Some more bird talk.

May 10, 2010

Okay okay I know, this is supposed to be a Kung Fu blog and I should stay the course ….. but please remember also that “all Kung Fu and nothing else makes Eric a dull boy” … duh !!!

However, Kung Fu is a big part of my life and I don’t drift far, a little diversion now and then but still it is the “comfort zone” that I am comfy with.

Got another clip here to share – Yong Chun White Crane’s “8 parts”, to me, a signature form for them after Sanchiem; a “forcing the 4th gate” form since they don’t do any “angles or corners” battle form per se.

Maybe and this is a big maybe, latter days’ Fuzhou Cranes “4th gate” form is inspired by this form; it is really hard to ascertain particularly since no proper chronology record exist.

Talking to both Yong Chun and Fuzhou Cranes elders, nothing clear cut resulted …..

Then of course you got “Grand Ancestor” or “Tai Chor” Boxing  and the consensus is that this is a much older system and if you inspect their paradigm of training, you’ll find :-

  • Sanchiem – connecting sky, man and earth or in other tongue, absorbing into the earth and rising to the sky power trajectory.
  • 4 doors
  • 5 gates
  • 8 methods

Looks like all these are swimming in the same water no?

Another account that I’ve got from a White Crane elder around here is that “8 parts” refer to the 4 major wrist and elbow manipulations – this then put the form closer to what Wing Chun folks preach…..

This White Crane veteran has his fair share of touching hands with White Crane experts of most lines and really, I cherish everything he has got to share with me; you should see some of the classical hand written/illustrated manuscripts that his teacher left him – priceless!!!

Back to the form in the clip, the performer appears to be much “harder” that the earlier YCWC clips that I posted. This kind of delivery makes it easy to see why many in the Karate world are now claiming association to YCWC as reported in the many websites and magazines out of the mainland.

So which is the right execution? Well, if you ask me, they are both “right” – go back to the White Crane classics and you’ll find recorded in no uncertain terms, that White Crane is “half hard half soft”.

Sinking into the “Dantien” and sinking into the earth produce different energies and appearances….

To sink into “Dantien” you keep your legs tight like in your typical “hourglass” stance whereas sinking into the earth calls for the legs to stay “springy”.

Well, more on this topic over time …. Let me find more clips to demonstrate what I mean.

This past week …..

May 8, 2010

This past week has been optimistically eventful…. It’s beginning to look like the company I work for will be taking up some form of distributorship of Nikwax products for Malaysia; we just need to work out the details to ink an official deal.

Nikwax is headed by Chas in the US and here is their website ….. click.

Then after a long search, we finally found ourselves a writer, Cynthia Chin, to help out in the many projects that we got lined up; many stymied because we can’t really cope with all that writing …… hey, I write hideously ……..

So far I spent a couple of sessions with her and really, this is one fascinating person … besides writing, she is also into environment/wildlife conservation, a photographer, thrash mountain bikes and on top of all that, she got 4 dogs …… arrrgh, maybe she wears a cape and fly too …… Here’s her website …. Click.

Then I had to call Rich (Dean), one of my students in Denver, to seek counsel on some legal matters and got very positive feedbacks from him … so there you go … a roll …hahahaha…

And and not forgetting  my partner and I found 2 puppies ….after a trying search…you know – wrong size, wrong color, too passive or expensive blah blah blah ….

So, say hello to

  • Scooby – all white male.
  • New New – white brown spots female.

Errrh, “new new” sounds like “twisting” in Mandarin … you know like the way some ladies walk ….. hahahaha

Happy Days are here again ……….

I have never met this gentleman, Kahar, but we communicated a few times thru emails etc ……..

When I paid a courtesy call to his teacher, Sifu Yip Fook Choy in Kuala Lumpur, I was told he was out of town.

Well, anyway, here is a newspaper article about Kahar and his involvement in WCK ……

Click here.

Okay, back to the bird ….

With so much mumbo-jumbo floating around, it is becoming tricky to tell what is what no?

Even with something as simple as the 4 divisions, we got folks passing Putien’s “Shaking Crane” as one of the main “Fuzhou” Crane.

