After the break ……

August 17, 2010

Hey folks,

Again I find myself telling you that no; I am not deserting this blog but that too many things just popped up concurrently making sitting down in front of my computer turned  into some scheduling……

Also sadly, my partner’s (for the last 11 – 12 years) elder sister passed away after 2 -3 years of struggle with cancer; all that chemo, radiations, drugs both western and eastern….. I don’t know…..what I do know is that our prayers are with her to go to a better place…..

Then with our new training center seeing good response, we have about 15 new intakes since words got out, Por Suk’s visit to share his Ban Chung Wing Chun – all these took some nifty coordinating from my staff.

Not forgetting that we got to squeeze in some R&R time for Por Suk to be a tourist since this is his first time in Sarawak. Even then, we spent most of the time talking about TCMA.

And when Por Suk revealed that he does a very rare Hung Gar form – “Buddha Crane Palm”, I persuaded him to pose the form for me to shoot…in the middle of a Chinese temple we were suppose to be just visiting….. Must have spooked the other tourists …hahahahaha

I will talk more about this uncommon Hung Gar form and another “monkey cudgel” form that he does – forms that I remember vaguely reading about in some real old books and thought no longer practiced today…..

Once again proving how little I really know ….

Good health to all of you.

“Dojo Rat”

May 18, 2010

Received an email from a gentleman, John Titus, who runs a blog named “Dojo Rat”…… click here.

I browsed this a little and …. really… nice….

But what is with the “rat” ???

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 ……

Simply simple…..

March 29, 2010

Okay, back to talking shop …. To a salient point that I’ve been trying to make, like forever, in this blog and forums that I used to take part.

Kung Fu, the art of Fighting, is meant to be SIMPLE!

The objective is to take your opponent out in the shortest possible time with the upmost efficiency you are capable and this is a function of the sum total of your training.

Every component of your training must be to achieve this end regardless whether it is conditionings, techniques and even understanding of the principles behind the techniques.

If your Kung Fu revolves around “esoteric”, intricate and tougher than neuroscience type that need special “key” to unlock – I say “Kung Fooey”……………..

Working with TCMA masters around here these last few years, I come away with the certain perception that after spending an average of 4 – 5 decades, these masters become so polished with a just few techniques, executed at such high levels that it’s scary touching hands with any of them.

Each time I try something, they got their hands in my face – menacing I say …….

And with many of them, their fighting philosophies is really straightforward – to be fast, accurate and ruthless – attributes that they devote decades to achieve with their conditionings, forms, sparring or working with apparatus unique to each individual system.

Herein could be one of the reasons I stayed out of forum discussions these days …. I am okay with micro-viewing details and all that …..

But when you have folks adding legs to snakes, playing scissors, papers and stones and some just plain blowing smoke – all purportedly in the name of TCKF ……

It’s time to mosey along…..

Got a clip here for you showing Wu (Hao) Taiji Quan sample applications from their system.

Nothing fancy, just direct application of classical techniques that could be found in almost all Taiji streams.

Well, at least, none of that you touch me and you fly like a butterfly gag.

Now maybe if I sting you first ……hmmmmmmmmmmm……..

Yeah yeah I know, I am starting to lag a little in updating this blog ….. but then you gotta see the amount of work I’ve got piling up on my work bench.

Yup, I got a work bench as opposed to a regular table, just like a carpenter’s hahahaha …. At least, equally messy with tools lying around everywhere.

Well, with 4 cats, staying orderly is quite mission impossible; maybe I should leash them up ….. Nah, that’s mean.

Okay, before I do anything else, I just want to thank those who have written in with your encouraging words; I am particularly touched by those from mainland and I just want you to know that it’s okay to write in Mandarin.

And yes, it is time to really  “fulfill the circle and appreciate the fullness”……. Again, Xie Xie.

Got another mainland clip here to share and this time the spotlight is on the application of “tiger” technique from Hsing Yi.

From the form, to formal and then free style application, this clip kinda make me wish that all forum discussions are conducted in this manner and not so much of that I can piss further than you shouting matches.

Or mystification of TCKF that I thought went out with the “White Lotus” Sect……..

Phew…what a way to start the new working year….with a meeting with none other than the Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak himself, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr. George Chan.

So for about an hour, we were discussing a project that the company is spearheading and when you’re dealing with the DCM of the country, you want to be on your toes and your figures at your finger tips……

Can you imagine the preparatory work that went into the blue print?

So once again, don’t let it be said or even whispered that I don’t have to work for a living and on top of that, not more than an hour after I left the DCM’s office, a call came in on my cell to tell me that the authorities over at Penang want to see me about another MA event that they are setting up for the end of this year.

