Luk Ah Choy packed his belongings, bade his sifu good-bye and descended the mountain. The evening sun was sinking in the west, and yellow leaves covered the whole mountain, fresh wind blew gently, creating a beautiful scene.
At night Luk Ah Choy travelled fast, covering more than a hundred miles. Early next morning he arrived at a small town and went into a small eating place.
Entered two persons, a fat one with fair skin and the other thin like a monkey. The two of them sat near a window. They ordered two katis of beef, half a katy of pork, a whole roast goose, a barrel of white rice and two huge jars of wine.
(A katy was a Chinese measurement of weight. In modern China, a katy is about 500 grams.)
Luk Ah Choy was very surprised. These two persons were not “rice barrels” (i.e. one who ate a lot of rice), how could they contain so much material. But these two persons were like “tigers devouring and wolves swallowing” (i.e. eat heartily and hungrily), like wild breeze sweeping fallen leaves, and ate all. Luk Ah Choy heard that fat people might eat many times that of ordinary people, but he had not seen thin people have such appetite.
After eating, they left some money on the table, without waiting for chances. Then swaying freely, they left the eating place. Luk Ah Choy followed them. Sometimes they talked softly, sometimes they laughed loudly. Their moements were extraordinary, and their behavior was unlike ordinary people.
Soon they reached the front of an ancient temple. There were two stone lions in front. The two persons sat on the stone steps of the temple to enjoy some cooling breeze.
The fat person said, “Today we drank some wine. Indeed it is very hot.”
The thin person smilingly replied, “You fat people are scared of heat. There is a colloquial saying that out of ten persons afraid of heat, nine are fat.”
The fat person said, “We have been walking for some time, and there was not even a need to show our kungfu. Why not we test our strength, and see who can lift up this stone lion?”
The thin person jumped up from where he was sitting. “That’s good. I was thinking how much had I increased my strength.”
Luk Ah Choy was listening behind some bushes. Hearing this, his eyes became bigger and rounder.
The fat person had a good look at the stone lion. He adopted his stance, and held out his two hands to hold the head and the tail of the stone lion. One could see soil around the stone lion rising. With a shout he lifted up the lion. Then he carefully placed the lion back to its original place.”
“Too heavy, too heavy,” he shook his head.
The thin person said, “Now let me try.“
He approached the stone lion. Then he adopted a Horse-Riding Stance, and place his right hand beneath the stomach of the stone lion, and his left hand at a leg. Giving a shout, “Up”, the stone lion was lifted up above his head. He walked a few steps and then replaced the stone lion at its original place.
Unable to control himself, Luk Ah Choy cried out aloud, “Good!”
“Who?” the two persons turned their head and asked.
Luk Ah Choy came out and with a greeting he said, “I witness the marvelous strength of the two sifus, and deeply admire them. My uncontrollable shout disturb the two sifus. I beg your pardon.”
(“Sifu” meaning “teacher-father” referred to ones kungfu teacher. But the term was often used to address someone good in kungfu.)
The two persons surveyed Luk Ah Choy. The thin person smilingly said, “If you see us testing our strength, you must be one from the kungfu circles. If you don’t mind, please show us something before leaving.”
Luk Ah Choy replied with another greeting, “What I have learnt is only skin and hair (i.e. superficial). How dare I demonstrate? I beg your leave.”
The fat person refused to let Luk Ah Choy leave. Luk Ah Choy had no choice, and said, “Please teach me”. Then he demonstrated a kungfu set.
The two persons were surprised. “Your kungfu set has a great history. It is similar to what we practice. Please tell us who is your sifu.”
Luk Ah Choy replied, “He is a monk from the Shaolin Monastery.”
The two persons laughed out loudly. The fat person said, “In the midst of wind and dust (i.e. in the phenomenal everyday world), we haven’t thought we could meet someone from the same root. This is due to the good karma of our previous lives (i.e. we must have done something good in our previous lives).
“Nevertheless, from your body and hands (i.e. the performance of your kungfu set), you still lack two or three out of ten, and is not to say that you don’t have any setbacks in your art. Based on that we come from the same lineage, I can’t tolerate to let you missing something in your art. Now I give you a gift. You go to a certain place to meet Li Chooi Peng. She will enable you to attain your supreme height.”
