Friday, May 6, 2016



During the latter half of the 20th century, many notable Chinese martial arts masters migrated to distant shores and western cultures. Among the most recognized and admired of these artists is a small, energetic, and inspiring woman who stands out from her peers. Bow Sim Mark has long been a dynamic, driving force promoting Chinese wushu throughout the world.

Grandmaster Mark was born in 1943 in Guangzhou, Guangdong (Canton), in southern China. She began learning martial arts at an early age while still in elementary school. Her training gained further momentum in high school, after which she continued her study at several wushu schools. The arts of tai chi chuan and Northern Shaolin Kung Fu were her primary focus.

Eventually she became a student of Fu Wing Fay, son of Fu Style tai chi founder Fu Chen Sung (1872-1953.) Under Fu's instruction she learned Fu Style tai chi, Wudangquan, and Wudang Sword. Her training with Fu continued for ten years and she was a teacher at his school from 1968 to 1974. 

In 1973 Grandmaster Mark moved to Hong Kong. While living there she was both an instructor and performer at the Miramar Traditional Chinese Dance Company and was chief instructor of the Women's Wushu Association.  

In 1975 she made the even bigger move with her family from Hong Kong to the US, where they made their home in Boston. She and her husband, Klyster Yen, have two children.  

The elder child, Donnie Yen, is a repeated wushu tournament champion who went on to become one of the top all-time stars of Hong Kong's action/martial arts cinema. He has starred in many big box office films, including Iron Monkey, Hero, and Ip Man. Daughter Chris Yen was the youngest competitor at the first International Wushu Competition in 1985 in Xian, China. She was only 12 years old and placed third in the all-round division. She has since entered the film industry as well.  

Grandmaster Mark founded her school, the CHINESE WUSHU RESEARCH INSTITUTE, in Boston in 1976. Since then she has also taught at Harvard, Boston University, MIT, and several other schools in the Boston area. In addition to teaching, she has produced numerous books and training videos sold in over 30 countries. Her TAI CHI ARTS ASSOCIATION, which she founded with her advanced students, now has expanded her teaching to new locations in the US, Asia, South America, and Europe. Her wushu mastery has also been displayed in her choreographed stage performances including "The Quest for the Magic Herb" and "The Song of Yang Guan."

Over the years Master Mark's list of accomplishments has become quite extensive. She was the first to publish a book on Beijing's Combined Tai Chi Forms in the 1970s and is credited with bringing the term wushu to the west. In 1984 she participated in the first International Tai Chi Chuan and Sword Demonstration in Wuhan, China, taking the gold medal for her Combined Tai Chi forms. She has been named Kung Fu Magazine's "Woman of the Year" in 1994 and 1996 and was Black Belt Magazine's Kung Fu Artist of the Year in 1995. Black Belt has also named her one of the most influential martial artists of the 20th century. Her complete list of magazine articles, awards, and honors are too numerous to include.

Although Grandmaster Mark is in her 70s now, she and her CHINESE WUSHU RESEARCH INSTITUTE have remained a mainstay of the Boston Chinese martial arts community. She has been a tireless teacher and diplomat of Chinese wushu arts in the western world. For that and her dedication, hard work, and inspiring career, the martial arts world owes a great debt of gratitude. - TCJ

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