At sunset, gentle breeze blew, and the sounds of frogs and insects sounded. People of all walks of life returned home. In the day time, some were farmers, some were traders and craftsmen, some were actors and artists, and of various occupations. But at night they were all brothers of Hoong Moon (Cantonese pronounciation), or Dynamic Gate, a secret society dedicated to the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty.
Within a few years, Hoong Moon grew to be a gigantic organization but with great secrecy and strict rules. At night members gathered at clan halls and temples to discuss how to overthrow the Qing Dynasty. Where these secret members gathered was known as Hoong Fa Ting, or Pavilion of Red Flowers.
The inner chamber of Hoong Fa Ting was known as Choong Yi Tong, or Hall of Royalty and Righteousness. Royalty here referred not to being royal to the government, which was the Qing Dynasty, but being royal to overthrowing the Qing or Manchu and restoring the previous Ming Dynasty, which comprised the Han Chinese. Although China today includes Manchuria, the home of the Manchus, at that time “Chinese” meant Han Chinese, who lived in China proper. What the West regards as the Chinese language, is referred to in China today as the Han language.
That night, after gathering at Hoong Fa Ting, or Pavilion of Red Flowers, the Big Brother, or leader of the secret society asked its members to stay. He announced that he had received intelligence that Looi Hoong, known as Tiger Looi, the Chief Instructor of the army at Hangzhou, had set up a lei-tai, or stage for kungfu combat, with two huge banners announcing “A punch strikes the whole province of Guangdong” and “A leg kicks the two districts of Suzhou and Hangzhou”, which was a great insult to all present. The leader also said that Looi Hoong had killed many challengers.
Miu Chooi Fa, who was present at the gathering, was alarmed. She told the leader that her husband and her son had gone to Hangzhou. As her son, Fong Sai Yuk, was young, he might have caused trouble. So she said she would go to Hangzhou at once to find out the situation there as well as to see her husband and son.
As Miu Chooi Fa was the daughter of Miu Hin, the Plucking-Star Lohan, she was much respected in Hoong Moon, or the gigantic secret society. The leader agreed and ordered two trusted followers to accompany her. But Miu Chooi Fa declined, saying that she was used to traveling alone, and the followers might be a hindrance instead of help.
When Miu Chooi Fa arrived at Guangdong Association in Hangzhou, people were celebrating the victory of Fong Sai Yuk over Looi Hoong.
Chan Yuk Shi, the director of the association, invited Fong Tuck and Fong Sai Yuk to be guests of honour at the celebration dinners.
Chan Yuk Shi loudly announced, “This time the great insult felt by all Cantonese will not be erased if not for the great valour and ability of Young Master Fong, and all those masters who met Looi Hoong would have died in vain. This great victory can really become the talk for thousands of years. Unfortunately I am not talented and unable to repay this kindness. I can only offer a few tables of diluted wine to show my gratitude. All present please lift up your glasses to toast to Mr Fong and his Young Master Fong to thank them for allowing all Cantonese to release a sigh from our mouth.”
Everyone was very happy, and full of praises for Fong Sai Yuk. Fong Sai Yuk had never seen such a scene, and was full of pride. He drank all the wine in his cup and everyone applauded.
Just then a messenger came with a massage for Fong Sai Yuk. It was an invitation to another lei-tai match from Li Siew Wan, the wife of Looi Hoong.
Fong Sai Yuk was agitated.
Chan Yuk Shi said, “Everyone has seen the skills of Young Master’s kungfu. But if Li Siew Wan does not have ability beyond other people, she would not dare to meet Young Master at a lei-tai to test one’s kungfu. I suggest it is best that Young Master declines the invitation so as not to take this risk. Otherwise, before one wave subsides, another wave arises. Duel after duel, where can it end?”
“You’re worried that I may suddenly ‘lose hand’ (i.e. fail), and lose my reputation,” replied Fong Sai Yuk. But it is my honour to accept the challenge, otherwise people will laugh at me.”
