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.”
There were two Shaolin Monasteries under heaven. One was in the Central Range of Song Mountain in Henan Province. It had a long history, and at the end of the Sui Dynasty and the beginning of the Tang Dynasty, it was famous in the four four seas because of “thirteen monks with staffs saved the King of Qin” (who later became the first Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty). The Shaolin Monastery was conferred by imperial degree as the “First Monastery Under Heaven”.
Another Shaolin Monastery was built during the middle of the Ming Dynasty in Quanzhou of Fujian Province on Nine-Lotus Mountain. At that time, the areas around the south-eastern sea were frequently attacked by Japanese pirates who plundered ships, killed citizens and robbed wealth, causing great disasters to the people and instability to the country.
About the time of Emperor Jiajing (who ruled from 1521 to 1567), the Governor of Guangdong and Guangxi submitted a report to the Ming emperor, requesting monks from the Shaolin Monastery to subdue the pirates. The Venerable Yuekong led Shaolin monks, together with General Yu Da You and General Qi Ji Guang, defeated the pirates. To honour them, Emperor Jiajing built the southern Shaolin Monastery.
(There were actually three Shaolin Monasteries, a northern monastery at Henan, and a southern monastery at the City of Quanzhou in Fujian. These two monasteries were known to the public. The third monastery, which was secretive, was built by the Venerable Chee Seen on Nine-Lotus Mountain. Both Quanzhou and Nine-Lotus Mountain were in Fujian Province.)
The Venerable Chee Seen and Li Chooi Peng arrived at the southern Shaolin Monastery on the Nine-Lotus Mountain. At the main gate was a poetic couplet with a head line and a end line. The two lines of the poetic couplet were as follows:
Going out of the gate, at dawn see the face of the emperor
Entering the monastery understand the heart of ancient Buddha
Behind the main gate was the main hall, known as Great Majestic Precious Hall. There were two poetic couplets in the main fall. The two lines of the first poetic couplet were as follows:
Heroes are the first
Champions know no parallels
The two lines of the other poetic couplet were as follows:
There is no need for literature to meet the lord
All depend on martial art to repay the king
Li Chooi Peng was enchanted by the monastery. She could read what was written in the poetic couplets, but could not understand the meaning. So she asked, “Sifu, what do the lines of the poetic couplets mean?”
The Venerable Chee Seen was taken aback. The poetic couplets were written in earlier generations, and although there was no explanation for all the individual words, each person could interpret the poetic couplets differently.
The first line of the first couplet, “Going out of the gate, at dawn see the face of the emperor” did not refer to the face of the Qing emperors, but to those of the Ming. In the end line, “Entering the monastery understand the heart of ancient Buddha”, “the heart of ancient Buddha” did not refer to government aims and aspirations, but to the task of “overthrowing the Qing and restoring the Ming”.
The poetic couplets inside the main hall were strange. In a Buddhist monastery, they should be such phrases like “Clear Heart See Nature” or “Cultivate and Understand Zen Secrets”, but why were they singing praises of heroes and champions, and martial art? Actually there were secrets hidden in the open. The line “All depend on martial art to repay the king” did not mean to protect the the Qing empire, but to restore the Ming.
But how would Chee Seen explain the secrets to a small girl? After some thought, he gently stroke the two goat-like plaits of hair behind Li Chooi Peng’s head and kindly said, “After a few years, when you have grown up, sifu will then tell you.”
Li Chooi Peng nodded her head. Chee Seen was very please and led her forward.
After the main hall, there was another hall. On top was written “Red-Flower Pavilion”. There was much history behind the words.
When the Qing defeated the Ming, a Ming general Zheng Cheng Gong retreated to Taiwan and organized Heaven-Earth Society with the purpose of overthrowing the Qing and restoring the Ming. They met at Red-Flower Pavilion.
