I will first of all state that it is an honor to correspond with you. I have been practicing Kung Fu of several styles both for performance and application sparring for a little over 14 years now.
— Hoffman, USA
Thank you for your kind words.
I am glad that you practice combat application in your kungfu training. Without combat application, kungfu ceases to be kungfu. It becomes gymnastics or a demonstrative sport, which has its benefits too, but it ceases to be a martial art. Unfortunately the majority of kungfu practitioners today, including masters, are incompetent in kungfu combat application, but they lack the honesty and courage to admit it.
Many resort to borrowing techniques and methods from other martial arts, like Taekwondo and Kick-Boxing, to rectify their lack of kungfu combat application. Some may have become formidable fighters using these borrowed techniques, but they still cannot use kungfu for combat. Some even go to the ridiculous extent of saying that kungfu forms cannot be used in combat, and that using Kick-Boxing is kungfu.
Though you have not stated it, I suspect that you are one of those who use other martial art techniques, probably Kick-Boxing, instead of kungfu in your sparring. Your attempt to rectify the inadequacy of kungfu combat application is admirable but your action is mis-directed. You should attempt to use kungfu forms for sparring instead. You have spent 14 years practicing kungfu forms. It is worth to spend one whole year to learn and practice genuine kungfu combat application, so that what you have learnt all these years will not go to waste.
I have posted a lot of videos on my website , not only showing but also explaining secrets that masters in the past kept only for their top students. By following and practicing the examples shown in the videos, you can attain a reasonable level of kungfu combat application.
I would like to share a very important point that kungfu practitioners who attempt free sparring may not know. They think that by attempting free sparring, they can defend themselves. They don’t. They may be able to hit others, but they still cannot defend themselves.
And many have the perverted view that one must be willing to take some hits and kicks to learn a martial art. It is certainly not true. In fact a main reason why any person learns a martial art is not to be hit at all. The big irony is that not only many martial artists cannot defend themselves despite their training, they become more unhealthy due to sustained injuries in free sparring.
The above is taken from Question 1 of January 2008 Part 3 of the Selection of Questions and Answers.
Tom applying what he has just learnt in the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in June 2007 against a Boxer posed by Chris in free sparring
Is it really possible to teach the combat applications of Shaolin and Taiji in an intensive course? I know many people have asked the same question on the Qigong (Chi Kung) course, and you have replied that “Its purpose is to equip you with fundamental skills and techniques so that you can competently practice on your own after the course. You need to practice for at least a few months before you can have lasting good results”.
— Kaiwan, Singapore
Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
Yes, it is really possible, and it has been amply confirmed by practical experience of those who have attended my course. In the first place if I myself have doubt whether the course participants will get the benefits as promised in the course objectives, I would not offer the course.
For example, many people have requested me to offer an intensive course on the “Small Universe”, but as I am still unsure whether I could help the course participants to acquire the benefits of the “Small Universe” — not just the techniques — within the time frame of an intensive course, I have refrained from offering it. I am making progress in the methodology of teaching the “Small Universe”, and when I am sure of the result, I may offer the course in the future.
( Editorial Note: This was written in April 2004.)
What I have said about the Intensive Chi Kung Course concerning fundamental skills and practicing on their own, also applies to the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course and the Intensive Taijiquan Course. If course participants practice on their own for a few months what they have learnt in the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course and the Intensive Taijiquan Course, they can apply their techniques and skills effectively in combat. Even when they spar with their friends or students immediately after their return from the course, the latter will be amazed at their rapid improvement within such a short time. After a year, the latter would have no match at all.
There is nothing mysterious or mythical about it. It all boils down to vision, direction and systematic training . Both my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course and my Intensive Taijiquan Course focus on internal force training and combat application. A course participant has about 6 hours of systematic sparring a day, which means he has about 30 hours of systematic combat training from the course.
Most kungfu students do not have any systematic combat training at all. Many may have engaged in free sparring, but free sparring is not systematic combat training. In fact, the way they approach free sparring is counter-productive. Not only they sustain a lot of internal injuries, they condition themselves to fight in a way where they never apply their kungfu techniques and skills effectively. In principle, it is like training in football but playing hockey instead.
Let us take a scenario. Suppose you are trained in a way of a typical kungfu school today. To learn fighting, you and a partner practice free sparring. You stand in a typical kungfu stance using a typical kungfu pattern. Your partner charges at you and rains blows on you. You start to think to yourself: “Now what kungfu pattern should I use to defend against these blows?” Before you could even finish running your thought in your mind, a few blows have landed on your face and body.
After some time (which can be a few seconds, days or weeks later) you become smarter. As your sparring partner charges at you, you start to move back to avoid his blows. But because you stand at a deep kungfu stance, your retreat is slow, and your partner still rains blows on your face and body.
After some time, you discover that if you abandon your kungfu stances and bounce about, you can move faster, but your partner also charges in fast and rains blows on you. Soon you discover that you have no time to think of which kungfu techniques to use, so you just block his blows instinctively. You also discover that you can also rain blows on him.
Your sparring partner has become smarter too. He discovers that he can kick you or grab you or throw you onto the ground. He also learns that he may use some tricks. For example, he may pretend to strike you with a blow, but as you block or dodge the feign move, he kicks at you. Such free sparring may go on for years.
If you are tough like a buffalo and didn’t chicken out even after receiving a few broken jaws and broken bones from the blows and kicks, over the years of free sparring you may discover some special ways of counter-attacking. For example, when your partner strikes you with a blow, instead of blocking or bouncing away, you may move to his side and strike his ribs before he has time to pull back his attacking hand. You may also discover that if you are skilful enough, you can apply this counter-attack even if his initial blow is a feign.
