SHAN ZHAI MEN
A Chinese Art for Combat and Health
Martial Artist, Adventurer, Photographer
Originally from Holland, Maarten (Maahrtun) Sebastiaan Franks Spijker arrived in China in 2005 at 18 years of age to study Gongfu. After struggling to find authentic traditional arts for many years (but studying Sanda and exploring the country in the meantime), he eventually became a disciple of Zou Jianhua (邹建华), a Baguazhang and Xinyiliuhequan (amongst other arts) master.
Zou Shifu took Maarten in as a son and over the course of several years taught him the art of Shanzhaimen (山寨门), a hybrid internal art combining elements of mainly Tongbiquan, Xinyiliuhequan, Xingyiquan, Baguazhang, and Taijiquan, and everything from playing Chinese chess to cooking Chinese cuisine. Maarten studied diligently, training with the master and his other disciples for four to five hours almost every morning (whether in sweltering heat or ball-numbing cold), getting hands-on experience (getting his arse kicked) and working to create a modern, effective combat system that can be easily taught, yet contain a lot of depth.
When he wasn't training, Maarten travelled over 80,000km by motorbike, exploring places that no foreigner had ever been to, such as mountain villages lost to time, subtropical rain forests and cave systems. Sometimes these journeys were fraught with peril, like when he was hospitalised by a viper and when he witnessed a man being butchered with swords. He taught himself photography to attempt to document his findings, but nothing will ever do the real thing justice.
Maarten has an infectious passion for martial arts and adventure that borders on madness. He has taught Gongfu and foreign languages (those pesky bills have to get paid somehow, right?) for many years and been an adventure tour guide and freelance Chinese interpreter and is always trying to keep busy with something. After eleven years in China he wants to share everything that he has found
with the rest of the world - hence the creation of this site!
What's in a Name?
Deciphering the Meaning of Shanzhaimen
A man of good humour and quiet contemplation, Zou Jianhua chose the name Shanzhaimen for three reasons. Shanzhai (山寨) has several meanings in Chinese. One meaning is a fortified mountain village outside of government jurisdiction. In ancient times these were places where bandits and other outcasts would meet up and exchange knowledge, just as Shifu travelled around China, challenging many masters and making friends along the way.
The other main, more modern meaning is that of a knock-off product, as Shanzhaimen isn't any of the many styles it borrows from, but is effective nonetheless - just as knock-offs are made quickly and cheaply, but serve their purpose. The final meaning of Shanzhaimen is a play on words. Here he uses the character “三”, or three, (pronounced "san") instead of “山” to pay tribute to the three primary "camps", or masters, that he learned from. In the south-western dialects of Mandarin the pronunciations of "三" and "山" are the same.
The "men" in Shanzhaimen simply means gate or door, signifying the students' passage into this school of thought and technique. Chinese has no plural forms, so students will have to earn the right-of-passage through multiple gateways as
their training progresses, as some knowledge is not meant for everyone..
About Master Zou Jianhua
Martial Artist, Scholar, Consultant
Born in Guilin City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Master Zou Jianhua (邹建华) began learning Gongfu when he was around five or six years old and has continued to study and refine his art ever since. Although he studied with numerous different masters in all of the provinces of China except for Tibet
and Taiwan, he only became a formal disciple of three of them.
The first and most influential was Li Chenghong (李承鸿), a Cheng style Baguazhang master from Hubei Province. Li Shiye's (师爷 - Grandmaster - literally Teacher Grandfather) fighting skill was unmatched in South China and, beginning in his early twenties, Zou Shifu (师父 - Master - literally Teacher Father) learned everything he could from him over the course of a decade. The harsh circumstances of life at the time led to the Grandmaster's untimely death,
leaving many skilled Baguazhang practitioners in Guilin.
Zou Shifu travelled and worked all over China and has at one time or another been a doctor, lawyer, policeman, army combatives instructor, businessman, consultant and teacher of Weiqi, calligraphy, martial arts etc. He challenged masters or their top students and only learned from the most formidable. In his early thirties, he found his second official master, Lu Anguang (陆安广/光), and studied Xinyiliuhequan from him in Shanghai until he too passed away.
The years passed by, but his thirst for knowledge never faded. Now, deep in his forties, he eventually began learning Yongchunquan (Wingchun) from his final master, Liang Jintang (梁锦棠), when he was living in Shenzhen and Hongkong, afterwhich he returned to Guilin to take care of his elderly mother.
It was there that he, drawing on his many decades of experience, began to put together his own system and met Maarten, his first foreign disciple. Maarten constantly badgered Zou Shifu to systemise all of his knowledge, so that future generations could learn how to fight using traditional methods in as short a time as possible, and together they created the Shanzhaiquan ("quan" means fist) and Shanzhaidao ("dao" means sabre) curriculums, representing both the unarmed fighting and swordsmanship components of his art, respectively.
Maarten, being a stubborn, rigid Dutchman has continued to streamline the system whilst also contributing with his own over fifteen years of knowledge. He hopes to spread the art around the world in a time when many traditional Chinese martial arts have been rendered ineffective, have disappeared entirely or the remaining masters cannot find successors to keep them alive.
Shanzhaimen offers martial artists a complete, efficient fighting system,
based on thousands of years of traditional training and combat methods and strategies, that is very different, and not in the least bit inferior, to other, modern fighting arts. Read on to learn about the training methods of the art, watch documentaries and instructional videos and look at photos of China!