He took out a small jade pendant and gave it to Luk Ah Choy.
Luk Ah Cloy thanked them again and again. He said, “The two sifus are like clouds in the sky. But I haven’t known your great names.”
The fat person said, “I’m called Sap Kit (“Sap Kit” is in Cantonese pronunciation. In Mandarin pronunciation it is called “Si Jie”. The written words are the same.” “Sap Kit” means “Ten Genius”.
The thin person also said, “My name is also Sap Kit.”
(The two persons called themselves “Sap Kit” because they were two of the ten best disciples of the Venerable Chee Seen, the First Partriarch of Southern Shaolin Kungfu. Their actual names were Thong Chein Kern and Lai Pak Fu. The other eight geniuses or best disciples were Wen Leong Yuk, Hoong Hei Khoon, Luk Ah Choy, Fong Sai Yuk, Li Chooi Peng, Fong Mei Yuk, Fong How Yuk, and Wu Wei Thien.
Other sources listed the ten great disciples of the Venerable Chee Seen as the Venerable Harng Yein, the Venerable Sam Tuck, Hoong Hei Khoon, Lin Swee Heng, Luk Ah Choy, Thong Chein Kern, Miu Chooi Fa, Fong Sai Yuk, Li Chooi Peng, and Ma Ling Ye.
This was possible because the ten best disciples were selected from annual free sparring, where there were no rules and combatants could hit as hard as they wanted. But they always controlled themselves and stopped just before target. There were many such annual free sparring when Chee Seen was at the southern Shaolin Monastery on Nine-Lotus Mountain.)
Without saying another word, the thin and the fat persons walked away, without even turning their head. Luk Ah Choy just watched their backs and realized they were very odd. How could they both be Sap Kit. Obviously it was not their actual names. He realized that all great people outside the world (i.e. extraordinary people) were odd.
Luk Ah Choy searched for about a month according to the address given by the fat person, and finally found a house in a small village outside the city of Guangzhou. The house was humble, and an old woman was outside the house knitting some clothing.
Luk Ah Choy went forward and asked, “Old grandmother, is this the house of Mr Li Chooi Peng?”
The old woman was surprised. “Yes,” she answered.
“Is Mr Li Chooi Peng at home?”
The old woman looked at Luk Ah Choy closely, then asked in return, “Why do you want to see Chooi Peng?”
Luk Ah Choy took out the piece of jade pendant, and replied, “A friend asked me to meet him.”
The old woman examined the jade pendant for a long time, then said, “Please wait here.” She turned her head and shouted, “Chooi Peng, come quickly. Someone wants to see you.”
Inside the house somebody answered in a young girl’s voice. Luk Ah Choy was surprised. Then he realized. Li Chooi Peng was a young girl. No wonder the old woman looked at him with strange eyes just now.
The old woman told Luk Ah Choy, “This is Li Chooi Peng.”
Luk Ah Choy conveyed his greeting. Then he presented the jade pendant and explained what had happened in front of the old temple.
Li Chooi Peng closed her mouth with her hands and laughed. “That is the trouble with my two sihengs (i.e. elder kungfu brothers). If they want to help others, they can just straight away ask sifu (i.e. kungfu teacher). Why must they spend extra effort?”
The old woman added, “I can understand why they did this. It is because the Venerable Chee Seen loves you. It does not matter what the problem is, if there is any request, it will be answered. So they first pass through your hurdle, they can save a lot of energy and strength.”
Li Chooi Peng just nodded her head, and she felt satisfied. She invited Luk Ah Choy to enter her house and asked him a number of questions, like where he came from, and how long he had practiced kungfu. Luk Ah Choy answered truthfully.
Li Chooi Peng said, “You have practiced kungfu for many years. Your kungfu foundation is not shallow. You also come from the same kungfu lineage. I must therefore help you. But do you know who the two persons outside the old temple were? Both of them are my sihengs (i.e. elder kungfu brothers). One of them is called Thong Chein Kern (or Thousand Pounds Thong, as he could lift a weight of a thousand pounds) and the other is Lai Pak Fu. Both are disciples of the Venerable Chee Seen.”
