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About the Authenticity of Dr. Baolin Wu's Books

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About the Authenticity of Dr. Baolin Wu's Books

Yesterday I was reading (oriental medicine doctor and licensed acupuncturist) Dr. Baolin Wu's book Eight Immortals' Revolving Sword of Pure Yang (2011) and came to a passage about Wang Xiangzhai, the famous internal martial artist and Zhan Zhuang expert. The problem is that the related circumstances and explanations given in the book are completely anachronistic because Wang Xiangzhai would have already been dead by then. This is furthermore incriminating because Dr. Baolin Wu presents these as unashamedly biographical and factual experiences that would corroborate his skills as a TCM practitioner and internal arts teacher. Therefore I can only conclude that Dr. Baolin Wu's narration here is fraudulent. To what extent his writings and teachings could then be trusted is unknown to me, but I decided to shred his books and toss the remains into waste paper recycling. I offer my sincere and deep apologies to The Dao Bums readers for having presented some of this man's publications and teachings in a positive light earlier: I should have been more careful and discerning, despite the fact that there exist reliable accounts of miraculous feats in many Eastern traditions, which invites benefit of doubt with those initiated in these arts. These prior appraisals I completely recant and have now edited out. My liking of his books was a mistake rooted in the past when I became too easily impressed with his first book and hadn't returned to review it carefully enough afterwards.

 

 

Synopsis of Facts Relating to Dating the Alleged Encounter(s) with Wang Xiangzhai

Baolin Wu was born in 1954 which is a fact presented at least in his following books in the Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data section before the list of contents: Qi Gong for Total Wellness (2006) and Qigong Journey: Nine-Five Maintenance of Qi (2021). The birth year explicitly or implicitly comes in some other books also, like in the opening of sub-chapter "Called to the Dao" in Eight Immortals' Revolving Sword of Pure Yang, page 3:

 

"In 1958, when Wu Baolin was four years old[.]"

 

On the page 79 of the Eight Immortals book, it is told of Dr. Baolin Wu's youth:

 

"At the age of seven, Little Wu was already quite proficient in the practice of the Eigth Immortals' Revolving Sword. Master Du encouraged his young acolyte every day to practice diligently in a courtyard right outside his quarters inside the monastery. At the same time, Little Wu also developed a skill called "light practice" (qinggong), a light, floating, or jumping form of gongfu."

 

In the next few pages it's described how the mischievous Little Wu provoked a violent response after tearing town an acrobat troupe's banner using the special lightness skill. This then lead to Dr. Baolin Wu's "Master Du" (it's questionable whether he is based on any real likeness or some fictitious Wuxia novel character) to use special kungfu to the effect that on the page 83, it says:

 

"A month after the incident, word arrived at the White Cloud Temple that the elderly man had passed away, due to multiple ruptures in the internal organs. Master Du then informed his students of his true identity: Master Guo had been the senior student of a famous mind boxing (xingyi) master by the name of Guo Yunshen. He warned everyone that sooner or later, his other students would seek revenge. When that happened, nobody was to give away his whereabouts.

 

Challenges

 

It came about three years later. Wang Xiangzhai had been Guo Yunshen's top student and later became a well-known fighter working as a bodyguard. After hearing of the death of his martial uncle, his other senior student, he quite his job to prepare for revenge. He then went to Beijing and publicly announced his challenge to Master Du Xingling."

 

Then it says, after describing how Wang Xiangzhai petulantly tried to pick up a fight, lost an internal force contest, left the monastery grounds, and was invited back to witness Master Du's internal force demonstration. The books author's claim that Wang Xiangzhai then begged on knees to be accepted as a student. On page 85, it continues:

 

"Persistent in his quest to become a Daoist, Wang Xiangzhai came back to the monastery regularly, hoping to be accepted into the monastic order. [...] Instead, Master Du allowed him to visit the monastery to practice with his students on the 1st and 15th days of every lunar month. On these practice days, Wang indirectly learned many things from Master Du but he remained barred from the higher levels, mainly for his own future safety.

