Natural Traditional Chinese Martial Arts articles by Sal Canzonieri

This was my fourteenth column in Han Wei Wushu, it is about the history of Southern Shaolin martial arts - part 2.

Han Wei Wushu Newsletter
Han Wei Wushu Newsletter
(February 1997 issues #28)
Article #14

The story of traditional Chinese martial arts: Southern Styles During the Qing Dynasty (2)

By Salvatore Canzonieri, New Jersey

Southern Chinese Martial Art Styles During the Qing Dynasty - from 1600s to 1700s

Ancient Songshan Henan Shaolin Soft Boxing / Rou Quan (which may date from the Tang Dynasty or earlier) has many movements that were later adopted by the Shaolin Five Animals system, which later still was adopted and developed further by the Southern Shaolin traditions between the Tang and the Qing Dynasties. Rou Quan (also called Luohan Quan by some), especially the 108 posture set, has movements that are perhaps the original postures for what eventually became known as the Dragon, Tiger, Snake, Crane, and Leopard – the Five Animals or Shapes or Elements.  Rou Quan movements come from early Shaolin Rou Gong and Luohan Gong taken from Buddhist breathing health exercises and from Taoist empty hand and sword movements from the ancient Warring States era Tong Bei style, which is based on ape movements.

Originally Tongbei did not refer to a school of Quan but to a way of exercise. "Tong" (through) means to pass through and reach, "Bei" (back) means the human back. When the exercises are done, power is generated from the back to pass through the shoulders and then reach the arms. Tong Bei t akes the five elements of traditional Chinese philosophy as its basic theory. This philosophy holds that the heaven is a big world while the human being is a small one. The five elements of the heaven are metal, wood, water, fire, and earth while those of the human being the heart, liver, spleen, lung, and kidney. The five elements of Quan are wrestling, batting, piercing, axing and boring. Tong Bei is characterized by movements based on birds and animals- monkeys, eagles, cranes, and cats. The following table demonstrates the interrelations among the five elements of the heaven and those of the human being and Chuan:

Heart-fire-axing-hitting-thunder bolt

The 108 Rou Quan contains many movements that are seen in not just in Northern Shaolin, but the Southern Shaolin derived martial arts as well. Familiar to Wing Chun, the Rou Quan contains a section in its 108 posture form that teaches Tan Sao or the Spreading Hand, Bong Sao or the upper arm maneuver, Pak Sao, Kao Sao or loop-buckling hand, slapping hand, lifting palm, dragging, k'ou or buckling, kun shou fa or the rolling-hand method, and more. Also, the Rou Quan movements also can be done with a staff or with double swords.

The Rou Quan were the oldest soft / hard sets that were also equally nei gong exercises for cleansing the internal organs as well. It was reserved for the inner circle of the oldest Shaolin monks. Over the centuries, as these monks traveled outside the temple, its ideas have spread far and wide to other temples and areas. By the Song dynasty, the Rou Quan movements were part of Shaolin Tai Tzu Quan, and eventually they were part of the Xiao, Lao, and Da Hong Quan and Pao Chui sets that Shaolin is famous for. From there, these movements eventually found themselves by the Qing Dynasty inside the Chen Village martial arts, and later still to Yang Tai Ji Quan, which was originally called Rou Quan before the name Tai Ji Quan became accepted. A different line developed these Rou Quan movements, during the Yuan/Ming dynasty changeover, into the internal Animal sets developed by Monk Jue Yuan, Bai Yu Feng, and Li Su. (All these mentioned styles acknowledge in their origin that the Rou Quan movements are from Tong Bei.) The Five Animals eventually found their way from Songshan Shaolin to the Fujian Shaolin temples during the early Qing Dynasty turbulent era.

