Natural Traditional Chinese Martial Arts articles by Sal Canzonieri

This was my thirteenth column in Han Wei Wushu, it is about the History of Southern Shaolin martial arts - Part 1.

Han Wei Wushu Newsletter
Han Wei Wushu Newsletter
(December 1996 issues #27)
Article #13

The story of traditional Chinese martial arts: Southern Styles During the Qing Dynasty - Part 1

By Salvatore Canzonieri, Boonton, New Jersey

Founding of the Southern Shaolin Affliated Temples during the Tang Dynasty

In the last couple of decades excavations have revealed three possible southern Shaolin temples; one on Jiulianshan (九蓮山) near Putian (莆田) villeage in Fujian (福建) Province, the second in Fuqing (芙卿) country Fujian Province, and the third called Zhenguo Dong Chan Shaolin Temple (鎮國東禪少林寺 Zan Gwok Dung Sim) at the foot of the Qingyuan Shan (清源山) in Quanzhou (泉州 ) in Fujian Province.

The first Southern Shaolin Temple was ultimately the result of Northern Temple (Songshan) monk warriors responding to a request for martial assistance from a young Tang Dynasty. Pirate incursions in Fujian Province threatened stability and prosperity in Southern China and the new dynasty needed help. At the Emperor's request, three of the legendary Shaolin Thirteen Cudgel fighting monks, Dao Guang, Seng Man and Seng Feng, led approximately 500 warrior monks south in the early 7th Century AD to battle against pirates. They helped vanquish the pirates, but most of them died in battle doing so.

Some of the surviving Shaolin monks stayed behind at the local Buddhist temples in the Southern provinces, to memoralize their fallen comrades. They were welcomed and followed by local monks seeking to become Shaolin disciples. Dao Guang initially returned to Song San Shaolin Temple and visited Tan Zong, the grandmaster. Tan Zong wrote a poem for him and asked him to select a site resembling the Song San "Jiu Lian" Mountain and then build a Southern Shaolin Temple to commemorate their fallen brothers. The grandmaster asked him to remember their ancestors and to spread the Chan Buddhist philosophy native to the Song San Temple. The literal meaning of the poem is: "Days and months fighting roving bandits, wishing a temple to stay at the foot of Jiu Lian Mountain; Southern and Northern Shaolin originates from the same temple with Chan Buddhism engraved in the heart forever".

Dao Guang returned to Fujian and selected Putian Linshan Mountain (which resembled "Jiu Lian" mountain in topography) as the site of the Southern Shaolin Temple. Evidence amassed by the three above referenced historical and archeological organizations establishes that the Tang Emperor, Li Shimin (600-649 AD), approved the proposed site and the construction of a Southern Shaolin Temple. He was particularly appreciative, as the warrior monks had earlier saved his life in a conflict with a rogue General who challenged his ascendancy to the throne. Li Shimin (Imperial title - Tai-Tsung) reigned from 626-649 AD. He brought Taoism and Buddhism together with Confucian policy to rule the country. The Chan tradition of the Southern Shaolin was also created at this time, together with that temple's practice of martial arts.

More than 30 experts in martial arts, history, religion and archeology firmly asserted that the central temple Lin Quan Yuan of this Southern Shaolin Temple was built around 557 A.D, during the Nan (South) Dynasty. This is only 61 years later than the Song Shan Shaolin Temple and even one year earlier than the most famous Guan Hua Temple at Putian. Therefore it is the earliest temple built in Fujian. The National Culture Bureau discovered the ruins of the center temple, "Lin Quan Yuan," in 1986 - more than 300 years after its destruction. The ruins are located at Linshan Mountain (above sea level 500 meters) and are surrounded by mountains North, South, and East. The Temple's western side was opposite the Supine Buddha Mountain (above sea level 570 meters) with a river in between. The ruins are 200 meters long from west to east with a total area of about 30,000 square meters. The terrain and its features bear a strong resemblance to Song Shan Shaolin Temple. The topography of the Southern Shaolin Temple is strategically located and quite difficult to access. From a military perspective, it was easy to defend and difficult to challenge. In essence, it was an ideal place for executing revolutionary command and control of military strategy and tactics. There are more than 10 fortified mountain villages around it.

