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.

Oookay, this is becoming a regular – meetings, brainstorming, working with my “resident-writer”, interviewing folks for our upcoming book and to top it of, I have to get the school ready for Por Suk’s visit next month.

Met up with one Dr. Lum, a demographer, and thru him, a clearer picture is emerging – the early days’ Chinese migration to these parts breakdown by dialect groups and their destinations all over Borneo.

Dr. Lum has written a few books on this topic and serves as a consultant to many clan associations all over Sarawak….a bona fide authority in these matters.

The interview session took me a step closer to understanding the heavy influx of Canton based art forms which is baffling seeing how Cantonese is a minor dialect group these days. Back then, Miri an “oil town”, was drawing many British and along with them came the Hong Kongers who were primarily working for the British.

Then I have to discuss details of Por Suk’s forthcoming visit which will include a 2 days’ workshop we got planned to launch the new school site. There will be press releases, invitations and etc etc to look into … someone got to get everything coordinated ……we want Por Suk to really enjoy his stay.

So there you go …..

Here’s one of Por Suk more recent clips taken from his blogsite :-  his student doing Siu Nim Tau and you’ll find more at his youtube channel…..

Don’t know this guy personally but sometime back we received a note from his organization – not a very pleasant one in fact …..

I had invited some Yip Kin WCK exponents from Kuala Lumpur to perform in our “Martial Arts Gathering 2007” show held in Penang and the letter suggested that we need to seek his federation’s approval or endorsement of sort; the letter even assumed the tone that they are the umbrella body overseeing all things Wing Chun in Malaysia.

Later, I filed that letter in my other “OUT” bin – trashcan I mean….

I did ask around about him and really, feedbacks were not too kind ….so there you go ……

Now with allegations of extortion and cheating, the situation might just get “sticky” for our friend.

Hope his “chi sao” skills are strong.

Full story here. (in English)

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.

Greetings from Por Suk.

February 14, 2010

Got a call from Por Suk today and his CNY Greetings; it has been awhile since I checked out his blog – been super busy lately preparing 2010 project papers – you know “WORK” !

Anyway, Por Suk (Opera Wing Chun GM), also told that he has got recent blog entries about Chas’ training stint with him, that plus a couple of CNY Greetings video clips.

Check it out…click here……

More pearls.

January 25, 2010

Well here we go – 3 pics from this Penang trip.

Top pic : when they say Penang is at the crossroad of East/West for the last few hundred years and that today you’ll see a exotic mix of East and West cultures, I think this pic represents that succinctly. It is not everyday that you see a Coke disc displayed right next to a “Guan Kong” altar. I took this during lunch at one of the many  coffee shops along Gurney Drive.

Middle pic : So you think you know everything about “Yong Chun” or “Ever Spring” hah! But did you know that in Penang, Yong Chun is also into trading??? What did I tell you, the more you think you know the lesser you really know ….. duh huh ?????

Bottom pic : Errrh, from the film set of “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” or maybe you’ll see Wong Fei Hung stepping out of that door? Actually, this is a part of “Khoo Kongsi” and if you don’t know what I am talking about, click here.

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……

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?

More than the eyes can see.

December 19, 2009

If your opinion of forms is nothing more than techniques stringed together like a techniques cache, you’re not wrong.

On the other hand, you are not 100 percent right either …..

Forms exist for many objectives besides the obvious.

Using my Fuzhou Cranes as reference, forms are there to teach you principles and concepts first gestated by the founder.

The principles/concepts could be fighting stratagems, power generations and flows etc etc…techniques are products of these.

In Fuzhou Crane we are taught 12 main principles and the 12 forms taught focus on these core principles; there could be overlapping in some forms but the format is to cover at least one per form.

And every form is supplemented by the “kuit” or “poem” which facilitates the comprehension of the purpose of the form.

One of our form trains you to move into the fourth gate the moment your opponent advances and if you were to interpret the form the conventional way, it makes no sense.

Every technique in that form is executed from both the inner or outer fourth gate position and this becomes very apparent when you move on to the 2 man drill after learning the solo form.

Many traditional teachers are careful with whom they pass these knowledge to and even within the same school, not all receive the same knowledge.

I know I know, some of you are thinking that this is a very archaic and outmoded way of teaching but when it comes to teaching knowledge that could harm limbs or lives; you want to be really cautious.

Got a clip here for you and I think this is from Fuqing Shaking Crane.

Look at some of the movements in the form; they don’t look like “fight” techniques right?

But after spending so long a time in the Crane arts, I will tell you that they are there to train some qualities that only an insider would understand.

Enjoy.

Pan Nam WCK.

December 17, 2009

The Japanese says “十人十色 jūnin toiro”, or” ten men, ten colors” which is another way of saying “To each his/her own. / Different strokes for different folks.”

The French has their “Chacun voit midi à sa porte” which literally means “Everyone sees noon at his door.”

In CKF, we often hear “Different temple, different Buddha” because even within a family, things are never absolutely identical.

All teachers, I believe add in their personal touch; you know accentuate this and play down that, this is to be expected. Some “enhance” by adding in new elements and other just want to stamp their own mark onto the art.

We are human after all ……

Now what is not “humane” is to pilfer “identity”; simply sticking a time-honored name/identity to some cut and paste creation and attempting to sell it as the authentic traditional product.

To that, I just want to say that the Chinese got another saying that should be noted – “Paper cannot wrap fire”.

Here’s a clip of some Pan Nam WCK techniques – not exactly the WCK you would imagine particularly if your exposure is limited to Yip Man’s WCK.

Again “cada maestrito con su librito”……