On the first day of the lei-tai combat, or combat without any rules on a raised platform, Pure Ball Gate where the lei tai was held, was full of people. Cantonese people came in groups, all of them were very angry.
The atmosphere was serious. Hundreds of Looi Hoong’s students, all in black kungfu uniform, were in front of the lei-tai. On the left side was erected a colorful tent. Seated in it were a martial official with tens of soldiers observing the crowd.
Suddenly thunderous drums sounded on the lei-tai. Looi Hoong, the Chief Instructor of the army, in black kungfu dress, eyes shinning and radiating an invincible force, walked to the front of the lei-tai and announced.
“I act on the order of the general and set up this lei-tai to meet heroes of the world. Anyone with ability please come up the lei-tai to test me. If he can punch me once, he will be rewarded with a hundred pieces of gold. If he can kick me once, he will be rewarded with two hundred pieces of gold. If he fells me to the floor, not only he will be rewarded with five hundred pieces of gold, he will also be invited to become an instructor in the army.”
When Looi Hoong just completed his speech, a figure from the crowd flew up to the stage. Greeting Looi Hoong, he said.
“I am unable, and my name is Cheng Loon. I know a bit of fist and staff (i.e. kungfu). Today I present my limited kungfu, seek teaching from sifu. Regarding the rewards, they are not my intention.”
Looi Hoong returned the greeting and said, “There is no need for warrior to be modest. As you have come up the lei-tai, please do not hide your strong points. Let me also seek teaching from you.”
“Well said,” came the reply. “Let’s cross hands.”
Looi Hoong employed a poise pattern called “Hungry Tiger Embraces Head”, with his left tiger-claw at eye-level and his right tiger-claw in front of his chest.
Seeing the poise pattern, Cheng Loon said silently to himself, “Today’s match is unlike combat matches at ordinary times. In a lei-tai match, it is death or serious injury. I must be very careful. It is not easy to attack such a poise pattern. I’ll use ‘stick’ hand as a feign.” So Cheng Loon moved in with a ‘stick’ hand to meet the opponent’s front hand to confuse the opponent’s defence.
But Looi Hoong knew kungfu philosophy well. Seeing how his opponent moved in, he knew it was ‘stick’ hand as a feign move. To use ‘stick’ hand successfully, an exponent must be near to the opponent. The strong point of ‘stick’ hand is the edge of the sticking palm. As soon as their hands ‘stick’, the exponent will shoot, or thrust the palm forward. The exponent will change according to how the opponent responds.
The song-formula of ‘stick’ hand is as follows.
Stick hand is near the body,
If empty, enter the gate.
Courage is all over the body,
Marvelous techniques will win.
Looi Hoong was a kungfu expert. As the opponent moved in, he changed into a pattern called “Black Tiger Steals Heart”, changing his right tiger-claw into a fist, and striking the solar plexus of his opponent, fast and ferocious.
Cheng Loon retreated his stance sideways, and struck Looi Hoong’s elbow with a hanging fist, using a pattern called “Side Body Hang Fist”. As the opponent retreated his arm, Cheng Loon would move forward immediately with a cup fist to the opponent’s chin, using the pattern “Big Boss Offers Wine”.
But Looi Hoong’s eyes were sharp and his movements fast. He drops his elbow to avoid the hanging fist, changing his punch to a tiger-claw, gripping the opponent’s arm and pulling backward, while his front leg blocked the opponent’s front leg to trip the opponent.
Cheng Loon could not avoid this top-bottom attack. He fell forward onto the floor. He clasped his hands in greeting and said.
“Respect and concede defeat. Sifu Looi’s kungfu is extraordinary. Little brother here is no match.”
(“Sifu” means one’s kungfu teacher, but it is frequently used politely for someone whose kungfu is good. “Little brother” refers to the speaker, in this case Cheng Loon.)
Looi Hoong smile gently, returned the greeting and said.
“Warrior’s techniques are also extraordinary. Unfortunately the floor is slippery. It is not because your kungfu is inadequate.”
Classical Hangzhou, picture taken from “Things to Do in Hangzhou” in the internet
Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province of China just south of Yangtze Jiang, the longest river of China, was one of the most beautiful cities in the world. West Lake situated in the west of the city is now a world heritage site.
But the Qing general stationed at Hangzhou was in a depressive mood. He received intelligence that most of the rebels who wanted to overthrow the Qing Dynasty were in south China.
Just then someone jumped in from a window. The general was alert, but the next moment he noticed that the intruder was Looi Hoong, the chief kungfu instructor of his army. Looi Hoong was so good in kungfu that people called him Tiger Looi.
