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Talking to Sifu Lee Tho Sheng is ,constantly, so much fun.

 

From listening to how he climbs his tall durian tress, and I mean tall, breaking out into one of his many Hakka “mountain songs” and watching him, transforms right before your very eyes, and performing his very aggressive form of Hakka Chu Gar Kuen ….. In the words of Russ Smith; this is all good!

 

Sifu Lee is a very good-humored person, diplomatic and tactful, he is careful with his statements especially when you are caught in the midst of opposing fractions; unavoidable in all Wulin.

 

Flourishing in his durian farming, Sifu Lee is the proprietor of farms not far from the famous Batu Ferringhi beach, popular with tourists.

 

Visiting him there is a treat in many ways; the top-notch durians, jackfruits and getting a taste of his unique style of Hakka Chu Gar Kao.

 

You know the common saying, size belie strength,  exactly the case here.

 

And to hear him, in his booming voice, recites fist-poems in his native Hakka dialect is something that I totally enjoy.

 

And at almost 70, this man is a dynamo that just cannot be stopped!

 

Here’s a clip of one of Sifu Lee student doing a form called BaBuZhaung or 8-steps posture.

 

Again, I must say, expression is a cut different from the usual small-stance front leg enters/rear leg follows arched-back explosion that you expect from Hakka boxing.

 

 

 

Some more Hakka boxing.

November 30, 2007

 

Here another view of Sifu Cheong Hon Heon’s Geok/Ngok Gar kuen.

Perhaps, this clip will give you a better idea of why I smell “Northern” when I look at this style.

In fact, I was going through some of my other Hakka materials, from Penang and Sarawak, and I am starting to distinguish more and more of “Northern” indications.

A while back when I was chatting with Sifu Liew Joon Mew, Chu Gar Praying Mantis, and I popped the question “Why are so many Hakka styles name Chu Gar”?

His answer was that “Chu” family name was a big name right about the time of the Ching dynasty and many from this family were employed by the government.

So it was convenient, when asked, to just name yourself as “Chu” if you want to secure a government job….hmmmmm…..

That aside, the more I look outside Hong Kong’s Hakka styles, the more variations I see as far as Hakka boxing is concerned.

One thing that I really got to do, to get more answers, is to make another trip to see Sifu Kong Shu Ming, the Hakka Suppressing Tiger master.

The last few times that I was watching him demo, could have sworn that he was doing long-limbed White Crane…..

I had wanted to name this entry as “Hakka Yong Tau Fu” – the famous Hakka dish that uses a mix of vegetables, toufu, beans, different meats and spices to make a “salad” soup.

Didn’t want to be misunderstood as trivializing Hakka fighting traditions but I really do think that Hakka boxing is a very fascinating mix of many flavors.

Just like their delicious Yong Tau Fu…..got to run….hungry…..

 

More on TCMA training.

November 29, 2007

Again to naysayers who are putting down TCMAs, my argument is this; how much of TCMAs training have you experienced?

 

I think this is a legitimate question right?

 

I live in Sarawak and for the past years, have been traveling up and down this country visiting old schools and masters and tasting, first-hand, TCMAs training and I am still learning “new” things.

 

Before this journey, my sum total perception of TCMAs comes primarily from experiences in Singapore, the US where I was teaching for a couple of years, books, magazines and to a certain extent, videos and movies pertaining to the arts.

 

I remember one life-long practitioner here commenting that there are hundreds of styles/systems and to think that they have all outlived their relevance is a very pompous view.

 

A personal experience; I was permitted, some time back, to sit through a Silat testing session.  Was pretty routine at the beginning, you know, forms, breaking, 2 men and then it was the seniors’ turn.

 

And I wasn’t prepared at all for what followed (after all, it was at a school test); a scenario that looked exactly like a bar room brawl, anything goes and the chap being tested ended up all bloodied.

 

When I spoke to the Guru later, he said that was testing “courage”.

 

So different races, different arts but fighting is still fighting, no matter what.

 

And apparently that Malay Silat style also subscribe to “First train your courage”.

 

Beat your opponent spiritually before all or to put it the Japanese way;

 

“Conquer the fear of death and you shall conquer all”.

 

A clip here of 2 players doing “White Crane sticky hands”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TCMA training outmoded?

November 28, 2007

Common to run into views like TCMAs are outmoded; need to be revamped, too many shortcomings against contemporary challenges etc etc…

 

And everybody got an opinion, starting with “I have all the right answers”..

 

Personally, a fight is a fight is a fight and I am not talking about “guns” fight here.

 

Bare hands, knives, sticks fights etc have been around like forever maybe.

 

MAs is all about training to win in such kind of fights and to argue that “traditional” wisdom is no longer applicable anymore, to me, is presumptuous and flawed.

 

If you are involved in a traditional fighting form that have survived the last few hundred years, chances are it has been battles and time proven, that or it would have been buried in the corridors of history.

 

So why all the negativism?

 

For promoters of a particular genre of fights, it is self-serving to portray others as ineffective.

 

One misconception is that TCMAs are about forms and learning to perfect them.

 

Forms are just one component but other essential components are reflected in maxims like:-

 

“Training only techniques and not gung will get you nothing”.

“First courage/guts, second power/strength and third methods”.

 

Will be posting more on these but for now, a little short 2 men drill from WuZu designed to train not only techniques but some of the other attributes encapsulated in the above maxims.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An illustration of how “convoluted” it could be when it comes to histories of TCMA…

 

I am sure you have all heard about the big 5 styles of Canton and the origin of Wing Chun 6 ½ pole.

 

Here’s another author’s view of these 2 published in a mainland magazine not too long ago.

