One day there was a guest at the sundry shop. It was Madame Ma, who was the elder cousin of Madame Lau, Li Chooi Peng’s mother. Madame Ma had a daughter, Wang Wei Lin, who were just a few months elder than Li Chooi Peng. They were like sisters, often playing together.
Madame Ma lost her husband when Wang Wei Lin was small. To sustain their livelihood, she washed clothing for other people. Madame Lau often helped them financially.
But that day Madame Ma was like a totally different person. She appeared as a wealthy woman, wearing an expensive dress and decked with gold and jewelry.
Madame Lau and her daughter, Li Chooi Peng, were totally surprised, but they welcomed her into the house. Madame Ma took some money and handed to Madame Lau.
“All these years, younger cousin has helped me. I dare not say I’ll repay your kindness, but here is some money I hope you will accept it.” After some initial refusal, Madame Lau eventually took the money.
“I was just thinking how you suddenly became a wealthy woman,” Madame Lau asked.
“One morning Wei Lin was hanging some clothing to dry outside our house. A wealthy man, Leong Fa Yun, was passing bye. He saw Wei Lin and was captivated by her beauty. So he sent a match-maker to ask for her hand as his concubine.”
“Isn’t he the same Leong Fa Yun who owns a large silk shop in the city?” Madame Lau asked.
“That’s him. Wei Lin was very lucky to have been seen by him.”
After a lengthy conversation, Madame Ma departed. “You must bring Wei Lin along the next time you visit,” Madame Lau said.
After Madame Ma had left, Li Chooi Peng asked her mother, “I heard that Leong Fa Yun was rather strange. Although he has a wife, he married a concubine some months ago. After a while, the concubine died.”
“Don’t talk non-sense,” her mother reprimanded.
Not long after that, Madame Ma had another visit, this time with Wang Wei Lin. Li Chooi Peng paid particular attention to her cousin-sister. Despite being married to a wealthy family, Wang Wei Lin did not look happy. She was pale and there were worries written between her eye brows.
When Madame Ma took leave, Li Chooi Peng stepped forward, took Wang Wei Lin by her hand, and said, “Wei Lin and I haven’t met for a long time. Why not let Wei Lin stay here for the night so that we can talk about our experiences?”
So Madame Ma went home by herself.
Li Chooi Peng took Wang Wei Lin to her room, brightened an old lamp and offered two pots of hot tea.
“Elder sister is now a wealthy woman. Don’t soil your pretty dress in this humble room,” Li Chooi Peng said.
Wang Wei Lin took off her outer dress and laid on Li Chooi Peng’s bed. Li Chooi Peng sat besides her, and said.
“I haven’t seen cousin-sister for a long time. Cousin-sister is now married. I am afraid that in future our chances of meeting each other would be less. I don’t want to miss this opportunity tonight. I don’t want to sleep. I want to chit-chat with cousin-sister.”
Hearing this, Wang Wei Lin sat up and the two started to converse softly.
Li Chooi Peng said, “Now cousin-sister is married into a wealthy family. Life is certainly better than before. Whatever you eat is tasty. Whatever you drink is fragrant. By right you should have grown fatter. But as it looks, it is not so. Not only you have not grown fatter, you have become thinner. Moreover, your face is pale and white, as if you have just been a long period of sickness. I cannot think what has happened. Can cousin-sister please tell me?”
Wang Wei Lin gave a long sigh. Tears rolled down her cheeks. But she kept quiet, as if she had unlimited sorrows but could not say out.
Seeing this, Li Chooi Peng knew that Wang Wei Lin had a lot of sorrows in her heart, but she did not let them out. Li Chooi Peng held Wang Wei Lin’s hand, gently touched her own face, and said.
“Cousin-sister, please don’t cry. Once you cry, I feel very sad. When we are in the world, there may be unpleasant happenings. But when we attend to them, even when they are unpleasant, we can do them well. You must take care of your health. You must not hide suffering in your heart. Sufferings harm people. Your health will become worse and worse.”
These words were full of good reasons, and showed Li Chooi Peng’s great care. Wang Wei Lin was greatly moved. Her tears kept rolling down without stop.
