November 14, 2007
It was many years ago that I first heard his name mentioned and this was at an annual gathering of Fuzhou Crane schools in Singapore.
That was the time that mainland China was attempting to court overseas traditional CKF teachers to go back and replant many of the styles that have left.
And if memory serves me right, only the “dog” or “ground dragon” boxing, another style associated with the Fuzhou, took up the offer.
Over the years, I would hear about Ruan Sifu involvement in various projects initiated by the central government on the mainland and in particular, his participation in research into the origin of certain karate styles.
I have been reading magazines and books published on the mainland for the last 20+ years and these are my primary sources of info about CKF scene there. Reports were abundant about how CKF were regulated and sometimes, altered, to meet certain requirements as laid down by the “central committee”.
The most clear-cut difference between mainland Whooping Crane and those practiced elsewhere is how they combined all their forms into one long form with added accentuated crane mimicry. And this is frequently the one form they do when they travel overseas to perform.
My Whooping Crane family in Singapore maintains a polite distant relationship with him; after all he is from the same line and more importantly, the same Fuzhou village in China. My late Sifu liked to say – things were tough on the mainland and sometimes you just got go along to survive…
Always wanted to talk to him in person and when the opportunity opened, I invited him to the Penang event; we flew him in a few days earlier and extended his stay so that I could interview and tape him talking about his Whooping Crane and his future plans.
And when I finally met him in-person, I had like a hundred and one questions to ask. Top must be why mainland dropped the all important “5 elements Sanchin” form, regarded by many Fuzhou crane elders to be the “mother form”. The 5 elements “4 sounds” form was taught to me as the definitive elemental MingHe form.
What happened after this question was put across took me by surprise; Ruan Sifu asked me to do the form. We were seated in the hotel lobby; not exactly the place you want to do kung fu but still, I stood up and did the first section. He then caught hold of my hands, came real close and almost in a whisper, said, “Don’t forget this form. Teach it to all your students”.
A short clip of the interview; next to Ruan Sifu is his student Lin Jian and Russ sitting nearest to the camera.
Ruan and Lin are speaking in Fuzhou; the kind that even I have problems understanding…..
We are now working on the transcript to be translated into English and Russ will work on getting them published.
November 14, 2007
Trailer for “An Evening of Martial Arts” DVDs….
The whole DVD is over 2 hrs long.