An invaluable photograph showing two combatants in an annual grand free sparring competition of Grandmaster Ho Fatt Nam about 40 years ago, following the tradition of the southern Shaolin Temple. Notice that they used typical Shaolin kungfu patterns, which were the same as what our Shaolin Wahnam kungfu students use today, and which were also the same as those used by Shaolin disciples in real fighting a few hundred years ago, as revealed in written records and illustrations.
In a year of free sparring, there may be many occasions when you can use this counter-attack. But these occasions occur so fast that you are usually unprepared for them. Hence, in practical terms you may actually use such a counter-attack a few times in a year of free sparring, and you may be successful only once or twice. Most of the time you would only say to yourself, “Oh, I could use that special counter-attack”, but your hands and legs are too slow for your intent.
Why are you too slow? And why can’t you use the kungfu techniques that you perform in solo forms? The reason is that your free sparring has been haphazard and unmethodical.After 10 years of free sparring you may not be more efficient than when you were in your first year!
Now, take another scenario. You stand at a typical kungfu stance using a typical kungfu pattern. Your training partner rushes at you to rain blows. But he couldn’t. As soon as he makes his first move, irrespective of whether it is real or feign, you intercept it with a tiger-claw, using a tactic called “one closes two”, in such a way that he cannot continue his other hand attack without making an adjustment. But before he can make the adjustment, you drive a palm strike with your other hand into his ribs to fracture them, had you wanted to, using a Shaolin pattern called “Dark Dragon Draws Water”. But of course you stop just short of target with your trained control.
Will this scenario happen? It never will, if your “training” is haphazard. It surely will, if your training is methodological and systematic.
At first your partner does not rush at you. He moves in at a comfortable speed for you to execute your counter-attack. How did you discover this counter-attack? You didn’t. It was evolved from centuries of actual fighting, and is taught to you by your master who has inherited this technique. You and your partner would have to practice just this sequence of attack and counter-attack 50 times a day. In three months, you and your partner would have practiced it a few thousand times, compared to only a few times in 10 years had you been doing haphazard free sparring.
Students enjoying using Shaolin Kungfu for sparring at the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in Sabah in March 2007
By practicing systematically a few thousand times, you partner will be able to attack you with more force and speed, and you will be able to counter-attack more efficiently than others who perform similar attacks and counter-attacks haphazardly a few times in 10 years. In other words, although you have trained for only three months, if someone rushes at you to rain blows at you, you will be able to handle this combat situation more efficiently than a kungfu student who has done haphazard free sparring for 10 years.
What would you do if your partner makes an adjustment successfully and executes a side kick at you as you attempt to counter-attack with a palm strike? Spontaneously you withdraw your front leg to avoid his kicking attack, and simultaneously strike his kicking leg with your arm, using a Shaolin pattern called “Lohan Strikes a Drum”.
You can do this effectively because your master has the vision to foresee that as you counter-attack with a palm strike, your opponent may respond in a number of preferred moves. He also has the direction to train you systematically to respond to these moves. Had you been performing haphazard free sparring, you would have to respond on the spur of the moment, which is another way of saying your respond will be artless and impromptu.
Of course your opponent may attack you in other ways besides charging at you with blows. Your master has the vision to predict the numerous ways an opponent would attack, and provides the direction of your systematic training.
A combat application from the Triple Stretch kungfu set
With the help of Sam Tuck, Luk Ah Choy, Fong Sai Yuk and Wu Wei Thien from Guangzhou, Hoong Hei Khoon set up a kungfu school at Foshan, which was a big city some distance from the province capital at Guangzhou. Hoong Hei Khoon named his school “Siu Lam Hoong Koon” or “Shaolin Hoong Kungfu School”.
Soon it was New Year day. Many kungfu schools celebrated the New Year festive session with lion dance. Amongst the famous lion dance teams were from Chan Kungfu School, Leong Kungfu School, Li Kungfu School and Lu Kungfu School.
A wealthy shop, called Toi Woh Hong, hung up a “green” (i.e. vegetable with a red packet containing money) tens of feet in the sky for the lions to gather. Attached to the “green” was a banner clearly stating that gathering the “green” depended on the personal kungfu skill of the head and the tail lion dancers, and other people were not permitted to help.
The first lion team that saw the “green” was from Lu Kungfu School. The master and students of the Lu Kungfu School found the “green” too high, so they just passed it. Then came the lion teams from Leong Kungfu School and Li Kungfu School. The kungfu masters and students had a look at the “green”, and then walked away.
The lion team from Chan Kungfu School soon followed. The kungfu master and his students discussed how they could gather the “green”. Some students suggested using human formation, called Lohan formation, which was forming different tiers of people one on top of the other. Their sifu mentioned that this was not permitted as stated in the banner. As they could not find a good solution, they also passed the “green” without gathering it.
The last to arrive was the lion team from Hoong Kungfu School. Some students reported to Hoong Hei Khoon that the “green” was very high, but human formation, which was a usual way to gather high “green”, was not allowed. They also suggested that the lion would by pass the “green”.
Hoong Hei Khoon exclaimed, “We should not by pass the ‘green’, which would show that we lack ability.”
“But how would we gather the green if human formations are not allowed?” declared some students.
“I’ll show you,” Hoong Hei Khoon answered. He took over the lion head, and a senior student took the tail. The lion dance music, which comprised a gigantic drum, a massive gong and some pairs of copper cymbals, sounded majestically.
The lion danced magnificently beneath the “green”, with the lion music creating a joyful din. After some time, Hoong Hei Khoon opened the mouth of the lion and sent out a flying dart, which neatly cut the thread tying the “green”, causing it fall into the lion mouth. All those present applauded loudly and noisily.