“Yes, it’s an honour to accept the lei-tai challenge,” Mui Chooi Fa added, “but you must take precaution and wear a protection shield which I have brought along.” Mui Chooi Fa showed the protection shield which was made of light but very hard material, and protected the chest area of a wearer’s body.
When Fong Sai Yuk arrived at Pure Ball Gate, where the erected lei-tai was, the place was quite deserted, as most of the warriors who dared to face Looi Hoong had been defeated by him.
Foong Sai Yuk saw the two banners which read
“A punch strikes the whole province of Guangdong”
“A leg kicks the two districts of Suzhou and Hangzhou”
Fong Sai Yuk jumped up and tore the two banners to pieces.
Hearing the commotion, Looi Hoong rushed out and shouted, “What are you doing? Oh, you’re only a small boy!”
“So you are Looi Hoong,” Fong Sai Yuk replied. “People call you Tiger Looi, but you are only a paper tiger.”
Looi Hoong’s anger subsided on seeing a small boy. “You’re just a boy. I don’t want to fight with a small boy. If you prostrate to me and knock you head on the floor three times, I shall let you go.”
“Are you afraid? There is no mention that a young boy cannot fight so long as he appears on the lei-tai. Paper Tiger, I’ll send you to the underworld.”
The statements made Looi Hoong angry. He moved forward and attacked Fong Sai Yuk’s temples with “Dark Wind Enters Cave”.
Fong Sai Yuk lowered his body, placed his right leg between the opponent’s feet, and lifted the elbows of the opponent’s attack, using the pattern “Double Lift Palms”.
The two combatants exchanged numerous encounters, rising like arrows and coming down like wind, rising without form, and coming down without traces, like wild wind sweeping the ground.
Fong Sai Yuk knew that Looi Hoong’s kungfu was good. So he purposely tore the banners to make him angry. He knew that when the energy of fire rushed at the heart, the opponent’s techniques would be floating and rough. He could then use the strong points of his small agile body to attack.
After a few more exchanges, Fong Sai Yuk employed “Reverse Striking of Purple Bell” to attack Looi Hoong’s lower body. Looi Hoong used his waving hand to brush away the attack. But it was a feign move. Foong Sai Yuk immediately moved forward with a phoenix-eye fist at Looi Hoong’s ribs with “Swallow Flying through Clouds”.
Looi Hoong was taken aback. He swiftly jumped back.
Fong Sai Yuk smilingly instigated, “Why should Sifu Looi jump back. Aren’t you afraid of a small boy. Come forward and engage some techniques.”
Tiger Looi became angrier. He realized that although the opponent was small in age, he was very formidable. His intention to kill arose. His eyes shone with hatred. He decided to use his ultimate technique, yin-yang kicks.
Fong Sai Yuk understood Looi Hoong’s intention. He knew that when an opponent became angry, when anger attacked his heart, when fire confused his eyes, his techniques would be confused. Fong Sai Yuk remained calm and careful, knowing that Looi Hoong would use his ultimate technique. He jumped about agilely, keeping himself save from Looi Hoong’s attack, and ready for his ultimate technique.
Looi Hoong made a few feign moves hoping to confuse his opponent. Then he jumped up to kick Fong Sai Yuk’s groin. Fong Sai Yuk retreated his front leg to avoid the kick. But the kick was a feign move if the opponent could defend against it. The real kick followed, while still in the air kicking Fong Sai Yuk’s groin a second time but with the other leg.
Without moving his feet, Fong Sai Yuk shifted his body back to avoid the second kick, using the pattern “Tame a Tiger with a String of Beads”. As soon as the two kicks missed their targets, and Looi Hoong landed on his feet, Fong Sai Yuk drove his right punch into the opponent’s ribs in a pattern called “Precious Duck Swims through Lotus”.
