The Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan, separated from its sworn enemy, Mainland China by the scant 90 miles of the Taiwan Strait, is very security conscious. The island had been under martial law for the entire 38 years of the ROC’s presence on Taiwan until it was lifted this year, but the Chinese government prides itself on being able to control anything that gets in the way of its designated goals and plans. Knowing the bureaucratic and autocratic nature of the government made meeting and talking with the head of the ROC SWAT and Combined Operations Fighting Skills training quite a surprise, indeed. Where one might expect to find a battle-scarred ROC SWAT, police or army veteran there is a 33-year- old Californian named Chris.
Chris Mar, a lively, intelligent and energetic Chinese-American, had a quite circuitous road to becoming the head of all police and SWAT Combined Operations CQC System. “I started my interest in the martial arts when I was about eight years old,” explains Mar, sitting at a conference table in the family business in Taipei, Taiwan. “The first systems that I learned were Northern Shaolin Long Fist, and Shaolin Chin Na systems. I’ve continued with different styles over the years, for a total of about 25 years of training. It’s led me through some of the Chinese systems, Northern and Southern, the internal systems (Hsing I, Ba Gua, Tai Chi). I hold three black belts, one fifth degree in Tae Kwon Do, Seventh degree in Shaolin Chuan Dao and a second degree in Chinese Wrestling. I’ve, also, studied Wing Chun under four different teachers, including Jerry Poteet from the (Bruce Lee) Jeet Kune Do School.”
In 1977, after having established himself as an instructor in the Los Angeles area, training with police and SWAT teams, Mar was approached by the Moroccan government, in association with the government in Taiwan, to go to Morocco to teach the king of Morocco. “At that time King Hassan II was the ruler and he had wanted Bruce Lee (and the king of Chinese wrestling here in Taiwan) to go teach him,” says Mar. “Bruce had just passed away at that time, and they wanted a young man with expertise in the two sectional staff as well as other weapons and basic fighting skills. I received a call from General Wego Chiang, son of the late Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, and Secretary General of the National Security Bureau. He asked me if I would perform this service for the ROC. Of course, I was thrilled.” He did his duty in Morocco, five months worth, and then came hack to the U.S. Then, five years later, he decided to go to Taiwan for a number of different reasons—and three years ago he was approached by the government to develop his fighting system for use in police and SWAT training.