As Sifu Lee Wei Joo thrusts a right punch, Grandmaster Wong responds with a Butterfly Palm strike.
Luk Ah Choy thought to himself that if he returned to the Shaolin Monastery now and told the Venerable Chee Seen that he could not find Lai Fu, Chee Seen would be suspicious. So he decided to stay outside for some time before returning.
When he left the monastery, he brought along 5 taels of silver. After about half a month searching for Lai Fu, he found that he had about 1 or 2 taels left. Thinking for some time, he came out with a plan. He had learned some thiet-da, i.e. kungfu medicine for injuries due to falling or being hit. So he decided to sell some thiet-da medicine, like medicated pills and medicated plasters, to support his livelihood while staying outside the monastery.
He went to a medical shop to buy some medicine, and prepared some medicated pills and medicated plasters. He also bought a gong. Then we went to town to sell his medicine.
Luk Ah Choy had not been in streams and lakes before (i.e. in society), so he did not know society rules. Whenever an artist came to a new area, he had to pay respect to a big brother (or leader of the gang controlling the area), otherwise the artist could never be able to stand on his feet (i.e. to survive in his trade as he would be beaten by the gang). While Luk Ah Choy was demonstrating his kungfu before selling his medicine, a group of gangsters came forward to destroy his sales apparatus.
“Stop!” Luk Ah Choy shouted at the gangsters. “What are you doing?”
A person who appeared to be a leader of the gang shouted back, “How dare you start selling medicine without first paying respect to our big brother?”
“Who’s your big brother?”
“He’s called Iron Hand Four, because his hands are hard like iron, and he is the fourth in his family. Everyone is scared of him.”
But before he completed the sentence, he and his gang started damaging the sales apparatus. Luk Ah Choy went forward, gripped the gang leader’s band and bent it backward, causing him much pain.
“Let go of my hand, let go of my hand,” he screamed. Luk Ah Choy gave him a gentle push and he fell many feet away, groaning on the floor. The other gang members were stunned, and dared not move.
Just then, the crowd separated into two sides, and a tough man came forward. He was huge and dark, and his hands were big and rough.
“I’m Iron Hand Four,” he howled. As he spoke, he rushed forward with his right hand coming at Luk Ah Choy’s head.
Luk Ah Choy retreated a small step to avoid his chop. “This is the first time I let you attack,” Luk Ah Choy said.
Iron Hand Four moved forward to execute another chop with his left hand. Luk Ah Choy dodged to his right side to avoid the second chop, saying “This is the second time I let you attack.”
Iron Hand Four was furious. This time he threw his body forward and executed a right punch. Luk Ah Choy adroitly moved to his back. Smilingly he said, “This is the third time I let you attack. If you attack again, I shall strike back.”
Iron Hand Four was enraged. He turned around and executed a right punch again. As the punch was approaching, Luk Ah Choy moved forward with a butterfly palm strike, his arm brushing away the coming punch and hitting the opponent on the chest. This was a high-level move, using the tactic of no-defence-direct-counter, and employing the principle of “when there is a bridge, go along the bridge”.
Iron Hand Four was thrown many feet backward, landing on the ground. In a second or two, he vomited blood.
Luk Ah Choy threw a few medicated pills at him, saying “Take a pill with warm rice wine everyday for the first three days, then take a pill after three days.” His gang members picked up the medicated pills on the ground, and carried him away.
A lot of people rushed forward to buy the medicated pills. Luk Ah Choy sold all his medicated pills that night and made a lot of profit.
One day a Shaolin student called Lai Fu wanted to fight his way through the Lane of Wooden Men. But after a short while, Lai Fu was screaming in the chamber. He was badly hurt by the Wooden Men.
The Venerable Chee Seen ordered the operation mechanism of the Wooden Men be turned off, and Lai Fu to be carried out. After applying medicine on him, and resting for a few days, Lai Fu felt better.
But he was depressed. He had been learning kungfu in the Shaolin Monastery for more than ten years, but now he could not pass through the Wooden Men. Anyone who could not graduate from the Lane of Wooden Men had to remain in the monastery, no matter for how long he had been there.
