Established in 1974, Lin’s Martial Arts Academy is one of the oldest martial arts schools in the southwestern United States. Our founder, the late Master Charles Chang-Wei Lin, was originally from Taiwan. He taught in a storefront location on Central Avenue for many years before building the school at its current location on Adams Street, southeast, here in Albuquerque.
The Chinese Culture Center has always dedicated to the preservation of Chinese arts, language and culture, as well as being an unprecedented source of reference regarding all aspects of Chinese culture, including information on activities in the local Chinese-American community.
The Chinese characters for “Sifu” are Teacher/Father, and no-one personified that more than Master Charles Chang-Wei Lin. Husband, father, businessman, distinguished member of the Chinese-American community, import dealer, scholar, artist, craftsman and true Martial Artist; Master Lin began his study of martial arts at the age of ten in his homeland of Taiwan. Sifu Lin learned Tai Chi Chuan and Kung Fu systems from Master Yin Bai Hsia, a reputable Master from the Chinese mainland. Master Liu Mu Sen taught Sifu Lin the internal systems of Chi Kung, Pa Kua, and Hsing-I. Sifu Lin has also studied the Style of Six Dimensions from Master Liu Shih Chou. After graduating from the College of Chinese Culture in Taipei with a degree in journalism, he relocated to New Mexico in 1974.
Master Lin dedicated his life to martial arts and what he calls the “profound” knowledge. He continued his studies under the guidance of Master Chen Jing Hua, headmaster of internal martial arts for Changhua county, Taiwan. Master Chen was the student of Grand Master Wang Yuan Nien, a very famous Tai Chi master from the Chinese mainland who now lives in Taiwan.
“Since my recent trip to China, I have been even more inspired to hold on to the traditions and heritage of our forms, as well as stress the health benefits of the martial arts,” said Master Lin upon return from a trip to see his teacher.
Anyone can do martial arts superficially, but to do them profoundly takes great effort. But no matter what level at which you participate, the benefits become clear in a relatively short period of time. Martial arts will keep you young. If you want to enjoy your senior years, isn’t it worth investing a little time in staying healthy and fit? There is an old Chinese saying: “health IS wealth”, and we want everyone to have the opportunity to be wealthy.
Later in his career, Master Lin never stopped seeking new knowledge. During the Thanksgiving holiday of 2005, he traveled to China to accomplish two missions:
- In the mornings, Sifu Lin studied two very old forms of Boat Fist Style Kung Fu from one of the most famous Masters in all of China. Grand Master Chen Song-Sheng was featured on the National Beijing Central TV station, being interviewed for 3½ days in preparation for a special show about his life. Grand Master Chen was 88 years old and was a good friend of Monk Hai-Deng, the most famous Shaolin Monk in the last 200 years, noted for succeeding in one-finger hand stands.
- In the afternoons, Sifu Lin studied with Master Lu, You-Xin, the 19th generation Chen Style Tai Chi Master and former National Chen Style Tai Chi “Cannon Fist” Champion. Master Lu taught Sifu Lin two of his specialties, Cannon Fist and Chen Style Tai Chi Sword. At one point in history Monk Hai-Deng, Grand Master Chen Song-Sheng and Master Lu, You-Xin all taught martial arts in the same city park in Suzhou.
During another trip to China, Master Lin studied with Master Lu You-Xin, one of the most famous internal style masters in China. Master Lu was a former National Champion himself, he was a 19th generation Master of Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan, and he had direct lineage to the famous authority on Bagua Zhang, Master Jiang Rong-Qiao, as well as having direct lineage to the famous Hsing Yi Chuan Master, Sun Lu-Tang. Master Lu trains martial arts masters from around the world.
Master Lin made a point to seek out new masters and travel to Taiwan and China every few years. “It is important to seek out the knowledge of the old Masters.” Kung Fu, Tai Chi and Ch’i Kung are living history and their roots must be cared for and preserved. Maintaining a solid connection to the source is part of what makes the Chinese Culture Center special.
Construction of Our Current School
What began as one man’s dream turned into a reality for many. Master Lin and his students brought a dream to life when they constructed the current home of the Chinese Culture Center on Adams Street in Albuquerque. Faced with what seemed to be an insurmountable challenge, Master Lin and his wife Synthia, left short by a reluctant bank and holding plans for a building so unique to the Southwest that some doubted it could ever be built, mustered the forces of the Universe and about a hundred student volunteers and forged ahead. Most of the work took place between April and December of 1988, and in that time was built a concrete, steel reinforced, three story fortress of nearly 3500 square feet with a training hall measuring 25′ x 61′.
Contractors did construction during the week, and on the weekends a small volunteer army of students would show up to remove forms, clean boards for reuse, pull nails from framing wood and do any prep work for the following week. Sun up to sun down and well beyond, the construction site was a scene that was hard to describe; somewhere between a swarm of bees and a troop of army ants. Activity proceeded in every direction with one common goal, “Let’s get inside before it gets cold!”. On Thanksgiving Day, volunteer students were sharing a meal on the floor of the new training hall. With many things left to do, the pace carried on feverishly up to the day of dedication on December 3, 1988. The second and third floors were to be finished later, but the Chinese Culture Center was open for business in its new home.
The design, featuring visibly slanting walls and a traditional circular oriental roof, is based on two famous buildings of the Master’s homeland, Taiwan. “The Chang Kai-Chek Memorial and the Sun Yat Sen Memorial were our inspiration for the architecture. Former student and draftsperson Christine Watson of Remo Giannini, Architect worked from photos and scaled the structure to our site.
If you think that martial arts are all about fighting, you are mistaken. All martial skills are developed to defend yourself, your loved ones and those who cannot defend themselves. In essence: “Learn the ways to preserve rather than destroy. Avoid rather than check; check rather than hurt; hurt rather than maim, maim rather than kill; for all life is precious, nor can any be replaced.” This has been the martial artist’s credo, passed down from teacher to student for thousands of years. Historical records date back to the Chou Dynasty (1027 – 256 B.C.), the beginning of the Iron Age.
Huang Ti, China’s first unifier (221 – 210 B.C.) prohibited the practice of martial arts for fear that the masses might rise up and destroy the empire. Martial arts were practiced in secret until 206 B.C. when Liu Pang, later known as Kao Tsu, assumed the throne of the Han Dynasty. Emperor Kao permitted the resumption of martial arts practice throughout the realm and they became a vital part of military training.
Unarmed defense principles were advanced through Zen (Ch’an) Buddhist religious practices during the sixth century. Bodhidharma, who was said to have traveled to China, spread the word of Zen Buddhist faith and is believed to be the father of Shaolin Temple Boxing. It is said that he introduced the monks to systematized exercises for strengthening the body and the mind, to endure prolonged mediation. Self-defense movements were devised later from Bodhidharma’s knowledge of Indian fighting systems and thus the birth of Shaolin Kung Fu.
The greatest contribution to martial arts by the Taoists is without a doubt Tai Chi Chuan. The Taoist priest Chang Sen-feng, after spending ten years with the Shaolin Monks, retreated to Wu Dan mountain to pursue his search for immortality. After witnessing a fight between a snake and a crane, he developed a complete system designed to maintain health, calm the mind, and increase longevity – Tai Chi Chuan, “The Grand Ultimate Fist.” The self-defense aspects became so effective that it was recognized as one of the superior schools of traditional Chinese “boxing”.
Over the past quarter century western science and medicine has tested and authenticated the powers and benefits of martial arts training. Practices handed down over thousands of years have stood the tests of modern science. In old school tradition, we train our bodies and our minds at Lin’s Martial Arts Academy.