After defeating Cheng Loon, Looi Hoong or Tiger Looi walked to the front of the lei-tai, or stage for kungfu combat, and said.
“Spectators below the lei-tai, if there are capable persons, please come up for a test.”
From nowhere in the crowd came a loud answer.
“Don’t boast. Today I’ll take your life.” Immediately a figure flew up the stage.
Looi Hoong replied angrily, “Who are you? Why don’t you have some manners? Even when coming up a lei-tai for combat, there should be courtesy first, then martial art. Now you open your mouth to want my life, as if my life is so easy for you to take. Quickly tell us your name. I don’t strike the nameless.”
The man laughed loudly. “Open your eyes to see carefully. Your lord is a well known kungfu master in all areas of Suzhow and Hangzhou named Cheong Xin Harng. My two fists once struck dead two tigers. Look at your body. Is your body comparable to two tigers?”
Looi Hoong smirked coldly. “Who saw you killed two tigers with your two fists. With your two fists you can only tear two paper tigers.”
Cheong Xin Harng was angry. His fists hit Looi Hoong wildly. Looi Hoong was secretly laughing. Purposely he feigned some weakness to tempt the opponent to hit futilely.
Cheong Xin Harng was not deep in his kungfu, coupled with wanting to win easily. He did not know that Looi Hoong’s movements were meant to trick him, but instead wrongly thought that the opponent’s defence was weak.
So he advanced and came close. Looi Hoong suddenly changed his tactics and used the pattern, “Singly Chop the Hua Mountain” to chop at Cheong Xin Harng’s head.
Cheong Xin Harng could not defend. His head was broken, and his brain splashed out. He fell down dead.
Looi Hoong kicked his carcass down the stage. Full of pride he announced to the spectators, “If there are capable persons, come up on stage. Evening is approaching; we may have to wait for tomorrow.”
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.