 

Master Wu and Wang soon agreed to exchange teachings on these days and over time came to call other brothers. Thus Master Wu shared with him the complete set of static qigong postures known as "standing form" (zhanzhuang), which eventually became Wang's central practice. It increased his energetic power manifold, so that in later years he would be known as the "Invincible" among all the outer schools and around the globe. In return, Wang later gave Master Wu all his notes and writings, collected during a lifetime of martial study and research; he also taught him his ultimate qigong form called "Great Accomplishment Fist" (Dacheng quan)."

 

Please take a special note on the claims that "in later years he [Wang Xiangzhai] would be known" and "Wang later gave Master Wu all his notes and writings" which imply that a lot of time would pass.

 

 

Summary of Dating Issues

Dr. Baolin Wu, born in 1954, claims to have practiced the lightness skill at the age of seven and that "about three years later" he and his teacher met Wang Xiangzhai around 1964, when Dr. Baolin Wu was about ten years old. You can look up everywhere in the Internet, including Wikipedia, that Wang Xiangzhai died on July of 1963.

 

 

An Earlier Book Gives a Completely Different Impression on How Xiangzhai Had Already Been Well-Acquainted with "Master Du"

Examining the earlier book Qi Gong for Total Wellness furthermore reveals that in the span of five years (from 2006 to 2011, the respective years of publishing) there has been a radical revision in how the persona of Wang Xiangzhai is presented. On pages 8-9, just take a look how it says that Wang Xiangzhai supposedly was practicing the 9 Palaces Qigong "all his life" as a student of Master Du (I have underlined interesting segments):

 

"Master Du's most famous martial arts student is a name that has gone down in the annals of modern martial arts history. Wang Xiangzhai is recognized around the world as the great twentieth-century popularizer of Chinese martial arts inside and outside China. As an unbeatable master, he traveled extensively, taught, wrote, and established a number of forums and organizations for the study and dissemination of scientific martial arts. There are many stories of the Chinese, Japanese, and Western fighters who came from all around to be bested by his superior skills.

 

All his life, he practiced the 9 Palaces. With his lifetime of study and his public persona, he did more than any other figure to publicize the energetic principles of the 9 Palaces. His books and lectures are famed for discussing the body's natural "springing power." The body can express energy like the release of a coiled spring. Wang would often compare the strength of this force to the power unleashed by a person maddened with anger or distress. Even ten men can't hold down a man or woman overtaken by his or her own primal intensity. Wang's writings go to great lengths to conceptualize the body as a spring and the personal aspects involved in allowing force to come out naturally from inside. However, he refrained from directly discussing the full scope of this force. In fact, it is the energy of the 9 Palaces.

 

The coiled, springlike aspect of natural force is only the most basic element of a complex process. Practicing 9 Palaces Oi Gong develops this force not as an end in and of itself, but as a means of igniting an electrifying energy. Once you can call forth this bioelectrical power, everything that comes at you can be repelled. Just a touch can stun with the impact of an electric shock. This is how Wang, like his master before him, was so successful. Master Du recognized Wang's natural abilities and leadership skills and trained him in order to send him out as a living demonstration of the power of Qi Gong, expressed through martial arts. Practice Qi Gong, and anything that hits you will spring off. However, with its protective and propulsive qualities, this same force can equally be used for healing work or taken further into higher levels of spiritual development. It comes from a unified effort of body, mind, and spirit. It cannot be grasped on a purely intellectual level. It must be practiced to be understood. To understand it is to understand yourself. With this understanding comes a passage into a new realm of energy and awareness."

 

All quotations in this article fall under fair use doctrine for non-profit educational purposes and offering fair and reasonable criticism. Moreover, since these quoted segments are presented as factual (and biographical) by the authors of the books, they don't readily fall under the protection of copyright laws that only cover creative expression.

 

Some of the mentions about Wang Xiangzhai can also be found through Google Books service:

 

https://books.google.fi/books?id=3ZLWAAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=xiangzhai&f=false

 

https://books.google.fi/books?id=gysyAwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=xiangzhai&f=false

 

I rest my case. I can only remind everyone to check facts meticulously if the claims sound too off-landish to give any further benefit of doubt. Name dropping famous people and places is another indication that could indicate riding on someone else's coattails. I do wonder if his publishers or students ever question these claims of Dr. Baolin Wu or if they take every bit of his words as precious morsels.