Today the ruins of these villages still exist. The four stone inscriptions of the Zhang Jiang Village confirm that it was built at the end of Ming Dynasty (1645 A.D) when Cibo Huang fought against Qing soldiers. There are also place names related to the Shaolin Temple at Lin Shan Village, such as Yuan Qian, Yuan Hou, Yuan Ke, Ta Li, Ta Xi, Fangseng Chi, Liangong Tan, etc. Likewise, there are found some camp names related to martial arts practice as well, and a stone trough for the monk soldiers to treat wounded and ill casualties. It is engraved with Chinese calligraphy proclaiming that two Monk soldiers, Yongqi and Jinqi, of Linquanyuan Temple, the original name of the Southern Shaolin Temple, made this trough in September of the Year Jiayou of the Song Dynasty. The stone trough is 226 cm long and 100 cm wide with the inscription "Bathing and boiling herb medicine for monks." According to the stone inscription, it had more than 20 buildings with more than 500 monks living there. Lin Quan Yuan was not just a common temple. It was a temple of Shaolin Martial Arts directly passed on by Shaolin Monk Soldiers. It became a branch of the Song Shan Shaolin temple.

Fujian Province's Fuqing County has had a Shaolin Yuan ever since Song times. After the Southern Song capitulated to the Yuan, a Quanzhou native Liang Ke Jia revised the "Three Mountain Record" in 1182. Volume 36 is called "Fuqing County Temples." The Ming dynasty scholar, Putian native Huang Zhong Zhao, edited the "Records of the Min Area" around 1499, and this also records that there are eight temples in the Xin Ning area of Fuqing County: Fang Dong, Dong Lin, Hou Tang, Long Xi, Zhao Fu, Long Ju, Shaolin, and Da Xu. Among these temples, the first to be built was the Fang Dong with construction beginning in 569. The Dong Lin temple was built sometime between 1086 and 1094. Hou Tang was built in 1117. However the other five temple's construction dates weren't recorded. Fujian Provincial government and Fuzhou City archeological teams excavated the site in July and August of 1995 and March through October of 1996. The excavations uncovered a site of over 5000 square meters, currently the largest temple found within China. The archeologists' report found four strata: Northern Song, Southern Song, Ming/Qing, and nearly modern. The Shaolin Yuan is in the northeastern corner of Fuqing county, at the intersection of three counties: Fuqing, Putian, and Yong Tai.

Northern and Southern Song Dynastys and Hakka influence

From the Tang Dynasty to the Ming Dynasty, more temples, both Buddhist and Taoist, were built in Fujian, Guangdong, Jianxi, and other southern China provinces. “Fujian History” says that by the end of the Tang Dynasty, Buddhism has been evolved into 5 groups: Yang Zong, Caodong Zong, Yunmen Zong, Linji Zong, Fayan Zong. Most of them were founded by Fujianese. In other words, Chan Buddhism’s roots had moved to Southern China. Over time, the Putian and other temples developed their own Southern Shaolin based martial arts, complete with Qi and Nei Gong as well as self defense movements.

During the passing centuries, these temple martial arts also interacted with the various waves of the Hakka people's migration from the north to the south of China. The Hakka were decendents of the original Han people of China. They moved south to Fujian, Guangdong, and other provinces, in about 5 or 6 waves during various upheavals in China's history. Some of these waves, included many members of the royal families and their followers, such as the Song Dynasty's Zhao (Chow) family and the Ming Dynasty's Chu (Choi) family. They were a strong people and practiced many martial arts that were originally from the north but eventually modified to fit the environs of south China. Hakka martial arts today share many similarities (common movements, postures, and sets) with the temple based martial arts. See: Hakka Martial Arts.

Each wave of the Hakka people from the North emigrating to the South brought a new martial art influence to the Southern China martial arts being practiced locally at the time and at the temples, such as:

