Another long day; first a promptly arranged press conference with all the major dailies here in Penang followed by a courtesy call at Cho Gar Hay Bun Wing Chun, Master Cheong’s temple.


The press conference was held at Penang Chinese Town Hall’s building and we had all their key committee members at hand to conduct the conference since they are our co-organizer.


In addition, representative from our sponsor, Da Ma Cai, was also there together with 3 Penang masters involved in this event.


Since Evert is in town, I got him to appear also and just as I suspected, the journalists were all over him; it’s not everyday that you get a Caucasian Hung Gar exponent visiting.


After the conference and a short lunch break, we headed out to GM Cheong’s temple for what turned out to be an afternoon of kung fu display and interaction over many cups of tea.


Personally, it hard to top seeing a Chinese Wing Chun master playing with a Dutch Hung Gar man without the benefit of a common spoken language.


Really lost track of time watching all the bong saus, lop saus, fu jows and hok kuens, when I finally did check, it’s time to head back to the hotel for dinner.


Got another team from the office flying in and we got to be at the airport to fetch them.


And tomorrow, I have to do the same thrice with Russ Smith, Sifu Liu Chang I and Ruan Dong all arriving at different timings….




I’ve been to Penang so many times this last year that, frankly, I’ve lost count. Just when I thought I’ve seen everything on this island, viola, something new pops up.


Anyway, this trip is “work” so attention is focused on getting things done – from the moment I landed and my Zhou Jia Sihing, Peter Lum, came to pick me from the airport.


After a swift stop for some chow-down, it’s straight to work; running thru’ a list of things to do before this Saturday/Sunday show and workshop.


Then it was a visit to the performance venue, New World Park, where Peter had already put up all the promo fishtails and banners and followed by a quick survey of the stage area to make certain that everything is in order.


From there I headed straight to the hotel; need to get my rest to prepare for the next day’s radio interview – one hour of martial art talk with a DJ, Jezza from Traxx Fm, with some 25 years of Aikido experience; this should be fun.


And also my first guest, Evert Van De Meulen, is scheduled to arrive from Holland.


I started corresponding with Evert some 3 – 4 years back; first it was all emails, forum talk and then “Skype”.


My first impression; one that last until now is that, he is a very devoted CKF seeker, particularly in the area of Hungga’s Tit Sin Kuen.


Our exchange notes on this topic could fill up a book – exploring histories, mechanisms and applications of this brilliant form.


The radio interview went beautifully as planned; the DJ was really sleek and by then Evert has already checked into the hotel.


So this is it, finally, meeting my crazy Dutch friend face to face…


Okay, he might not be in the best shape after some 30 hrs of flying but still we went out to a coffee shop and what else – Talk about Kung Fu!


So it’s more like a crazy Dutchman meeting an equally crazy Chinese….


Later on that day, we brought him to Kek Lok Si; the tourists-must-see huge temple on Penang Hill and followed by a courtesy call at GM Cheong Cheng Loong’s Kung Fu school.


So now we got 3 crazy men from 3 styles at the same table talking shop … this is the life!





Flying in 2 hours time and a call came in from the radio station that’s going to be interviewing me tomorrow morning in Penang.


I was a little worried that I might be talking to someone without any MA knowledge but it turned out that he is an Aikido instructor with some 25 years experience in this art.


We chatted briefly, touching a little on the format of the coming interview and one thing that we both concur; youths these days lack the staying power to learn MAs properly.


In this age of automations and instant coffees, MAs, with requirements of commitment and hard work is being shunned.


I remember when I visited Master Kong Xien Hua in Sibu sometime back; he stated that learning kung fu is about quality and not quantity.


Or like they say in Shaolin: not fearful of your 10,000 kicks but the one kick that you perform 10,000 times.


And many masters spoke about the same thing, few techniques that they spend incredible amount of time polishing until like a very sharp sword, they become “deadly”.


In Master Kong’s Hakka Mantis “Fan Zhuang Quan”, he does only 3 forms.


3 forms and a lifetime to turn them into sharp swords…..







October 28, 2007

To lazzzy to write anything, so some pics instead …

zhoujiasingapore.gifSingapore Zhou Jia.

My Zhou Jia Sibakgong, Lee Kam Yuen on my right and my Sifu Foong Fok Wah.sifusibakgong.gif

GM Lee Kam Yuen, Christina Foo (my partner) and Ivy Lee (Sibakgong’s daughter).tinasibakgongivy.gif

One more entry before I start packing ….