Looi Hoong knelt before the general, and said.
“Sir, you have long looked after me very well, and I didn’t know how to repay you. I’ve noticed that you were depressed the last few days. I guess it is because of the rebels. There is much evidence that most of them are located in south China. I have an idea but I don’t know whether you will like it.”
“Please tell me your idea,” the general said.
“I’ll set up a ‘lei-tai’ in Hangzhou. On the lei-tai I’ll hang two huge banners, which read ‘A punch will strike the whole of Guangzhou’ and ‘a leg will kick Suzhou and Hangzhou’. This will make many people angry. Rebels, who practice kungfu, will challenge me. In this way we can find out more about the rebels.”
“This is an excellent idea.”
Suzhou is another beautiful city of China. There is a saying in Chinese that “there is heaven above, and Su and Hang below”.
So soon at the Gate of Pure Ball in busy Hangzhou, a lei-tai or a platform for kungfu combat was erected with the two huge banners easily seen. In a lei-tai match there were no rules and no referee. The combatants fought until one was killed or conceded defeat. Any injuries were due to the inferiority of the combatants’ combat skill, and no legal action would be taken.
Many people of course were angry with the banners. In Cantonese, they read
Kuen ta Kongtoong yi shang
Khuik tek Su Hoong leong chow
In English they mean
A punch strikes the whole province of Guangdong
A leg kicks the two districts of Suzhou and Hangzhou
Accompanying the banner there was a notice which read as follows.
This is an announcement from the General who is stationed in Hangzhou. The chief instructor of our army, Looi Hoong, is excellent in combat and wishes to meet heroes of the world. Hence this lei-tai is erected so as to meet warriors of four directions. Combat on the lei-tai is sure to cause injuries.
Please note the following rules.
Those in our army are not permitted to take part.
Those who are monks or nuns are not permitted to take part.
Women and girls are not permitted to take part.
Those who take part must not conceal secret weapons.
Spectators cannot employ secret weapons to help any combatant.
Combatants must register their names and addresses.
Any injuries or deaths from the combat are due to heaven’s will, and no action will be taken.
There will be rewards. Any combatant who strikes the owner of the lei-tai with a punch will be rewarded with a hundred pieces of gold. Any combatant who kicks the owner of the lei-tai will be rewarded with two hundred pieces of gold. Any combatant who fells the owner of the lei-tai on the floor of the lei-tai will be rewarded with five hundred pieces of gold.
Do not be greedy of the rewards and loose your life. The lei-tai will be on for one hundred days.
Soon the news spread throughout Hangzhou. At Guangdong Association many people gathered to discuss the lei-tai match. Young men were rowdy and angry, and wanted to take up the challenge to restore the reputation of Guangdong.
The director of the association, Chan Yuk Shi, said.
“It is commendable that so many people want to restore the reputation of Guangdong. But Looi Hoong’s kungfu is very good. He is the chief instructor of the army. Hence, he is supported by the government. Even if we win at the lei-tai, the army will go after us. We are all businessmen. We cannot match the government. If unfortunately some of our challengers are defeated, fists and kicks have no mercy, they just submit their lives. You are all wise people. Please think carefully before taking any action.”
However, a young man spoke loudly.
“I am afraid of his cockerel. Looi Hoong has said that his one fist punches the whole of Guangdong. How many people are there in Guangdong? More than thousands and millions. He insults our ancestors. We still have to think carefully? Director Chan, you are a man from Guangdong. Why do you look at our own people like women and children? Now in this case, if we cannot restore the reputation of Guangdong, we may as well burn the association. We do not want other people to laugh at Guangdong Association.”
The crowd then became rowdy and noisy. Seeing this, Chan Yuk Shi could just shake his head and said nothing.
The modern Southern Shaolin Monastery, picture taken from Google
The following legends, which are based on historical facts, are translated from the book, “Legends from Southern Shaolin” 南少林傳奇, written by Chiew Sek (Cantonese Chinese) in 1993, which Grandmaster Wong bought more than 20 years ago in 1995.
There are some differences between the legends here and those that Grandmaster Wong heard from his father more than 70 years ago in the late 1940s from a Chinese magazine entitled “Legends from Kungfu Knights” 武俠小說王. In reproducing the legends here, Grandmaster Wong made some modifications according to what kungfu masters knew. Some Chinese terms are in figurative language, and their meanings are explained in parenthesis, thus adding to the fun and beauty of the language.