(In some accounts, Luk Ah Choy was mentioned as the siheng, or senior kungfu brother, of Li Chooi Peng, Thong Chein Kern and Lai Pak Fu under the Venerable Chee See. Here he was mentioned as their sidai, or junior kungfu brother.)
A pattern from Southern Shaolin Kungfu, “One-Finger Stabilize Empire”
Martial art has been classified into two groups, internal and external and northern and southern. Actually they came from the same source. Since the Venerable Da Mo, or the Venerable Bodhidharma, arrived and invented Eighteen Lohan Hands, the Wudang patriarch, Thong Yun Real Man, Zhang San Feng, after receiving the true transmission of Shaolin, invented internal school, henceforth martial art was divided two branches of Shaolin and Wudang.
External school of martial art derived from Shaolin, regulated breathing, trained hundred bones, be agile in moving forward and backward, and focused on being hard and soft. Internal art derived from Wudang, strengthened tendons and bones, developed circulation of energy, maintained silence to subdue movement, and focused on being quiescence.
The Shaolin Monastery in Fujian Province succeeded from the Shaolin Monastery in Henan Province, but its martial art developed as its own system, its mastery deep, its changes marvelous, and its Shaolin disciples achieved the level of what people hoped but could not attain. After the monastery was burnt to the ground, martial art of Shaolin monks in the temple flowed like wind and dispersed like snow, flowed into the public.
Having gained the advantage of geography, in a few years Guangdong Province became a place for heroes and prosperity. There were “Ten Tigers of Guangdong”, who were Iron Bridge Three, Wong Thung Ho, Tham Chai Wen, Lai Yein Chiew, Beggar Su, Iron Finger Chan, Chow Thai, Wong Yein Lam, Black Tiger Su, and Wong Kai Yin. There were extraordinary and beyond the public.
Before the Ten Tigers were known in the world, the one who had the wind of righteousness and bones of chivalry, and greatly respected by the public was Luk Ah Choy.
Luk Ah Choy was a Manchurian, but had lived in Guangdong for a long time. When he was small, both his parents died, and he was looked after by an uncle. But his uncle was unkind to him, not feeding him enough to fill his stomach, and not clothing him enough to warm him, and he was often hit as punishment.
Luk Ah Choy could not stand the inhumanity, and ran away. At that time he was only twelve years old. When wind blew gently and the moon was cold (i.e. when the weather was chilly), he would sit alone in a shed which stored wood, and thought to himself that had his parents were alive, he would not suffer such bitterness, and his tears from his eyes and mucus from his nose would flow down.
Since he was small, Luk Ah Choy had developed a solitary character, everyday he was not happy, silent and rarely spoke, and whenever he was off from work, he liked to wander about alone in the city so as to erase his suffering and eliminate his loneliness.
One day there was a stage showing drama to thanks gods in heaven. Luk Ah Choy went there alone to watch. All around the stage was crowded with people, layers and layers of humanity, not less than thousands of citizens. His body is short and small, even when he was on his toes, he could not see the stage. So he crawled beneath people’s legs to find a space where he could view.
There was a monk in front of the stage watching the play. Luk Ah Choy stood behind the monk, but the monk was huge and Luk Ah Choy could not see anything on stage. So he moved to stand in front of the monk.
After a short while, before a song sung by an actor was completed, Luk Ah Choy found a hand grasping him. He looked back and found the monk placing him underneath the monk’s armpit. The monk walked away, and although Luk Ah Choy tried to struggle free, he remained grasped by the powerful monk.
They went quite far into a country-side where no inhabitants lived. After traveling for a long time, they entered a small, old temple. Placing Luk Ah Choy on the floor, the monk sat on a mat and started to meditate.
It was like a dream. Luk Ah Choy looked around and found the temple isolated. He did not hear any sounds of drums or bells, or wooden fish (which were used to keep rhythm when chanting sutras). There were no other monks. Outside the small temple were wild grass and fallen leaves.
The monk was meditating, the sound from his nose was like thunder. Luh Ah Choy was furious. He ran towards the monk and hit him with random fists.
The monk opened his eyes and asked, “What are you doing?”