The news soon reached lion dancers of the Chan Kungfu School. They became jealous, and came back to scold the lion dancers of the Hoong Kungfu School that they had no manners. This caused members of both lion dance teams shouted at each other and some of them exchanged blows.
Hoong Hei Khoon shouted at his students to stop, and then asked lion dancers of the Chan Kungfu School in a polite way, “In what ways we have no manners?”
The master of the Chan Kungfu School was called Chan Tiet Ngow. He was good at kungfu and had much strength, but was arrogant and irrational.
He pointed at Hoong Hei Khoon and shouted, “How dare you ask in what way you have no manners! In your eyes, do you see our Chan Kungfu School? There were reasons why we did not gather the ‘green’ from Toi Woh Hong. The owner thinks that because he is rich, he can buy us. It is not because we lack the skill to gather the ‘green’. As you are also martial artists, you should know even though it is not explicitly explained.”
Hoong Hei Khoon replied, “That’s wrong. Gathering ‘green’ is a form of entertainment. Everyone can gather the ‘green’. If you do not want to gather it, others may want. Without any purpose, you open your mouth and use angry words to hurt others. “
Chan Tiet Ngow did not answer. He went forward and thrust a punch at Hoong Hei Khoon.
Hoong Hei Khoon retreated a small step to avoid the punch. He did not counter. He did not want to change this small matter into a big matter.
But Chan Tiet Ngow did not appreciate it. He moved forward again and hung a buffalo-horn fist at Hoong Hei Khoon’s temple. Hoong Hei Khoon gently brushed off this attack with a thread-hand, using a pattern called “Golden Dragon Plays with Water”. The two masters then exchanged a number of movements.
Chan Tiet Ngow employed a sideway low horse-riding stance and executed a right thrust punch at Hoong Hei Khoon’s abdomen. Hoong Hei Khoon withdrew his front leg into a left lift-leg stance and employed the pattern “Lohan Plays with Tiger”, thrusting his left fist into Chan Tiet Ngow’s ribs, while his left punching arm brushed away Chan Tiet Ngow’s thrust punch. Chan Tiet Ngow could not avoid, and was hit on the ribs.
Instantly, Hoong Hei Khoon pushed away Chan Tiet Ngow’s right hand, and simultaneously hung a left fist on the opponent’s face, and kicked at the opponent’s groin with his right foot, in a pattern called “Rising Dragon Galloping Tiger”. But out of compassion, Hoong Hei Khoon kicked at the opponent’s abdomen instead of the groin. This combat sequence was from the kungfu set called Triple Stretch, which was a specialty of Hoong Hei Khoon.
Hoong Hei Khoon could have broken Chan Tiet Ngow’s bones, smashed his groin, and caused the opponent serious injury or even death. But he did not want to enlarge what to him was a small matter. He just wanted to put Chan Tiet Ngow out of action for some time. Chan Tiet Ngow’s students ran forward and carried their sifu away.
After this incident Hoong Hei Khoon became famous in Foshan. He was also known to be kindhearted. Later he was regarded as the First Patriarch of Southern Shaolin Kungfu, often called Hoong Family Kungfu, in the world.
When Hoong Hei Khoon reached Guangzhou, he went to meet his siheng, the Venerable Sam Tuck, the abbot of West Zen Monastery. At that time, his sidai, Luk Ah Choy, was there.
(“Siheng” referred to a senior kungfu brother, and “sidai” referred to a junior kungfu brother.)
While Sam Tuck, Hoong Hei Khoon and Luk Ah Choy were talking about the good old days, a monk ran in and told Sam Tuck that a group of people were chopping down trees in front of the temple.
The Venerable Sam Tuck told his two sidai, “In front of West Zen Temple, there is a forest of birch trees. They were planted by our ancestors. It looks that today I have to move my limbs (i.e. take action).“
They saw that between twenty and thirty people were chopping down huge birch trees. A few trees were then falling down with a loud noice.
“Anyone who dares to chop trees in my temple must stop!” Sam Tuck shouted. Otherwise, don’t say that monks are not compassionate!”
Those chopping trees stopped their action. They saw that Sam Tuck was the abbot of the temple, and his hand was holding a staff. Behind him stood two persons who were empty handed.
The leader of the group of people chopping trees was called Li Kang. He thought that the monk should get more people if he wanted to stop them felling trees. There were only three of them, with the monk holding a staff. There were more than twenty people chopping trees, and all were holding axes. Wasn’t it moths charging at fire (i.e. were the monk and his two companions committing suicide)?
Not only he did not run away, he went forward a few steps, and said, “These trees grew up naturally. There are no owners. Everyone can chop them down. You say that these trees belong to West Zen Temple. But around here for tens of miles, there are no less than a million birch trees. You can point out each tree to me, telling me what year, what month and what day it was planted. If you can do so, we shall move away. If you cannot do so, we shall continue our chopping.”
The other people laughed out loudly.
“You have forcefully used words to abuse reason. This shows that you all are not good persons. Right, you can chop the trees, but you must ask my companion.”
Li Kang thought that his companions were the two persons, Hoong Hei Khoon and Luk Ah Choy, behind Sam Tuck. So he said, “You ask them yourself. We just watch.”
Sam Tuck held up his staff and exclaimed, “My companion is here. You all can ask it.”
Li Kang was furious. He waved his axe, and asserted, “This monk has no manners. Today let us show him our terror!”
Saying this, he led the group with axes in their hands to attack Sam Tuck.
Sam Tuck just smiled. He told Hoong Hei Khoon and Luk Ah Choy, “This group of robbers’ hair. I alone will be sufficient to handle them. Please just watch and do not help me.
Thus with staff in hand, Sam Tuck rushed into the crowd. Left strikes and right hits, like a tiger entering into a herd of sheep. He knew very well that to catch the thieves, he must first catch the chief. So, without more words, he struck a hard hit onto the shoulder of Li Kang.