“Cousin-sister, what is the matter that makes you so sorrowful?”
Wang Wei Lin just shook her head, and remained silent.
“If you don’t want to say anything, let me guess. See if I can guess correctly. Is Mr Cheong, your husband, very rough, that he does not agree with your feeling?”
Wang Wei Lin shook her head.
Li Chooi Peng asked again, “A few days after marriage, is Mr Cheong likes new and abhors old, that he has found another woman?”
Wang Wei Lin continued to shake her head.
Li Chooi Pang further asked, “Is the first wife of Mr Cheong being big oppress the small, and find ways to make life difficult for you?”
Wang Wei Lin again shook her head.
“This is strange. Mr Cheong has not found another woman, is not rough and uncouth, and the first wife has not bullied you. In this case, even when a god comes to earth, he may not have guessed correctly what is wrong with you.
“But we grow up together, have been together for so many years, intimate like blood sisters; seeing you like this, I feel very uncomfortable.”
Li Chooi Peng gently patted her shoulder and remarked, “Your mother has only you as her only daughter. If you have any ‘long three and short two’ (i.e. if you die), where can she go for support? Tell me your sorrow. Both of us will think of a way to solve it. If you are afraid that I may tell others, I can vow ….. “
Wang Wei Lin grasped Li Chooi Peng, and said, “Sister, you need not speak further. Suffering people in the world, no one is more suffering than me. I didn’t born at the right time. Before two, papa died. Our family is poor. I thought that when I grew up, I would marry into a good family so that I would have half a life of happiness. But now, not only there is no happiness, it is survive a day, it is a day.”
Li Chooi Peng was very surprised. Quickly she asked, “What do your words point to? Leong Fa Yun is the owner of a big silk shop. Now you are his wife, your whole body shines with pearls and precious energy (i.e. you can wear whatever gold and jewels you want). How can there is no happiness, and even your life may not be guaranteed?”
Wang Wei Lin smirked bitterly. “You are not in the known. How can you think such things can happen? If I don’t experience it myself, I would not know what happened. Even if I tell you, what is the use?”
“No, sister, no. I cannot see that you jump into a pit of fire, and do not care. Tell me quickly. What actually is the matter?”
Wang Wei Lin, full of tears in her eyes, asked, “Can you beat him?”
Li Chooi Peng replied, “I don’t care how terrible he is. He is still a person. As long as he is not a god, I shall not be afraid.”
Wang Wei Lin explained, “Openly Leong Fa Yun is a owner of a silk shop. Secretly he is the big boss of robbers who rob rich families. All those in the silk shop, apart from the account clerk, all workers are his ‘claws and teeth’ (i.e. notorious gang members). In the day time, they call him owner. Behind people’s back, they call him big brother. Earlier, wasn’t the rich Kee family outside the city robbed and killed by robbers? This was done by them.”
“How do you know all this?” Li Chooi Peng asked.
“Why don’t I know! Every time they robbed, they would gather in the house. The next day there would be news of robbing. And every time they rob, I have to suffer!”
“They go out to rob others, and kill,” Li Chooi Peng asked, “how does that make you suffer?”
“You don’t know. For the first ten or more days after marriage, Leong Fa Yun was very courteous to me. He let me eat well, dress well, and I felt very comfortable. I thought that at last I met a good person.
“One night Leong Fa Yun and his gang had dinner. He asked me to join them. I did not suspect anything, but once I entered the room, he ordered someone to close the door. Then he offered me a cup of tea, saying that men would drink wine, but I could drink tea to replace wine.
“After drinking the tea, I found that my whole body was feeble and I could not speak. I saw their mouths moving, but I heard nothing. By then Leong Fa Yun had changed into a Taoist dress and prayed before an altar. Then he came towards me and he looked very fierce.
“He waved his hands, and two gang members came forward. One carried a bowl, and another carried a tube and a thick needle. Leong Fa Yun poked the needle into me, and drained my blood through the tube into the bowl. Then he poured my blood into a jar of wine. Each of the gang member drank the wine with my blood in it. He said this would bind the gang together. Then they left to do their business. Leong Fa Yun did not go with them.”
