Every morning at the Shaolin Monastery, the Venerable Chee Seen would wait up Li Chooi Peng for kungfu training. Chee Seen has practiced kungfu for decades, and when he taught his students he had a systematic way of teaching. For every movement, he would explain it clearly. He was also very strict. Every pattern was performed by his students correctly with picture-perfect form.
They trained everyday. After a year, Li Chooi Peng’s basic force training was remarkable. Chee Seen knew that basic force training was very important. It was the foundation from which all future kungfu development depended. Li Chooi Peng was young. She did not have any irrelevant thought, and just focused on her training. After two years, her kungfu progress even surpassed Chee Seen’s expectation.
Chee Seen was very happy. He started to teach her chin-na (which was a special way of gripping) using Eagle Claw.
For a start, Chee Seen placed two jars on the ground, and asked Li Chooi Peng to grip them with her thumb, middle finger and fourth finger, and walk about. Li Chooi Peng could just walk a few steps, her fingers became weak, and her wrists became numb. But because Chee Seen was watching, she dared not let the jars down.
After a month, she noticed that her fingers and wrists had become strong. She could lift the jars without much effort. After another month, not only she was not tired, it was like holding two clumps of hay which she did not take any notice at all.
Chee Seen then added some stones into the jars. Gradually the jars were full of stones. After a while, Li Chooi Peng could carry the jars easily and ran about freely in the garden of the monastery.
Chee Seen was very glad seeing that Li Chooi Peng could endure the bitter training. Without saying anything, he changed the jars with stone-chestnuts and asked Li Chooi Peng to continue training. The stone-chestnuts were made from big pebbles and each was more than 10 katis heavy. (Each katy was about 500 grams.) There was nothing to hold the hands on. Everywhere the stone-chestnuts were smooth. As soon as any ordinary person tries to hold one, it would slip away.
It was more difficult to hold stone-chestnuts than jars filled with stones. But Li Chooi Peng persisted, and soon she could hold them quite easily. Her teacher then changed heavier stone-chestnuts, each weighing about 40 katies. After some time she could lift the heavy stone-chestnuts with her hands, and could run many steps without the stone-chestnuts slipping out.
One day Chee Seen said, “Very good. It is difficult now to find anyone to have the power of your fingers.” Now I’ll teach you how to use your finger power. The art of finger kungfu is to use an opponent’s force miraculously. When in combat, it is often not based on valour and strength to beat an opponent. When an opponent is very strong, even if it is possible to use strength to beat him, it is demanding and undesirable. It is better to beat him in miraculous ways.
“By miraculous ways, I mean to use the opponent’s strength to beat him. This is what people say four taels to counter a thousand katies.
(In the past, 1 katy was divided into 16 taels, but in China today, following the metric system, 1 katy is divided into 10 taels.)
“When you look at a weighing balance, the weight is only a small portion that balances what is to be weighed. This is what is meant by four taels to counter a thousand katies. What you are learning now about chin-na using Eagle Claw, is this type of miraculous kungfu. Using just three fingers you can cause your opponent to fall, as if hit by a staff. This is the reason why I ask you to carry jars and stone-chestnuts.
“You just think. Using your three fingers to grasp jars and stone-chestnuts, it is to focus your force at the fingers. There are rings at the tops of jars, so you can make use of the rings when using your force. But there are no rings at the stone-chestnuts. Yet you can lift them up. It is not feasible to calculate how forceful are your fingers. When they are used on a person, it won’t be light.
“I shall now explain to you the power of your fingers. Every person has many tens of katies of strength. Just take 100 katies as an example. There are many people with 100 katies of strength. But those with 100 katies of strength at their arms are fewer. Those with 100 katies at their fists are fewer still. Those with 100 katies of strength at their fingers are very few indeed.
The philosophy of receiving the power is similar. Those who receive 100 katies from an opponent will retreat. Those who receive 100 katies of strength from an opponent’s arm will fall. Those who receive 100 katies of strength from an opponent’s fist will be injured. Those who receive 100 katies of strength from an opponent’s finger will die or be paralyzed. Hence, this is the reason I told you to train finger power all this time.”
After a pause, the Venerable Chee Seen continued. “Now you have power at your fingers. Tomorrow I’ll teach you more training methods, and then I’ll teach you the techniques to use your finger power.”