Just in case you can’t find this, click here.

Good to know mainland’s perception of TCMA and Wushu……..

Malacca Mantis.

May 2, 2010

Another email received :-

“hi, i’m shervmen loi from malacca. i had visited your blog. you had done a very good job in trying to preserve traditional wushu. here in malacca also i can tell you that traditional wushu has been sidelined just to make way for the development of modern wushu. traditionalist like me were not many nowaday in malacca. i specialized in the seven stars mantis boxing under the lineage of luo guang yu. i had started my own blog since january 2010. here is the address, http://melakawushu.blogspot.com

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……..

大鸿拳.

February 5, 2010

Ooops, with the CNY holidays forthcoming, I am trying to tie up as much as possible before the 1 week or so slack-off time; to binge on foods and drinks with relatives and friends ….. hey typical Chinese “family” time.

“To eat is to prosper and to gamble is naught”  … now how many times have I been reminded of this? But then again, to binge on calories and cholesterols laden food is gambling with your health, no???

But once a year, you get to push logic back and just be.

So what have I got to share today?

A Dahongquan clip 大鸿拳 clip that I found and folks, please this is not Shaolin’s Dahong or “Vast Red” or Canton Hong Quan or Hungga.

The Hong here is the Chinese character for a “mythical” bird and you can go to Baidu for some background info.

Here’s a link that you might like – click here.

An article about fading art forms over on the mainland.

Now this rings a bell – oh that’s precisely the same state of affairs that we are facing in SE Asia. The hundreds of styles that got transplanted in the last few hundred years; many are now just nothing but a mention in some old books or archives.

And on that note, I wish you happy weekends.

Back to blog.

February 1, 2010

Oooookay dokey ……now that I’ve got most of my paperWorks out of the way, it’s time to get down and …..get ready of CNY 2010 …….party- time……..hahahaha…..

Just kidding – I am doing a little housekeeping so-to-speak; going through files that I downloaded from all over mainland sites and putting some of them here for those of you who can’t navigate in Mandarin.

Only thing is, there are so many clips and I am running out of space to store them….really…and burning discs is not really my thing …..the last thing I need now is more books and discs.

So, I am starting with this short little clip of 7 Stars Praying Mantis GM Lee Kam Wing, a personal friend of my Tai Chor Sifu, Ah Teck.

I think most of you in the western world got to know him through the English PM book written by Leong Ting and guess what, it is still available here – Mr. Mancuso’s Plumpub.

Click here.

This is GM Lee’s site :- click here.

And here is the clip.

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……

13 links chain whip.

December 28, 2009

“Spit the spear head, go into a figure 8 flower, catch the spear head and spin around to spit it out again ……………..”

Hahahaha, I started this weapon in my teen years and then gave it up …. Why???

The folly of youth it must be and now, I am totally regretting it.

And already, I am too old a dog to learn anything new ….

Woof woof …… meaow …..hahahaha…

From the horse’s mouth.

December 27, 2009

Another well produced CCTV TCMA documentary and here you’ll see excerpts from the “San Huang Pao Chui” or “3 Royal Cannon Fist” episode.

I really love all these continuing efforts over on the mainland, now that conditions are more liberated, TCMA families are becoming more vocal than during the “Cultural Revolution” era…..

The best part must be all that visiting and interviewing the actual descendants of some of the most well-known CKF systems, you’ll get to hear the genuine histories and mechanisms of the various art forms.

Folks, if you understand Mandarin, you’ll know what I mean and if you don’t, let me just say that much of what is popularly circulated now regarding histories etc etc about CKF is nothing more than just work of fiction.

I am working on the “Hong Jia” or “Hungga” piece that I downloaded and I got to tell you, I am finding out how much of what is known as Hungga is just movie industries’ creative story telling……