Or misguidedly stating that “Shaking Crane” is “Ancestral Crane” because “Shaking” and “Ancestral” are both pronounced as “Zhong” even though they are 2 separate distinct written characters; this is where not knowing the language could lead to slip-ups easily.

In Mandarin, “shaking” and “ancestral” sound close but in Fuzhou, the contrast is much clearer.

Oftentimes, you hear that “Flying, Feeding, Whooping and Hibernating” Cranes are interpretation of physical behaviors of the Crane which is accurate to a large degree but even more profound is the “4 major energies” that is linked with these physical visible behaviors.

White Crane elders from the generation before me refer to these energies more than imitation of crane physical movements; this is one topic that I spent enormous time discussing with White Crane elders around here in Sarawak.

And fortunately for me, I found quite a few of them still familiar with this lingo and my comprehension of White Crane has enhanced immensely thru exchanges with them.

Well, anyway ….. One of the first “energies” that most Crane students would spend the initial few years training is “shuai” or roughly translated to “throw” and in the following clip, you see this unmistakably in the “Flying Crane” and also in the “Yong Chun White Crane” form.

Flying Crane is effectively based on “shuai” jin according to the classic manuscripts that were brought out of the mainland some 100 over years ago and YCWC, being more or less the “mother crane” encompasses this characteristic; it is just that different streams of YCWC emphasize different aspects and that is why you see some coming across as much “harder” expressions.

But you know the old CKF saying “with just one stroke, it’s enough to tell whether you’re real or not”……..

Keep looking …..

April 29, 2010

It took me a while but finally….I landed a “big” one.

For some time now, I’ve been aware of the existence of at least 2 books written by the late GM Li Zai Ruan; the highly esteemed White Crane/WuZu teacher who resettled in Borneo.

Today, among the CKF elders in Sarawak, you could still find direct descendents of GM Li if you try hard enough; I met one some 2 years back operating a Chinese medical hall and doubling as a TCM doctor. I went to him to get some old injuries treated and thru him, I got to know GM Li a little better; his life here and the arts that he taught in Sarawak.

And this is the perplexing part – there are 2 GMs in this region, both celebrated Wuzu teachers but for some reasons also referred to as “Yong Chun White Crane” high hands.

I am trying to establish if they were trained in both or was it a custom to use Wuzu and YCWC interchangeably those days?

Looking at the syllabus they taught, it reveals a balance of standard WuZu and YCWC … so what the inside scoop?

The other GM besides GM Li is GM Kan Teck Guan, deemed by many to be a giant in the Wuzu world.

Short of talking to direct students of these 2 gentlemen, the next best thing is to get a hold of written works left by them.

GM Li, I was told, wrote a few books in his time and 2 of which were named as “Crane Boxing”.

Gotta tell you, hunting down his books is anything but easy … but hey you know what they say:

“The Heavens would not deny those with heart”.

So with plenty “heart”, I finally found another of his works and now it’s digesting and dissecting time ……

This is related to my earlier “Fong Yang” post and also a cue that I need to be careful when handling knowledge that I don’t really …… eerrrh ….. know …..

Also it brings home the point that I’ve been trying to make in this blog about “ass-u-me” … something that is very prevalent all over the places when it comes to histories and lineages of TCMA.

Anyway, my apologies to Sifu Terry Brown for my blunder …. I stand corrected.

Here’s Sifu Brown’s email :-

Hi Eric,

Thanks for publishing the reference to Fong Yang, your mention of the Shaolin temple at Toa Payoh made me feel quite nostalgic. I haven’t been back since my master sifu Tan Siew Cheng passed away back in 1996. Perhaps I will make it back one of these days.

>

I noticed that the word hills had been changed to skills in my little write up (combining Northern and Southern Hills became combining Northern and Southern skills) Not to worry overmuch but Uncle Tan always explained the Fong Yang respect by saying that the five knuckles of the right fist represented the Five Hill of kung fu. The first hill was Dharma, the second hill was Tai Chor, the third hill was Peh Hoke, the fourth hill was Lohan, and the fifth hill was Kow Koon (monkey art). The four fingers of the open left hand (when giving respect) represented North, South, East, and West. The two knuckles of the right hand that represented Peh Hoke and Tai Chor were pressed in to the palm of the left hand thereby signifying that in the world of martial arts Fong Yang practises the combined arts of the Northern and Southern hills.