Tiger Looi was very surprised. His ultimate technique of the double kick had never failed him, but now a small boy could avoid it. More urgently a punch was driving into his ribs. He quickly moved back his front leg into a false leg stance and swept his hand against the coming punch in a pattern called “False Leg Hand Sweep”.
But the punch to the ribs was a feign. As soon as Tiger Looi’s hand-sweep came down, Fong Sai Yuk retreated his punch, then moved forward to drive a cup fist into the Looi Hoong’s heart, using the pattern “Black Tiger Steals Heart”.
Looi Hoong could not avoid this fatal attack. Like a top without thread, Looi Hoong was flung back a few feet by the punch, and landed on the lei-tai dead.
Everyone present was stunned. Fong Sai Yuk calmly jumped down the stage and walked away.
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Both Fong Tuck and Miu Chooi Fa loved their son, Fong Sai Yuk, very much.
Under the supervision of his mother, at the age of 3 Fong Sai Yuk wore an iron helmet and steel shoes to run and jump about. At 5 he practiced zhan zhuang (or stance training). At 6 he began fists and kicks (i.e. unarmed kungfu). At 7 he learned formations (i.e. poles driven onto the ground to form certain formations). At 8 he could perform well on Plum Flower Formation. By the time he was 11 he learned all the 18 weapons.
Now Fong Sai Yuk was 15 years of age. His two elder brothers, Fong How Yuk and Fong Mei Yuk, had completed their studies at the Shaolin Monastery and returned home. Together the three brothers had the bones of kungfu knights and the gall-bladder of righteousness. (Kungfu knights were chivalrous and excellent in kungfu. In Chinese those who are brave are colloquially regarded as having big gall-bladders.)
But Fong Tuck was concerned. As Fong Sai Yuk was still young, his father was concerned that Fong Sai Yuk might cause trouble. So wherever Fong Tuck went, he always had his son by his side.
Extreme silence created motion. Having been in his house for too long, Fong Tuck wanted to go traveling for awhile. So one day he said to his wife, Miu Chooi Fa, “I’m thinking of visiting Hangzhou to see some old friends. Regarding Sai Yuk, I shall bring him with me, so that you won’t have to worry.”
A few days later, Fong Tuck and his son, Sai Yuk, left their home towards Hangzhou. Never did he realize that this trip would forever make his son famous.
When they reached Hangzhou, they first visited Guangdong Association to see his old friend, Chan Yuk Shi.
As soon as he entered the association, Fong Tuck realized that something was terribly wrong. There were about 20 tablets addressed to the dead, and monks recited sutras to lead their souls. He asked someone to see his old friend, Chan Yuk Shi.
Chan Yuk Shi hurriedly came out from an inner hall. When asked, Chan Yuk Shi replied, “Borther Fong, you have just arrived at Hangzhou. You probably do not know what we have gone through.” He then invited Fong Tuck to a room and explained everything clearly to him.
Fong Tuck and Chan Yuk Shi sighed sadly. But at a side, Fong Sai Yuk angrily banged a table and interjected, “Papa, don’t you worry. Tomorrow I shall go and take Looi Hoong’s life to avenge the dead.”
“You haven’t dried sucking milk (which means you are still a child). How dare you say such big words in front of elders! Quickly retreat,” Fong Tuck commanded.
Fong Tuck then spoke to Chan Yuk Shi, “My little child doesn’t know manners. Please forgive him.”
Chan Yuk Shi replied smilingly, “You and I are old friends of many years. You need not be so courteous. But if young brother can say such noble words, he must be well versed in martial arts. Otherwise, he is only 15, how can he speak in such a way.”
“Yes, this boy knows some martial arts. His ability is taught by my inner woman (i.e. wife). After training for 10 and more years, his martial art is not below that of Chooi Fa. But his nature is too forceful. I’m worried that he may cause trouble. Luckily he is still afraid of me. Even when his fire is burning (i.e when he is angry), if I scold him just once, he will not dare to move.