  • The Song Dynasty's Hakka wave brought the martial art of Tai Tzu Quan, practiced by the Zhao royal family and it's followers.
  • Also, during the Southern Song era, Chuo Jiao-Fanzi Quan and Yue Fei Jia Quan, practiced by the military troops of the Song army and by General Yue Fei's soldiers.
    The Fantzi style that many military people learned was based on short strikes, like most southern Chinese martial arts.
    The Yue Fei Jia Quan style can be classified as both an internal and external style of martial art. This style is based primarily on the principles of combining inner and outer bodies, theory, and applications and its various techniques stem from its principal philosophy found in the I Ching. It also follows the concept of the Five Elements of the heart, liver, lung, spleen, and kidney in the human body. One feature of Yuejia Quan is the sound produced by its practitioners when executing a punch or kick. This is done to combine breathing techniques and physical power to create a more explosive hit strike.
    Note: Fanzi Quan and Yue Jia Quan are related, except Yue Jia Quan comes from people who served in Yue Fei's army, so it might have other elements added to it that Fanzi might not have exactly.
  • During the Ming Dynasty, the military also practiced a type of Hong Quan that was derived from Tai Tzu Quan and with some influence from other long fist styles, such as Moslem martial arts, for example, what is now called Cha Quan. Northern Hung Kuen (洪拳), by contrast, is not a Five Animal style and dates to the 16th century. What is very interesting is that some of the classic postures seen in Northern Hong Quan from the Ming Dynasty are also found in postures seen in various branches of the Hung Gar style.
  • Later, during the early Qing Dynasty, the Chu family martial arts were brought to Fujian as well, leading to the eventual development of the so-called Southern Mantis style, another Short Strike based style.

Ming Dynasty and its Fall

After the Mongols (Yuan Dynasty) were finally defeated, a Chinese Emperor was finally able to retake the throne in Beijing. The Ming Dynasty (Chinese: 明朝; pinyin: Míng Cháo) was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644. It was the last ethnic Han-led dynasty in China, supplanting the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty before falling to the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty. The Ming Dynasty ruled over the Empire of the Great Ming (大明國; Dà Míng Guó), as China was then known. Although the Ming capital, Beijing, fell in 1644, remnants of the Ming throne and power (now collectively called the Southern Ming) survived until 1662.

A number of Han Chinese groups revolted, especially some Taoist led religious sects, and eventually the group led by Chu Yuan-Chang ( Zhu Yuanzhang ), who became emperor after being assisted by an ancient and secret intellectual fraternity called the Summer Palace people, established dominance. (Note: Zhu is often spelled Chu and many other ways today).

The first concern of China’s new Ming emperor was military strength and preventing Mongol resurgence. Previously a Buddhist Monk, the first Ming Emperor Chu Yuan-Chang established garrisons at strategic points and created a hereditary military caste of soldiers who would sustain themselves by farming and be ever ready for war. Chu Yuan-Chang made his commanders into military nobility. Troops were forbidden to abuse civilians. Chu Yuan-Chang’s regime executed many who violated the laws or were suspected of treason. Chu Yuan-Chang worked towards economic recovery. Farms had been devastated, so he settled a huge number of peasants on what had been considered wasteland and gave them tax exemptions. Between 1371 and 1379, the land under cultivation tripled, as did revenues. The government sponsored tree planting and reforestation programs. Neglected dikes and canals were repaired and thousands of reservoirs were rebuilt. Chu Yuan-Chang died in 1398 at the age of seventy. Chu Yuan-Chang’s death was followed by four years of civil war and the disappearance of his son and heir, Jianwen. Jianwen had been indecisive and scholarly and no match for his uncle, Yongle, who became Emperor in 1403. Yongle ruled until 1424. He often used eunuchs as spies and appointed them to high positions in the government. By the mid 1400’s the Mongols were again making border raids and appeared to the Chinese as the greatest threat since the rise of the Ming Dynasty.

With the independence from Mongol rule, Confucian influence had increased in the court. Confucian scholars were filling the ranks of senior officialdom and remained hostile to commerce and foreign contact. The Confucianists had little or no interest in seeing China develop into a great maritime trading power. In the wake of the Mongol rule, China’s leaders were eager to restore things Chinese, and that included shipping on China’s canals, which had fallen into disrepair under the Mongols. By 1592, China was engaged in a costly war with Japan over Korea. This was the beginning of the end for the Ming Dynasty. Over the next 50 years, the Ming military experienced heavy decline due to extensive defense programs in response to increased civil conflicts.

When the last and 17th Ming Emperor Zhu Youjian (朱由檢) took over the Ming Dynasty from his father (emperor Zhu Youjiao 朱由校) the Ming dynasty was already in strong decline. The lifestyle of the emperial family had been too expensive. In an attempt to try to save his empire, Zhu Youjian raised again the taxes to a maximum. When his troups were collecting taxes, many of the poor people could not pay. The tax collectors came to the farm of the Hakka (kejia 客家) peasant Li Zicheng (李自成) / Li Tzu-Ch’eng (1605?-1648). When he could not pay the soldiers attacked him. When Li Zicheng defended himself, a Ming soldier got killed. Li Zhicheng fled to the mountains to save his life, there he successfully formed a large rebel army. They attacked the Ming armies successfully and entered Beijing in 1644.