Lai Fu realized that earlier Wu Wei Thein was in the same situation. Wu Wei Thien could not fight his way through the Wooden Men, and had to crawl out of the monastery through a drainage hole.
But since that time, an iron grill was made to cover the hole. Water could flow through the grill, but it prevented any human from crawling through it. Lai Fu thought hard and found a solution. Every day, without other people knowing, he took some vinegar from the kitchen and pour the vinegar at the iron grill.
After repeating the action for a month, the vinegar ate into the iron making the iron grill fragile. One late, after he had made sure everyone else was sleeping soundly, he went quietly to the drainage hole. He bent down so that he would not be noticeable and used an iron staff to hit hard at the iron grill. After some hitting, the iron grill collapsed and he crawled through the drainage hole. Outside the monastery wall, he knelt down, knocked his head three times on the ground, and then hurried down the mountain.
Early next morning, some monks on duty discovered that the iron grill at the drainage hole was broken. They quickly sounded the monastery bell to alert all those in the monastery.
All the monks and students of the Shaolin Monastery gathered at the main hall. Chee Seen called the register and found that Lai Fu was missing.
Chee Seen was very angry. “Where is Luk Ah Choy?” he shouted.
Luk Ah Choy came forward and knelt down, “Here is disciple ready to take sifu’s order.”
“Descend the mountain immediately, and bring Lai Fu back.”
Luk Ah Choy left the Shaolin Monastery, He searched in the day time and slept at night, ate when hungry and drank when thirsty. After a few days he came to a small town. He found an eating shop at a main street.
He could smell the aroma of rice, and felt he was hungry. So he entered the shop and looked around to find a table to have his meal.
To his utter surprise, he found a familiar face sitting at a corner. He was Lai Fu, the man he had been searching for many days.
Luk Ah Choy approached Lai Fu, and said, “I never expected to see you here.”
Lai Fu was shocked. He asked his siheng (or elder kungfu brother) to sit down.
“I am under the order of our sifu to bring you back to the Shaolin Monastery,” Luk Ah Choy went straight to his mission.
“Luk Siheng,” Lai Fu pleaded, “Please don’t come forward.” He quickly grasped his iron staff which was leaning against a wall.
“What do you want to do? Just a few movements with your staff, you think you can stop me? Quickly put away your staff, and follow me back to the monastery. Otherwise don’t blame me for not thinking of our joss sticks and candles relationship (i.e. we came from the same kungfu lineage, as joss sticks and candles were used to worship past masters).”
Lai Fu knew very well he would not be a match against Luk Ah Choy. He quickly put away his staff and cried, “Siheng, Lai Fu is here. You can hit or kill me if you want.”
“I am here under sifu’s order to bring you back to the monastery. When you left secretly, sifu was very angry. He ordered me to descend the mountain to search for you. No matter how long the time, I may wander over the edges of heaven and the corners of seas (i.e. everywhere), I must catch you. What has happened is due to your own making. Please don’t blame me for not being your siheng.”
Lai Fu dropped his head and said, “Siheng acts under order. How can little brother blame you? But you and I have been in the monastery for many years, and I don’t think you will see me suffer without extending any help. If I follow you back to the monastery, what kind of punishment I shall receive, you already knew. If siheng can open a bit of the net (i.e. let me escape, like in fishing, open the net to let the fish escape), little brother will appreciate your blessings without end.”
Luk Ah Choy shook his head and sighed. “It is easy to say. You must know my difficulty. If I let you go, how can I report to sifu?”
Lai Fu dropped his head and remained silent. Then suddenly he said, “Not wrong. I know siheng’s difficulty. But secretly escaping from the monastery is not me alone. As far as I know, Wu Wei Thien was one who secretly escaped from the monastery. Why not punish him, and just punish me?”
Luk Ah Choy replied, “How can you compare yourself with Wu Wei Thien? Sifu can forgive him because he has good reasons.”