The first patriarch of Hoong Moon, which meant Dynamic Gate, and was a gigantic secret society dedicated to overthrowing the Qing, the Venerable Tat Chong who gathered a lot of heroes and kungfu experts, named one of the halls in his temple “Red-Flower Pavilion”.
Behind Red-Flower Pavilion was a back hall. On top was hung a plaque with four words, “Restore Right Remove Evil”. Ordinary people might think the plaque glorified the tremendous power of the Buddhist faith, but its hidden meaning was to restore the Ming Dynasty and remove the Qing Dynasty.
In the City of Wei Yang, there was a sundry shop. The shop wasn’t big, but on this street there was only one sundry shop, which sold oil, salt, sauce, vinegar, joss sticks, candles to the people. Hence the business was prosperous.
But the owner soon died, and his wife, Madame Lau, though young at 30, had to manage the shop besides looking after her 2-year old daughter. All the neighbours were sympathetic to the mother and daughter, especially when Madame Lau was honest.
Soon six years passed. Madame Lau was full and warmth (meaning she had no worries about her livelihood) and had a small saving. But “every family had a sutra that was difficult to recite” (which meant that there was difficulty for everybody). What made Madame Lau worried was her daughter, Li Chooi Peng.
Li Chooi Peng was a young girl of eight, clever and bright. Her two big eyes were like sparkling water. Neighbours used to tease her saying that she would one day become the owner of a shop. Of course Madame Lau treated her daughter as “on top of the head, afraid it would be broken, in the mouth, afraid it would melt” (i.e. treasured her dearly).
This little girl, who was lovable by anyone who saw her, was often sick. Every year she would be sick a few times. Once she was sick, her whole body would be burning, and she would be fainting and semi-unconscious. Madame Lau had her seen countless doctors, but whatever medicine she took like water flowing over pebbles, without any use.
A year ago, Madame Lau had taken vegetarian food for three days, and requested spiritual help from temples for help and protection, even shortening her own life span to overcome the disaster of her child.
In front of Guan Yin Bodh Satt (i.e. the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion, the most popular deity of the Chinese), she knocked her head on the ground until her head bled. She sought the advice of Bodh Satt in the form of “chim” (which was holding a container of numerous sticks and shook until one stick fell off from which an explanation could be obtained).
The explanation contained the following words.
It’s not in ordinary world
The wrong lies in creation
Whoever aim for peace
Seek one dedicated to cultivation
Madame Lau did not understand the explanation. So she asked someone from the temple to explain the divination, who told her that if she wanted her daughter to be healthy and happy, she must get a Buddhist monk or a Taoist priest as a god-father.
Madame Lau remember the advice, but for a year she could not find someone whom she could trust her daughter with.
On Cheng Meng day (“Cheng meng” means clear and bright, but it is a certain day of the year when the Chinese go to their parents’ tomb to pray) Madame Lau went with her daughter to pray at the tomb of her husband. On their return, Li Chooi Peng fell down.
Madame Lau sought the help of doctors, but every doctor shook his head and said that Li Chooi Peng would be crippled. Madame Lau was very sad.
One day there was a monk at her door. He face was glowing with white beard under his chin. He radiated kindness that people found welcoming.
Madame Lau was a pious person, so she took some money for the monk. The monk declined her money and said.
“Generous donor (which was a Chinese term usually used by monks and priests for the public), I can see some problem written between your eye-brows. If you don’t mind, can you tell me your problem?”
Madame Lau was surprised, but she told the monk about the problem of her daughter.
“May I see your ‘thousand gold’ (meaning your daughter)?”
Madame Lau then led the monk to an inner room where her daughter was.
The monk asked Madame Lau to warm some rice wine. He then poured some medicated powder to the warm wine. He applied the medicated wine to Li Chooi Peng’s injured leg, and circulated the leg. Then, in an instant, he pushed the girl’s foot into the socket of her bones. The girl gave a cry.
Madame Lau was worried. She beg the monk not to continue with his treatment.
