Oral transmission.

June 30, 2009

I am sure you heard a lot about this – oral transmission of histories, lineages and principles.

Mainly from Sifus who are not exactly scribes and with these folks, they carry what they know with them and pass them on orally frequently in the tongue they are most comfortable; their spoken dialects.

So to understand, you got to overcome the dialect barrier to get to the subtleness.

To give you an inkling of what this is like, I got here a clip of snippets taken from 2 sessions with 2 of my Sifus.

Sifu Teo Choon Teck, Taizu or Fukien Grand Ancestor Boxing, who taught me using Fukien and Sifu Li Wen Shi, my White Crane teacher who speaks little else except Fuzhou.

These days, with the convenience of digital video cameras, I could tape everything and playback to ensure I don’t miss anything.

Sure beats listening and writing at the same time … so I am not complaining.

Anyway, Sifu Teo is talking about SanChiem and the role that Song TaiZu had in the formulation of systemized CKF.

Sifu Li, together with my sihing were reminiscing about the good old days of our White Crane school …..

Sifu Teo is almost 70 and Sifu Li is 84 when I shot the video.

I started training with them when they were in there 40s and 50s….

This has been one long journey …….too long.

Shaolin Stick Fighting.

June 30, 2009

The most popular Shaolin Kung Fu ‘tool’ was the staff; a long stick that had a variety of uses and purposes. It is a multi-purpose implement that can be used for many things other than self defense. A staff is used as a walking stick, to carry loads on your back, carry and transport two water buckets, as a lever, tent pole, writing implement (in the sand) and many more. This is also the weapon that almost all Chinese martial arts consider to be “The Father of all Weapons”.

Got that off a site talking about CKF weapons. Visit site here.

And I couldn’t agree more. The staff is indeed considered the most “popular” and there was a time, epitomized Shaolin kung fu.

I am sure you must have come across the concept that Shaolin MAs really started with the staff and other skills were later additions.

These days, it’s difficult to see the effectiveness of some of the methods being passed off as “original” Shaolin staff fighting.

I guess you could say this applies to most mainland’s CKF after the Wushu makeover; looking appealing, the interest is really more about aesthetics.

Don’t get me wrong, I got nothing against modern Wushu but do call a spade a spade.

Trouble starts when you muddle up the 2.

I appreciate folks who know what and do precisely what they want.

Books about practical Shaolin stick fighting are getting harder and harder to come by…so when I see one – I buy it, period.

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Aha, it just gets curiouser and curiouser doesn’t it?

First we hear it began in Shaolin and moved on to the red boats and then, disseminated to the various parts of Southern China.

We hear names like Ng Mui and Jee Shim, the water, land, male and female versions.

Not forgetting we got Yim Wing Chun and her husband allegedly Hakka tofu sellers in Southern China.

Next we got, Fang Chi Niang from Yong Chun province and with her husband, again supposedly tofu sellers.

And if you look into the record of Fang Chi Niang’s Yong Chun White Crane, a “Ng Mui” is listed as a 5th generation White Crane descendant.

Some researchers in China even go as far as bringing together the 2; Wing Chun is an offspring of Yong Chun White Crane.

Even timelines add up … so what’s the story?

Well, who can say for certain?

Not when you have more “theories” added every other day.

Look at this dummy form for instance, the mainland author credit it to “Ng Mui” or “Wu Mei”.

From Emei and not Shaolin!

And instead of the common 108 postures, now you got 165.

The jury is still out …. I think.

Okay, take a deep breath now ………

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click on thumbnails for full views/downloads.

You must have heard this too many times – Southern Shaolin is a fantasy, never really existed and where are the proofs, any classical documents or remnants of the temple …..

And when something does emerge, detractors are fast to slam them as fibs, the work of the Chinese government to increase tourism.

Every kind of imaginable arguments have been put forth and I guess you believe what you choose to believe, in the final analysis.

I stay away from such exchanges; I have long decided that the picture is  bigger than most would like you to think and in many cases, folks are simply looking at a minute portion and missing out on the larger picture, so to speak.

And yes, I for one do believe that Southern Shaolin did at some point stood and functioned as some kind of a meeting ground for those fighting foreign invaders.

Too many older CKF folks remember a nearly identical account of Shaolin and we are talking folks who have never cross paths and narrating the same event and the role of Shaolin in the creation and development of their arts.

Many of these arts are unheard of, not only in the West but also in many parts of Asia. Up till the last generation, many of the custodians are illiterate and communicate the only way they know how; in their own dialect with kinsfolks who left the mainland to form new communities in these remote parts. And they almost never socialize outside the boundaries of their own villages. We call them “mountain folks” here.

I said this before and I am repeating here; to them, their Kung Fu is a survival tool in this new harsh land. They never perform for entertainment or got involve in any of the institutionalizing of CKF that was happening all around them in the last 50 years.

Even now, they’re taciturn about their skill sets.

But meet those who are more forthcoming and you will heard the Southern Shaolin story over and over again.

What is this? A Shaolin conspiracy? Maybe a communist China unseen hand at work?

Nope … no way. These are simple folks who are small businessmen, farmers and some TCM doctors who are very contented with what they got and not seeking any fame or fortune with their Kung Fu which they are unwilling to admit knowing in the first place.