But, Shaolin is not the only influence on the development of Fujian and other southern martial arts. One major influence is the martial arts of the Hakka people that moved south from the north at various times in history. During the invasion and takeover of north China by the Jurchin, the Song Dynasty fled to the south of China, where the Southern Song was established. The royal Zhao family and all their relatives moved south by boat. In the southern coastal province of Zhejiang there can be found a style called Chang Quan there that developed from fighting on boats. Perhaps it is the transition between Northern Tai Tzu Quan and Southern Tai Tzu Quan.

Most of the Song military fled south as well, and these were the non-royal Hakka that spread around Fujian and other provinces to the south and west (e.g., Sichuan). What the Shaolin people found being practiced locally as martial arts were Southern Tai Tzu Quan and similar styles, which are based on the San Chin (3 Battles) and Su Men (4 Gates/Doors) sets with their own internal neigung practices.

Southern Tai Zhu or Grand Ancestor Boxing - predates Fukien Crane in the Fujian area by hundreds of years, since it began during the Song dynasty. Southern Tai Zhu is very much San Zhan (3 Battles) based. In fact, it is the only style with 3 San Zhan forms, and its principles permeate the entire syllabus. It is thought to be the mother fist of most Fujian systems. San Zhan is acknowledged to be a derivative of Minnan Taizuquan of the Pujiang and Quanzhou regions. It is thought by manyy to be he named after (Zhao) Chao Kuang Yin, who was nicknamed Sung Tai Cho (Zu), Great Ancestor of the Sung Dynasty. In actuallity, the "grand ancestor" meant here is General Yue Fei, who was of Hakka heritage and his soldiers retreated to the south of China after the fall of the Song Dynasty. Practioners of Yue Jia Quan do a "San Jin" Four Battles set that is much older than the set of the same name that is practiced all over southern china.

The style is divided into northern and southern versions. Training in Tai Cho is divided into two phases. The first phase consists of mainly of the physical movements for fighting. The second higher phase teaches special types of breathing together with 'secret' techniques referred to as Tiek Sar Chiang, or the invincible iron palm. Tai Cho also teaches the used of 18 different types of weapons with emphasis on the long staff and broad sword. The first empty hand routine called 'sam cheng' consists of three forward movements and three backward movements. Hand techniques are limited to the use of the palm heel, the spearhand, and the forefist punch. There are two types of kicks taught in the style: a front snap kick using the instep, the top of the foot, and a stamping kick. The style does not use the ball of the foot, the heel, or the edge of the foot as kicking surfaces. High kicks are foreign to Tai Cho. The style uses four main stances: horse stance, forward bow and arrow stance, cat stance, and hour glass stance. Training in 'Tiek Sar Chiang' is divided into three parts: strengthening the palm, breathing, and the method of striking. The strengthening of the palm is achieved by 'cooking' the hand in a heated sand and herb mixture over a period of several months. The method of striking includes the how, where, and when to strike. This includes study of the human anatomy. A tradition of the style is that the founder kept his right hand chained inside his garment after killing an opponent. He carried his hand chained until he died to avoid killing again.

Besides the Shaolin influence, the Hakka martial arts were the most common. Eventually they merged together. After the fall of the Ming Dynasty, the royal Chu family, blood relatives of the Song Zhao family, and alls their relatives and followers fled to the southern provinces as well, and the Hakka that were already there in the south from the previous emigration wave helped guide them. The Manchu hunted down as many Ming followers as they could to prevent their return to the throne. The Chu family brought over their own martial arts, and so did the Ming military that moved their as well.

Chu - Ming Royal Family founders

Interestingly, various people with the Chu surname - the family name has been spelled Chu, Jew, Choi, Tzoi, Choy, Chiu - are credited as being founders of the various Shaolin derived styles, such as:

- Ming General Choi Jiu-Yi (a relative of the Ming royal family). According to the Choi Gar style, he 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.

- Chu Ming, also known as "Chiu Yuen". According to Wing Chun style history, he was one of the surviving members of the royal Ming Family who took shelter in the monastery as a monk following the fall of the Ming Dynasty. He learned all that he could of the monk's fighting styles and used his knowledge and money to continuously foment anti-Manchurian activities. His actions were highly responsible for the ultimate burning of both Shaolin temples by soldiers of the Qing army.