“Wu Wei Thien and me secretly escaped from the monastery. Why can’t I use it for comparison? What is there any difference between he and me?”
“Wu Wei Thien escaped because of his filial heart. So we all can understand him and admire him. Sifu can forgive him.”
Lai Fu replied, “Siheng Wu’s escape was due to his filial heart. Isn’t my escape due to my filial heart too?” I also have a father and a mother. I have entered the Shaolin Monastery for ten years. Because I am stupid, my kungfu progress is not great, I cannot pass through the Lane of Wooden Men. As if I am stupid, I cannot see my father and mother?
“Siheng, you were also born from your father and your mother. Being a son or daughter, who does not think of his or her own father and mother? Moreover, I have been in the monastery for ten years. This time my escape was due to the binding of bitterness of thinking of my father and mother. Thus I used such a mean method. It was not because I purposely wanted to break monastery rules.
“But events have come to this rice field (i.e. come to this stage). I do not think of being lucky again. Today If I die here, I do not have any angry words. A few days ago I have returned home to meet my parents.”
Saying this, his eyes were filled with tears, and he swallowed his voice.
Luk Ah Choy also dropped his head without his own knowing. He thought silently to himself, “His secret escape is also due to his feeling for his father and mother. This feeling was human in all heaven and earth. He himself did not have any trace of being tied or dependent on any support because he had lost his parents when small. Otherwise, he would not be able to release himself from such emotion. Moreover, this time descending the mountain to catch Lai Fu was he alone. If he let Lai Fu go, no one would know.
When his heart was moved, his hands became soft. He signed and said, “According to reasons, an order from sifu cannot be avoided. But thinking that your action came from your filial heart, I’ll let you go to reverence your father and mother.
“But what happened today must never leak out. Otherwise it will not be good for you or me. I hope you can appreciate my bitter heart (i.e. my intention which is difficult to make). When you return, reverence your father and mother, that will do.”
Lai Fu was touched until his tears and mucus flowed out profusely. Quickly he knelt down to thank Luk Ah Choy.
Luk Ah Choy said, “I can’t accept such a big ceremony (i.e. kneeling down to thank him). You better hurry away,”
Lai Fu grasped his iron staff, ran out of the shop, and fled like a comet.
The monk, Cheong Mong, laughed aloud. “If you have such an ambition, how can I not teach you?
“Secret weapons are meant to supplement the inadequacy of ones kungfu. When one is engaged in combat with an opponent, it is not always that he will win. Thus, there is no harm to learn another skill to protect himself, just like natural breathing.
“Using secret weapons,” Cheong Mong continued, “is based on the understanding that ‘clear spear can be handled, but secret arrow is difficult to avoid’ (i.e. it is easy to handle open weapons, but difficult to handle secret weapons’). Superficially, it is mean and cruel to use secret weapons. They are not used by gentlemen who prefer clear and open combat. But when secret weapons are used properly, they are convenient in moving forward or backward, attacking or defending. Secret weapons are like open sabres and swords. They depend on the user, whether he uses the weapons properly.”
Luk Ah Choy asked, “What are the different types of secret weapons, and how are they used?”
Cheng Mong gently slapped on Luk Ah Choy’s shoulders. “You need not hurry. Listen to what I’ll tell you.
“There are many types of secret weapons. It is difficult to describe them one by one. But those frequently used are flying darts, little arrows in sleeves, flying stones, flying knives, iron grasshoppers, comet round hammers, and iron drakes and ducks.
“Flying darts are the most common. In martial circles, there is hardly anyone who does not know flying darts. The difference is whether his art is deep or shallow.
“There are three sharp points in flying darts. The length of a flying dart is about four inches, and weighs about four taels.”
(A Chinese inch was longer than a British inch. A tael was about 40 grams or more than 1 British onze.)
“Those who use flying darts,” Cheong Mong continued, “usually tie their tails with some red cloth, called dart dress, to cut through the air. When darts are sent out, they surely hit opponents within a hundred steps. Some exponents use yin-hand to fly out their darts, some use yang-hand. It often depends on the situation.”
