Shaolin Feet and Shaolin Fists
Northern Feet and Southern Fists are considered a fortuitous combination. Two strands of Kung Fu teaching, embodying different tenets, viewpoints and histories, need to be reconciled. The following autobiographical sketch considers formative influences and key individuals shaping my own career in Shaolin Martial Arts
Lineage & Lineal Descent
You should really know where you’re coming from and be able to tell anyone who asks your Teachers name & the style(s) you practice (e.g. Changquan)! It’s considered better still if you can name your Teachers’ Teacher- anything else is yet more bonus points.Here are the two lines of teaching I’ve followed for the last 38 years!
At’a, (Ao Tai) General of The Ever Victorious Army, was also bodyguard of Captain Charles Gordon (later General Gordon of Khartoum), during the T’ai Ping T’ien, often referred to as the Boxer Rebellion and originated in Malysia. it’s almost certain Malysian Grandmaster Leong and Grandmaster Chee, who relocated there, knew each other. Yap Leong, when young, lived close to Si Jo (Founder of Style) Leong Fu in Ipoh and knows some fascinating anecdotes about him! What few people realise is that Grandmaster Leong Fu was also World Middleweight Wrestling Champion for 3 consecutive years before retiring undefeated–his Chin Na (seize and control technique) must have been awesome!.
Grandmaster Leong Fu taught Rex Jones, meeting him whilst Rex served in the SAS (Special Air Service) during the Malayan ‘Emergency’ (CE 1948-60) teaching him Ao Tai Dao (At’a’s Way); Jern Jing Kuen Fat (Elephant Fist Way) and other Changquan styles including its 5 Animal (Wu Xing) applications and much more. Snake Form, the Introductory Form of Hoan Lung Quan comes from here. The term ‘Emergency’ was used consistently as insurer, Lloyds of London, would have refused to pay compensation for ‘War’ damage! Sifu Jones became Leong Fu’s top pupil gaining the tile and rank of ‘ ‘Flyiing Dragon’ (Fei Lung).
Si Gung Rex Jones founded Fei Lung Quan (Flying Dragon Society) and became my Sifu in 1972, remaining my teacher until he retired around 1992. The tattoo of a Red Dragon, with a single dot above it (mark of the no.1 Student) on my left forearm, from when I became Sifu, reflects Fei Lung Quan organization and structure as being far more tha paper-based. Hoan Lung Quan (Red Dragon Society) works in a similar and related fashion. Rex also gave me my Chinese name ‘Wo Lei’ (The Fox) which I sometimes use in correspondence- or the Mandarin equivalent Hu Da Ge (Big Brother Fox).
Grandmaster Chee Kim Thong had several notable teachers (1) see “Kung Fu Secrets” Vols. 2-3) (2) and Si Jo Chee’s disciples include Yap Cheng-Hai, Chan See-Meng and Yap Leong. I’ve been taught, very briefly, at a memorable seminar in London, by Yap Cheng-Hai, but eventually (I’m glad to say) events followed a certain pattern and I became a ‘closed door’ student of Grandmaster Yap Leong. Yap Leong knew and spoke highly of both Leong Fu and Rex: “He’s very Fei Lung!” were his first words to me about the latter–those who have met him know Yap Leong is not addicted to idle compliments! Hence, my ongoing gratitude towards all my Teachers. Grandmaster Yap Leong welcomed me into ‘The family’ in 1993.
I’ve also had other teachers: Shr Yanzi (Head of the Shaolin Temple UK) for approximately 3 years, Yang Jwing-Ming (albeit very briefly), most notably John Gunning (Leong Fu disciple and Fei Lung Quan Senior Sifu) and, most recently, Master Wu in Beijing recently (whence I intend to return for further coaching).All of these were excellent Teachers whose high standards I strive to emulate to the best of my ability
Grandmaster Yap Leong has since Founded Shaolin Fists International with myself as a Founder Member and Technical advisor. Prolonged (and continuing) study with him over the last 18 years has led me to further qualify as Sifu in Qigong, undergo Iron Shirt Training and expand my knowledge and awareness of Kung Fu and Qigong styles and systems considerably.This has fundamentally influenced my Kung Fu and my teaching style, as has his HYL (Health, Youth & Longevity) Energiser Programme.Those desiring deeper understandings of internal energies and Nei/Wei Dan Qigong, an essential prerequisite for progress to higher Kung Fu grades and training levels, will find such structured multi-level programmes of considerable benefit.
Originally designed to provide longevity, or life extension on the battlefield, Kung Fu spilled over into life in general. The Chinese Martial artists found they enjoyed a longer lifespan (3) through Kung Fu Training, one in which they could achieve things they never thought possible. Hence the popularity of Kung Fu as a ‘way of life’ and as a self-development tool in China which has spilled over into the world at large.
All in all, so far, it’s been a case otf ‘Nan Chuan: Bei Tui’ Southern Hands and Northern Feet. Although this is considered an ideal balanced martial arts ‘diet’ by some–nothing could have been accomplished without those excellent teachers whom I have referred to in the body of this text except a bad dose of martial indigestion!
Notes and References
(1) He had six in all, covering a tremendous range of styles. I am indebted to ‘Toby’ who posted a detailed comment on an earlier version of this article in which trying to abridge a passage from memory, inadvertently I said he had only three. He also pointed out that he was succeeded by his son Master James Chee who, I beleve, teaches in Australia,
(2) Obtainable from Shaolin Way U.k. (see below)
(3) See, for example, Allsop, P. (2010) ‘250 Years Old and Still Strong With Qigong: Chinese Herbalist and Martial Artist Li Ching-Yuen’ EzineArticles.com