Li Kang sustained a hard hit. He cried loudly and ran. Others seeing Li Kang running away, dropped their axes and ran like mice.
Sam Tuck smiled and commented, “A group of crows!” Then he spoke to Hoong Hei Khoon and Luk Ah Choy, “A person who has left his family (i.e. a monk), moves his hands and moves his legs (i.e. performs unnecessary action), has gone against pure rules (i.e. temple rules). This will cause much laughter.”
Hoong Hei Khoon and Luk Ah Choy quickly replied, “We dare not laugh!”
Sung Chan opened the packet to see what was inside the small gift. It was just a small piece of cloth. Sung Chan was baffled. What had this small piece of cloth to do with Hoong Hei Khoon? Suddenly he realized that the color of the cloth and the dress he was wearing was the same.
He dispersed his students and went into his room. He took off his trousers to examine. He was shocked, and his face was pale. There was a small hole in his trousers near the buttock which exactly fit the small piece of cloth in the gift. He realized that when he kicked Hoong Hei Khoon as they left the school, Hoong Hei Khoon’s response was so fast that he did not realize. If Hoong Hei Khoon were less compassionate, he would have died. He knew that Hoong Hei Khoon was far superior to him in kungfu.
Quickly Sung Chan ran to Three-Spring Hotel and knelt before the room where Hoong Hei Khoon stayed. He cried, “This little person should be dead. Sifu Hoong please forgive me!”
Hoong Hei Khoon came out of his hotel room and lifted up Sung Chan.
Sung Chan explained, “My kick was fast and powerful. I dare not say that it is unparallel in the world, but not many people can even notice it. Now, while I kicked, Sifu Hoong reversed his hand and made a hole in my trousers. I didn’t even realize it. “
“When I treated you son, I heard that your art of kicking was very deep. Today, when I arrived at your school, I perceived that the atmosphere was different. So I paid particular attention to your movements. When you kicked me, I just reversed my hand and responded.”
Sung Chan came up from his seat and knelt down again. He said, “Sifu Hoong ‘s kungfu is really very high. I am without talents. I wondered whether Sifu agrees to accept me as a student.”
Hoong Hei Khoon helped Sung Chan to get up, and replied, “You must not speak like this. If other people know about it, your livelihood will be affected. You and I are different. I am alone, without any care and without any worry. But you have a family, with a wife and children. Your family depends on you. Today we have the karma (i.e. cause and effect) to meet. We are friends. It is not necessary to have a teacher-student relationship.”
Sung Chan was very touched. Then he said, “If Sifu Hoong intends to stay on, you can move to my house. Firstly, you don’t have to be alone to stay in a hotel. Secondly, I can often seek your advice.”
“Thank you for your kindness. I have been away from my home village for almost twenty years. To return to have a look is already more than what I’ve asked for. I have decided to leave tomorrow to go to Guangzhou.”
“Is there anything that make you leave tomorrow?” asked Sung Chan.
“I heard that my sidai (i.e. junior kungfu brothers), Luk Ah Choy and Wu Wei Thein, are in Guangzhou. I want to meet them and also my siheng (i.e. senior kungfu brother) at the West Zen Temple.
Taoist priests, picture taken from Thinklink Oy (FI) on the internet
Black Bone Cheong’s father, Sung Chan, was anxious for his son. But he could not cure him despite being a kungfu master treating injuries. When he heard from his wife that she had invited Hoong Hei Khoon to treat their son, he doubted that Hoong Hei Khoon could do anything. So he did even bother to have a look at them.
However when he heard that his son had recovered completely, he was very surprised. However, if Hoong Hei Khoon were to spread the news, he felt that his future livelihood would be threatened. So he decided to eliminate Hoong Hei Khoon.
He invited Hoong Hei Khoon to his martial school. When Hoong Hei Khoon entered the school, he was surprised. He found a large group of people in martial dress, all ready to have a deadly fight.
Sung Chan gave a greeting and said, “My son suffered a serious problem, if not for sifu’s help his soul would have visited the underworld. I am very grateful, and just regret that we meet rather late.”
“Sifu Sung is well known in the Flower District. For a few hundred miles your big name is on the top. It is an honour to meet you.”
“You need not be courteous,” said Song Chan. “Your theit-ta (i.e. medical treatment for injuries due to falling or being hit) comes from Shaolin. I suppose that before learning theit-ta, you must have practiced kungfu. Your kungfu must be from Shaolin too.”
“I was lucky to learn from the Venerable Chee Seen of Shaolin.”
“I have a question, and wish Sifu Hoong would enlighten me. Although I have entered martial forests (i.e. martial circles) for many years, I am slow and could not find the answer. What is the essence of combat?”
“In front of Sifu Sung, how dare little brother here exercise an axe in front of Pan’s house (i.e. be arrogant by showing my little knowledge. Lu Pan was regarded as the father of furniture making, and he used an axe making furniture.)
Sung Chan pleaded again and again. So Hoong Hei Khoon explained.
“According to little brother, the most important factor in combat is life and death. If a combatant cannot overcome this hurdle of life and death, he will be troubled by many worries. Even when his kungfu is good, he can be defeated by his opponent.
Of course, it is not easy to overcome this hurdle. Some people go into a deep mountain to learn kungfu, hoping to find a solution from the philosophy of Zen, so that at times of life and death, when myriad thoughts arise, he can leave aside everything and does not have a single thought. When the hurdle of life and death is overcome, his heart spontaneously becomes clear and wide, without a single thought. Then, even when he is faced with a million armies, he is not afraid.”
“Well said, well said,” replied Sung Chan. “I’ve benefited deeply.