After taking Beijing (北京) in April 1644, Li Zicheng led his army of 60,000 strong to confront Wu Sangui (吳三桂), the general commanding Ming's 100,000 strong garrison stationed at Shanhaiguan (山海关). Shanhaiguan is the major northeastern pass of the Great Wall of China located fifty miles northeast of Beijing and for years its defences were what kept the Manchus (滿州) out of China. General Wu Sangui and the Ming had no choice but to enlist the help of the Manchu forces to remove Li Tzu-Ch’eng. Together the two armies met Li Zicheng's rebel forces in battle on May 27, 1644. Even though the rebel forces were routed, Wu's army was so weakened by the day's fighting that he had no choice but to join the Manchus forces as they captured Beijing on June 6. However, the Manchu captured the throne for themselves, ending the rule of the Ming Dynasty. In 1646, Dorgon became the first Ch’ing Emperor and declared the Qing or Ching Dynasty. The process took another seventeen years of battling Ming loyalists and rebels. (The last Ming pretender Prince Gui took refuge in Burma but was turned over to a Qing expeditionary force headed by Wu Sangui who had brought him back to Yunnan province and was executed in early 1662.)

With the ascension of the Qing / Ch’ing dynasty, the Ming Emperor and his family fled to the northern Shaolin Henan temple to seek asylum and escape certain death at the hands of the Manchurians. The military forces of the Ch’ing dynasty hunted the royal family and their relatives, knowing that a revolutionary spirit was being nurtured. At some point, the royal family escaped to the southern Shaolin temple in the Fukien/ Fujian Province. The Manchu were ruthless in persuring and executing any Ming loyalists or family members.

Outside the Northern and Southern Shaolin temple's walls, China was going through a turbulent period of its history; it was the reign of the first Qing Emperor Shunzhi (1644-1661) and gradually the last remnants of the forces supporting the previous Ming Dynasty were being crushed by the Manchu armies.

Manchu takeover of China - Qing Dynasty

After the Manchurian tribe had invaded China and defeated the Ming dynasty rulers, Ming loyalist, nobles, and soldiers, escaped and went south. For the first forty years of their Manchurian rule, the Manchu only controlled the northern half of China. In the south, they faced massive resistance, rebellion, and hatred. The Manchu returned this opposition with some of the harshest oppression the south ever faced, including whole scale massacres.

During these years rebels in southern China were having the overhand. From all over China, Ming loyalist, rebels and others came to the southern parts of China. Many entered the rebel armies, monasteries and secret societies (triads 三合會). To deal with the strong-arm tactics of the Manchu, the south developed secret societies, both to undermine the administrative pursuits of the Qing government and to clandestinely plan and carry out rebellious activities. Each area of the south had their own rebellions, there was not a whole scale coordinated revolution against the Qing. Thus, each area of the south developed their own fighting tactics to be used in assassinating Manchu guards / officials and combating the Manchu army. As a result, the south saw the rise of many diverse styles of martial arts, some influenced by previous Shaolin training and some not influenced much by any other previous styles.

After the Manchu took over, it is said that Ming General Choi Jiu-Yi (a relative of the Ming royal family - the family name has been spelled Chu, Jew, Choi, Tzoi, Choy, Chiu, etc.) fled first to the Song Shan Shaolin Temple in Henan province and soon after to the Fujian Shaolin Temple to escape certain death. There he asked Monk Yat Kwan (Yi Quan), who was originally from the Northern Shaolin temple in Henan, for admittance as a martial art student. The Manchu had killed more than 800,000 people and the Fujian monks found the Manchu to be a horrible burden on China. They soon allowed Ming government officials refuge in the Temple. Eventually, many Ming nobles and soldiers were accepted as layman martial art followers of the Shaolin way. It is for these people that the monks labored to develop more efficient and effective martial arts styles.