“I don’t have any grudges with you. Why do you bring me here?”
The monk smilingly replied, “You have hands and feet. I didn’t tie you with ropes. If you want to go, go!”
Luk Ah Choy started to cry. “You have brought me to this steep cliff. How can I go? You must carry me down the hill.”
“Do you think that when you have descended the hill, you can return to your home? Let me tell you. Your home is very far away, and you don’t recognize the route. You just feed tigers and wolves as their meals.”
Luk Ah Choy could only cry. The monk then said, “Start thinking. Why do I carry you here?”
“You want me to be your servant?” Luk Ah Choy replied. The monk shook his head.
“You want me to be a monk so that you can have some company?”
The monk held his stomach and laughed loudly. “You don’t have pure and quiet bones, how can you enter the Buddhist faith?”
Luk Ah Choy thought for a long time. Then he said, “Right, I have thought out the answer. You must want to accept me as your student.”
The monk rubbed his palms and said, “Goodness, goodness! Since you can realize my thought, from now onwards you are my student.”
As Luk Ah Choy lost his parents when small, and he was alone and had no other intention, he knelt down and accepted the monk as his sifu, or kungfu master.
“Sifu,” Luk Ah Choy asked, “May I know your spiritual name?”
“My name is not important. What is important is that you must learn kungfu seriously.”
Henceforth, the two persons addressed each other as sifu and student. Day and night, they trained kungfu in the small temple and around it. Every morning the monk led Luk Ah Choy downhill to fetch water from a stream. They did not use a beam carried on their shoulders.
The water containers were made of iron and had a pointed bottom., so they could not put down the containers to rest. They had to grip the water containers with their two hands and ran up a hilly road up to the temple.
At first Luk Ah Choy found it very difficult, but gradually he was accustomed to it. After some time, he could run up and down the hill a few times without much effort.
One day, teacher and pupil returned to the temple after fetching water. The teacher asked his pupil, “Do you know the intention of me asking you to fetch water everyday?”
“Pupil does not know.”
“There is some secret art in asking you to fetch water. Because the bottom of the water container is pointed, you cannot rest on the way, otherwise the water will spill off. The route you take is narrow and hilly, so that you have to focus on your route, and you cannot merely walk. I let you to undergo such training so that your bridges (i.e. your arms) and foundation (i.e. your stability and agility of footwork) without your knowing gradually become powerful.
Lu Ah Choy quickly knelt down to thank his sifu.
Henceforth, Luk Ah Choy further increased his subduing bitterness and sustaining endurance, added to his diligence in kungfu training, even the monk was surprised at his progress. Within a few years, Luk Ah Choy learned the martial art “emerging from spirit and entering neutralization” (i.e. extremely well).
One day, the monk said to Luk Ah Choy, “Ah Choy, do you know how many years you have been here?”
“Student does not know.”
“Soon we have to separate. I have to tell you that you have remained in the temple for seven years. During this time, I have silently observed you. Although I dare not say that your kungfu is excellent, you have attained what ordinary people cannot attain. This is the result of your ‘subduing bitterness and sustaining endurance’. My heart is therefore peaceful. Today we have to separate.”
Luk Ah Choy immediately knelt before his sifu, and cried, “Student has received deep blessings and credit. I am willing to serve sifu for life.”
The monk replied, “The meeting and separating of people is determined beforehand. Close like father and son, husband and wife, it is inevitable to separate. I have entered the ‘empty gate’ (i.e. the Buddhist order), like lone clouds and solitary cranes, there is no need for any company. You can honor the master and respect the Way, we can still have the opportunity to meet one day.”
Sorrow arose in Luk Ah Choy, and his tears continuously flowed.
“Today we part. I have a few words to tell you. Please listen carefully. Although learning kungfu is only a small Way, but small it can strengthen our tendons and nourish our energy, build our spirit and harmonize ourselves, and have the benefits of longevity and mental clarity. Big, it can help the weak and support the strong, flourish the neighborhood, and stabilize the country. When you have descended the mountain (i.e. completed your kungfu training), you must uphold morality, and clear in your chest (i.e. be clear in your consciousness) and be pure and white in your coming and going (i.e. clean in your behavour).