“This time I bring him along is because I cannot let my heart down (i.e. I am concerned). So I keep him by my side. Just now, after hearing your explanation his fiery nature relapses. Luckily I am around. Otherwise, I don’t know what big mess he may create.”
Hearing Fong Tuck’s words, Chan Yuk Shi remained silent.
That afternoon, to be sure Fong Tuck locked Sai Yuk in a room. Fong Sai Yuk rethought what Chan Yuk Shi had said. Looi Hoong was an animal in human’s clothing. Without killing him, it would not satisfy Fong Sai Yuk’s anger. He thrust out his right palm and chipped off a corner of a table.
Fong Sai Yuk said to himself, “I am also a Cantonese. Insulting Cantonese is insulting me. If I do not know kungfu, I can’t do anything. But my kungfu is deep and sublime. How can I just sit to allow such a great insult to my clan?”
Thinking of this, anger rose from his chest, and cannot be dispersed. He took an iron ruler (which was a weapon like a trident) with him, and put on an outer coat. He then looked around to see if he could escape.
Observing awhile, he noticed that there was a window behind his bed that could lead outside. He climbed up his bed to look outwards. He was pleased to find the ground not more than 10 feet from him. He broke down some iron bars at the window and jumped down. He tidied his dress then rushed towards Pure Ball Gate where the lei-tai was located.
In Guangzhou, or Canton, there was a large merchant shop dealing with silk clothing. It had a history of over a hundred years, but its expansion was only the recent few decades. It was not merely dealing with retailing, but wholesaling to many shops all over the country.
The owner was called Fong Tuck. He was already elderly, but his face was robust, his eyes shinning and his forehead glowing. Now he did not bother himself with the business of his shop but enjoyed his later life at home.
Fong Tuck was married and had two sons, called Fong How Yuk and Fong Mei Yuk. Since his wife’s death, and as his two sons loved training with sabres and staffs, he sent them to the Shaolin Monastery to learn from the Venerable Chee Seen.
But about 15 years ago, Fong Tuck remarried! Although he was about 50, his wife, Miu Chooi Fa, was only 20. A young lady marrying an old man: if this was not some rare news from ancient time till now, it must be something very odd.
And here was how it happened. About 15 years ago an elderly man selling cooking salt was caught in the rain. All his goods would be dissolved in the rain water.
Fong Tuck was very kind. He invited the elderly salt trader into his shop. But his shop was full of silk clothing, and the dripping salt would damage the silk clothing. At first the salt trader declined, but on the insistence of Fong Tuck, the salt trader finally agreed. Fong Tuck also gave some money to the salt trader to replenish his salt.
The rain continued non-stop. Fong Tuck invited the salt trader to dinner. When asked, the salt trader just mentioned that his surname was Miu, and he lived with his only daughter not far from the shop.
Fong Tuck and Miu became good friends. They often spent time together. Fong Tuck wanted to help Miu financially, but Miu always declined saying that as he was old he would never repay Fong Tuck.
One day Fong Tuck wandered into Miu’s little hut. To his surprise he found Miu and his daughter practicing kungfu in front of their hut. Fong Tuck, though not knowing any martial art, was enthralled by their kungfu performance. They stopped their kungfu practice, and Miu asked his daughter to serve tea to the guest
Fong Tuck asked about their kungfu.
Miu said, “Actually this is Shaolin Kungfu, and not many people have a chance to see it. My name is Miu Hein, one of the Five Elders of Shaolin. Many people call me Plucking-Star Lohan.”
Fong Tuck was shocked. He quickly knelt down and said.
“I have eyes but see not. I never realize that right in front of me is the world famous Plucking-Star Lohan, Miu Hein, one of the Five Elders of Shaolin.”
Miu Hein quickly helped Fong Tuck to stand up.
“You are a wealthy man,” Miu Hein said, “but you never mind me poor, and you treat me as a friend. I am very proud.”
“But I have one worry,” Miu Hein continued. “My daughter, Miu Chooi Fa, is young and untalented. I hope you can allow her to serve you. This is my only request.”