In the spring of 1662, the second Qing Emperor, Kang Xi (康熙 1661-1722) had ordered the Great Clearance in southern China, in order to fight the anti-Qing movement, begun by Ming Dynasty loyalists under the leadership of Zheng Chenggong (also known as Koxinga), to regain Beijing. This involved moving the entire population of the coastal regions of southern China inland. Zheng Cheng Gong, also called Cheng Sing Kung, one of the last surviving Ming generals, fled to the island of Formosa (Taiwan) taking it over from the Dutch in 1662. It was then that he established the revolutionary society Tien Dei Wui {Heaven and Earth society} which was the counterpart of the Hung Fa Wui {Red Flower Society} on the mainland. The Hung Fa Wui was an underground Anti-Manchurian society based in Shaolin. In Shaolin, the Hung Fa Wui had a special gathering place called the Hung Fa Ting {Red Flower Court}. This was a great meeting hall where Ming loyalists gathered and discussed political strategies to overthrow the Manchurians and the fall of the Ching Dynasty.

The Qing rulers had a hard time in controlling China. The Qing army was big enough to conquer China but not to control or defend it. Under the command of the prince of the "state of Xilu", the general Peng Longtian (彭龍天 Pong Lung Tin) attacked the empire. Surprisingly the small army of Xilu (西魯) defeated the Qing general Guo Tinghui (郭庭辉 Gwok Ting Wui) and won many victories, holding large parts of the lands to the west. Xilu means "western Lu", it is not real clear where that state was, but it is believed that they came from Tibet or that region. (Although there was in ancient times a kingdom in Shandong with that name). Their reputations as fearless and merciless warriors grew with each battle they won. When the emperor saw that his empire was being threatened very seriously, he gave two of his ministers the order to end the attacks that vexed his country. What the emperor did not knew is that the reputation of the warriors of Xilu was immense and that the ministers did not dare to the take the assignment. The ministers fled the country to escape being beheaded.

The desperate emperor decided to make a summon for volunteers to join his army in the attacked region. These summons of the emperor where everywhere orally announced (because of illiteracy) and hung up in his empire. This cry of distress was also heard by Zheng Junda (鄭君達 Cheng Gwan Taat), a cousin of the known Ming rebel Zheng Chenggong (鄭成功 Koxinga), who was "anti Qing" after the death and betrayal of his pirate father Zheng Zhilong (鄭芝龍 Cheng Si Lung) by the Qing. Zheng Junda lived at that moment in the southern Siu Lam temple where he studied martial arts. Zheng Junda went with the news of the emperor to the abbot of the temple. Abbot Zhao Yuan (朝元禅师 Ziu Jyun) consulted with his other monks about the request of the emperor Kang Xi. This could be the chance they were waiting for to be well received by the emperor. When things would go right they maybe receive as gratitude the same privileges as their northern brothers had. (During the Tang Dynasty (唐朝) 618-907, the Shaolin monks helped the first and second Emperor Li Yuan (李淵) 618-626 and Li Shimin 626-649 (李世民) in their war against Wang Shichong (王世充) and Dou Jiande (竇建德). The Emperor(s) gave the Shaolin temple many gifts such as a land (400 mu), allowance to eat meat, and allowance to defend their land with arms (private monk army), etc. Eventually these monks decided to help Emperor Kang Xi, not for the rescue of the Qing empire but to obtain the privileges after their victory. These privileges would help them eventually in their resistance against the same Qing dynasty.

In 1673 the abbot Zhi Yuan ordered his head disciple Tak Wan to lead the attack of the 128 monks of the temple and to organize the attack together with Zheng Junda and his wife Guo Xiuying (郭秀英 Gwok Sau Jing) (Zheng Junda's wife also trained at the temple). Before they could attack, they had to receive the permission of the emperor himself. Emperor Kang Xi was very impressed by the group of courageous monks. Because it was forbidden by the Qing law to carry any weapons, the emperor gave the monks all the weapons they needed, he gave them food and other provisions for the journey and the permission to fight the army of Xilu without the imperial Qing army.

The emperor was even more surprised when the Siu Lam monks managed to beat the army of Xilu in a period of 3 months and without having any casualties. After their victory the monks were greeted as true hero's in Beijing and many gifts and honourable titles were given. But, the monks were very disappointed that they didn't receive the privileges as their northern brothers. The emperor gave them a very special imperial iron (shuaiyin 帥印) seal in a triangular shape. The weight of this seal was sayed to be 20 catties and 13 ounce (+\- 10,5 kg). Within in this triangular shape the characters ri ( sun) and shan ( mountain) where carved. Although an imperial seal is not really what the monks wanted, in those days a imperial seal had tremendous power. The imperial seals were the visible evidence of the emperor’s authority and legitimacy and very very seldom given as a present. They ratified every edict, decree and appointment. This seal gave the Southern Siu Lam temple great respect and protection against local rulers. But envy of the seal by Qing authorities would eventually in the end become the fall of the Siu Lam temple.