(In kungfu, the back of the palm is referred to as yin-hand, and the open palm as yang-hand. Interestingly, yin and yang are reverse in Chinese medical terminology. In Chinese medicine, the back of the palm is referred to as yang, and the open palm as yin.)
Cheong Mong continued to say, “Little arrows in sleeves are often used by people who travel at night. They are more deadly than flying darts because they are shot out by a machine. Their force is tremendous, and their use convenient.
“The shooting machine is a cylinder made from iron, with a diameter of less than an inch. In front there is a small opening, used for storing arrows. At the tip is installed something resembling the wings of a butterfly. A spring, the length similar to that of the cylinder, is placed inside the tube. The cylinder with arrows inside is hidden in sleeves. By moving his arm in a certain way, an arrow can be shot out.
“Flying stones are the cheapest. There is no need to spend money buying them. There is also no need for extra work. Ideally, the stones are pointed in front and bigger at the back. The length is about three inches and each weighs about four to six liangs (or taels, and each tael was about 40 grams). Its use is similar to that of flying darts. The targets are an opponent’s mid-point between the eye brows, the temples and the eyes.
“Flying knives are small knives the shape of willow leaves. The length of a flying knife including its handle is about seven inches. Where the handle and the blade meet, there are a few rounds of lines. Its weight is about six liangs (or taels). The knives are covered with a sheath made of shark skin. When using, the exponent holds the handle of the knife, and send it flying out aiming at an opponent’s body. Those who are expert in throwing flying knives, can hit their target within fifty steps.”
The more Cheong Mong spoke, the more involved he became. He then explained the special points and uses of iron grasshoppers and comet round hammers.
Then he handled his iron drakes and ducks, and said, “These iron drakes and ducks are the most subtle amongst secret weapons. They are simple to be made, easy to be carried about, and their application is smooth-handed (i.e. straight-forward). Basically they are a pair of iron pills, one bigger than the other, and both iron pills weigh less than half a katy.”
(One katy was 500 grams. In the past, one katy was divided into 16 liangs or taels, but in China today, one katy is divided into 10 taels.)
Cheong Mong continued, “When using the iron drakes and ducks, it is usual to use the yin-hand, so that an opponent may not notice it. When used against a formidable opponent, although the iron drakes and ducks would not take his life, they would prevent him from pressing in further.
“I’ve explained a lot about secret weapons. When one is in martial circles, it is not necessary to train all of them. Otherwise, it is not only inconvenient to carry so many different types of secret weapons, he may not have the time and energy to train them.
“Thus, kungfu disciples must know about secret weapons, but they should not spend too much time on them. If a person chooses one or two secret weapons that are concurrent with his character, it is enough to be used for life.
“Now in the martial circles, the most frequently used secret weapons are flying darts, flying stones and little arrows in sleeves. Flying knives and comet round hammers may be met sometimes. Iron grasshoppers are like unicorn’s horn and phoenix’ feather (i.e. very rare). Hence amongst those who wander about in lakes and streams (i.e. martial artists), if they can train in more than three types of secret weapons, and are capable of hundred hits without a single miss, they are regarded as experts.
“Speaking there and speaking here (i.e. of all that I have spoken), there is only one phrase. Using secret weapons focuses on essence, and not on many. If there are many, but no essence, his kungfu is zero.”
Luk Ah Choy heard until his heart feel itchy (i.e. he became curious and interested). He asked, “How can one attains the level of essence?”
Cheong Mong answered, “There are many doors (i.e. many methods). It is not telling just one or two (i.e. briefly) and explain clearly. But there is actually no secret. The focus is on smart practice, so that force can be developed at the elbow and wrist. Accumulated over a long time, practice generates the marvelous, and the marvelous generates spirit. Left and right meet the source (everything will work well as planned), there will be nothing that the techniques do not arrive according to intention. I have practiced this way for more than twenty years.
“Although I may not have attained its true essence, today you have seen my secrets, and this is due to good karma (i.e. cause and effect). Henceforth, we shall train and study together.”
