In the beginning…..

June 6, 2009

Venerable Master Huijing was a 47th generation of the 2nd Chamber (Refers to Lingshu Divison of 5th Chan patriach Huineng) and a master of Medicine, Buddhism and Martial arts. Shi Gaocan became the inner door disciple of of Huijing and followed his master for over 10 years studying arduously martial arts and medicine.

In 1926, he travelled throughout South East Asia including Singapore, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia and Indonesia spreading the Buddhist teachings whilst healing and helping those in need along the way. He became a residing monk in Medan, Indonesia at the Zhenyuan Gong. Shi Gaocan’s martial arts were often referred to as Fojiapai (Buddhist Family Style).

In 1948, Shi Gaocan was sent to become the Abbott of Shuanglin Temple in Singapore, here he taught some disciples and became very famous for his healing, buddhism and of course his martial arts. At the time, the branches of Shi Gao Can’s martial arts became taught throughout various associations throughout Singapore often lead by the key disciples of Shi Gaocan who had studied in Shuanglin Temple. In 1955, he also travelled to Malaysia and taught disciples there, where further associations were formed throughout Penang. In 1958, he returned to Singapore and initiated the Singapore Nanyang Shaolin Guoshu Association, serving as a headquarters to all the previous associations formed. He passed away 16th May, 1960 and his cremation was attended by thousands. His legacy is propagated through his disciples, students and grand students around the world. (Visit website)

Ah, the style that started my journey …… 

As the first son of a first son, in our 3 generations family, and born with a respiratory difficulty, my grandfather took in a “chi-gung” teacher to help to ensure that I stay in the pink of health. Old Chinese’s thinking; your 1st grandson is equivalent to your youngest son. Again I was reminded of this when my grandfather passed away and I took the position of his youngest son in the funeral ceremonies. 

I hated those days; get up early in the morning to go into some standing postures and learning how to breathe and having a regimental and austere teacher didn’t help at all. 

Typical Fuzhou from the old country and I found out later, much later, a personal bodyguard to a high-ranking court official prior to the communists takeover. One of my uncles revealed that he is blood related to Lin Shinxian, spoken of by many to be the founder of MingHe or Whooping Crane. Lin Shinxian taught Pan Yuba who in turn taught Xia Zhongxian and so on and so forth…. 

You know there are unquestionably more appealing things to do when you are 7 and living in a big house with kids (my brothers and cousins) running around having fun.

It took a while but training did take a better turn, I had then “progressed” to some real traditional kung fu training; flapping my hands and learning to move like a crane is not to bad…. 

Then my teacher had to go back to Sitiawan Malaysia and I did not get to see him again until some good 10 years later when I visited Sitiawan, a largely Fuzhou community where my folks were originally from before resettling in Singapore.

But he did recommend sending me to Saolim classes before departing Singapore and that’s how as kid of about 10, I would travel to Siong Lim Temple to learn “Yi Ki Muay” and started a trip that lasted until this moment.

Classes at Siong Lim were a lot more enjoyable than training alone at home one-on-one with a teacher who is scrutinizing your every move.

I remember Shi Caocan or Ven. Sek Koh Sum’s tomb right in that temple and how we used to gather around there during breaks. His personal chambers were kept intact as a mark of respect.

These days, the revamped Siong Lim is nothing more that a tourists’ stopover and when I tried talking to some of the management folks there recently, every question about Ven. Sek drew blanks.

What can I say?

Well at least, many of Ven. Sek descendants are still loyally keeping his Soalim legacies alive.

Remember folks, some things when lost, can never be recovered. 

I think we’ve lost enough already!

Here’s a portion of Saolim 18 Lohan – the unmistakable rhythm of Saolim Kung Fu.

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