on the weight, he reacted.
The butcher, threatening him, violently threw the knife in the counter. Then, helped by other twenty market's sellers, he jumped onto the Officer Chang. Master Chang succeeded in defending himself. In telling the story he used to imitate the faces his enemies had while suffering for his levers. At the police arrival, the aggressors were made harmless. Even his Superior arrived: in front of all he didn't want to take his defence but in private he congratulated him".
From time to time, even during the period of the Military Academy, Master Chang went to his old Master to learn new Kung Fu techniques. After joining the army, he quickly did career. He got married and had four children, two males and two females. After becoming Colonel of the Army of the General Chang Kai Shek, he went to the war to face the Japanese Invasion. The Japans fired his house and killed his parents.
Master Chang reminded the hard and cruel experience of the war. During the fighting he had also to beware of some of his own soldiers; he was always the first to start the battle. One day a bomb hurt his leg. He didn't wait to be completely healed to be back to fight. He reminded that his Army used to scare the Enemy in this way: they surrounded the Enemy, hidden behind a hill, shouting loudly all day and night long.

Then, in any momentum of his life, the terrible memories of the war (during which he was always between life and dead) came back to his mind. Once in Milan, passing by the gate of the gymnasium, he reminded when, to escape from Japans, thanks to the Kung Fu training, he could jump a three metres high wall, levering on his hands.
Another time, Master Chang was going by train with some scholars to a Kung Fu demonstration. He brought with him some sandwiches for his "Small Army". To be respectful, all of his scholars were waiting for him to start eating. The Master remained immobile in front of his sandwich. When he realized that his scholars were looking at him, he explained that during the war he found himself in a similar situation. While eating a sandwich on a train, he happened to be in the middle of a violent shooting.
When talking about I King, Master Chang reminded that during the war, when every day might have been the last one, every morning he questioned I King to know if he would have survived. He told that once he was the only one of his battalion to survive. Finished his munitions, he had to defend himself against the Japans only with his bayonet. After shirking the attacks from the first two, he turned quickly to face a third one but he couldn't avoid to be hurt by another one with the bayonet. Even with a 30 cm deep wound, he went on fighting and desperately succeeded in winning his six antagonists. Master Chang showed to some of his scholars his deep cicatrices on the flank.

During the war, Master Chang, hidden in a ruined bell tower, fell down for the explosion of a bomb. He was ridden down by the detritus and remained buried for hours without being able to move. Falling down, he cracked some vertebras and remained paralysed. The Master reminded that he couldn't shout to ask for help and he was found only by chance. Afterwards, he had to cure himself for long with a rudimental X-rays machine that caused to him an intestine's cancer. He started other cures that helped him to heal but deeply marked his morale


At the end of the war, he felt to be finished and he hadn't any interest left. He had lost any hope when a friend invited him to a Kung Fu demonstration. At the end, he was prayed to execute any Kung Fu form. After a first refusal, Master Chang was convinced to execute the third form of sabre. He was surprised to see himself still able in practicing Kung Fu. He re-gained self-confidence and went back to both practice and teach Kung Fu. The Chinese Revolution finished him: ex-Officer of Chang Kai Shek Army he was obliged to refugee at Taiwan. There he remained for many years as teacher of the Army and retired in 1973. (In the shot, Master Chang in Taiwan in the April of 1956). But he didn't feel to be safe even there and in 1975 he accepted a job a friend offered to him in Italy. He immediately left with her wife. Luckily some Western Masters of Martial Arts recognized immediately his talent. The same year he started teaching in Bologna, then in Milan (from 1977). During the many years he remained in Milan, he tried to organize a proper school of Kung Fu, with an organic and complete programme.
The Master Chang's teaching activity was very intensive both in Italy and abroad: courses, stages, instructors' courses, conferences, demonstrations. His ambition was to hand on the whole programme of Kung fu. But in the last two years, due to his poor physical conditions, he felt that teaching was very tiring. He revealed, to the scholars closer to him, to feel like a "Flame in the wind". It was in this period that, lost a certain lucidity in the techniques, he showed himself as whom he had been: a warrior, a combatant. In the month of December 1991, he left for Taiwan to spend there his Christmas Holidays. But he never came back. The news of his dead arrived to his scholars in February 1992.