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Smith, Robert W. (1926-) | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Name: Smith, Robert W. (1926-)

Historical Note:

Robert W. Smith (b December 27, 1926) is an American martial artist and historian. He joined the U.S. Marines at seventeen and after being discharged in 1946 took a great interest in boxing and judo. In 1959 he was posted to Taiwan, the seat of the postwar Republic of China, as an intelligence liaison to the Kuomintang. There he met and trained with many masters--of xingyi, baguazhang, and other arts. In particular, he met Cheng Man-ch'ing, the taijiquan (t'ai chi ch'uan) master, and became his first non-Chinese student.

Smith first taught martial arts for many years, starting in 1962, in the Washington, D.C. area, until he retired to North Carolina. Smith's numerous books and articles offer martial techniques, history, anecdotes, opinions, humor and quotes from his wide-ranging personal research and reading. He also wrote three books (and a fable) under the pseudonym John F. Gilbey.

He edited the first book in English on Shaolin Temple Boxing. In addition, he wrote the first books in English on Pa-kua Ch'uan (baguaquan) and Hsing-i Ch'uan (xingyiquan) and co-authored with Cheng Man-ch'ing one of the first books in English on T'ai Chi Ch'uan (taijiquan) and, thus, is a key figure in introducing Western readers to these three "internal" martial arts of China.

Smith's memoir, Martial Musings, was published in 1999.



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