They then talked about other things. Suddenly, Sung Chan asked, “According to the way of combat, from ancient till now, people of the world mention monks, priests and nuns. I wonder whether Sifu Hoong can comment on one or two things regarding this?”
“To go back would be lengthy,” replied Hoong Hei Khoon. “Since the Shaolin First Patriarch, Bodhidharma, invented Eighteen Lohan Hands, many people learned it. They regarded it as the main school of martial art (as distinct from deviated schools). Those from the house of the Buddha (i.e. the Buddhist system) regarded it as a top treasure. Added to research, the Eighteen Lohan Hands spread profusely and many ultimate arts developed from the house of the Buddha.
“Regarding monks, priests and nuns, they either stay in houses of emptiness (i.e. places of spiritual cultivation, like temples) or they wander like clouds in four directions (i.e. wandered everywhere, especially in natural surroundings). Their heart is focused on one. They have no longings, and no worries, their heart is bright and their spirit full, easy to attain the marvelous.
“Thus, when we read legends and discuss tradition, and listen to the transmissions of people, those who have ultimate arts, and bequest their names to prosperity, are mostly monks, priests and nuns. There may be secular disciples who attain similar achievements, but many of them were nurtured inside Zen houses (i.e. monasteries or temples for spiritual cultivation), and then established their own schools.
“Eventually they came from the house of the Buddha. Now, when people of the world talk about martial art, they frequently mention these three families (i.e. monks, priests and nuns). I believe these are the reasons.”
The two of them discussed a lot of topics, but never about crossing hands (i.e their own combat). Those people surrounding them were astonished. The main purpose of Sung Chan tempting Hoong Hei Khoon to the kungfu school was to give Hoong Hei Khoon some severe harm, but now they didn’t move their hands (i.e. didn’t act), but the two only talked and talked.
Some people showed eye-signs to Sung Chan, but he didn’t act. He continued talking courteously. The others were anxious. Some of them stepped their legs. Some of them coughed. Hoong Hei Khoon observed them. He was concerned that a deadly fight might occur. So he asked for leave, and Sung Chan escorted the guest to the door.
When Sung Chan returned to the group, they asked, “Sifu, you have tempted Hoong Hei Khoon to come, why didn’t you act but sent him away.”
Sung Chan replied with a smile. “The thinking of your heart, how can I not know? If we do not know his depth or shallowness, but just move our hands (i.e. act according to our plan), it may be disadvantageous. So, first I used words to test his kungfu. Moreover, we actually have matched!”
Everyone was startled. “Sifu just talked with him, but did not attack.”
“You are still not deep in your experience, so you may not realize it. Just now, while sending him off, he was in front and I was behind. I executed a kick from behind, yet he did not even realize it. Now you can know the extent of his kungfu. You can now go after him, without me doing the attack.”
The students of Sung Chan took their weapons and rushed out of the school after Hoong Hei Khoon. Just as they were outside, a small boy ran forward and passed something to Sung Chan.
The small boy said, “Sifu Hoong thanks Sifu Sung for his hospitality. Sifu Hoong asks me to hand this little gift to Sifu Sung.”
Hoong Hei Khoon, one of the best disciples of the Venerable Chee Seen, was from Fa Yun, or the Flower District, of Guangdong Province. When he was small, he lost his parents. The Venerable Chee Seen found him on the street, and took him back to the Shaolin Monastery.
One day he returned to the Flower District. After many years at the Shaolin Monastery, he found that the Flower District had become prosperous. But when he realized that he had no relations in the district, and not even a place to rest his feet, sadness rose to his heart.
He entered a restaurant to quench his sadness with wine. But there was a saying that:
Lifting a blade to cut water, water continues to flow.
Lifting a glass to drink wine, sadness grows.
He checked his money, and found that it was not much left. So he had a plan to sell medicated pills to overcome injuries due to falling and being hit.
There were a lot of people seeing him perform kungfu as a prelude to selling medicated pills, but when he started to sell, not a single customer bought his pills. Disappointed he was about to pack up to leave, when a woman came forward.
“Sifu,” the woman asked, “can the medicated pills overcome any injury?”
“No,” Hoong Hei Khoon replied honestly, “if the injury is severe, the injured person must consult a master for personal medication.”
“Are you an expert in this kind of medication?”
“I don’t dare to call myself an expert, but I know a thing or two.”
“My son is injured, and his pain is terrible. I wonder whether sifu can have a look at him?”
This woman. Madame Li, was the mother of Black Bone Cheong. Hoong Hei Khoon followed the woman to her house, and she led him straight to her son. Hoong Hei Khoon found Black Bone Cheong was seriously injured and was semi-unconscious, his face pale like death, and he could not even speak. Hoong Hei Khoon gently slapped on an energy point to open it, and clear the energy blockage. Then he prescribed some medicine for Black Bone Cheong to take.
After half a unit of Chinese time (which was an hour), Black Bone Cheong slowly opened his eyes and began to speak softly. He complained of pain.
Madame Li was very happy. She told Hoong Hei Khoon, “Sifu’s hand is marvelous like the return of spring (i.e. very good in medicine). My son was semi-unconscious for two days. Now he can cry pain. I think his injury is reduced. I beseech sifu to stay in my humble house for a few days until my son recovers. I wonder if sifu can agree.”
Hoong Hei Khoon found that the patient was seriously injured. He also wanted to know the cause of his injury. So he agreed.
After taking some medication, Black Bone Cheong slept until evening. When he awoke, he said he was very hungry. Madame Li fed him some broth.
Hoong Hei Khoon asked, “Elder Brother Sung, how were you injured?”
Black Bone Cheong did not want to tell the truth, as it might damage his father’s reputation. So he said, “I was careless. I was accidentally hit by a pole.”