Luk Ah Choy could not have thought Cheong Mong was such comfortable and fast (i.e. quick and ready). He was happy beyond expectation. Quickly he knelt down to thank Cheong Mong. Henceforth, everyday he followed Cheong Mong and learned iron drakes and ducks. Because he had practiced kungfu for ten and more years, his nature of comprehension was very high, and after a few months his kungfu had gone beyond people’s intention and progress.
One day the Venerable Chee Seen said to Luk Ah Choy, “You have been in the Shaolin Monastery for many years. It is time to test you skills. All those who learn Shaolin Kungfu from me must go through the Lane of Wooden Men to pass a graduation test. You are qualified now. You should try your skills against the Wooden Men.”
Luh Ah Choy was very happy. He prostrated to his sifu, the Venerable Chee Seen, and early next morning he went to the Lane of Wooden Men.
The mechanism of the one hundred and eight Wooden Men was set in operation. These wooden men were so ingeniously devised that they fought with good kungfu techniques and skills. But Luk Ah Choy’s kungfu was excellent. He avoided some wooden men, fell some, pushed away some, jumped over the heads of a few, and fought his way through the lane.
At the exit, he found a large copper urn with three joss sticks burning. The large copper urn barred the way of the doorway. To exit, Luk Ah Choy had to lift the urn, turned his body around, and then exited with his back. Two marks, a dragon on his left arm and a tiger on his right arm, were imprinted on his two arms as marks of one who had successfully fought his way through the Lane of Wooden Men in Shaolin Monastery.
The Venerable Chee Seen was very pleased. “He has not forsaken my bitter heart (i.e. my long time and earnest effort in teaching him),” he said to himself.
Chee Seen returned to his meditation room and sat down to rest. Then, Luk Ah Choy hurriedly came back.
In surprise, Chee Seen asked, “Why are you back?”
Luk Ah Choy knelt down and said, “In these many years, sifu has sacrificed heart and blood (i.e. has sacrificed very much) to teach me kungfu. Even if my body turns to powder and my bones are crashed, I cannot repay sifu one out of a million. Today, although I have successfully fought myself through the Lane of Wooden Men, I realize that my kungfu is still far from excellence. I wish to remain in the monastery to continue practicing kungfu for a few more years to overcome my weakness. I hope sifu can give his permission.”
Chee Seen rubbed his palms together and replied, “Very good. If you have such an empty heart (i.e. you are humble), you can remain in the monastery. In future, if you meet anybody who can teach you something new, you can learn from him without first seeking my permission.”
(It was usual for a student to seek his sifu’s permission before learning something new from another person.)
Soon, deep autumn arrived. The scenery of the mountain became cool and fragile, the solitary monastery was deep and recurring, a role of chrysanthemum flowers swayed in the breeze, and myriad dew drops were found on wild grasses. Luk Ah Choy was taking a stroll in the back garden, and heard sounds of strange creatures in the distance, and found red leaves floating in the air, creating in his heart a sense of peace and tranquility.
Suddenly he heard something clear and distinct, like something hitting a wooden floor. Luk Ah Choy was curious, followed the clear and distinct sound, and hid himself behind an old tree. He saw a monk practicing kungfu.
The monk placed a wooden board, with a target on it, tens of steps before him. He waved his hands and countless iron pebbles hit the target.
Luk Ah Choy could not determine what type of kungfu it was. But each time the monk moved his hand, like a string of winds, iron pebbles would hit the target. Without realizing, he gave a cry, “Marvelous.”
The monk stopped his training, turned around and asked, “Who? Who is there?”
Luk Ah Choy had to come out of his hiding, bent his body in greeting, and found that the monk was one of Chee Seen’s assistant instructors called “Cheong Mong” (which meant “Running Elephant”). Immediately Luk Ah Choy said, “Student intrudes into your spiritual presence. I earnestly beg your pardon.”
“We have been together for a long time. There is no need for courtesy. Just now you cried out a word of praise. Were you happy with what you saw?”
