At Masters of the Internal Martial Arts blog, there is a great article about the 1928 Hangzhou Leitai Tournament, which was a watershed in martial arts. Hundreds of contestants, some of them the greatest names in Chinese Martial Arts competed in full contact fighting. Below is an excerpt. The full article may be read here.
1929 Hangzhou Leitai Tournament
Posted by yosaku on August 16, 2009
My recent translation of an article on Pei Xirong sparked my interest in the 1929 Leitai tournament in Hangzhou, which seems to have been the largest bare-hand Leitai competition in recent history. The following translation draws on several sources, mainly here and here .
“In early 1929, the vice-dean of the Central Martial Arts Academy, Li Jinglin, wrote to the heads and gatekeepers of various martial arts from around the country, intimating that he wished to organise an ‘All-China Martial Arts Gala’, in order to inspire more Chinese people to learn martial arts. His proposal was eagerly received. On 3 May 1929, the Zhejiang provincial government decided that in November of that same year, they would hold a ‘Zhejiang Guoshu & Entertainment Gala’ (popularly dubbed the ‘National Leitai Tournament’) in Hangzhou. In August of that year, the Zhejiang Guoshuguan was established and took on the responsibility of organising the tournament. The Organising Committee was set up on 11 Oct. Chen Tianshen, at the time a Guoshuguan student, wanted desperately to take part, but was too young, and so instead was allocated to help out the organising committee.
On 9 November, the promotional activities for the Leitai tournament reached a crescendo, with decorative archways being erected in front of Qinghua and Qingtai hotels located in Hangzhou city centre. Red silk banners reading ‘Guoshu & Entertainment Gala Hostel’ were strung up in front of the archways whilst Chen and his kungfu brothers distributed flyers on the streets. The next day, participants from all over the country started pouring into Hangzhou. The oldest entrant was Ruan Zenghui from Fenghua at 68 years old, whilst the youngest was Lin Biao, from Wenzhou, aged only 7. The original number of performers swelled from 270 to 345 people whilst there were 125 entrants for the free-fighting competition. All the while, ‘fans’ from all over the country poured into Hangzhou, filling its hotels to bursting.