Hoong Hei Khoon said, “At one look I knew that your injury was due to dim-mark (i.e. dotting energy points) in combat. Now the pain is under control, but dead blood is still clogged in the injury. If the injury worsens, it may affect your heart. You haven’t overcome your danger-point yet. If you say that you were hit by a pole, I would treat your injury according to being hit by a pole. You have to think carefully.”
Black Bone Cheong replied, “I have no choice, I have to tell the truth. But sifu promise not to say it out, or else my father’s reputation will be damaged.”
“Right. I promise not to say it out. Quickly tell me the truth.”
Black Bone Cheong told Hoong Hei Khoon everything about his combat in kicking the foundation (i.e. challenging the kungfu master to beat him so that his kungfu school would be close).
Hoong Hei Khoon shook his head and said, “You haven’t entered the world deeply (i.e. you are still inexperienced), how can you imagine yourself to be grandiose? Your injury is due to your pompous behavior.
“Those who have marvelous arts do not want to fight. You just entered the martial forests (i.e. martial circles), and you have become vain. Old Mok Six is compassionate, and lets mercy flows from his hands. Otherwise, even with the art of returning to heaven (i.e. super medical practice), it is insufficient to save you!”
Black Bone Cheong was frightened to the core. He asked, “What techniques does he use. These techniques are so terrible.”
“He used the techniques of dotting energy points.”
“What is this type of kungfu? I haven’t heard of it before.”
Hoong Hei Khoon explained patiently, “This art of dotting energy points (called dim-mark in kungfu terminology) is said to be invented in the Ming Dynasty by Zhang San Feng.”
(Zhang San Feng was reputed to live for over 200 years. He was born in the late Song Dynasty, and extended to the subsequence Ming Dynasty. In Cantonese pronunciation, “Zhang San Feng” was “Cheong Sam Foong”.)
“Later the Taoist priest, Foong Yit Yun, succeeded him, and transmitted the art to the great kungfu knight, Cheong Chun Yit. In the hands of Cheong Chun Yit, the art spread gloriously. From 36 techniques it became 72 techniques. Among the energy points, there were numb points, dumb points, faint points, death points, light points and heavy points.
“Concerning techniques, there were dotting with fingers, slapping with palms, striking with knees, hitting with elbows, using staffs and maces, and secret weapons, without any limitation. Later, Cheong Chun Yit transmitted the art to his special disciple, Wang Feng. Wang Feng further developed the techniques, making a total of 108. Besides dotting, he invented the techniques of chin-na (i.e. holding and gripping). For a time, people in martial arts regarded it as a treasure.
“Those who knew the art, did not easily pass on the art to others, to prevent evil martial artists to use the art to harm others. Thus, until now only a few know the art.”
Black Bone Cheong was touched.
Hoong Hei Khoon continued, “When you have recovered, you must never use your martial art to bully others.”
Black Bone Cheong rose up, and prostrated before Hoong Hei Khoon on his bed. He vowed that he would remember the advice, and be honorable to other people.
Hoong Hei Khoon saw that Black Bone Cheong was brave enough to change, and was very happy. He dedicated himself to cure Black Bone Cheong. Within ten days, Black Bone Cheong did not have any more blockage and pain, and was back to normal.
That day, he celebrated with wine and good food for Hoong Hei Khoon. Grasping his hands in greeting, he said, “Sifu, for saving my life and your golden words and jade advice, even if I die a million times, I could not repay.”
He took out some money, which was 100 taels of silver, and told Hoong Hei Khoon that he hoped Hoong Hei Khoon would accept it with laughter (i.e. accept the money but laugh at it as silly). After some initial refusal, Hoong Hei Khoon eventually accepted it.
The legendary dim-mark was taught at the Dragon-Strength Course in Penang in December 2014
In Fa Yun, or Flower District, of Guangdong Province there was a kungfu master called Sung Chan. He had a kungfu school and treated “thiet ta” patients, or patients suffering from falls and being hit. He was well known in the area.
(“Falls and being hit” is “thiet ta” in Cantonese, or “die da” in Mandarin pronunciation. Please note that “d” in Mandarin written in Romanized Chinese, is pronounced like “t” in English. “Thiet ta” is a special branch of Chinese medicine, and is best translated as “traumatology”. It was usually treated by kungfu masters, not by doctors.)
Sung Chan had a son called Sung Cheong, who was known as Black Bone Cheong. Indeed, his real name was seldom known.
Black Bone Cheong learned kungfu from his father since he was small, and had a lot of muscular strength. But he was hot tempered, so his father sent him away as an apprentice in a wine shop.
There was established another kungfu school in the district city by Mok Lou Luk, or Old Mok Six. Black Bone Cheong felt exasperated when hearing about this new kungfu school. Because of his arrogance, he did not believe there were other capable persons. He wanted to kick the foundation of this school (i.e. defeat the master of this school, resulting in the school to close).
So one day he visited this kungfu school, and was surprised to find Old Mok Six in his advanced age, thin with a hump on his back, and his face was yellowish. Old Mok Six did not look at all like a kungfu master.
Black Bone Cheong told Old Mok Six that he was the son of Sung Chan, had heard of the fame of Old Mok Six, and so he came to seek teaching.
Old Mok Six said, “I have started teaching here for less than a month, and young master said that you had heard of my fame. I don’t know from where have you heard this. But your father is a well known kungfu master. His fame is already well established. Why do you sacrifice near and look for far?”
“I’ve heard of your name, so I’ve come to learn.”
“Glorious people do not speak hidden words. Please tell me straight (i.e. honestly). How would you come to learn?” asked Old Mok Six.
Black Bone Cheong stood up and answered, “I want to exchange some moves with elderly master.”