“Student is ignorant. I wonder what type of weapon the iron pebbles sifu trained just now, belongs to? I hope sifu can enlighten me.”
“They are called iron drakes and ducks, and are a form of secret weapons.”
(A drake and a duck were always in pair. They were colorful.)
Luk Ah Choy was very happy. Since training kungfu for many years, he had never seen or understood secret weapons. So he immediately gave a greeting and said, ”Student is really lucky to be able to see the ultimate art of sifu. Student knows nothing about secret weapon. I wonder whether sifu can grace student, and teach student a thing or two?”
An old picture showing Grandmaster Wong in a half-lotus position for silent Zen sitting
One day the Venerable Chee Seen (which meant “Extreme Kindness”) asked Luk Ah Choy to his meditation chamber, and said, “Ah Choy, at what stage do you think your kungfu performance has attained?”
Luk Ah Choy replied, “Sifu, I dare not say that my kungfu is perfect, but I am quite satisfied with my progress.”
Chee Seen said, “There are unicorns and phoenixes among living things. Human have meridians and energy points. Unless we have experienced it, it is difficult to discuss our attainment. Those who don’t have direct experience, can say how advanced their arts are, though they are actually not advanced.“
Luk Ah Choy knelt down and said, “Student does not understand the depth of sifu’s explanation. Can sifu please point and dot (i.e. enlighten)?”
The Venerable Chee Seen asked Luk Ah Choy to stand firmly at his stance, then with his dragon-form fingers (formed by bending the thumb, the fourth finger and the small finger, and letting the index finger and middle finger pointing forward) gently dotted at an energy point called “yun men” (at the joint where the arm joined the shoulder). Luk Ah Choy felt his body numb and was thrown back a few feet.
Chee Seen transmitted chi, or vital energy, into Luk Ah Choy to clear the blockage he caused with his dim-mark, or dotting energy points, technique. After a while, Chee Seen took a wooden staff , hit Luk Ah Choy’s head, and said, “Do you understand now?”
Chee Seen sat on a mat in a lotus poise, and said, “Buddhism is very deep. At its shallow levels, there are explanations on various topics. At its deep levels, it is difficult to explain. Our patriarch, Bodhidharma, transmitted the art knowledge and the art without words. He pointed directly at the heart (which means ‘mind’ in English, and is different from brain).
“Seeing Nature (i.e. transcendental Cosmic Reality, often called God in Western culture), one becomes Buddha (i.e. merges with transcendental Cosmic Reality without any differentiation). This is Chan (or Zen).
“Chan values silent understanding, and cherishes liberation (i.e. the personal soul is liberated to meet the Universal Soul). The art is entering silence (called “meditation” in Western languages), with direct experience as the spiritual gate (i.e. in his training, one has to directly experience its result).
“Only then, can you say you are enlightened. Thus, your nature must be quiet, and your heart empty (i.e. to experience transcendental Cosmic Reality, you must be quiet, and you must not have any thoughts), be liberated from all worries, and overcome the hurdles of life and death.
“Then you are majestic, without any blockage and without any fear. Your enter Nirvana, where there is no spiritual ways, no me and no entities.”
For a time Luk Ah Choy understood, for a time he did not. He remained kneeling on the floor, dazed and bewildered.
The Venerable Chee Seen continued, “The training of external art is the business of the physical body, bones and tendons. The cultivation of internal art is the nourishment of life, essence and spirit. It is difficult to separate the two, but it is also the ultimate of ‘steams and lakes’ (i.e. martial art circles). When the two arts are united, it is the ultimate, marvelous art.”
These words were like morning bells and evening drums (i.e. words of enlightenment, as bells and drums were sounded in temples in the morning and the evening to enlighten people). The heart cavity (i.e. the mind and understanding) of Luk Ah Choy opened and became clear. Again he knelt and thanked the Venerable Chee Seen three times.