>

Apologies for trying to teach granny to suck eggs But I figure that one of the reasons you and I have been dedicated to martial arts for so long has to be our love of their traditions, hence the ‘lesson’. Eric, thanks again for publicizing the Beggars Art.

>

Warmest regards,

Terry



Kung Fu Art.

April 27, 2010

So what are you so busy with, a friend around here keep asking. He has been trying to get me out to his regular watering hole for the last couple of weeks ……

I would love to, with loud music, pool games and “friendly” ladies ….. Hey it all spells fun.

But at this moment, besides working with Penang on a couple of projects, the adventure-racing program and the book “Chinese of Sarawak” …. I am also working directly with a bunch of young artists on various undertakings.

Mostly “mixed media” trained, this is one superb opportunity to test out what they can do with the hundreds of pictures that I’ve taken these last couple of years; a good assortment of Kung Fu, landscapes and everyday moments from all over Sarawak and West Malaysia.

Love the ways they blend editing software and classical methods to render a picture – the result is just so inimitable….

Here’s one picture that is “work in progress” – this picture will be further worked by one of them to achieve a different feel altogether.

Soon, I will be featuring some of these artists ……

Got a call, out of the blue, from a senior journalist of a local daily asking to interview me couple of weeks back.

Errrh, I was a little hesitant at first – me and my keeping a low profile mindset – hey, I don’t need every Tom, Dick and Harry asking to “touch hands” when I am out there ……..got better things to do with my hands really….

Anyway when the journalist, Wilfred Pilo,  mentioned that he is a Tang Soo Do practitioner, I thought this should be interesting – a wordsmith and martial art exponent, so I agreed to meet up.

So there we were, 2 strangers meeting in a food court and exchanging experiences – what can I say?

It just doesn’t get any better than this ……

The John Lennon lookalike on the left is Mr. Martin Watts and I got a mail from him about his …….. well…. you can read all about it here click.

All the best Martin.

So, my boss might be right after all; believe and start thinking certain thoughts, you are really sending energies out into the universe which magnetize events and circumstances that reaffirm your conviction….errrh in this case, a Nat Geo documentary.

I was at a friend’s yesterday and the TV was showing a Nat Geo program about “fusion” foods that are now very hip in Hong Kong. Towards the end of the documentary, the filming crew visited a traditional soy sauce factory where everything is still done in the old-fashioned way; no mechanization of any sort and even the jars used are hundreds year old and are you ready for this – the jars are never washed ………… according to the soy source folks, this is one of the factors that gives their sauce that unique highly sought-after signature taste.

I actually heard about this when I was in Penang, special iron-ore jars that are used repeatedly without any washing and some jars are 200 – 300 years old. Hey, I even approached the proprietor hoping to buy one of the jars – they will look fantastic in a “Bali” style garden – I was a landscaper in my previous “life” remember? Well, I got turned down flat … what can I say?

Some things you simply cannot buy and for the rest, you got “MasterCard” hahahaha…..whatever …..

I am devoted to many traditional ways – I think our “contemporary” lifestyles have abundantly proved that not all “new”  methods are enhancing in any ways – hey when you need 5kg to produce 1 kg of “modern” food – something is just not right, not the math nor the methodology….

I am a huge fan of the British “River Cottage” series with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – I might just start my own “River Cottage” here except that I’ll have a kung fu school and a restaurant serving home grown vegetable and produce that are free from ….you know all that chemicals laden fertilizers and feeds – everything reverted to time-honored modes.

Now, that’ll be the day……

Okay before I continue “daydreaming” here is another clip found on a mainland site – don’t know much about the details except that many of the qinna techniques bring to mind a book in my collection – published before WW2, this is a “Bak Siulam” 2 men routine that was incorporated into JinWu training syllabus.

Don’t know if it is still practiced these days in JinWu but I remember watching performance of this when I was just but a kid in Singapore in the 60s …..

Hmmmm daydreaming – maybe that would send out some “energies” to attract some positive circumstances to attain my “River Cottage”……. Hahahahaha……..