Li Chooi Peng was very angry. She banged her hand on a table and said, “These beasts in human dresses, if I don’t eliminate them, all women will suffer! Didn’t Leong Fa Yun join the gang in their robbery?”
“No,” replied Wang Wei Lin, “each time when they robbed and killed, Leong Fa Yun did not join the robbery. He directed the operation from behind.”
After a short pause, Wang Wei Lin continued, “Then Leong Fa Yun poured some tea into my mouth. After a while, I regain normalcy. Leong Fa Yun told me that if I mentioned to anyone what had happened that night, he would kill me.
“The next day,” Wang Wei Lin continued, “I learned that the wealthy Kee family was robbed by seven or eight masked robbers, and the wealthy Kee was killed. Another time they also took my blood, and the following day I heard that a big shop was robbed and some people killed. Meanwhile I have become weaker and weaker.”
“Why didn’t you report all this to auntie, your mother?” Li Chooi Peng asked.
“An important condition about my marriage was that my mother could not ask anything about my health. My mother, Leong Fa Yun and the match-maker put their thumbs onto the agreement.”
When Li Chooi Peng arrived home in Wei Yang, it was evening. Her mother, cleaning the counter desk of their sundry shop, looked old and worried.
Without further thought, Li Chooi Peng rushed to her mother and embraced her.
“Mama, I’m back,” Li Chooi Peng cried.
Her mother, Madame Lau, was startled. “Chooi Peng, Chooi Peng has returned home.” She stroke Li Chooi Peng’s face, and said, “I’ve been thinking of you everyday for these six or seven years.”
“I’ve been thinking of mama too. But the rules at the Shaolin Monastery are very strict. Unless I have completed my martial studies, I cannot return home.”
“Chooi Peng, you haven’t taken your dinner. Let me prepare dinner for you.”
There were a lot of dishes on the table. That night, mother and daughter talked about their past experiences until very late at night before going to bed. Just like before, mother and daughter continued their livelihood together one trusting the other.
Many days passed and New Year day arrived. The district government issued a notice for celebration. On New Year night, the gate of the fort surrounding the city would be open throughout the night. All households would hang lanterns and colorful banners. Those families with more than 300 acres of farms and big merchants would display fireworks and contribute to lion dances and dragon dances to celebrate.
As soon as night descended, lanterns and colorful banners were continuously hung in all households, “five brightness and ten colors”, some demonstrating wealth and prosperity, some new with innovations, inside and outside the city there were continuous fireworks shooting into the sky, fire trees and silver flowers, brightness glared the eyes, children ran about on the streets, shouting and cheering, making the city like one where nights never occurred.
Although Li Chooi Peng was a young girl of fifteen, she was still a child. How could she miss such celebrations? Even before dinner, she requested her mother to accompany her to watch lanterns. Madame Lau loved her daughter very much, and never refused any request.
Hurriedly they had their dinner. Mother and daughter, hand in hand, flowed with the crowd, watching here and there, talking about heads and conversing about feet, and were very happy.
From afar, they heard sounds of drums and gongs.
“Mama,” Li Chooi Peng entreated, “Where there are drums and gongs, there must be a lion dance. Let us go there to have a look.”
Her mother replied, “What’s so exciting about a lion dance. It is better to watch colorful lanterns.”
“Mama, lion dancers are usually well versed in kungfu. Since leaving the Shaolin Monastery, I don’t have chances to mingle with those trained in martial art. How could we miss the opportunity? I want to watch the lion dance.”
Madame Lau would just nod her head to agree.
Just in the square in front of the district government, millions of heads shifted about. In the middle were six lion dancing jubilantly, each lion with a warrior holding a ball in front to tease the lion.
(There were two types of lion dance, northern lion dance and southern lion dance. The one above was northern lion dance, with a warrior in front of each lion, and the dance was acrobatic. The southern lion was teased by a Laughing Buddha, and the lion head was bigger and more colourful.)