“Remember the insult of the Shaolin Monastery being raised to the ground. One may move the eastern sea, but this hatred cannot be erased. Although you are in the noise and dust (i.e. in the everyday world), you must ‘build your essence and practice your bones’ (i.e. continue to practice your kungfu) so that you will not ‘forsake my heart and blood’ (i.e. neglect my intention and effort).”
Luk Ah Choy furthered prostrated and said, “Student will always remember.”
While gripping Sifu Mark’s left elbow, Grandmaster Wong drove a fist into Sifu Mark’s heart
Li Chooi Peng paid her cousin sister, Wang Wei Lin, a visit. One of the reasons was to meet the villain, Leong Fa Yun. But Leong Fa Yun was not at home when she visited, so she spent much of the time with her cousin sister to talk about old times.
However, when Li Chooi Peng was about to leave, Leong Fa Yun returned home. Indeed streets were narrow for those who had grudges (which meant that those who had grudges often met).
“Wei Lin,” Leong Fa Yun asked, “who is this lady?”
“She is a relative of my mother, Miss Li Chooi Peng.”
“Ah, the famous Miss Li Chooi Peng. I’ve heard about your fame in the lion dance on New Year day,” Leong Fa Yun said.
Li Chooi Peng had a look at him. His face was wide, and his cheek bones high. He was smiling, but Li Chooi Peng could see vengeance in his eyes. He kept staring at Li Chooi Peng, without moving his eyes away.
“Miss Li,” he said, “the seat is not warm yet, and you are in a hurry to leave.”
“I’ve been here for a long time. If I don’t leave now, my mother will be worried.”
When Leong Fa Yun had returned to his room, he paced about with his hands behind his back.
“This Li Chooi Peng is not only pretty like a flower,” he thought to himself, “she is also a martial artist. Her blood and energy must be abundant and vibrant. Now I just want to use the blood of a strong woman, to strengthen the body and cheer the heart of myself and my men.”
So he went to ask Wang Wei Lin. She said, “Chooi Peng lost her father when she was small. She and her mother live together. But they are not poor like my family. They open a sundry shop, dependent on their own effort, and have warmth and are not hungry.”
Leong Fa Yun was pleased. He thought to himself, “If I use a lot of money to tempt her mother, she will be in my hands. “
So the next morning, he went with some servants carrying expensive gifts to Li Chooi Peng’s house. At that time, Li Chooi Peng was having breakfast with her mother, and they heard a knock on their door.
When Madame Lau opened the door, she had a shock.
“I’ve all the time admire your daughter, Miss Li Chooi Peng. Her wisdom is higher that that of an ordinary person, her character is high and admirable, so I was thinking of uniting with her for a hundred years. I have bought some humble gifts for you.”
“You just married my niece, Wang Wei Lin,” Madame Lau said.
“That’s the reason why I am here,” Leong Fa Yun explained. “I was thinking that a wife would not be happy when her husband married another woman. But Wei Lin and Miss Li are cousins, and she often speaks very highly of Miss Li. They spent time together when they were small, now they can spend time together in my house. I am sure Wei Lin will be happy.”
Li Chooi Peng was furious. She came out from her room and confronted Leong Fa Yun. “If you want to marry me, you must ask my two sisters.”
Leong Fa Yun was surprised. “Do you have two sisters?”
Li Chooi Peng rolled up her sleeves and showed her two fists. “Here are my two sisters.”
Leong Fa Yun became angry. “Little bitch. You use your two fists to frighten me? If I don’t show you some skills, you will not know how high is a mountain and how far is some water.”
Li Chooi Peng moved forward to execute a punch at Leong Fa Yun. Leong Fa Yun quickly warded off the punch. The two persons then fought on the street.
Li Chooi Peng understood kungfu philosophy well. She changed her attack to defence, to watch the opponent’s movements, but she was ready to strike back when an opportunity arose.
Leong Fa Yun did not know Li Chooi Peng’s intention. He thought to himself, “She is a small girl. No matter how good her art is, her stamina does not last as long as that of a man. If I attack her vigorously, she will be defeated.”