These legends happened after the first burning of the first southern Shaolin Monastery at the City of Quanzhou in Fujian Province, where our patriarch, the Venerable Jiang Nan, escaped. Little is known of the Venerable Jiang Nan because he ran out of China, thus missing the legends that many kungfu exponents were fond of, and passed the Shaolin arts to Sifu Yang Fatt Khuen, who then passed to Sifu Ho Fatt Nam. Grandmaster Wong learned from Sifu Ho Fatt Nam in the 1970s.
Another of our patriarch, the Venerable Chi Seen, also escaped from the first burning of the southern Shaolin Monastery at Quanzhou. He established a second southern Shaolin Monastery on Jiu Lian shan, or the Nine-Lotus Mountain, also in Fujian Province. These legends, which were popular among many Chinese-reading public who were interested in kungfu, occurred after the first burning of the southern Shaolin Monastery at Quanzhou and before the second burning of the southern Shaolin Monastery on the Nine-Lotus Mountain by the Qing army led by Pak Mei.
The northern Shaolin Monastery at Henan was still intact. It was razed to the ground by warlords in 1927, and its burning had nothing to do with kungfu. Before that, an emperor of the Ming Dynasty, which preceded the Qing Dynasty, moved the imperial status of the Shaolin Monastery from Henan to Quanzhou.
These legends from Southern Shaolin were well known among kungfu exponents, especially old masters, of the 20th century. It is highly recommended that our Shaolin Wahnam family members also know of these legends.
This novelette, still unpublished, was written about 40 years ago by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit in the 1980s. Those attending the Valentine Kungfu Courses 2018 on the Shaolin Pakua Set will find the novelette particularly interesting as there are accounts of combat sequences from the Pakua Set.
As Yang looked round, Miss Hu sailed in from the door like a blossoming flower drifting in the air, with a delicate waft of jasmine scent floating in with her. Hiss Hu, the only daughter of the Prime Minister, was as beautiful as she was demure. Some admirers des¬cribed her as the autumn moon at its brightest, some as an opalescent pearl in a dark night, others as poetry and music in their best combination.
And all agreed that no one could refuse doing her favours — not because she was the Prime Minister’s daughter, but because whenever she requested help (and this only on very rare occasions) her eyes spoke in such a pitiful but captivating manner that never failed to bring out the chivalry in man. Indeed, there were countless people ready to line up in the street, waiting to bang their heads against the wall, if only Miss Hu asked them to.
In Miss Hu, Yang Shao Ming saw the first girl he ever loved, the girl who was equally demure, who would blush at his mere presence. But was it love or a pass¬ing affection, a passing fancy common to all excitable, hot-blooded youths. Whatever it was, this demure girl had remained vividly in his memory. But she was only a dream, a vision whom he could only relive fondly in reminisc¬ence, for he did not even know her, did not even know her name, and now there was no where he could find her.
“I hope you can help me, Sifu Yang,” Miss Hu pleaded in her bewitching, appealing way.
“How am I to help you?” Yang asked. He noticed a film of tears at Miss Hu’s sparkling eyes.
“My jade-plum is stolen!” she replied demurely.
“The jade-plum!” Yang exclaimed, jerking himself up to the present reality. “The jade-plum that your father gave you as your twentieth birthday present! The jade-plum that is as big as a real plum and is worth the treasure of the whole city?”
“When I woke up this morning, I found my closet forced open. I was shocked, as my jade-plum was kept inside. True enough, when I checked the contents, I found everything intact, except my most treasured jade-plum.” Miss Hu began to sob.
Since time immemorial men have suspected the most deadly weapon of a woman is her tears. There is also a Chinese saying that the most valiant of heroes could not escape the wiles of a beautiful lady. There was no doubt about Miss Hu’s beauty. Now she employed her tears. So even a quick-minded kungfu expert like Yang could not tell whether her tears were due to wiles or genuine affliction.
“I would be very thankful if you can recover my jade-plum, Sifu Yang. You know how much that jade-plum means to me.”
“How are you going to thank me?” Yang inquired rather intelligently.
Miss Hu blinked her eyes and thought for a moment. “I’ll buy you three barrels of the best wine.” She suddenly cheered up. “I’m sure that’s what a man wants.”
Yang wondered whether she knew what a man wanted. Poor girl. How innocent, how naive!
“Perhaps you’ll like to come to my chamber,” she continued shyly, “to examine the situation yourselves.”
This time Yang Shao Ming was shocked. Even Commissioner Chin, who had been quiet all this while, looked surprised. A lady’s chamber was her very private place. But now she was asking them to visit her chamber.