Old Mok Six was an old stream and lake (i.e. experienced person). He knew that Black Bone Cheong’s intention was to kick his foundation. With a greeting, he answered, “Please!”
Black Bone Cheong moved forward with a punch, which Old Mok Six deflected. Then Black Bone Cheong struck out his two palms. Again Old Mok Six warded off the attack and gave the opponent a kick. The two persons exchanged a number of moves.
Eventually, Black Bone Cheong gripped Old Mok Six’ pigtail, and pulled hard, causing Old Mok Six to tilt his head.
“Ha, ha,” laughed Black Bone Cheong, “Elderly master Mok, even when you are skillful, what techniques would you use to escape from this predicament?”
“You better let go of your hand,” the old master warned, “or else you will regret.”
Black Bone Cheong thought that the old master wanted face (i.e. too proud to concede defeat). He said, “In combat, don’t you use your best techniques?”
Old Mok Six turned around and used his index and middle fingers to dot on the opponent’s energy point at the ribs. This art was called “dim mark”, or dotting energy points. Black Bone Cheong was unprepared. He felt his body numb, and he involuntarily let go of his grip.
“Seng yeong, seng yeong (i.e. thank you for allowing me to make my moves). Young master’s art is definitely not shallow.”
The elderly master’s words were meant for Black Bone Cheong to apologize in front of the master’s students. Then he would release the blockage of energy at the energy point.
But Black Bone Cheong was too proud. He did not want to lower his head (i.e. to be humble) in front of other people. Without saying another word, he ran out of the kungfu school.
When he returned home, he told the happening to his father. Sung Chan was both angry and apprehensive. He was angry that his son was useless, and could not do big things. He was apprehensive because he did not know how to release energy blockage at energy points, and thus was unable to overcome his son’s injury. To beg Old Mok Six to release the energy blockage might damage his reputation.
He could only prescribed some medicated powder to clear blood blockage and generate blood flow for his son, but it could not clear energy blockage. After a few days, not only his son was not cured, his injury became more serious.
The Buddha, symbol of wisdom, compassion, courage and trustworthiness
After leaving Chan Chun Fook and Cheah Pak, Luk Ah Choy was thinking of his sifu, the Venerable Chee Seen. He sifu had been like a stern father and a kind mother to him. He was sent by his sifu to catch Lai Fu, who secretly crawled through a drainage hole of the Shaolin Monastery instead of graduating through the Lane of Wooden Men. Now he let Lai Fu go. Didn’t he forget his sifu’s grace and forsake his sifu’s righteousness? Didn’t he betray his sifu? He became very miserable, and decided to return to the Shaolin Monastery at once to see his sifu.
As soon as he arrived at the Shaolin Monastery, he went straight to a meditation room to see his sifu, the Venerable Chee Seen. He knelt down and said nothing.
Seeing Luk Ah Choy’s return, Chee Seen was very happy. But Chee Seen did not see Lai Fu captured. So he asked, “Ah Choy, you have been away for a long time. Stand up, have a seat and tell me what you have been doing all these days.”
Luk Ah Choy continued to kneel before his teacher and knocked his head three times on the ground. His tears rolled down unceasingly. “Sifu,” he said, “this time my return is to take punishment. I have broken monastery rules, and am willing to accept any punishment and advice sifu will give.”
“Ah Choy, what is this? What punishment?”
Luk Ah Choy felt ashamed. He told his sifu that he did not want brothers in the same kungfu lineage to fight with each other, that he let Lai Fu go, and that he lingered around outside the monastery to deceive his sifu.”
Hearing this, Chee Seen was furious.
“Bring my Zen maze!” he ordered.
The monks nearby were terrified. Those sympathetic to Luk Ah Choy were perturbed, thinking in their heart that Luk Ah Choy would surely be seriously punished. Some eyed Luk Ah Choy and were worried for him, but Luk Ah Choy was unmoved. He continued kneeling without saying anything.
Two monks brought his Zen mace for Chee Seen. He took the mace and walked out of the room. After a few steps, he turned round and asked Luk Ah Choy to follow him. He also asked the monks standing on both sides to sound the monastery bell.
When the monastery bell was sounded, everyone assembled in the main hall. The atmosphere was very tensed. Everyone was aghast to the extreme.
Chee Seen, with the Zen mace in his hand, stepped forward. He asked Luk Ah Choy to stand in front of the gathering.
“Ah Choy,” Chee Seen said loudly, “you have never beguiled the blood in my heart (i.e. my earnest dedication and expectation).
Luk Ah Choy could stand no longer. He cried loudly, “Sifu!”
The Venerable Chee Seen continued, “The principles of our monastery are to be wise, compassionate, courageous and trustworthy. You have achieved all these principles. Today, I have gathered everybody to show you as a model, so that all who come after can be like you.
“Let us just discuss what you have done this time. You received order to bring Lai Fu back to the monastery. Other people will do just that, so as to please me. But you are different, you let him go. You let him go because you do not want to see someone whom you have met for years to fight amongst themselves. Anyone who lacks feelings and righteousness cannot do that.
“Anyone knows that disobeying sifu’s order would be severely punished. But you are willing to take the punishment on his behalf, showing the great compassion of your heart. To be able to do this requires wisdom and thoughtfulness. It is not attainable by ordinary people.
“You have waited till today to return to the monastery to report. You have spoken straight (i.e. honestly) without any lies. This is trustworthiness.
“Just now I shouted for my Zen mace. For other people, whose face will not change color, whose legs will not shake? But you have remained complacent, and your spirit was calm. Without courage, who can do this?
“All said, all these are virtues. Virtues should be spread. I hope all present will emulate.”
After he had completed his speech, the Venerable Chee Seen held a cup of tea and passed it to Luk Ah Choy.
“Ah Choy, drink it.”
