Liu Cheng You
(second half of the 19th century – first quarter of the 20th century)
Liu Cheng You was born in the village of Guzhuang in the area of Xiongxian, in the province of Hebei. He was the grandson of Liu Shi Jun and the nephew of Liu De Quan, and apart from continuing the “eagle” lineage, he also contributed to its promotion and enrichment. He learnt wushu from Liu De Quan (Nei Gong and Fan Zi), Yang Jing Shan (preeminent in foot techniques) and Dong Xian Zhou (a famous Fan Zi teacher), while his training with Liu Shi Jun began when he had already reached the age of thirty.
Liu Cheng You was a sickly child and therefore his first years of wushu training with teacher Liu De Quan were exclusively devoted to internal exercises. Training not only improved his overall health and strength, but also enabled him to perform some unusual feats: for example he could jump onto two bricks that were place on top of each other without loosing balance and he could bend backwards to the point that his head touched his heels. In addition, he could withstand a fully-loaded wagon of one tonne passing over his hand without sustaining injury! He was a consistent, tenacious student. It is said that when he was a child training in Fan Zi with the famous teacher Dong Xian Zhou, he would walk ten kilometers from his village to his teacher’s village and after training, he would practice steps and kicks on the way back home.
When teacher Liu Shi Jun returned to his village from Beijing, Cheng You, who was by that time thirty years old, had reached a very good level of skill in wushu and especially Fan Zi Quan. The young man demonstrated his abilities, but his teacher was not particularly impressed. This enraged Cheng You, who challenged him to a fight. The experienced teacher’s response was to grab his hand and to make him kneel like a small boy. After this, Cheng You became Shi Jun’s student and in time, turned out to be a worthy continuer of the legacy of the eagle system.
He had a rather temperamental character, he liked to fight and did not hesitate to accept a challenge. When he taught his own students, he followed the same principles as Shi Jun, according to which “students must learn to take blows and be tested in real combat to be effective and to make progress”. With his knowledge and expertise, he contributed significantly to the combination of Yue Shi San Shou and Fan Zi Quan. All his knowledge was passed to his third son Liu Qi Wen and his nephew Chen Zi Zheng.