Voice from the past.

March 5, 2009



The very fist time I heard the name, Wang Xiangzhai, must have been 35 yrs ago when I was struggling with the rudiments of Fuzhou White Crane.

At that time, in the Fuzhou clan association, many teachers were running classes in White Crane, Dog Boxing, Fukien Tiger,Tai Chi, Xing Yi and DaChengQuan.

Back then, watching the DaChengQuan or Yi Quan, I remember thinking, this can’t be combat kung fu training.

I saw folks standing around or walking zigzaggedly, waving their hands and hitting “arbitrarily”; where are the forms, the 3 stars drills, 4 gates footwork and 5 element hands???

Look, even the Tai Chi trainees were working on bags 3 times their body sizes and pushing one another and slamming into cushion-padded walls.

So what is the deal with DCQ?

Some years on, now a little more adept with White Crane, my teacher spoke about Wang Xiangzhai again and his connection with Southern White Crane. Apparently, somewhere in Wang’s travel all over China to seek Kung Fu experts, he met and spent time with White Crane high hands.

How much did he absorb from this encounter is really anybody’s guess.

Fast forward to the last 10 years; I was in Denver and met Sifu Wayne Welch, a 40 yrs (at least) Pak Kua exponent, and among the many CKF topics shared, Yi Quan again popped up.

Uncle Wayne’s fascination with YiQuan revolves around the mechanics of extended hands’ “fajin” relying on the entire spine’s spiral – pinion and rack principle, so to speak.  

So for many moons, we discussed this and looked at my White Crane fajin  for resemblances.

Can say anything “definite” but Fuzhou Crane, at some points in the evolution, came into contact with “internal” systems and must have imported elements to eventually structure what you see today in  streams like Whooping/Sleeping and to a smaller extend, Feeding Crane.

Been asked on numerous occasions, what are the internal systems that wielded their influences on present days’ Fuzhou Cranes.

Well, frankly, I don’t have enough to make any calls, I have my speculations. …. based on handed down written descriptions.

If you are active in the mainland CKF forum scene, you must have come across this statement:-


White Crane is also known, in some circles, as “Minor Tai Chi” or “Xiao Taiji”.

This might baffle some of you but really, at certain levels, it’s hard to separate Tai Chi fighting from White Crane’s.

Mainlanders, and I agree, say it’s in the fajin.

So anyway, here’s an excerpt from the famous Wang XiangZhai’s interview carried in many forums/blogs, that I think requires some careful reading.

Errrrrh, no sweat, it’s in English and for the full article, click on this



Interviewer: The different schools of boxing are extremely numerous and their theories differ. Among my good friends there are many who practise boxing. Some of them practise according to books, but none of them has gained any results. What kind of a book should they adopt? 

Wang Xiangzhai: Combat science cannot be divided into schools, and the boxing theory does not have the distinction of Chinese or foreign, and new or old. Do nothing but examine whether it is right or wrong, and suitable or unsuitable, that is enough. At large, the numerous schools of our society, generally take the approach of forms and techniques to learn boxing. One must know that this kind practice is just forgery conducted by the later generations, it is not the original essence of combat science. Even though a few people by chance realise some side-mechanics and one-sided techniques, they have not, however, left the methods and forms after all, so it is without avail in the end. 

As for the writers of the martial arts guide books, they cannot exceed this boundary either. Although this doctrine is very easy to study, it is still not as simple as following others like sheep. Sometimes those who are taught by a famous master who passed the knowledge orally and from the heart, still cannot differentiate between right and wrong after dozens of years. How could these writings then be of any use? In any kind of learning, one should first understand the fundamental principle, and bit by bit intuitively perceive the skills, starting from the basics. In addition to that, one should ponder carefully, making a clear distinction between right and wrong, and proving one’s perceptions by experimenting in many ways. Only then can one move on to study those technical skills.

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