Luk Ah Choy again prostrated, then drank the tea in one gulp.
After Luk Ah Choy had finished drinking the tea, the Venerable Chee Seen said.
“Ah Choy, although your kungfu is still far from the stage of ascending the summit and creating afresh (i.e. have reached the height of the state of art, and is ready to create new developments), you have realized the principles we cherish. Tomorrow you can descend the mountain (i.e. leave the monastery).”
Luk Ah Choy was one of the Shaolin masters who spread Southern Shaolin Kungfu to the world. His disciple, Wong Kai Ying, taught his son, Wong Fei Hoong, whose lineage spread to Europe and North America.
Luk Ah Choy and Ma Hoi Sing went to the same open space near the door. Luk Ah Choy adopted the poise stance he used earlier to defeat Cheah Pak, “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave”, with his right tiger-claw in front in a right lift-leg stance. Ma Hoi Sing adopted the same poise stance in his left bow-arrow stance with two hands in front.
Ma Hoi Sing moved forward with a left bow-arrow stance and struck Luk Ah Choy with his left palm. Luk Ah Choy moved back his front leg and thread away the attack, then gripped Ma Hoi Sing’s left wrist with his left tiger-claw. Immediately Ma Hoi Sing struck forward his right palm. Luk Ah Choy retreated his body slightly to avoid the palm attack, and again gripped the attacking wrist with his right tiger-claw.
Now both of Ma Hoi Sing’s hands were held by Luk Ah Choy’s tiger claws. If Luk Ah Choy were to grip hard on the energy points at Ma Hoi Sing’s wrists, Luk Ah Choy would have numbed the hands of Ma Hoi Sing, making Ma Hoi Sing unable to fight further.
But Luk Ah Choy merely held the hands. He wanted to show Ma Hoi Sing that he could use the same technique to defeat Ma Hoi Sing, despite the saying that northern kungfu styles were known for kicks, and southern kungfu styles were known for fists.
Luk Ah Choy lifted Ma Hoi Sing’s both hands upward, still holding them, thus blocking Ma Hoi Sing’s sight. Simultaneously he executed a thrust kick at Ma Hoi Sings chest using a pattern called “White Horse Presents Hoof”. But Luk Ah Choy did not kick his opponent; he merely touched the chest. Then he lowered Ma Hoi Sing’s hands, covered them well with his own left hand, and pierced two fingers of his right hand into Ma Hoi Sing’s eyes, using a pattern called “Two Dragons Fight for Pearl”. Again he did not really pierce the opponent’s eyes. He stopped an inch from target. Then he gently push Ma Hoi Sing away, out of the fighting arena.
“Seng Yeong,” Luk Ah Choy said.
(“Seng Yeong” was in Cantonese pronunciation. The phrase meant “allowing me to make my moves”, and was often used by a winner in kungfu combat because of courtesy.)
“Thank you for not hurting me,” came the reply.
Ma Hoi Sing was dejected. He went towards the table to collect his double sabres.
“Actually my specialty is these double sabres,” he said.
“I can also fight you with weapons if you like.”
“What weapons would you use?” Ma Hoi Sing asked.
Luk Ah Choy looked around. Then he answered, “I’ll use a wooden bench.”
“A wooden bench? It’s meant for people to sit on, not for fighting.”
“A skillful exponent can use anything to fight,” Luk Ah Choy replied.
“It’s not fair. My sabres can cut you, but you can only hit me.”
“In the hands of an expert, a hit by a wooden bench can be more deadly than a cut by a sabre. If you can cut me, it shows that your kungfu is superior, in which case I have nothing to say. But I can assure you that you cannot even touch me,” commented Luk Ah Choy.
The two combatants assumed their poise stances. Ma Hoi Sing rushed forward with a right downward slash. Luk Ah Choy deflected the slash with his wooden bench. Instantly the left sabre came down with another downward slash. Again Luk Ah Choy deflected the slash with his wooden bench.
For the next attack, Ma Hoi Sing changed techniques. Instead of a downward slash, he attacked with a reverse slash of his right sabre, i.e. the slash moved from downward to upward, and aimed at Luk Ah Choy’s groin followed up to his body.
Luk Ah Choy let the reverse slash pass his body by retreating slightly, and at just the right moment he followed the upward movement of the slash with the legs of the bench facing skyward, and by turning the legs downward again, he locked Ma Hoi Sing’s right arm, causing him to drop the sabre.
Ma Hoi Sing used his other sabre to pierce at Luk Ah Choy. Luk Ah Choy moved adroitly to his right side to avoid the pierce, then lowered the wooden bench at Ma Hoi Sing’s left arm, with the legs of the bench facing downward, slamming the bench onto the floor. Immediately, Luk Ah Choy thrust the bench at Ma Hoi Sing, causing him to drop the sabre to jump back. Now both sabres were disarmed.
Again, Luk Ah Choy said, “Seng Yeong”.
“Warrior is very fast and skillful. May I know your name, and what style of kungfu you practice?”
“As you have said, I don’t change my name while sitting or traveling. My name is Luk Ah Choy, and I practice Shaolin Kungfu.”
“Shaolin Kungfu? It is the best martial art in the world!” exclaimed Ma Hoi Sing. He then left the shop with his gang members. Henceforth, Luk Ah Choy’s name became very well known.
Luk Ah Choy went to examine Cheah Pak.
“Luckily, you are not serious injured,” Luk Ah Choy said.
Chan Chun Fook, the old owner of the shop, added, “If warrior does not mind, to ensure Cheah Pak’s recovery, you can stay in my shop for a few days. There is a room upstairs.”
Luk Ah Choy earlier sold off all his medicated pills. So he wrote a herbal concoction for Cheah Pak specially effective for overcoming injury.