Why CKF?


For some, it’s keep fit, self-defense and learning self-discipline. For others, it’s a cultural thing.


Personally and for many around here; it’s really a element of our cultural identities.


What does it mean to be a Hakka, Fukien, Cantonese, Teochew, LeiChew, Hainan, HengHua, Fuzhou, FuChing or ChaoAn Chinese?


Besides peculiar spoken dialects, foods and professions, the individualities are also very strongly manifested in the way we do our martial arts.


We take it up to keep family and clan traditions living; our links to the forefathers.


Just like noodles (or mee in local dialects) are noodles, the various dialect groups cooked up many special dishes using plain old rice or flour noodles.


One staple food yet so many flavors… if you visit this part of the world, you’ll find wanton mee, kolo mee, kampua mee, fish balls mee, char mee etc etc….


There was a time, not that long ago, that if you’re a Hakka, you only do Hakka boxing period and the same applies to the other dialects. Crossover is not really advocated and even now, there’re still many older folks who stick to this code.


And by merely watching a form, you could tell straightaway the dialect association.


So, for some of us, keeping to handed down methods is more than just learning how to fight.


It really about sustaining who we are …culturally.


Lose it and it’s like losing a part of your “soul”.


Got a clip here featuring Cantonese styles like Zhou Jia, Hung Gar, Choy Li Fut and Cho Gar Ban Chung Wing Chun.




Looks like I will have to take a short break from updating this weblog; heading out to Penang this coming Monday for the martial arts gathering.


Yup, will have my faithful laptop, cameras and other equipment with me but I doubt if I’ll find time to put any material for posting until the event is over.


Invited guests will be arriving Tuesday morning onwards and with a list of about 60+ peoples; I got my work cut out for me.


Then I got interviews with radio stations and some newspapers – time to pick up one of those smart phones – the PDA phone thingy …..


There will also be a full rehearsal at the actual venue and many of the guests are in Penang for the very first time, so I am expecting to have to be some kind of a tourist guide….


This I do know; my cameras will be working overtime; I wanna take pictures with everybody.


Chinese Wrestling.

October 26, 2007

Believed by many to be the oldest form of MA, wrestling or “Jiao Li” was developed during the Zhou dynasty.

Throwing techniques are considered an essential part of a complete fighting system that encompass kicking, striking, grapping and throwing – a model that the late Bruce Lee based his training regimen on.

However, just like Chin-na (seizing and holding), most throwing techniques (except for maybe Chinese Wrestling) are embedded in the forms.

Techniques like “Pulling tiger tail posture”, “Returning horses to stable” and “Parting horses mane” etc etc. are more throwing techniques than anything else.

A shot clip showing a 2-men drill throwing drill.

CMAA – Kuching Sarawak.


Written about this elsewhere in forums etc; my attachment to this association here in Kuching Sarawak.


It must have been some 3 years ago that I first met with Mr. Chester Lim, the man-in-charge, and talked about adding some TCMA training for his young athletes who are mainly training and competing in modern Wushu.


One thing led to another and finally I started a regular training session with his athletes to pass on some traditional art forms.


Already well-trained in many aspects, I found them picking up TCMA like fish taking to water.


However, the thing that really impressed me is the camaraderie, motivation and the never-say-die spirit that these athletes exude throughout.


3 years and so much have transpired and the bond with them is really something that I cherish.


This November, 8 of these young athletes will travel to Penang and share the stage with veteran masters invited.


And for naysayers, who think TCMA is in its sunset phase, wait until you meet them.


Give them another couple of years; they will fly in every aspect of TCMA, this I promise you…..





Ku Choi Wah and his Cho Gar Bun Chung Wing Chun Kuen.


You probably heard this one; “10,000 miles cannot stop those fated to meet” or maybe not, since this is a Chinese credence.


Well, I do, at least, in the case with Master Ku.


It would appear that every time I’m back in Singapore, without appointment of any sorts, I would bump into him. Yes, I know Singapore is small but still there are some school mates that I have not seen since graduation…and ahem, that’s quite a while back…


So blame it on fate or the fact that we both like to browse the same CKF bookshops …..