- Chu Gu Chah, also known as Hung Hei Kwun. According to the Hung Gar style history, he was born into a distant royal family and was descendant of Prince Leung, the 15'th son of the Ming Emperor Chung Chen. On a business trip to Kwantung Province, he had a dispute with some Manchu Nobles. In anger, he abandoned his tea business and asked to be admitted to the Fujian Shaolin Temple. Under the guidance of the monks, he created the Hung Gar style.

- Chu Long Tuyen, also known as Pak Mei. According to the Pak Mei style, he originally learned at the Songshan Shaolin temple and later went to Emei Mountain temple where he learned Taoist martial arts and other studies, creating what became known as the Pak Mei style.

- Chu Fook Too, also known as Tang Chan or Tang Sim. According to the Chu Gar style, he belonged to the Ming Imperial court (1) as one of this rebels that emigrated to the Southern temples. At the Fujian temple (located in the Nine Little Lotus Mountains) the monks and rebels shortened the time it took to master the boxing styles from 10 years to 3 years with the purpose of train quickly the fighters to overthrow the Ching rulers and restore the Ming dynasty. The Chu Gar legend says that Chu Fook Too became abbot in the Fujian temple and changed his name to "Tung Sim" (anguish) due to his deep anguish and hatred for the Qhing's reign of terror and suffering. In the style's legend he was the person that developed the Southern Praying Mantis style.

- Chu Fu / Zhu Fu, also known as Monk Chao or Zhao Yuan. According to both the Fo Han Quan and the Hua Quan styles, when the Qing overthrew the Ming in 1644, Zhu Fu renounced his family name and became a monk, in hopes of learning Shaolin kungfu to help restore Ming reign. Ten years later, Chao Yuan had discerned the advantages and disadvantages of nearly every wushu community at that time. He combined the best aspects of every community and developed it into a unique form named "Fuhan Shou" (named for not forgetting the goal of rebuilding the collapsed country). Taking into account the purpose of Buddha and the similar sound of Buddha in Chinese, he changed the name to "Fohan Shou". Fohan Shou was secretly passed with its fierce hurting force, and its unique method of mind and skills. Among Shaolin it was named "The form secretly concealed within the community", which meant the powerful style within Shaolin kung fu. When the members in this community met, they recognized each other by secret language. As a result, many members of Shaolin never heard of Fohan Quan until the sixteenth year of Guang Xu in Qing, at which time Tian Kui Zao traveled all over, and chose people to pass it on to (centering it in northern China, Hebei province).

Chao Yuan at some point had trained Gan Fengchi, an anti-Qing rebel, for twelve years, who later developed the Hua Quan style from the varius martial arts he learned from people.

During the Qing Dynasty, various Songshan Henan Shaolin people and anti-Manchu rebels went south to Fujian and other areas and brought newer martial art styles with them to the local temples. These styles were based on an internal system that had developed at Shaolin during the late Yuan/ early Ming Dynasty times by combining Shaolin Luohan Quan with an internal nei gong from Luoyang that was eventually called the Five Animals or Elements (Wu Xing), although there was more than just five animals in actuality (besides the Dragon, Tiger, Crane, Leopard, and Snake, also included are the eagle, bear, monkey, hawk, mantis, and others). Also, people from other temples traveled to Fujian during the early Qing times to help with the rebellion. One such temple was based in Emei (Omei) Mountain, in Sichuan province.

Through all these influences, the Fujian temples became the birthplace for the Hung Gar, Lau Gar, Mok Gar, Li Gar, Choy Gar, Wing Chun, Fut Gar, Choy Li Fut, Southern Mantis, White Crane, and many other styles that are now collectively known as the Nan (southern) Quan styles. After the Fuijian temples were all closed these styles were spread throughout Southern China, especially Fujian and Guangdong provinces. The martial arts styles practiced at the Fujian temples were many and varied.