Got to get my traveling gears ready again …. Not that I mind this, another chance to play with Por Suk …. Nice ……..

But before any of that, I was checking the Hsing Yi form clip that I posted over on youtube earlier and noticed some comments about; is this wushu or traditional was asked.

Well, how do you demarcate really … with other forms, maybe, the distinction is easier to spot but with this Hsing Yi form ,which to my eyes , an traditional form granted done in a “exaggerated” manner plus this is taken from an traditional form competition, I really don’t want to be to quick to call.

Hmmm, maybe my Chinese Wushu coach friend is right; traditional forms are simply “modern Wushu” forms done “shabbily”…not that I concur with him, you understand.

But he does both, so maybe he is on to something.

Anyway, I got another Hsing Yi clip here and this time, I am pretty sure most of you would agree that there are traditional standards.

This whole issue is almost like the argument that you hear a lot lately – is sport fighting really “fighting”. If it is not, so what are they doing in the ring is one contention.

Then I remember when I was in Denver last and during one lunch with some MA friends, the topic of “Ultimate Fight Challenge” was raised.

So what is so “ultimate” a friend asked? Who died already?

Isn’t that the “ultimate” of fighting?

Well, folks, it’s getting late and I don’t really want to get into semantics.

My position is simply this; we can all debate until our faces turn blue or any other colors but when your trainings and skills are really tested…..

Just make sure the red you see is from the other person or persons.

Talking war on paper is in the words of Por Suk, nothing more than “farn farn” or “play play”…….

I am back.

January 10, 2010

Aha I am back; some of you must be thinking:-

  • I have forsaken this blog to become like tumbleweed sweeping across the deserts of cyber world.
  • Taking a hiatus, lying on the beach somewhere soaking in the sun and checking out the 2-piece ……hahahaha…

Actually ….. Nope……I was moving and if that  wasn’t enough, I got to sprain my back moving all those big boxes etc etc etc and there were lots of etcs……

Then it took them more than a week to re-hook my internet and it was raining and arrrrrgggh it is all Murphy’s fault!!!!

Him and his “every that could go wrong will go wrong” truism!!!

Annnyway, I ended up going to the grandson of the late Huang Xin Xien for some TCM treatment and now at least the pain is bearable.

Got to remember that I am 25 no more, maybe that is the real problem; I am losing my memory…..

Okay okay enough complaining and back to “business” and I want to talk a little about this big dichotomy of “internal” and “external” TCKF.

A little googling and you won’t believe the number of sites opining about this and we are concentrating on  English sites only, I have yet to search in Mandarin.

Here is something from one of the sites that I skimmed:-

There is a lot out there on the subject of internal and external martial arts. A lot of it is very good information, some is pitched as a marketing approach; other information could be attributed in either ignorance, or arrogance. There may be more then one truth here. I think that the meaning of internal and external martial arts has changed over many years.

The original distinction between external and internal martial arts comes from Huang Zongxi’s 1669 Epitaph for Wang Zhengnan. The identification of the internal martial arts with the Taoism indigenous to China, and its identification of the external martial arts with the foreign Buddhism of Shaolin, and the Manchu Qing Dynasty to which Huang Zongxi was opposed. This may have been an act of political defiance rather than one of technical classification.

What people speak of today as differences in internal and external, tend to refer to principles, and interpretation of such principles. I think this line of thinking may have started being promoted around the mid 1800’s with Yang Lu Chan, and became widely accepted in the 1920’s-1930’s.

I think the reason that the three sisters (Hsing-I, Bagua, and Tai Chi) are generally thought of as the only internal systems, is due to Sun Lu Tang who practiced and taught, these three systems. Sun Lu Tang lived from 1860 yo 1933, and taught until 1928. He was a very prominent practitioner of his day.

Regardless of the origin of this classification scheme, Chinese martial art styles have external and internal components. Classification is only where the initial emphasis of a particular style is, and should not be considered an absolute division.

For more, click here.

Really, more than enough have been published on this subject and all you got to do is look.

Here’s a nice Hsing Yi form; a style considered by many scholars to be the “original and oldest internal” style and we are not talking wannabes hypothesizing after reading a few books,

Well, it’s good to be back ….. enjoy……

I love Chinese Kung Fu.

And I presume many of you reading this blog are on the same red boat with me.

After spending most part of my life learning, teaching and now, hopefully contributing to the research, preservation and propagation, I just want to express some angst and wishes at the start of the New Year, soon to be the year of Tiger for the Chinese.