The only person that was happy with the result and this gifts was Zheng Junda. His reward was that he was made Army General (總鎮 zongshen) of the Qing army in the district of Huizhui (惠州 Wai Chow) Guandong province. In his new position he could spy and inform his rebel friends with great ease. In the beginning everyone was very happy with the result the monks had achieved. But with their actions the Siu Lam monks had also made some enemies, especially within the Qing army and at the Qing court with some influential rich people. The Qing army leaders lost face after losing to the army of Xilu and the monks easily winning. Soon after the victory an offensive of rumours was started against the Siu Lam temple to bring the monks into discredit. The rumours found a good breeding place in the Qing court, because many had the feeling that they were passed over. At the Qing court, the army started to realize what a great power the monks might have to have bene able to terminat an entire Xilu army with only 128 monks. Fortunately, Emperor Kang Xi had not forgotten the monks who helped him to save his empire and they remained protected during his reign.

Next, the Revolt of the Three Feudatories broke out in 1673 and Burni of the Chakhar Mongols also started a rebellion in 1675. The Revolt of the Three Feudatories presented a major challenge. Wu Sangui's forces had overrun most of southern China and he tried to ally himself with local generals. A prominent general of this kind was Wang Fuchen. To control China, the Qing troops had to rely heavily on the surrendered Ming forces. In addition, three surrendered Ming generals were selected for their contributions to the Qing imperial cause, ennobled as feudal princes (藩王), and given governorships over some territories in Southern China. The chief of whom was Wu Sangui who was given the provinces Yunnan (雲南), and Guizhou (貴州). While generals Shang Kexi (尚可喜) and Geng Jingzhong (耿精忠) were given Guangdong (廣東) and Fujian (福建) provinces respectively.

As the years went by, these princes and their territories became increasingly autonomous from the central government. Finally in 1673, Shang Kexi petitioned emperor Kang Xi (康熙) stating his desire to retire to his home town in Liao Dong (辽东) province and nominated his son in place for succession. The young Kang Xi emperor granted his retirement but denied the heredity of his son. In reaction, the two other generals decided to petition for their own retirements to test Kang Xi's way of thinking, assuming that he wouldn't risk to offend them. The move backfired as the young emperor called their bluff by accepting their requests and ordered all three feudatories to be revert back to the crown.

Faced with the lost of their powers, Wu Sangui felt he had no choice but to revolt. He was later joined by Geng Jingzhong and Shang Kexi's son Shang Zhixin (尚之信). The ensuing rebellion lasted for eight years. Their activities between 1674 and 1681 are called the "Rebellion of the Three" (San Fan zhi Luan 三反之亂). At the peak of the rebels' fortunes, they managed to extend their territories to as far north as the river Changjiang (长江). But ultimately, the Qing government was able to put down the rebellion and to take control over all of southern China.

Kangxi, however, united his court in support of the war effort and employed capable generals such as Zhou Pei Gong and Tu Hai to crush the rebellion. He also extended commendable clemency to the common people who had been caught up in the fighting. Although Kangxi personally wanted to lead the battles against the 3 Feudatories, he was advised not to by his advisors. Kangxi would later lead the battle against the Mongol Dzungars. Kangxi crushed the rebellious Mongols within two months and incorporated the Chakhar into the Eight Banners. After the surrender of the Zheng family, the Qing Dynasty annexed Taiwan in 1684. Soon afterwards, the coastal regions were ordered to be repopulated, and to encourage settlers, the Qing government gave a pecuniary incentive to each settling family (sparking off the bloody Puni / Hakka clan battles).

Thanks to their formidable reputation during the war against the Xilu, and Qing support of Buddhism, many high placed Qing officials visited Shaolin temple and paid their respects. Emperor Kang Xi visited the northern Songshan temple in 1704 and gave the temple as a gift a large black board with in gold the characters 'Shao-Lin-Si' and the imperial seal. This gift hangs today above the main entrance of the temple and can be seen in many photos.

Also important was the White Lotus Temple (Bai Lian Si) near the Yong Chung area, located opposite the Zhen Guo Dong Chan Shaolin Si (built during Tang dynasty 874-879 CE), which was later destroyed. These monasteries were a rallying point against the Manchu and the monks and secular rebels practiced their martial arts there. The Shaolin Temples secretly supported the Ming and so the new dynastic government was gradually curbing their influence.

