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……

3 leggged Tiger.

December 30, 2009

Another remark here, with the mainland now more connected with the rest of the world and easier flow of info, back and forth, many hitherto only read about styles are beginning to come out in many TV programs and d-i-y online video sites.

If like me, you frequent these sites, you will know what I am talking about. Even around here, every Saturday afternoons I was told, there is a “Super SanDa” series that is beamed to this region…now all I need is one of those TV satellite dishes…. You know, those ugly looking thing that I am sure are magnets for lightning …. Nah ….I can live without sanda, super or not hahahaha…..I definitely don’t need to attract lightning…

Annnyway………you often hear the term “village style” being used in forum discussions etc ….and have you ever stop to ask what is a “village style”???

So, I suppose there must be an equal and opposite “city style” for every “village style” mentioned?

Or is this just another way of saying “I have never heard or seen this style since it was never featured in any popular movies, magazines , books and most importantly, it is not on Youtube! And my only knowledge of CKF is delivered in those medias”…… or the term is a convenient category for anything that I know next to nothing about?

Well, every style got to begin somewhere and something tells me it is probably in some quiet environments that the founder can focus on developing his/her art; most movies would have you believe that it is some mountains, temples or in a sparsely populated neighborhood – you don’t need busybodies peeping ……

Ooookay, I am going to stretch and say that most styles had a “humble” village beginning and some take their arts to the big cities, military or other institutions and from them acquire that “city” status and probably, fame and fortune. Other just remained in the communities where they started with no city ambitions – hey to each his own, go with the flow, the way of the Tao blah blah blah…..

My problem is when folks belittle “village” styles; please remember for every city, there must be 10 fold that number of villages.

Again, bear in mind what Bob said:-

Don’t criticize what you can’t understand.

Or worse, something you know absolutely nothing about.

Here from a village style, a form named “3 Legged Tiger”…..

Lingnan Hong Quan / Hung Gar.

December 29, 2009

Mention “Hung Gar” or “Hong Jia”, the images evoked; predictably, revolve around Southern Shaolin, Gee Shim, Hong Si Guan, Wong Fei Hung, Lam Sai Weng and “Tiger Crane”, “5 Animals”, “5 Elements 5 Animals”, “Iron Wire” and “Ng Long Pak Kua Kwon”…..

In a nutshell, materials for many Kung Fu movies that flooded the market from the 60s till even today.

Hey, many Asian action movie stars owe their success to “Hung Gar” … so to speak and the audiences, first in Asia and now international, just couldn’t get enough.

Many movies/TV series are still being churned out with “Hung Gar” as the theme.

Even CKF magazines from that era are slanted towards Hung Gar.

So the common perception of Hung Gar is pretty much shaped by these popular medias and it is no question that Hung Gar is one of most popular CKF now.

Then some 15 yrs back I started looking deeper into the correlation between Fukien and Cantonese styles, since every account put most Cantonese styles as offshoots from Fukien sources, and even Hong Si Guan is recorded to be a Fukienese.

My fundamental issue was why most Fukien and Cantonese styles appear so dissimilar in terms of textures and flavors, why the big chasm?

Local evolution or did the history man had it wrong? Compare any Fukien styles with Hung Gar and I think you will see the dilemma.

If the case was local evolution, then there must exist somewhere, a “midway” form that carries the Fukien characteristics.

Look at Zhejiang, the other place where many Fukien styles fled to during the Ching Dynasty and many art forms there still show evidence of Fukien boxing.

And when mainland started opening up, books about Hung Gar started appearing in the market and the first thing I noticed is that their version of Hung Gar is nothing like the Hung Gar that we are all so used to.

And we are not talking one author and one book here …..

This prompted the question in my mind; could the popular Hung Gar be just but one line and there are many that still maintain their Fukien character?

I think this CCTV documentary entitled “Lingnan Hong Quan” answers that amply for me.

An entire small village with some 1000 plus inhabitants all doing the same kung fu, generation after generation and keeping everything unchanged.

They spend 3 years training their stance because to them, all power comes from the legs.

These are folks who do “4 level stances” for up to 1 and half hours at a time ……and the “Hung Gar” they do and have been doing for the last few hundred years …… you tell me……

And listen to the commentary, for the line that says “Most traditional CKF after been brought onto the big screen, have been transformed to the point that the original form is no longer recognizable”.