 

The gist:-

 

 

  • Created by Jhee Shim during Chien Long period of the Ching dynasty.
  • During the 16th year of Chien’s reign, Manchu army burned down “9 lotus mountain” Shaolin temple in Putian (Fuzhou) where Jhee Shim was stationed..
  • Only a handful escaped and Jhee Shim fled via Chou Zhou, Hui Zhou to Kwan Zhou (Canton) and took refuge in “Kwan Xiao Si” and taught 5 students clandestinely. These five students are the founders of “Hung, Lau, Choy, Li and Mok” systems prominent in Canton.
  • Still being hunted, Jhee Shim had to hole up with the red boat “opera troop” where he taught this pole form.
  • All the styles mentioned about have this form in their repertoire albeit in various shades.

 

I say “convoluted” because, talk to different folks, you are going to hear all sort of variations of , not only the source of the form but also the tenability of “Jhee Shim” role in any of the abovementioned art forms.

 

Again, highlighting what Por Suk said to me on so many occasions; every line, every family and every teacher will have their own perspective.

 

More or less the same plots or same characters but with “skewed” viewpoints; so believe what you believe and also accept that there will be others who think that you are totally wrong.

 

Agree to disagree is how I like to put it……that or argue until cow comes home….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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left to right Ting Tiong Kong, Ting Huat Yion and Kong Xian Hua

It was over a year ago that I first visited Sibu, Sarawak to garner support from CKF folks there to congregate and present TCMA in our event, as part of an overall effort to revivify interests.

 

Slowly and steadily, there are signs that this happening and the situation is most inspiring.

 

None of these would be doable if not for the enthusiasm and hard work of some key peoples, namely:-

 

Edmond Wong – Hakka Praying Mantis Fan Zhuang Quan.

Xiong De Lu – 5 Ancestors Boxing

Ting Huat Yion – Fong Yang Quan.

Kong Xian Hua – Hakka Fan Zhaung Quan.

Ting Tiong Kong – Shaolin White Crane

Lam Chee Keong – Hung Gar.

 

Our event is just but the start, these folks there are coming together to form a centralized training facility with a syllabus that assimilate forms/methods from each individual styles.

 

Tentatively to be named “Sibu Zhong He Quan Shu” or “Sibu Combined MAs” training center, this project is projected to kick off in the New Year.

 

This is all music to my ears, exactly what we hope to achieve when we first started out our venture.

 

I like to wish them all the best and the company will lend them support whenever possible….

 

 

 

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You know, we actually invited many other schools/styles to perform in this event.

 

However, due to one reason or another and I was told primarily because we changed dates, many could not make the show.

 

When I was in Singapore, I visited the “Singapore Pak Hock Athletic Association” and GM Mok Weng Chow.

 

The warm reception at their rooftop school was heartening but because they are, coincidently, preparing for their 60th anniversary celebration right about the same time, the Penang thingy would not work for them.

 

Well, they will be more opportunities…..

 

A clip comprising of pictures from their anniversary magazine:-

 

  

Zhou Jia Lee Kuan’s family.

November 25, 2007

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Like I explained in my other entry, this Penang event was put together with big-time help from my Zhou Jia Sihing, Peter Lum.

 

Peter also took me around and introduced many Penang’s Zhou Jia elders to me and do we have a big family there…

 

Not surprising, taking into account the fact that my GM, the late Lee Kuan, was based there before moving on to Singapore.

 

Talk to anyone in Penang Wulin and you are liable to hear of his many exploits and the high esteem folks there still hold.

 

He must have an immense following in Penang.

 

One Zhou Jia elder who is extra supportive of my activities is my Sisok, Foong Yee Yen. From giving me a lot of details to showing me some of the most advance forms of Zhou Jia for videos, he was downright giving.

 

On many occasions, he had to take time of from his day business just so he could help out in expediting some issues that I was facing to get the act together.

 

And folks, I am really a nobody in Zhou Jia….

 

So to all my Zhou Jia family in Penang, a super size “thank you”.

 

I owe you guys a big one…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arrrrgh, wet soggy Sunday – the kind that makes you feel really lethargic.

 

Decided to leave kung fu aside for awhile and I was going through my computer and found some pictures that Nicole, Russ’ wife, took in Penang.

 

Did a short clip to share some of these…..

 

Some pics of the participants, temples, butterfly farm, parks and other places they visited.

 

Nice..

 

 

 

 

One tree, many branches.

November 25, 2007

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When I was first told about GM Ong Choon Seng, I was looking forward impatiently to meet this old gentleman in Penang.

 

And that is because Sifu Ong is one of the very few, that I have heard of, still flying the “Tai Zu” or “Grand Ancestor” flag.

 

Also one of the styles that I studied, I couldn’t wait to compare notes.

 

Finally meeting him in his temple; Sifu Ong operates a “Dit Dar” clinic within a temple compounds in Penang, then turned out to be a reunion of sort.

 

2 strangers meeting for the first time and instantaneously jumping into topics like 3 battles, 4 doors, 5 gates and 8 methods….

 

Sifu Ong’s Tai Zu or Tai Chor in Fukien, has been kept within his families for generations from China to Penang.

 

His ancestors and my grandmaster, the late Quek Yong Hor, were from the same neighborhood in China and perhaps even the same school.

 

Our training methodologies are that alike …

 

Except maybe that his syllabus maintains a tad more of the northern elements that spawned Fukien Tai Chor.

 

I spent a good amount of time exchanging with Sifu Ong and his son in numerous, very educational, sessions

 

Over time, you will be reading a lot more about some of the projects that we are presently embarking to document and promote this style.

 

And Sifu Ong will be playing a vital role ……together with my Tai Zu teacher, Teo Choon Teck.