Since then, Luk Ah Choy increased his diligence and benefits. Within two years, he gradually understood the three tastes of internal art (i.e. all of internal art). He practiced well the genuine techniques of Shaolin, like dragon traveling, bear claws, eagle eyes, monkey paws, crane steps, snake movement, bird jumping, cat dodging, dog avoiding, leopard fists, rabbit running, lion catching, and tiger charging. Whether it was long fist or short strike, attacking or defending, moving forward or retreating, there was nothing that his heart reached essence and ultimate attainment (i.e. he did them excellently).
Grandmaster Wong demonstrating a pattern from Southern Shaolin Kungfu
Li Chooi Peng wrote a letter of recommendation for Luk Ah Choy. Then she told him, “Since the burning of the Shaolin Monastery, my sifu wanders like clouds. I don’t know where he is, but he is often in Guangzhou.“
Luk Ah Choy knew that the Venerable Chee Seen was a top master of kungfu. Many people wanted to learn from him, but were unsuccessful.
Luk Ah Choy went about in search of Chee Seen. He saw a temple with the sign showing “Six-Birth Monastery”. He went forward and was met by a monk on duty.
“Generous donor has come to this humble monastery. Can you please tell me how I may help?”
(Monasteries were supported by donations from the public. “Generous donors” was the usual address for people.)
“I just want to know whether the Venerable Chee Seen is staying here.”
“The Venerable Chee Seen is a high-level monk. He wanders everywhere. But he is not in our monastery. Perhaps generous donor can find out from another monastery.”
Luk Ah Choy had been to many monasteries, like “Glorious Filial Monastery”, “Beautiful Forst Monastery”, and “Big Buddha Monastery”, but could not find the Venerable Chee Seen. Some said that he was at the Elixir-Mist Mountain, and some said he had returned to Fujian Province to rebuild the Shaolin Monastery. But Luk Ah Choy did not give up.
He continued to search, and had walked all over the two provinces of Guangdong and Fujian. One day Luk Ah Choy came to a deserted mountain. All around there was no individuals and no smoke (i.e. no families whose houses gave out smoke from their chimneys). There was only a clump of black forest. He wanted to climb higher to release the hindrance in his heart.
So he used his art of lightness and ran up the summit. He saw a temple wall, and at the entrance were written “Shaolin Monastery”. He was shock. He knew that there were two monasteries called “Shaolin Monastery”, one in the north on Song Mountain in Henan and the other in the south in Potian in Fujian Province. He never knew that on this wild mountain there was another Shaolin Monastery.
(Historical accounts mentioned that the southern Shaolin Monastery was at the City of Quanzhou in Fujian Province. The northern Shaolin Monastery was at the Song Mountain in Henan Province. Not many people know that the third Shaolin Monastery was located on Nine-Lotus Mountain, also in Fujian Province.)
Luk Ah Choy entered the monastery. A monk came forward to meet him. “Generous donor,” the monk said, “Is there any matter?”
“I came in search of the Venerable Chee Seen. I passed this way and found your monastery pure and beautiful. Hence, I enter to pray.”
The monk laughed. “If generous donor wants to find the Venerable Chee Seen, where would generous donor go? The Venerable Chee Seen is the abbot of this monastery.”
Luk Ah Choy was both surprised and happy. “Please, great teacher, lead the way.”
The monk led him through the main hall, and went to the east meditation hall, where they found an elderly monk writing on a table. This monk was tall, glowing in the face, his eye brows were elegant like a mountain stream, his chest contained the mechanism of heaven and earth, his eyes like comets, and his radiance shot at others. Luk Ah Choy knew this must be the Venerable Chee Seen. So he knelt down and presented the jade pendant.
The monk put away his brush and smilingly said, “Where does this wild person come from, and prostrated here?”
Luk Ah Choy answered, “Student Luk Ah Choy prostrate to the great Venerable Spiritual Teacher.” He took out the recommendation letter from Li Chooi Peng.
After reading the letter, the monk laughed, “The little woman is too busy. She specially gives this monk difficult problems.”
