Who is Bow Sim Mark?

As the teacher of Yen Ji Dan, the sole peer of Li Lianjie, it cannot be denied that Bow Sim Mark has stature in Chinese Martial arts equal to Wu Bin, one of her only peers as a teacher. The two earlier peers of Wu and Mark, similarly, produced the most famous Chinese martial artists in history, all with global reputations. No other teachers can make this claim. Mark is the only one who taught in the United States.

You can read more about Bow Sim Mark on Wikipedia:


Bow Sim Mark is considered one of the most influential martial artists of the 20th century.

National Champion Bow Sim Mark, the Grande Dame of Wu Dang and the First Lady of American Wushu

See: Boston Globe, 3/13/2001; The New Wu Shu, Black Belt, April 1978; also Black Belt, December 1975

"Ten years, ten hours a day."¹
"Full time, whole life."
"Always do the hardest thing."
"Practice till your hands bleed."
"This is the counter, but you won't practice it enough to be able to use it."
"Everyone is lazy. No one works hard. All they want to do is complain."
"Hits like a girl." (giggles)
"Not high-level."
"Don't use the arms, don't use the legs. Use waist."
"If it's for real, pick up a brick and hit them in the head."
"You can't learn martial arts from a book."
"My sword comes from Li Jinglin."
"The sword is heavy."²

(Quotes attributed to 麥寶嬋, teacher of 甄子丹.)

¹ For basic competence. That's roughly 36,000 hours. If your teacher has fewer hours than this, they are not a master, regardless of how many decades they've been doing it. 50 years at 1 hour per day is barely half that number. Most teachers of Taiji don't even practice that much, and those who studied in the West lack even the 10 years full-time foundation for teachers in China. This has led to a precipitous decline in the level of the art abroad, and undermined the martial legitimacy of Tai Chi Chuan as a martial art in addition to health exercise and performing art in the eyes of the public.

² This in response to the question of why all the music to her sword dances was sad. (Li Mu Bai as a subsequent referent. Mark and her daughter's movement is acknowledged to have inspired choreography for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Yuen Woo-ping is also a native of Guangzhou.)

³ Research means "practice until you figure it out because I won't always be here to provide the answer, and you can't transmit the feeling with words--it's a physical art. The only way to get it is practice." The choice of the term is meant to convey "hard work, testing to validate or invalidate, and continual analysis and refinement." This reflects the move in the 20th century to apply modern scientific method to Chinese martial arts to promote health, longevity, physical competence and fine art.

Bow Sim Mark founded the Chinese Wushu Research Institute in Boston in 1975 where she taught for nearly 40 years. Today, many instructors around the world are a part of the Bow Sim Mark Tai Chi Arts Association, well regarded for the clarity of their movement and commitment to preserving the art.

Above: My favorite picture of my Sifu