The mother and daughter, pushing gently forward went in front of the crowd to enjoy the lion dance. A “green” (i.e. money contained in a red packet and some vegetables) was lowered from a restaurant for the lions to gather, followed by a string of fire crackers.
However the “green” was hung very high, and the lions could not reach it. Some gossips started, saying that if the lions could not get the “green”, it would be an insult to the government. Li Chooi Peng was surprised, and asked those standing near her why it would be an insult to the government. A middle-age man nearby said that the lion dancers were actually policemen in plain cloth.
The lion dancers then consulted one another, and finally decided to ask their sifu, or kungfu teacher, what to do. Soon a middle-age man called Cheong Fong Jan came forward. He was the kungfu teacher of the policemen in plain cloth. He took out a rope-spear (i.e. a spear head tied to a long rope) and intended to use it to bring down the “green”.
Just then a large notice was hung out near the “green”. It read “The ‘green’ was meant for the lions to gather, not for someone with a rope-spear.”
Cheong Fong Jan and the lion dancers were dismayed. What should they do now. A loud laugh reverberated out. The laugh was from Li Chooi Peng. The lion dancers were annoyed. They wanted to rush forward to attack Li Chooi Peng, but were stopped by Cheong Fong Jan.
Grasping his hands in greeting, Cheong Fong Jan exclaimed, “Lady hero, these little people were ignorant. I hope lady hero can forgive them. But I just want to ask something. Why did lady hero laugh.”
Li Chooi Peng answered, “It’s actually easy to gather the green.”
“Easy?” Cheong Fong Jan responded in surprise. “Do you need many people to help you?”
“All I need is someone to dance the tail, and please lend me your spear-head.”
So Cheong Fong Jan removed the spear-head from the long rope and passed it to Li Chooi Peng.
Li Chooi Peng took a lion head, and someone danced the tail. Drums and gongs sounded majestically. Li Chooi Peng pranced about with the lion head atop her, opened the mouth of the lion, sent out the spear head flying upward and cut the ‘green’ with money in a red packet from the thread, which dropped right into the lion’s mouth.
Li Chooi Peng’s fame soon spread over the whole city.
Another Version of Combat Sequence 40 — Eagle Claw Strength Grip Technique
The nun invited Li Chooi Peng into her temple, and offered her a pot of fragrant tea.
After some preliminaries, Li Chooi Peng asked, “I don’t mean to be inquisitive, but why did sitai become a nun, and live in this temple far away from other settlements?”
The nun explained, “My name when I was a layperson was Wen Yin Sang, but now I am known as White Crane Nun. I had an elder brother, but he was beaten to death by a local cruel chieftain called Tit Choui Cha. To avenge my brother’s death, I ascended a mountain to learn kungfu for five years.
“When I returned, Tit Choui Cha heard about me and escaped. I looked for him everywhere but could not find him.
Then I found this temple and became a nun. Once I entered the ‘gate of emptiness’ (i.e. became a Buddhist nun), my thought for revenge gradually eased. Perhaps it was due to my facing Buddha and reciting sutras everyday.”
Li Chooi Peng was pensive for some time.
“There was an interesting story why I called myself White Crane Nun,” the nun continued. “A lot of white cranes flew to my temple. A first I used to chase them away with a long stick. But they seemed to play with me. They avoided my hitting them and flew about. I had an inspiration. From their movements I devised some kungfu techniques which you had seen just now.”
Here was a person who learned kungfu to avenge her brother’s death. But after becoming a nun, she even let go of her revenge, and from the cranes’ movements devised some kungfu techniques that resembled those of cranes. After a long conversation with White Crane Nun, she bade her farewell and went her way.
After two days she was in a small town on her way back to the City of Wei Yang to see her mother. She had a drink in a tea shop.
There was a huge man sitting opposite her, with a parrot in a cage which he was holding. The man was feeding his parrot. It was quite obvious to Li Chooi Peng that other customers as well as the shop attendants were sacred of this man, and tried to be far from him.
Suddenly, the man left the cage, with his parrot in it, on his table and walked towards Li Chooi Peng.