They and the Shaolin monks labored to change the Northern Fist styles they had mastered from a system that took 10 to 20 years to master to that of a system that took three years to master. This was so that the martial arts could be immediately used for the rebel's self defense, sine it would be silly for the rebels to spend a lifetime mastering martial arts that they needed to use immediately. The change required condensing many forms from the previous system to a few extremely effective and efficient forms that concentrated on power and speed an close range fighting. Rebels who learned martial arts at the Shaolin Temple became enforcers for the Triad Society and were called 'Red Poles' (because they carried the red poles during the lion dances that were done at holidays. During the noise and excitement of the Lion Dances, the Ming rebels were able to perform clandestine activities right under the Manchu guards noses. Triads soon completely took over the underground economies of the south (even the founder of the Chinese Republic - 1911 - Dr. Sun Yat Sen had been a Red Pole Triad enforcer and his Republic was fully funded by the Triads, who even printed the Republic's currency at printing presses they controlled in San Francisco, California. His successor General Chiang Kai Shek had also been a Triad member.)

Most of the original monks from the north went to the Jian Shi Temple. There they developed the Southern Five Formed (Five Animals - Wu Xing) Fist system, which placed a greater emphasis on the Snake and Crane fist forms and internal exercises. Eventually, this temple was also burned down by the Manchu for punishment against their rebel operations support, and the remaining monks and freedom fighters went to another Fujian temple in the Putain area.

The special characteristics of Putian martial arts contain forms and training methods that focus on 'ging lik'. All four limbs are used in close range movements, but the specialty is still the arm bridge. The basic exercises and movements of the southern systems commonly focus on the arm bridge, the waist / hip, and the use of Jong training, including standing Jong and Muk Yan Jong (collectively known as jong gung). The ging lik focuses on cheun ging (short power) and sticking energy. Speaking in realms of applications, they tend to operate with close range strikes and kicks, containing expertise in kam na as well as pressure point technology.

In Southern Shaolin based martial arts, there are three layers of skills. The first of these three layers consists of the specialized skills (gung) that focus on combining qigong with physical conditioning but are not directly related to fighting skill. Examples in the Putian area consist of Iron Shirt / Golden Bell, Shaolin Thirty-Six Treasures, and Southern Shaolin One-Finger Chan. The second layer of skills involves the use of training sets or patterns (tao lu). These are the forms of Shaolin, functioning as both physical conditioning and meditational training, as well as serving as a means to preserve and communicate the principles and identity of a particular system. The third layer of skills is realistic fighting ability (ge dou). This is the actual ability of self-defense trained by the monks. In Southern Shaolin, these skills focused on bridge training (kiu sau).

The founding of the first Triad Society (name for underground anti-government, quasi-criminal, quasi-military secret society) was by the disgruntled 128 militant monks and an unknown number of secular Ming loyalists. They made their headquarters at the Fujian Shaolin Monastery in the Jiu Lian Shan - Nine Little Lotus Mountains - in 1674 AD. Inside this temple, a hall was established called the Everlasting Spring Hall (Wing Chun Tong). The focus of this hall was to collect and preserve the essence of Shaolin training and thought into one system under secrecy. The three treasures of Shaolin are Chan Buddhism, Health and Hei gung (qi gong) practice, and martial arts. The system of Chan practices, fighting theories and health exercises taught in this hall became known as Everlasting Spring Fist (Wing Chun Kune).

In 1728, the Qing government outlawed the private instruction and practice of martial arts. In 1729, Li Wei, the Zhejiang Governor-General, investigated some allegations that had been made against Monk Yi Nian and 100 others. It was claimed that they were plotting against the Ching government and all were arrested. Gan Fengshi (founder of the Hua Quan style, which was a hard/soft Taoist/Shaolin style with much grappling and joint locks) was among them (see PART TWO). They were found guilty of teaching martial arts and secret religious doctrines against the Ching Government and executed.