 

 

What Have Others Investigated about Dr. Baolin Wu's Claims?

@Walker made an impressive investigation several years ago already:

 

 

This fortifies the argument¬†that¬†"Master Du" very likely is a complete fabrication that was made up to impress Dr. Baolin Wu's students with¬†some very special connection and potential¬†‚ÄĒ that could maybe rub on you¬†if you spend money on his courses and healing services, as such marketing business is usually motivated.

 

 

Further Notes

The Eight Immortals book was further troubled by two gross sights of factual error, and there could be more since I didn't even finish reading the book. First, indicating a complete lack of basic chemistry, it was painful to read that the toxic element of cinnabar was claimed to be lead¬†instead of mercury. In an act of ultimate irony, the authors would then go on to describe how the three states of water have¬†a "mercurial" character in the same discussion. Second, in order to strengthen the reader's "faith" in Daoist wizardry, Dr. Baolin Wu remarked after a mythical story¬†about¬†L√ľ Dongbin turning stones¬†into sheep and having them walk a long distance in order to build a bridge¬†that wizards or immortals in other cultures basically did the same and thus build fine monuments. He specifically then brings up the Egyptian pyramids and how their massive stones couldn't possible have been constructed by human labor alone, which is in complete ignorance of what the archaeologists have¬†found out long ago.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_pyramid_construction_techniques


The bottom line is that it's unlikely that there is much truth in what Dr. Baolin Wu claims and if there coincidentally is some worthwhile substance he mixes in, then the real quality material might have been "borrowed" from other sources that aren't actually faking their expertise or experiences. This then asks how much editorial oversight Livia Kohn's Three Pines Press spends on vetting their publications and if they are at all concerned about possible copyright infringement issues causing harm for the business.

 

There also is a real concern that Dr. Baolin Wu might have completely made up his publicly taught practices or appropriated them from multiple sources without much idea nor care about what actually benefits the practitioners as long as it keeps them feeling satisfied with some "sensations" and hooked on his appeal as a mystic master. It's a serious error if the students get attached to the teacher's influence in any case, and given how much Baolin Wu keeps inflating his and his likely imaginary teacher's (Du Xinling) credentials, I feel it's fair to say that his books are not giving a good impression about his ethical commitments. Could such lack of sincerity and humility nourish goodness of heart?

 

I was asked a highly relevant question about the book's usefulness if extensive fraud is suspected, so I'm presenting the question and my answer.

 

Quote
I wonder though, is there nothing that could be taken as useful from such books? Even if the person is a charlatan, does it mean that all they said is automatically useless?

 

 

This is a good question. My opinion is that everyone would absolutely like to trust a person's expertise and integrity if the topic is of great importance. If you contracted a carpenter or mason to build you a nice home and then found out that he has build flawed housings and cheated people with empty promises, then you would start to feel serious regret and try to find a way to rescind the contract without losing your time or money.

I wouldn't want anyone to be influenced by lies and nonsense that may only have a hair's width of truth. Spirituality and cultivation are dead serious matters as far as correct results are concerned: Flawed practice can at the worst lead to injury or death if persisted in, but at the very best it's a waste of time and money unless this loss is turned into a wisdom lesson to be more careful the next time.

The problem with Dr. Baolin Wu's books is that I can't be absolutely certain when he's making things up unless I have direct contrary personal experience or do meticulous cross-referencing on many esoteric topics and historically verifiable circumstances he mentions. It would be a grind with little to gain because his marketed practices themselves are almost certainly nothing worth trying because he already made such a big lie.

One thing that could be learned from his books is to observe how he cleverly uses them to promote himself and his teachings. Understanding this can train a more discerning mind for future encounters with dubious teachers and teachings.

Edited by senseless virtue
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Ethics and marketing rarely seem to coincide in the internal arts, sadly.

 

It can make ridiculous money, with masters in China commanding six figures, and it can be the same for frauds.

 

The barrier of entry into a legitimate line often includes money as a requirement, while character and ethics are often compromised by a "master's" financial needs.

 

Wu seems to have debts and a need to deceive in order to achieve his aims.

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