I find myself agreeing with that entirely….

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……

This is a topic that was first discussed over a dinner in Penang; the week that Chas and I visited…..

With some 8 CKF masters invited, so what else would we be talking about except traditional kung fu?

One master brought up the subject of authenticities and how these days many are just unethically misleading by calling what they teach “authentic” CKF and using whatever names they feel like.

With the easy access of info online, many are just cutting and pasting and putting their own brew to the public as the original thing; when you ask them for lineages and ancestries, you can bet your last dollar that you either get a lot of smoke or hear their contention that these are irrelevant.

The master then went on to say that if the table was turned like for example you are caught selling Rolex, Nike, Prada or Apple knock-offs, you will be liable for all sorts of violation penalties….as we all know.

So what is the difference, he asked? Who is to say that it is acceptable to just plagiarize cultural identities and not brand names???

And even more disdainful is that now you have some of these cultural counterfeiters turning around challenging the very people who created the art forms for originalities!!!

Picture me going to KFC and telling them I am more “real” because I managed to uncover the Colonel’s secret recipe book he left behind during one of his visits, real or imagined, to Asia…..ludicrous is an understatement here right?

Yet this is happening everyday – go to any forum and some websites and you are going to find all sorts of mavericks telling the world that they know better than the founders and their legit descendants.

Then you also got some who are attempting to “amend” the history of CKF disregarding the fact that they are many writings/documents that are passed down through the centuries within clans and families, something that is still very much alive in proper CKF families everywhere…..

Well, what can I say???

Except maybe that we live in a different time and nothing surprises me anymore, really.

And that I’ll walk my sunlit path and these folks can walk their single-wood bridge …….

Here’s an old pic that you see some White Crane sites displaying……

Folks, many of the descendants of those in the pic are still around and these days, they are making themselves heard.

Red Fist.

December 25, 2009

Hong quan/red fist

History:This is a Northern long fist school that is often synonymous with Shaolin. Its origin is unclear, but some attribute it to Song Taizu, the first Song emperor. Others believe that the word Hong is used because as an analogy to “bright” or “good looking”. Because of this ambiguity and the overlap with the popular Southern style Hung Gar, this has been one of the most muddled terms in Gungfu.

Hong Quan focuses on absorbing the adversary’s energy with a soft outside and a hard inside. Many of its forms are an important part of the Shaolin Temple curriculum. These include xiaohongquan (small red fist), dahongquan (big red fist), zhonghongquan (middle red fist), laohongquan (old red fist), fenhongquan (pink fist), taizuhongquan (first emperor fist), erluhongquan (second form red fist), guangxihongquan (Guangxi province red fist) and changshaohongquan (long and short red fist)…….

This must be my 2nd or 3rd entry about Red Fist, believed by many scholars to be a forerunner in the world of CKF.

There are also those who would tell you that this style is a major source of influence with both Northern and Southern styles stable.

In recent times, with the increasing emergence of info including videos, evaluation is made a whole lot easier; now we can all examine some of the long held viewpoints and theories about Hong Quan.

Personally, after going through quite a bit of Hong Quan books and videos, it’s hard to miss the many commonalties between Hong Quan and many northern/southern styles still in practice today.

One thing for sure, this is a “straightforward” system, with many of their movements you could see the “fight” ……straightaway………….

Kung fu ezine article.

December 25, 2009

Zhang Lipeng: It is. It’s the spirit. It’s over. It’s over. Do you know why it’s over? Because the modern style, you don’t need martial arts to protect the country. You don’t need martial arts to protect your life. Nobody’s going to kill you. In history, everybody would carry a big knife, a straight sword. It didn’t matter where you went, if you went into a restaurant you would still carry a knife because you always had to defend yourself. Right now, if you want to kill somebody, you shoot him – you have a gun; you don’t have to spend twenty years stuck in a mountain to do training. You don’t need that stuff for revenge. That’s why the history martial arts will slowly disappear.

Here is a “Kung Fu Magazine” ezine article :-

Interview with former Shaolin monk, Zhang Lipeng

by Barbara Malvik …….click here.

Errrh, what I have been saying all along in this blog ……………………..

Flower Power.