I’d better don’t harbour imaginative ideas, Yang reminded himself. Of course we had to visit her chamber. How else could we examine the environment where the crime occurred?
Many problems or misunderstanding arise because of confusion between facts and opinions. Logically, if you can differentiate between facts and opinions, you will be able to avoid or overcome many of these problems and misunderstanding.
What is even more important is that often opinion, or perception, is more influential than fact, or reality, in shaping our future. This does not mean we can ignore facts, but we must realize that a person’s perception of reality rather than the reality itself is more potent in determining the outcome of an event. Failure to appreciate this often results in problems and misunderstandings which can be avoided or overcome if we have clear perception.
Let us start with a story. A sifu asked a student to practice “One-Finger Shooting Zen”. A week passed, a month passed, two years passed, and the student was still practicing “One-Finger Shooting Zen” daily, while his sifu hardly taught him anything else.
This was a real story, the story of my sifu, Ho Fatt Nam, when he learned from my sigung, Yeong Fatt Khun. The daily practice of “One-Finger Shooting Zen” enabled my sifu to develop tremendous force not only for Dim Mak (an advanced kungfu art of dotting vital points) but also to heal people.
My sifu had a good perception. He promised himself that if he met a great master, he would do exactly what the master taught. Most other students would drop out. They had different perceptions. They probably thought that the master was fooling them. The reality was the same, a sifu asking his student to practice “One-Finger Shooting Zen” and hardly teaching him anything else, but due to different perceptions the results could be vastly different.
You can see the same principle operating in daily life though many people may not realize it. You are given a difficult job by your boss. Because you are a Shaolin Wahnam student and view everything the Shaolin Wahnam way (instead of the negative way), you perceive your difficult job as an interesting challenge and do your best. As a result you later gain a promotion – by your boss or by yourself becoming your own boss after having gone through challenging training.
Most other people in the same situation would have different perceptions. Some would try to pass the job to someone else, like you, knowing that they would still get the same pay. Others might do the job grudgingly and produce mediocre or poor result. The reality is the same – a difficult job to be done – but due to different perceptions of the same reality, the outcome can be very different.
Can the perception be always positive? Can there be any events, persons or beliefs that are so negative that you can’t have any positive perception of them?
One-Finger Shooting Zen is a treasure of Shaolin Wahnam
Yes, perception can always be positive if you choose to. It is your choice.
No, there are no events, persons or beliefs which are by themselves so negative that you can’t have a positive perception of. We are talking about perception, not the reality itself. In reality the event, person or belief can be negative, but you still can have a positive perception of it.
Suppose you have lost a lot of money in a bad investment. This is reality. No matter how you perceive it, you cannot change the fact that you have lost a lot of money. But your perception of this negative event will certainly and strongly affect what and how your future will enfold.
We may broadly generalize your possible perceptions into three categories: negative, neutral and positive.
You may perceive yourself as stupid, and you become depressed. You may perceive that the fault actually lies with your wife, who nags you, and you become angry. These are negative perceptions. And it is not difficult to see how miserable these negative perceptions will make you.
You may perceive it as a way of life, sometimes you lose, sometimes you gain. Or you may perceive that losing money is a price everyone pays to learn about investment. These are neutral perceptions. You may be down for awhile, but eventually you can get over it.
You may perceive it philosophically, regarding it a blessing in disguise. It is a wake-up call: you lose money in investment, not in drugs or gambling, which may make you addicted and is far worse. Or you may perceive it as a drastic learning opportunity. You promise yourself that eventually you will make back many times that money in an honest, wholesome way. These are positive perceptions that will lead to eventual success. Indeed, many people owe their success, spiritual or financial, to some initial setbacks.
If we just think of good things, are we just dreaming? No, we are not just dreaming. We dare to dream, but we are ready and capable of putting in effort to make our dreams come true. Our Shaolin Wahnam training gives us mental clarity that enables us to have noble perceptions, and tremendous energy that enables us to put in the necessary effort.
Thoughts create reality. This is a great cosmic truth taught by ancient masters and confirmed by modern scientists. An electron is a particle or a wave depending on how the investigating scientist thinks about it. The Buddha teaches that karma, which means cause and effect, is the result of thoughts, speech and deeds in that order of importance.
So, whatever events, persons, beliefs, problems or difficulties you interact with, always have positive perceptions of them. Try it out for a month, and examine the result yourself. If you find it beneficial use this New Year gift for this year and every year.