So he moved forward and struck Li Chooi Peng’s head with his right palm. She quickly dodged to avoid the attack. Immediately he swept at Li Chooi Peng with his left hand, using the pattern “Whirlwind Sweeps Leaves”. Li Chooi Peng moved back to avoid the sweeping hand. Then Leong Fa Yun kicked out his right leg at Li Chooi Peng’s body. Li Chooi Peng gently threaded it away with her right palm.
The two persons exchanged many encounters, with Leong Fa Yun attacking and Li Chooi Peng avoiding. Leong Fa Yun thought that Li Chooi Peng was quite helpless, knowing just to avoid without counter-attacking. Leong Fa Yun moved in with a right thrust punch. This time Li Chooi Peng anticipated his attack. She moved gently to a side to avoid the punch, then using her two eagle-claws gripped his right striking arm at his elbow and wrist at a time when the arm was fully extended, using Combat Sequence 8 which was called “Pai Pou Hang” or “Side-Step Move”. Leong Fa Yun gave a loud yell as he felt the sharp pain at his arm.
Still holding the opponent’s right elbow with her left eagle-claw, Li Chooi Peng executed a right thrust punch at Leong Fa Yun’s heart, using the pattern “Black Tiger Steals Heart”. Leong Fa Yun fell back a few steps on the street, dead.
His servants who came with expensive gifts were stunned. They dropped the gifts and ran for life.
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.
One day after kungfu training, Li Chooi Peng went to the back hall of the monastery. She looked up at a ceiling and saw a swallow feeding its young. It reminded her of her mother feeding her. Her desire to go home to see her mother arose in her heart.
She went to see her sifu, the Venerable Chee Seen. Kneeling down she said, “I have ascend the mountain (i.e. have learned at the Shaolin Monastery) for more than 6 years. For such a long time, I have not seen my mother, and am now thinking of her. I long to return home to have a look. I wonder whether sifu would allow.”
Chee Seen said, “This is your filial heart. How can I deter you? Moreover, you are already 14 years old. There is a difference between male and female. If you remain in the monastery, it may not be convenient. However, according to the rules of the monastery, for those training martial art, if they want to descend the mountain to return home, they must go through the Lane of Wooden Men.”
Li Chooi Peng’s face revealed some concern. In these few years at the Shaolin Monastery, she had seen some sihengs (i.e. senior kungfu brothers) being hit by the Wooden Men, and had to be carried out.
Seeing her expression, Chee Seen smiled gently. He consoled her and said, “Your kungfu has reached a singular stage. I am sure you could fight your way through the Lane of Wooden Men. I’ll take this opportunity to have a look.”
The next day Li Chooi Peng would fight through the Lane of Wooden Men. Chee Seen asked monks to prepare kungfu medicine in case of any injuries due to being hit or felled and being cut by sharp blades. These Wooden Men were devised according to various ways of attacks. If ones kungfu was not extraordinary, he would be injured by the Wooden Men.
Li Chooi Peng entered the Lane of Wooden Men. She employed her best, focusing on defending against the Wooden Men, fighting and moving forward, and eventually she went through the Lane.
The Venerable Chee Seen was very happy. He said, “You have successfully completed your kungfu study. Now you can go home.”
Thinking that she would soon see her mother whom she had not seen for many years, two rows of warm tears flowed from her eyes. She knelt down and continuously knocked her head on the ground to thank the Venerable Chee Seen.
Chee Seen said, “There is no limit in learning kungfu. There are many capable and skillful people in the world. You must never be self-satisfied. After returning home, you would have entered ‘streams and lakes’ (i.e. the martial world). Whatever tasks you meet, you must handle carefully.” He then gave her 20 taels of silver, and accompanied her down hill.
Humans were not grass and trees. Who didn’t have feeling? Li Chooi Peng and her sifu had been together for six years. Now they were to be separated. Li Chooi Peng felt very sad. She let out her emotion and cried loudly, kneeling on the ground and knocking her head without standing up.
Although the Venerable Chee Seen was a man outside the phenomenal world, having discarded ‘five dust and six thoughts’ (i.e. all emotions of society), he was still moved. He bent his body forward, gently tapped on Li Chooi Peng’s shoulder, and said.