December 24, 2009

Hua Quan or Flower Fist, founded by Gan/Kang/Kan (depending on your spelling convention) Fengchi, is another one of those heard and not often seen styles.

Not to be mistaken for Hua or Chinese Fist, the long-range northern style that is always mentioned in the same breath as Cha, Pao and Chang Quan.

Hua is the same pronunciation of both “flower” and “Chinese”…….

Featured in many wuxia novels, Hua Quan, according to description, is a short fast hands system.

Here from chinavoc is a concise depiction:-

Hua Quan (Flower-style Chuan )

Hua Quan or the flower-style Chuan is a close-range fist play which is said to have been taught by Gan Fengchi of Nanjing in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces during the early Qing Dynasty (1662-1735) The flower-style Chuan starts with a gesture whereby the boxer uses his or her right hand to palm the back of the left clenched fist facing outside. The boxer forms the arms into a circle and draws an arc in a clockwise direction in front of the chest. This was said to mean opposing the Qing Dynasty and rehabilitating the preceding Ming Dynasty.

The flower-style Chuan has 120 forms of Sanshou, 72 holding and strangle holding techniques, 36 leg techniques, 24 stances and 88 falling tricks. It can be viewed as a collection of wrestling and falling methods. A veteran boxer can co-ordinate his up and down, right and left movements and actions without any trouble. As soon as he touches, the opponent is thrown to the ground. The wrestling and falling methods of the flower Chuan can supplement those of the Chinese style of wrestling and can also complement the skills of Chinese hand pushing.

And another article about Gan written by none other than Gene Ching, Kung Fu magazine.

The Shaolin Phoenix.

The video is taken from youku and frankly, the form looks “long-range” to me.

Then again, as usual, what do I know ???

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The bigger picture.

December 21, 2009

Back to the topic of forms, principles and concepts …..

I’m sure there are those out there who think that I am overstating this whole issue; fighting is fighting and all you need to bother with is techniques.

Martial arts training are learning to counter punches, kicks, grapplings and someone wielding a weapon and so on and so forth…..

Well, if that is your sum total of experience and knowledge then I got to say that you got a long, a very long, journey ahead of you.

Could also probably explain why there are those who feel that “forms” are superfluous… to them these are nothing more than many techniques done in succession, so what is the point?

Might as well do technique singly and do away with all the ceremonial movements and postures that are from an “alien” culture in the first place; hey who cares about overthrowing the Ching to restore the Ming right? Why bother to do techniques thrice, what has the 5 elements got to do with fighting and who care about the red boats …and so on.

I really don’t know which is true, that these learning folks did not attain that level or the person teaching them doesn’t have it either.

Most CKF systems begin with a concept; it could be to reproduce the ferocity of a devouring tiger or the unfathomable power generation of a bird as big as a crane to enable taking off into the air.

So when I say implanted in forms are concepts and principles, this is what I am trying to explain; many of the “techniques” are not “fight” techniques per se.

They could be there for you to train for the power you need to make your other techniques more efficient or learn to breathe and move to enhance power and speed.

This is the part of my Kung Fu research that makes it fun; looking into the “DNA” so to speak from the founder.

A family could be real old and extended but the DNA should remain the same even if it crosses mountains and oceans.

Earlier on when I spoke broadly about “flavor” distinctiveness, this is precisely what I am getting at.

If you been around TCMA long enough, you’ll know. Every style has its own “personality” that is expressed, some in a very noticeable way and others, only seen by trained eyes. Regardless, its there just like I remember a study done many years in Singapore by some language department from a local university there.

The purpose was to compile and study how different dialect speaker pronounce Mandarin in their own “special” way. I was curious and later found out that to the experts, they could tell your dialect group by the way you speak Mandarin; something that I thought was far-fetched.

Now years on and more traveled, I am beginning to see the truth in that premise.

Got a CCTV documentary here to share with all of you; “sifuwu” extracted some of the forms from this documentary and uploaded them onto youtube as “Hequan” or “Crane Fist”.

Personally I think for those of you, who understand Mandarin, you really ought to watch the whole episode.

Apart from history, relationship to Southern Shaolin, this is by far the best documentary about elemental principles and concepts of Fukien White Crane to have crossed my path.……….

And hey, if you listen to one of the Sifus in the clip, you’ll hear him pronounce “quan” as “qun” …..

Guess what is his dialect?