“Why did you keep looking at me and my parrot? Haven’t you seen a parrot in your life?” the man roared.
“I thought your parrot was beautiful,” replied Li Chooi Peng.
But before she could complete the sentence, a punch was struck at her. Li Chooi Peng leaned back to avoid the punch, and when it had reached its maximum extend, she gripped the tendons of the upper arm of the punch with her three fingers, causing the man to yell frantically.
This was Combat Sequence 40 of the 50 Combat Sequences of Eagle Claw Kungfu, and was called “Yin Jow Lek Pat Fatt” or “Eagle Claw Strength Grip Techniques”.
“Oh! You’re hurting me, you’re hurting me,” he cried loudly. Li Chooi Peng gave him a gentle push, which made him fell backward many steps onto the ground.
“Wait here. I’ll tell my sifu, and he’ll beat you up!”
“Who’s your sifu?” Li Chooi Penag asked.
“He’s Tit Choui Cha, well known in all these areas,” the man replied.
Tit Choui Cha! The cruel chieftain who killed the brother of White Crane Nun!
A thought arose in Li Chooi Peng’s mind. She wanted to find out where the cruel chieftain lived. She was quick in her thinking.
“I thought Tit Choui Cha was dead.”
“Dead?” his student was very surprised. “He’s alive and kicking!”
“Where does he live?” Li Chooi Peng asked.
“Just down this street. There’s a chrysanthemum tree in front of his house. He’ll beat you up!”
Li Chooi Peng paid some money to the owner of the tea shop, and went down the street with a chrysanthemum tree in front.
She found it, and knocked at the door. A small boy came out.
“I’m here to see Sifu Tit Choui Cha,” she said. A boy ran in to inform Tit Choui Cha, who waved Li Chooi Peng to come in.
Li Chooi Peng found a huge man with dark complexion and round, shining eyes. “Are you Sifu Tit Choui Cha?” she asked.
“Here I am,” the huge man replied. “I don’t change my name whether I move or sit.”
“Do you remember killing a man many years ago whose surname was Wen?”
“I have killed many men,” Tit Choui Cha replied. “I don’t care whether his surname was Wen or Chen.”
“I’m here to avenge his death.”
Tit Choui Cha laughed out loudly. “You? You little fellow? Your head couldn’t even reach my shoulder. Know you limitation. How could you avenge his death?”
“Avenging his death doesn’t need brute strength,” Li Chooi Peng replied. “Show your techniques.”
Tit Choui Cha was furious. He rushed in with a right punch. Li Chooi Peng remembered what her sifu, the Venerable Chee Seen, had said. Meeting force with force against a person whose shoulder was higher than your head, was unwise. She “swallowed” the punch, i.e. retreated her body to avoid the full force of Tit Choui Cha. When his arm was fully extended, she used her left eagle-claw to grip at his elbow, and her right eagle claw to grip at his wrist.
Tit Choui Cha pulled back his right punch and executed his left punch. This time Li Chooi Peng was precise in her timing. She withdrew her right front leg from a Bow-Arrow Stance to a right False-Leg Stance, and simultaneously used her right eagle-claw to grip the left elbow of Tit Choui Cha from outside inwards, and her left eagle-claw to grip his left wrist, at the time when the punching arm was fully extended.
This was Combat Sequence 29 of the 50 Combat Sequences of Eagle Claw Kungfu, and was known as “Ngoi Poon Khuen“ or “Outward Grip”.
Tit Choui Cha felt his body numb, and gave a loud yell. Still holding Tit Choui Cha’s left elbow with her right eagle-claw, Li Chooi Peng move forward her right leg from a False-Leg Stance to a Bow-Arrow Stance, and simultaneously jabbed the middle finger and the index finger of her left hand into his eyes, using the pattern “Two Dragons Fight for Pearl”. Tit Choui Cha could not defend. He fell down with a loud cry and his eyeballs were lying on the floor.
Li Chooi Peng went back to Silent Cultivation Nunnery and told White Crane Nun that she had avenged her brother’s death. She told the nun that she spared Tit Choui Cha’s life, but the bully was blind.