First met him some 10 years ago through a friend who was studying Cho Gar with him at that time. My first contact with Cho Gar; doing one long form instead of the more widespread 3 forms, I was surprised by similarities between this system and what I do in Fuzhou White Crane. The same TTFC, whipping and even the “one hand 3 techniques” concept that I, ignorantly, thought only exist in White Crane.


Master Ku must be one of the most committed CKF teachers I’ve met, against much odds, he somehow is still able to go on with imparting his skills to students.


Talking to him, on many occasions, he recounted how some abused the knowledge that he disclosed but still those experiences are not dissuading him.


With a handful of loyal and devoted students, Master Ku is keeping the Cho Gar Wing Chun flag flying high.


This recent trip back to Singapore, I again called on him and was delighted by an invitation to watch him teach.


A short clip showing one of his students, Patrick Tham, doing “Ngar Wu” or “Crow Lake” Wing Chun; another name for his branch of WCK.


Both Master and student will be participating in the upcoming Penang event.










Long Live the Dragon.

October 24, 2007

The dragon dance is believed to have originated in China during the Ching dynasty. The dragon of the ancient dances consisted of candle-lit lanterns which represented the dragon’s head, body and tail.


Needless to say, great skill was required in the performance, not least of all because one wrong movement could result in a dragon’s segment literally going up in smoke.


Today, candles have been abandoned in favor of a brightly colored phosphorescent dragon’s body which glows in the dark. To enhance the illusion of a living writhing dragon, the performers usually wear black, making themselves less conspicuous. During the day, different types of dragon are used – the golden and silver dragons which are made of a sparkling material to add vibrancy and glitter to the performance.


The dragon consists of segments which range in numbers from nine to more than twenty. The diameters of the dragons, however, are usually limited to under 40 cms to maintain correct proportions.


Before a dragon can be used in a performance, it has to be “brought to life”, so to speak. This is done by the ceremonial marking of the dragon’s eyes, where his life is believed to reside.


In Singapore, the art of dragon dancing originated mainly from the Fukien province in Southern China. It has been kept alive largely through the efforts of dragon dancing troops like the “Singapore Dragon and Lion Athletic Association”.


Under the instruction of Mr. Ting Wan Kee, this association has been active performing on festive occasions and national events like the Chingay Procession and the National Day Parade for as many as 25 years.


The story portrayed in the dragon dance is simple – the dragon tries to capture the pearl which hovers in front of him. Legend has it that the pearl constitutes the dragon’s life essence. It is spitted out by the dragon that then plays with it. However, it will have to be retrieved or the dragon’s life will be literally lost. The pearl, hence, plays a major role in the dragon dance, determining the movements of the dragon and setting the pace of the dance.


In dragon dancing, stamina is the essential foundation upon which all other skills are built. The dragon has to be kept in continuous motion, and this is no mean feat considering that the dragon’s head alone weighs between 10 to 15 kgs. As for the tail, what it lacks in weight is more than amply makes up for in complexity of movement.


To top it all, the dragon does not simply run around in circles. It stoops, rears, twists and turns in it bid to capture the elusive pearl, accompanied by the beating of the drums and clashing of cymbals.


Co-ordination and skill, therefore, make all the difference between a scintillating performance and a dragon tied up in knots. Even seemingly simple man oeuvres like the changeover of performers require a technique which ensures safety and allows the performance to continue without a hitch. The changeover, which occurs every 10 minutes enables the dragon to be kept moving at the brisk pace, set by the pearl.


To learn the art, constant training over a period of six to eight months is necessary. While individual skills and stamina are important, a good deal of training also goes into the coordination which is essential when a number over 50 peoples are involved in each performance. In all dragon dance troupes, different duties have to be divided out among the various members. These range from the actual maneuverings of the dragon to the handling of the drums and cymbals. In the latter activity, the instruments used are small compared to those used in the lion dance. The overall effect is a less intense and more melodious accompaniment to the dragon’s performance.


The dragon dance has carved itself a well deserved niche in Chinese tradition. Elsewhere in Chinese scene, the awesome figure of the dragon had also left its touch – prayers offered to dragon gods, art and opera depicting dragon myths, combat techniques based supposedly on the dragon’s movements…


But ultimately it is the dragon dance which, though unique in itself offers something more. It lives on, a tribute to group effort rather than personal achievement.


A reminder to all “descendents” of the Dragon.


Long Live the Dragon!