Kung Fu is and has always been a part of their lives just like cultivating the land, fishing or making tofu and metal working to produce hoes, machetes and cooking utensils etc etc..

Okay before you start yawning reading about these old-fashioned lifestyles here in Borneo Sarawak, I’ve got some of the classical records talking about Shaolin for you.

And if you are ever in China, go look up the real items and stay away from the McDonalds and Starbucks … I hear too much is not good for you …

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宋朝状元梁克家(泉州人)编纂的《三山志》在福清“寺观”类中载:“少林院,同里……” 《三山志》卷36第15页

Compiled by Liang Ke Jia of QuanZhou, Song Dynasty – “Three Mountain Wills” recorded a “Shaolin” in present day Fuqing.  Vol.36 Page 15.

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Ming Dynasty victorious candidate in the highest imperial examinations Huang Zhongzhao (The Putian People) compiled “Eight Fujian conveyance of idea or ambition”  Fuqing Shaolin monastery is recorded in the 75th volume on page 789.

明朝进士黄仲昭(莆田人)编纂的《八闽通志》在福清“寺观”类中载:“少林寺……” 《八闽通志》卷75第789页

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“Four Books” ordered byQing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong personally, again Fuqing Shaolin monastery is recorded Vol 484 page 539.

清朝乾隆皇帝钦定的《四库全书》在福清“寺观”类中载“东林院,新宁里。……少林院,同里” 《四库全书》第484卷史部第539页

Just in case you still think Southern Shaolin is  a figment of some Chinese imagination….maybe you should check your own genealogy.

Maybe you don’t exist.

A butterfly dreaming that you’re a man ……..

RIP.

June 28, 2009

Mr. Jackson, you’re the KING of your kung fu!

Deadly Cha Cha.

June 28, 2009

“The characteristics of the Cha-style Chuan lie in the fact that its movements are graceful, comfortable, clear, continuous and rhythmic. The generation of strengths and forces are abrupt, and the use of energy is economical. This style of Chuan stresses the usage of both hands and feet at the same time in executing the movements. Various tricks and moves are combined and linked to facilitate continuous attacks” (read all here)

My first encounter with Cha Quan was at a performance in Singapore in the 70s.

There I was totally captivated by the show, the graceful and rhythmic movements – wow!

Every now and then, they would blast with that rapid burst of power that only a seasoned Northern stylist know how … word just fails me here.

Some years later, I actually got acquainted with a group of folks who, among other systems, are accomplished Cha Quan exponents.

Hahahaha, the thing that I remember most about playing with them is “Why can’t they stay still and fight? Why are they moving in and out and around me so much! Stay still already!!!”

See I was young and didn’t understand that they were “running circles around me” …. Hahahaha

A few weeks back, I was talking to Russ on skype and told him that I might be sending him an encyclopedia of Cha, Hua, Pao and Chang Quan and he commented “Nah I won’t want to have anything to do systems that help started modern Wushu”…..

Tsk tsk tsk Russ Russ, what can I say???

But he is  right and not alone with this opinion.

Cha Quan is one of the Northern styles involved in the birth of modern Wushu.

And it attracted some pretty bad press since.

Me? I just love the arts.

Label is label is label ….. hmmm, maybe I could write a song using this line.

Ain’t singin’ for pepsi
Ain’t singin’ for coke
I don’t sing for nobody
Makes me look like a joke
This note’s for you.

….. Mr. Young.

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Yo, if like me, you are into music from the 60s  from all over, check out this blog here.

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The General’s legacy.

June 27, 2009

Material like this will surely bring a smile to folks like Master Zhang Han Xiong (Yue Jia or Geok Gar Penang), Li To Shen (Chu Gar Penang), Master Liew Joon Mew and Master Kong Shu Ming here in Kuching.

One of the few books ever published on Yue Jia or Geok Gar, this outstanding Hakka system, as performed by the likes of Master Zhang, reveals a exciting mingling of Northern dynamic footwork and Southern Hakka power generation. This style considers itself a legacy of the legendary General Yue Fei.

Not well heard of in most Western places and even in Asia, this style, as far as I know, is confined to within the Hakka community in West Malaysia.

Added with the fact that reading material is so uncommon, it’s no wonder that not many have even heard of this much less seen it.

I remember my teachers speaking highly of them so to finally meet them and touch hands counts as one of the highpoints of my CKF journey.

Now to convince Master Zhang to teach me ….. hmmmmmm……

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Master Zhang doing what he does best – one of his Geok Gar forms.

鳴鶴拳

Just in case you are unaware, I got another blogsite up and running with regular entries all dedicated to my family line’s of Fuzhou/Fuqing Singing Crane.

Click here.

This topic is meant for my new blog dedicated to Fukien/Fuzhou Crane Boxing. (Click here).

But because I am still preparing materials to be inserted over there; it going to take a couple of days to get them arranged, I have decided to talk about it here first.

A Japanese White Crane book that did a good job in presenting principles and the form “Babulien” or “Happoren”.

If you’re able to, I recommend you get a copy … if White Crane is your poison … of course.

I got it as a gift from Russ  in Florida last year….

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