Eventually, the burning of the Southern Shaolin temples happened in the reign of the third Qing Emperor Yongzheng 雍正 (1723-1735). After much speculation that the southern temples were harboring anti-Qing rebels, the order was given to destroy the Siu Lam temples. The assignment of the destruction was given to Zhang Jianqiu (張建秋 Cheung Gin Cau), the military commander of the Fujian province and to Chen Wenyao (陳文耀 Chan Man Jiu), the magistrate (zhixian 知縣) of the Putian (莆田) district. Some of the monks and rebels fled to the west, to the Emei Mountain area in Sichuan province, where some Ming family loyalist had already fled during the early years of the Manchu takeover.

During the 1760s, the Heaven and Earth Society Tiandihui grew from Fujian and Guandong Provinces and spread all over the south, along transportation lines. Internally, the Heaven and Earth Society called themselves the Society Hung Men, the Hung Bang, or the Hung Gar (Family). The founders of the Tiandihui—Ti Xi, Li Amin, Zhu Dingyuan, and Tao Yuan—were all from Zhangpu in the prefecture of Zhangzhou in Fujian, on its border with Guangdong. They left Zhangpu for Sichuan, where they joined a cult, which did not go well. Ti Xi soon left for Guangdong, where he organized a group of followers in Huizhou. In 1761, he returned to Fujian and organized his followers into the Tiandihui, which had established itself in the Zhangpu and Pinghe counties of Zhangzhou Prefecture by 1766. By 1767, Lu Mao had organized within the Tiandihui a campaign of robberies to fund their revolutionary activities. The Tiandihui/Hongmen began to make the false claim that their society was born of an alliance between Ming loyalists and "five survivors of the destruction of the Shaolin Temple—Choi Dakjung (蔡德忠), Fong Daaihung (方大洪), Mah Chiuhing (馬超興), Wu Dakdai (胡德帝), and Lei Sikhoi (李式開)"—forged at the Honghua Ting (Hung Fa Ting, Vast or Red Flower Pavilion), where they swore to devote themselves to "fan Qing fu Ming" ("fan Ching Fook Ming", "overthrow the Qing and restore the Ming").

In 1768, the Qing emperor ordered the Northern Shaolin Temple to be destroyed. Many Songshan Shaolin monks fled to the southern provinces. (Although, later Ching Emperors had an appreciation for martial arts and paid for Shaolin to be rebuilt and again allowed martial arts to be openly practiced.).

In 1769, the White Lotus Sect was founded as a rebel secret religious society. They openly practiced martial arts and in secret preached their religion. The martial art that they make have practiced was Fanzi Quan.

The Hung Fa Yi Kuen ancestors claim there were two significant people who set the stage for Wing Chun and many other southern Chinese martial art styles to later flourish. The first significant person was a Buddhist monk from Northern Shaolin temple, his name was Chiu Yuen. In Hung Fa Yi lore, he played the leading role in keeping the underground Anti-Manchurian activities alive. Unknown to the Manchurians, Chiu Yuen's real identity was Chu Ming, one of the last surviving descendants of the Ming Dynasty Royal Chu family. It was his Anti-Manchurian activities, as well as his family ties to the old regime, that led to the eventual burning of the Shaolin temples by the Manchurian Soldiers.

The second person was known as Da Jung. Originally he was a Ming military officer from Northern China that was forced to flee south. Later he became a monk at the Southern Shaolin temple in Fukien. Da Jung's real name is unknown, but in the history of Chinese martial arts he is considered "Joi Si" or First Leader because he was the first person to extend Chinese Kung Fu to Southern Shaolin. Until his arrival, Southern Shaolin was not known for its martial arts. He organized what was called the Buddhist Hung Moon organization. This was a secret society formed in the Shaolin to overthrow the Ching Dynasty. The Buddhist Hung Moon was the first Buddhist political organization that was loyal to the Ming regime. This event is known in Hung Fa Yi Kuen as a milestone in Chinese Kung Fu because not only did he bring martial arts to Southern Shaolin (according to their lore), but he also bridged the gap between Northern Shaolin and Southern Shaolin.

Two of the monks/rebels who survived the temple raids had developed an early version of the Wing Chun system. One of these was a monk, a 22nd generation Yat Chum Dai Si from the Northern Shaolin temple. The other was a rebel training under him in the Southern Temple, named Cheung Ng. Fleeing the Manchurian persecutors, Cheung Ng founded the Kihng Fa Wui Gun (Beautiful Flower Society), the roots of the Hung Suen (Red Boat) Opera Troupe.

(Continued next issue)


That's it for this issue! Click here to read article #14

Sal Canzonieri -

(c) 1996 / 2007 BGT ENT / Sal Canzonieri