“So young in age. Why do you feel so touched? In future there will be a lot of opportunities for us, sifu and student, to meet. Quickly stand up. Your kungfu brothers will laugh at you.”
Li Chooi Peng stood up and dried her tears. “Sifu,” she said, “I’m going to leave. Please take good care of yourself.”
“Good, good. You must take care on the way. When you meet your mother, please send my regards.”
Following her sifu’s advice, Li Chooi Peng dressed like a man. After seven days, she arrived at Guangdong. But ‘heaven did not make things beautiful’ (i.e. the weather was bad). It had been raining continuously for four days. Li Chooi Peng could only stay in her inn and chat with the inn-owner.
On the morning of the fifth day, the rain stopped. Li Chooi Peng took the opportunity to go out for a walk. She looked east and west (i.e. everywhere), and soon forgot her route, and walked to the countryside.
The rain had just passed, and the atmosphere was fresh. The road was besides some rice field, wild flowers smiled at her, old trees reached the sky, and the green shade of the surrounding was like the open tail of a peacock. Looking at nature is like seeing a beautiful painting. In such a surrounding, Li Chooi Peng’s heart was extraordinary bright and cheerdul. Viewing the distant hills, testing the water of a stream, lingering beneath some shady trees, Li Chooi Peng forgot to return home.
She went forward, and vaguely heard the ringing of copper bells amidst the forage. Li Chooi Peng heard it, and its sound cut her ears like a blade. She went further forward, and soon a temple appeared.
The temple was beautiful and majestic, and on top was hang a board with three crystalline words, “Silent Cultivation Nunnery”.
Li Chooi Peng wanted to enter the nunnery to have a look, but the door was close, and there was no one around. Besides the nunnery was a small lane. She followed the lane and reached the back of the nunnery.
At the back there was a small garden. There were green bamboo plants at the sides of the garden. When gentle breeze blew, the bamboo made soft sounds. The door of the garden was also close, so Li Chooi Peng could not enter.
Then sounds of “herit” was heard, with much force behind the sounds, like someone training kungfu inside the garden. Li Chooi Peng was curious. She employed her art of lightness, and jumped over the wall, hiding herself behind some bamboo plants.
She saw a nun of middle age practicing kungfu. Her movements were elegant with internal force. When she saw the nun performing a beautiful movement, Li Chooi Peng involuntarily shouted, “Good”.
The nun immediately stopped her kungfu practice. Li Chooi Peng realized her mistake and swiftly jumped over the wall wanting to escape. But the nun jumped over the wall after her, and shouted, “Stop running!”
Li Chooi Peng stopped, and turned around to face the nun, who eyed her suspiciously.
“I was just passing by this place,” Li Chooi Peng explained, “and was captivated by its beauty. I heard someone practicing kungfu, so my curiosity was aroused, and I jumped over the wall to watch. Actually this was unbecoming of me. I didn’t know that this would encroach on ‘sitai’. May sitai be generous like a broad vigorous stream, and forgive my ignorance in intruding.”
(“Sitai” meaning lady kungfu master, was an address to someone senior.)
Seeing that Li Chooi Peng was bright and elegant, and did not look like a ruffian, the nun said, “It looks like you have practiced a few years of kungfu. Causally perform some kungfu movements to justify what you have said.”
Li Chooi Peng held her hands in greeting, and said, “Little person here is ignorant, and has made sitai angry. How can little person repeat the mistake.”
“Don’t you want to leave this place?”
Li Chooi Peng thought to herself, and dared not refuse. So she performed a kungfu set.
The nun was surprised. Li Chooi Peng’s kungfu movements were like those of her kungfu. Li Chooi Peng’s stance and techniques were also first class.
So the nun asked, “From whom did you learn your kungfu?”
“I’m a student of the Venerable Chee Seen of the Shaolin Monastery.”
The nun grasped her palms together and said, “We came from the same root. Water and fire almost mixed. I didn’t show manners to a guest, please excuse me. The Venerable Chee Seen is the teacher of my distant uncle, Wen Leong Yuk. Since I came here, it has been many years since I saw the Venerable Chee Seen. How is his health?”
“Wen Leong Yuk is my siheng. I am his simui Li Chooi Peng.”