  • Be realistic – Of all the valuable lessons taught by the many Sifus, mentors, elders and seniors, this has got to be the one that stands out. The Chinese, notwithstanding what you may have been told, are very pragmatic survivors. Throughout history, even with the many cataclysms, they are still tenaciously prospering every where they call home. And we all know that mainland China is one her way to “superpower” status and it doesn’t look like anything is going to stop that development.  My own experience growing up on the small island of Singapore is statement enough to the doggedness, malleability and judiciousness of the Chinese.  Singapore today can proudly declare to the world that “I did it my way”……….
  • The world of CKF is a compound one with so much folklores, superstitions and these days, dodgy snake oil peddlers selling all varieties of half baked reproductions; it is easy to be beguiled as some of them are very persuasive. Personally, I still say the proof is in the pudding. You can make all sorts of claims but the question really is, can you deliver? You can tell me that you are internal/external or nocturnal for all I care but in the final analysis, what is your Kung Fu??? I want to share an incident here, not to put anyone or any style down, but many years ago a “foreign” teacher wanted to start a class in the Singapore Amateur Instructors Association’s training facilities. This “foreign” teacher came with a very impressive CV endorsed by many elite organizations of TCMA and a demo was arranged for him to introduce his stuff. With a couple of his students, he took the floor and was soon throwing his students about like beach balls. Extolling the power of “internal” training, he invited the audience to test his skills. This proved to be a very unintelligent move on his part. Sitting in the audience that day were some of the best free sparring champions Singapore ever produced and half of them are from the “Iron Fist” Saolim group. I know some of them personally and I’ll tell you that you don’t want to try them and their no-nonsense bones breaking skill sets; legacy left behind by none other that the late Saolim Chief Abbot, Venerable Sek koh Sum, a name spoken with high respect even today with mainland Shaolin. Anyway, to keep a long story short, that foreign teacher was floored with just one single punch to his solar plexus area and had to be carried out and he left Singapore not long after that. In recent times, I heard from someone that he has hit big-time over in the West with his “internal I touch you and you fly mumbo jumbo”.
  • I received an email from a stranger, the kind that gets no respect from me, a while back. Hey, if you want to say something, say it in the open, veils are for the ladies and sissies….. So this thing asked how could I be dishing “chi” and “internal jin” since I belong to a White Crane group with intimate relation to the late Sarawak GM Huang Xin Xien? I want to take this opportunity to set the record straight once and for all…. I never studied with the late Huang, not his White Crane or Taiji. He was teaching at my Fuzhou school as a “guest” teacher and yes I did touch hands with him on the directions of my own teachers. Also, yes he did slam me into the cushioned walls that we had in the school. But it’s nothing like that “touch and fly” situation that you see in some of his clips. Why? Maybe because I was really “fighting” him and not engaged in Taiji push hands’ neutralizing and off setting balance routine that most of his clips are about. GM Huang was undeniably a superb Taiji push hand expert but how many of you have seen the efforts he put in to acquire his power …really how many??? Even today, if you visit his school here in Kuching, you’ll see a hanging bag weighing at least 300lbs that his descendants use for pushing training and visiting his most senior student in Sibu Sarawak, Zhi Choon Fei, I saw pretty much the same apparatus and training methods. So what so special about “internal” training??? Everything is about “hard work” – the blood, sweat and tears that you cannot avoid. Most masters, after years of honing, make it look “effortless”….. And if you think the late GM Huang was undefeatable then you don’t really know much about him at all. He lost to a Long Fist exponent in a fight in Taiwan even after attaining his “champion” status in the world of internal martial arts. You are also liable to hear how he  picked to teach his Taiji over White Crane and some folks even suggest that Taiji is a more “refined” art…..well, all I want to say is this, many  in  Sarawak know about his encounter with the other White Crane giant, GM Huang Yi Ing and their agreement not to overlap in their teaching syllabus and in Singapore, his version of “soft” White Crane was frowned upon by many White Crane elders who saw it as his own hybridized “Taiji White Crane” blend. Many of us still keep to the unique “half hard half soft” principles that Fuzhou White Crane is based upon. And as for GM Huang, he is more remembered as a Taiji master and his White Crane background takes a back seat.
  • So to repeat, I am not “dishing” or scorning “chi” except that I don’t believe in the “extraordinary” powers that some might have you believe. I guess you could say that in my 40 plus years involvement in TCMA and having met countless internal/external exponents, I have yet to be convinced of the some of the things attributed to “chi”. CKF is really nothing more than training hard and smart. I come from the old school that teaches courage, power, skill and no short cuts. You want a killer-punch or a kick that breaks rib cage, you put in the sweat.  You want to stand up against a professional fighter and win; you better train harder than him. Even then, if you don’t have his ring’s experience, it’s going to be an uphill task. Free-sparring in your own school and in front of an audience, as any experienced fighter will tell you, are 2 totally different games.
  • The world of TCMA is so fragmented these days that it pains me to read some of the squabbling going on sometimes even within the same styles of lineages. What is this all about? Everybody wants to be king? I think real kung fu people are exceptional, at least the ones I’ve met so far; they are usually modest (really) and disciplined in a way that only genuine kung fu peoples understand. It is truly like what the Germans say “The more noble, the more humble” … what happened to qualities like that in this world today. As descendants of a highly revered tradition, I humbly think we should be exemplary in the societies/communities that we live in just like the way the old masters did. Our attitudes and deeds, more than our skill, affect the fame or shame of our lineage and ancestry