Fong Tuck was flabbergasted but he understood what Miu Hein meant. He continued, “Your daughter is my daughter. How can you ask a 20-year old girl to serve a 50-year old man!”
Miu Hein explained, “I have talked to my daughter, Chooi Fa. Indeed, we often talk about you and your kindness. My daughter has no objections. She’s said that she will leave everything to me, her father.”
Fong Tuck resisted, but Mui Hein insisted. Soon Fong Tuck and Miu Chooi Fa were married. The next year they had a son called Fong Sai Yuk.
The deadly yin-yang kicks, known in our school as “Single Leg Flying Crane”
The next morning Wang Chen Thong with a few students, who were all abled-body youths, went to Guangdong Association. All those present in the association came forward to greet them respectfully.
Wang Chen Thong waved his hand and said, “Not necessary. Now is the time. Let me go to the lei-tai and kill Looi Hoong. Then I shall return to celebrate.”
He walked down the steps, then turned his head back to say. “Please prepare a few katis of wine for me. When I return, we shall drink heartily.”
When they arrived at Pure Ball Gate where the lei-tai was located, the place was already full of spectators.
On the platform, thunderous drums sounded. Looi Hoong stood in front of the stage and greeted the spectators. He said a few words then sat on a chair to wait for anyone to come up the lei-tai.
Wang Chen Thong turned to say to association members who followed him to the lei-tai, “Please wait awhile. Let me take the dog’s life of Looi Hoong so that you all can laugh.” After this, his feet gently tapped on the ground, and he flew up the stage like a swallow.
Looi Hoong saw that the challenger was strong like a bull, but had such art of lightness, and he knew that his kungfu is not shallow.
Looi Hoong grasped his hands in greeting, and asked, “May I know Warrior’s name?”
Wang Chen Thong smiled and replied, “You want to know my name? I am Wang Chen Thong, well known far and near, and today I come to avenge the dead.”
Looi Hoong also smiled. “Really fast person, fast action. I just stand here. You can do whatever you like. But you said that you came to avenge the dead. The ghosts of the dead will be waiting for you beneath the lei-tai. Humans and ghosts do not go the same way. I better send you there to meet them.”
Wang Chen Thong shouted, “Don’t talk non-sense. Quickly advance with your techniques.”
Immediately, he placed his two tiger-claws in front of his chest, with their back facing each other, and presented a Shaolin greeting.
Seeing this, Looi Hoong knew Wang Chen Thong was a rebel. The Shaolin greeting indicated that Wang Chen Thong was against the Qing Dynasty. Looi Hoong was secretly happy, and he advanced towards his opponent.
Looi Hoong used the tactic of arrow punch, with his punch following his step. Right step left punch, and left step right punch, left and right flowing and fast, attacking techniques are agile like rabbits, surprising and marvelous.
Wang Chen Thong saw the attacks were ferocious. So he moved step and changed stance, using a thread hand to guard himself, retreating accordingly and warding off accordingly. Although Looi Hoong’s techniques were vicious, he did not have any advantage.
Eventually, anger rose from his heart, and evil rose from his gall bladder. Looi Hoong twisted his stance and employed a pattern called “Black Crow Flaps Wings”, diagonally striking Wang Chen Thong with his elbow.
Wang Chen Thong sank down his stance and met the elbow attack head-on, using the pattern “Fierce Tiger Pushes Mountain.” There was a loud noise and Looi Hoong was bounced off many feet away.
Wang Chen Thong changed his hand techniques according to his steps. He moved forward and changed into a Bow-Arrow Stance, changed his palms into fists, and drove a right punch into the opponent’s chest.
Looi Hoong quietly called out “No good”, and jumped back about ten feet. His intention to kill arose, his eyes shone with hatred, he employed leg techniques and looked out for any weakness of his opponent.