The monk said, “Your thousand-gold is cured. There is no need for further treatment.”
He then asked Li Chooi Peng to stand up and slowly walked about. At first she hesitated, but the monk encouraged her. After she could walk freely, both the mother and the daughter cried. Li Chooi Peng was supposed to be a cripple, yet the monk cured her in just a few minutes.
The mother knelt down to thank the monk. She asked him what his name was.
“I am Chee Seen, and I come from the Shaolin Monastery.”
(“Chee Seen” is in Cantonese pronunciation. In Mandarin, it is pronounced as “Zhi Shan”. The written Chinese words are the same, and they mean “Extreme Kindness”)
Madame Lau was shocked. Right in front of her was the great Venerable Chee Seen from the well known Shaolin Monastery. She remember the divination from Guan Yin Bodh Satt, and begged the Venerable Chee Seen to accept Li Chooi Peng as his god-daughter.
Chee Seen said, “I have long dedicated myself to the Buddhist order. How can I become a god-father of your ‘thousand gold’. But I can accept her as a disciple, and we return to the Shaolin Monastery. What is the opinion of generous donor?”
Madame Lau was keen to have the Venerable Chee Seen accept Li Chooi Peng, so she only answered, “Very good, very good indeed.”
Chee Seen was silent for a while, then said, “Before accepting your ‘thousand gold’ as a disciple, I must tell generous donor this. As my disciple, I shall transmit to her what I have learned, but she must be at the monastery for a few years. When she is successful, she can then return home.”
Madame Lau asked her daughter to kneel before Chee Seen and knock her head on the ground to perform the ceremony of being a student. Then Chee Seen and Li Chooi Peng returned to the Shaolin Monastery.
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.
We in Shaolin Wahnam are very proud of our lineage which can be traced back directly to the two southern Shaolin Temples, as illustrated in the chart above.
Not many people realize that there were two southern Shaolin Temples, one in the City of Quanzhou, and the other on the Nine-Lotus Mountain, both located in Fujian Province of South China.
During the Ming Dynasty (14th to 17th century) a Ming emperor built a southern Shaolin Temple in the City of Quanzhou in Fujian Province as an imperial temple to replace the northern Shaolin Temple in Henan Province. This temple was burnt by the Qing Army around 1850s led by the crown prince Yong Cheng with the help of Lama kungfu experts from Tibet.
The Venerable Chee Seen escaped and built a secret southern Shaolin Temple on the Nine-Lotus Mountain, also in Fujian Province. This temple was also soon burnt by the Qing Army, this time led by Pak Mei who was a classmate of Chee Seen in the southern Shaolin Temple in Quanzhou.
The northern Shaolin Temple on Song Shan or Song Mountain in Henan Province remained throughout the Qing Dynasty. In fact, the Chinese characters, “Shao Lin Si” which means “Shaolin Temple” at the Main Gate of the Temple were written by the Qing Emperor, Qian Long. This temple was burnt only in 1928, 17 years after the fall of the Qing Dynasty, by rival Chinese warlords. Its burning was by cannon fire and had nothing to do with kungfu.
Our Grandmaster, Sifu Wong Kiew Kit, learned from four sifus, or teachers. Grandmaster Wong’s first sifu was Sifu Lai Chin Wah, more widely known by his honorable nick-name as Uncle Righteousness. His second sifu was Sifu Chee Kim Thong, regarded as the living treasure of the People’s Republic of China during his time. Grandmaster Wong’s third sifu was Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, the third generation successor from the southern Shaolin Temple at Quanzhou. His fourth sifu was Sifu Choe Hoong Choy, the patriarch of Choe Family Wing Choon.
It was no co-incidence that all Grandmaster Wong’s sifus were patriarchs of their respective styles because Grandmaster Wong sought for the best available teachers. Our school, Wahnam, is named after Sifu Lai Chin Wah and Sifu Ho Fatt Nam as much of our instructional material came from them.