And with the New Year, there is nothing that I wish more than to see more positive energies going into the conservation of authentic CKF. With the mainland opening up, better relationship with Taiwan and the internet making communications more convenient, the time is now for more to come together and salvage some of the art forms on the brink of dying out.

Hey if tiny itsy little moi can bring some 20 plus high hands from 6 countries to a place call Penang and intermingle…… envisage what else is doable….if we put our heads and hands together.

Cheers.

And now, a Taiwan documentary reporting on the past and present status of traditional CKF; I recommend this to anyone interested in the migration and evolution of TCKF after leaving the motherland…..

Back in 2007 when we did our TCMA gathering in Penang, I had Singing Crane teacher Ruan Dong (Changle China), Feeding Crane teacher Liu Chang I (Taiwan), Wuzu teacher Xiong De Lu (Sibu Sarawak) and Taizu teacher Teo Choon Teck (Singapore) for breakfast the morning before the event and the same topic was discussed.

Comparing notes on how the various Fukien/Fuzhou styles progressed after leaving China and interestingly, this Taiwanese documentary theme parallel what we observed that morning.

The ups and downs of TCMA in Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore went through an almost similar pattern…..

Many are suggesting that the future of TCMA lies with Sanda; getting exponents from diverse styles to agree to a standardized set of rules and compete; like the Lei Tais of old without the “kill”.

Select and stipulate traditional forms for competition was another idea tossed around.

I got to admit that these will benefit TCMA; organized MAs have been proven to fare better and these days, generally MAs training is really more a sport/recreation than a mean of survival.

Having said that, I am also aware of many old schools that are unwilling to take part in any of these which they view as “compromising” even when faced with the threat of extinction due to their harsh training regimen eschewed by most these days.

Then like I said before, the truth is always somewhere in the middle.

Yes, the old ways are important as a cultural heritage but in order to attract the new generation, you got to “repackage” it.

And it’s this “repackaging” that we got to be real careful.

You need folks who really know to know whether things are right or not, you change the form and shape but not the spirit ….something like that.

Okay back to the Taiwanese documentary….. In part 1 the commentator said that 3 of the major southern arts that resettled there are Golden Eagle, Southern Monkey and Crane….

I am a little disappointed that the Liu’s family Feeding Crane is not included….they must be one of the most visible Crane arts these days……

Hsing Yi 2 man form.

January 1, 2010

Those of you who been with me for while would be aware about my thoughts of how Hsing Yi might have played a role in the shaping of some Fuzhou Cranes….

And no, this is not my exclusive idea, not by a long stretch…..

For the longest time, all the Fuzhou sifus and elders my mentors, were probing this by more than evaluating techniques and concepts but also, sieving through old texts brought along by Fuzhou pioneers in Singapore/Malaysia some 100 – 200 years ago.

There is a reason why most Fuzhou Cranes are also frequently known as “Pwan Gain Noon” translated approximately into “midway between hard and soft” – it’s the particular trait that identify Fuzhou Cranes.

Too hard or too soft is to diverge from the traditions and Crane students spend the first few years of their training attaining this state in every technique that they execute.

So you can imagine how hard it was for me when I first started; with my Soalim “chuck luk” or “joint power” training and trying to switch over to a system that advocate something that is so unlike.

I remember asking my teacher why Hsing Yi, besides the apparent 5 elements concept that we seem to share; in fact, the original Fuzhou text looks like a replica….

And just like the other source of influence, Shaolin Lohan, many lines of Fuzhou Cranes still maintain Lohan forms and in my lineage’s case, Hsing Yi like 2 man routines.

So you can understand my interest in Hsing Yi and here from 56 is an excellently performed Hsing Yi 2 man form.

I love it, I tell you.

Enjoy.