At first Wang Chen Thong thought it was easy to take Looi Hoong’s life, but now he knew it was difficult. He became anxious, which affected his mind set. Thus his techniques became floating and confused. On the other hand, Looi Hoong’s techniques of yin-yang kicks concealed fatal attacks.
When Wang Chen Thong pressed near, Looi Hoong jumped up, and while he was still in the air, his right leg kicked at Wang Chen Thong’s “gate of the brain” (which was located at the back of the head). With an “Aha” sound, Wang Chen Thong was like a fish out of water, and fell down the stage.
People from Guangdong Association rushed forward to help. They found Wang Chen Thong amidst some dust, but was breathless.
After Wang Chen Thong’s death, Cantonese people were more angry. A lot of people came forward to the lei-tai to meet Looi Hoong, but were all defeated by him. In many days of the lei-tai match, there were more than 20 deaths, and countless people were injured.
Besides seeking doctors to aid the injured, Guangdong Association employed monks to recite sutras for the dead. Incense were burnt and the sound of sutra recitation was constantly heard.
That night a lot of people gathered at Guangdong Association. Everyone agreed that there would be no end if Looi Hoong was not killed on the lei-tai.
After a while, the director of the association, Chan Yuk Shi, said, “It is reasonable what everyone has said. But Looi Hoong’s kungfu is extraordinary. He is not known as Tiger Looi for no reasons. Seeing today’s matches, one can tell his valour. If we go to the lei-tai tomorrow without a high level challenger, it won’t be helpful. Hence, from what you have heard of capable persons, please inform me.”
Everyone was silent and started thinking. Then someone stood forward and said, “I propose a person. With his kungfu, killing Looi Hoong is more than sufficient.”
Chan Yuk Shi immediately asked who this capable person was.
The person replied, “He is Wang Chen Thong. His livelihood is fist and staff. His kungfu is excellent. Once, he hit a wall, and caused a big hole. I propose him. I am sure he won’t disappoint us.”
Chen Yuk Shi was very happy. Immediately he dispatched some persons with gifts to invite Wang Chen Thong.
After about two hours, Wang Chen Thong arrived. Everyone had a good look at him. He was like a Vajra King. His eyes shone like comets. The white and black of his eyes were well differentiated. Everyone venerated him respectfully, and went forward to greet him.
After the preliminaries, Chan Yuk Shi announced.
“Tonight, we specially invite Sifu Wang Chen Thong here, and our invitation shows that we admire and respect you extremely. Nevertheless, we have an intention. Without me saying, I believe sifu knows it. Looi Hoong, based on raw courage, insults all Cantonese people to this time. As long as anyone is a Cantonese person, he suffers great hurt, and view it as a great insult.
(Although Chan Yuk Shi did not learn kungfu, he addressed Wang Chen Thong as “Sifu Wang” out of courtesy.)
“Sifu Wang is also Cantonese. What you feel is like what we feel. But we are all traders. We don’t have the strength ‘to lift up an iron cockerel’ (which means ‘to have any noticeable strength’). Hence, after thorough discussion, we intend to invite glorious masters to avenge the dead, and remove the big insult on Guangdong.
“Everyone admires the miraculous valiance of Sifu Wang, and regards Sifu Wang as unparallel in the world. Hence, without intruding, we hope Sifu Wang can help us, to erase the insult of over thousands and millions of Cantonese people. We wonder what is Sifu Wang’s view?”
Wang Chen Thong laughingly replied in a clear, loud voice.
“This is a small matter. You need not be so full of courtesy. I don’t mean to be boastful, but even if my students come out, it is more than sufficient. Tomorrow, I shall represent all of you to kill this disgrace of martial circles.”
Everyone was jumping with joy. Chan Yuk Shi ordered a sumptuous dinner in honour of Wang Chen Thong. He personally toasted for Wang Chen Thong’s success.
After a few rounds of toasts, Wang Chen Thong loudly proclaimed, “Tomorrow I shall certainly kill Looi Hoong on the lei-tai to thank the feeling of our clansmen.”