Facing Luk Ah Choy, he said, “I am Chee Seen. You are keen to learn kungfu. This intention is worthy of congratulations. But life in the monastery is pure and simple, and its rules very strike. I don’t know whether you can tolerate it.”
Luk Ah Choy replied, “Student can tolerate.”
Chee Seen continued, “Whoever comes to practice kungfu in the monastery, must wait till his skills are rounded and his practice full (i.e. till his graduation), then he is allowed to return. Otherwise, irrespective of birth, age, sickness or death, no one is permitted to leave the mountain gate half a step. This is not purposely make life difficult for those who want to practice kungfu, but to ensure that whoever graduates from the gate of this old monk is an expert, so as not to insult the reputation of Shaolin.”
Luk Ah Chou replied, “Student is willing to forever follow teacher’s advice.”
The Venerable Chee Seen nodded his head, and said, “Then, you can remain in the monastery.” He continued his writing. Luk Ah Choy did not dare to say further. He withdrew himself.
Hence, Luk Ah Choy remained in the monastery. He helped in the kitchen to cook, he fetched water or chopped firewood, or he swept the monastery to keep it clean. He was diligent. But Chee Seen seemed to have forgotten such a person existed. Not only he did not teach Luk Ah Choy any kungfu, he did not ask about him at all. A month soon passed.
Luk Ah Choy did not mind at all. Although Chee Seen did not teach him anything new, every night he would secretly practice what he had learned before.
One night he passed Chee Seen’s sleeping room. He noticed that a light shone through a narrow gap in the door, and from inside was heard striking with hands and kicking with legs.
Luk Ah Choy was curious. Secretly he went to the narrow gap to have a peep. He was shock at what he saw. Chee Seen was practicing kungfu in his room. It was different from what Luk Ah Choy had seen before all his life. He did not want to leave.
So every night he stole to have a peep at the narrow gap of Chee Seen’s door. Chee Seen’s movements and techniques were impressed in his mind. He diligently practiced the movements and techniques, and his kungfu progressed tremendously.
Actually Chee Seen knew that Luk Ah Choy peeped at the door every night, but Chee Seen did not reveal it. He wanted to test Luk Ah Choy’s appreciation of Zen. For many months, he observed Luk Ah Choy, and found him full of energy and rich in spirit, his body was healthy and strong, and knew that Luk Ah Choy was wise, capable attaining what most people could not attain.
One day, Chee Seen asked Luk Ah Choy to see him, and asked Luk Ah Choy to demonstrate a kungfu set. Luk Ah Choy was very happy. He showed what he had been secretly viewing.
Chee Seen nodded and smiled, and silently said to himself, “He has not forsaken my bitter heart (i.e. he has not missed what I have secretly and ardently shown him).“ But outwardly, he acted as if he was very surprised, “What you showed just now are secrets not taught to other people. Besides me and a few inner-chamber disciples, no one knows them. From where did you learn them?”
“Sifu pardons me, then only dare I speak.”
“I won’t punish you. Don’t hide anything.”
Luk Ah Choy then told the Venerable Chee Seen that for many months, he “stole” the art by observing his sifu practicing in his room.”
(In kungfu culture, stealing an art means not learning directly from ones teacher, but by observing his teacher or other students practicing it.)
The Venerable Chee Seen laughed out loudly. Lifting Luk Ah Choy up by his hand, he said, “You have used your bitter heart (i.e. you were determined in your effort, and are honest about it), how can I punish you? But what you have seen is actually ‘little skill to carve some worms’ (i.e. little art that did not go deeply). I have ‘not-two spiritual gate’ (i.e. an unparallel, deep art) to transmit to you.”
Luk Ah Choy was happy like being mad. He prostrated before his sifu. Under the guidance of Chee Seen, he ‘manifested courage and forgot his food’ (i.e. he showed courage in his learning , and was so diligent that he sometimes forgot about his meals), and often discussed and practiced with other monks in the monastery, that ‘benefited in essence and aimed at essence’ (i.e. he was already excellent as he knew the essence, but he aimed to be even better to know more essence). In about half a year, his martial art progressed tremendously.
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.”