Fujian Yongchun White Crane:

A major style that was practiced in Fujian (and which it is most famous for really) is the Fujian White Crane (Bai He Quan) boxing style. It was once known as Tiger Crane Combination Kung Fu. Yongchun White Crane is one of the earliest Fujian martial arts to leave the temples. This style later influenced the development of Wing Chun and Hung Gar.

This style arose from the Five Elements/Animals and concentrated on the movements of the Crane wings and well balanced stances. It featured many open palm techniques that resemble chi sao techniques. The style contains long range and close range fighting aspects, and much chi gung work to power it. The style continued to develop during the Qing Dynasty until there was five main divisions in the style, each with different techniques and methods. Essentially, this style is what Southern Shaolin developed into, as it was worked on by the remnants of the Shaolin Temple, while those that left the temple went on to start many other styles (such as Hung Gar, Choy Gar, etc.). Many other temples from the area had input into this system (since Shaolin was now gone), including Taoist ones.

The white crane styles from Fujian came from the original Southern temple, and emphasized both "hard" (often direct) and "soft" (often circular) techniques, encompassing strikes, kicks, locks, throws, grappling, punches, etc. They also utilize various ancient weapons, from the self-explanatory broadsword and spear, to trident, "tiger catcher" and even the fan. Power can be generated by spring-like whipping motions, using the actions of shoulder, wrist and waist, and an attack will often incorporate defense and vice-versa.

History of Yong Chun White Crane Wushu (researched by Danil Mikhailov and others).

The White Crane Fist was invented in Yongchun area in the mountainous Fujian Province and so its direct line forever bears the name Yongchun White Crane. It is one of the most famous systems of Kung Fu in South China and many other styles of Southern Kung Fu and Okinawan Karate draw their lineage from it.

The full history of Crane is difficult to trace from fragments of documents and legends that have been passed down to us through the centuries. There is mention of Crane as one of the five systems of Kung Fu taught in Southern Shaolin Temple before its destruction. How long the Crane system has existed in Southern Shaolin Temple is not known.

The style’s history picks up in more detail with the first mention of Fang Zhong (方撐), the Shaolin Fist Master of Bei Men Wai, Funing Zhou in Fujian Province. His family practiced Northern Shaolin Quan, some say the Luohan Men style. Fang Zhong was originally from Li Shui County in the Zhejian (Zhe Jiang) Province (where some Ming Dynasty military recuiting and training camps once were), but when wars broke out as the Ming Dynasty collapsed in the years after 1644, he was forced to move further south to Bei Men Wai in neighbouring Fujian. The local Gazzettes from the time say that the Fang were convicted of a crime and moved to Chuan Zhou, Fujian. He was 60 years old at the time. There is some thought that the Fang family was related to the Miao family, who were cousins of the Ming's Chu royal family. The Miao family was hunted down by the Manchu for being anti-government. Later they moved to Yong Chun in Fujian.

Fang Qi Niang (方七娘), Fang Zhong’s only daughter, was 16 by the time the two of them had moved to Fujian Province. Her mother was Lee Pik Liung. He started to teach her Shaolin Fist (Luohan Men?) from an early age and she soon became good in her own right. Fang Qi Niang was very beautiful and she was courted by a young man by the name of Chen Dui Xi. They were soon engaged to be married and Fang Zhong wanted to teach his future son in law Kung Fu. However, the relationship between Qi Niang and Dui Xi soured, because Dui Xi was ungrateful to her father for accepting him into the family. Fang Qi Niang decided to break off the engagement and her family moved away to the nearby White Lotus Temple (Bai Lian Si), in Chuan Zhou, wanting to find some peace. It was in this temple that Fang Qi Niang first receieved (or conceived) the principles of White Crane Fist.


Outside the 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. The Shaolin Temples secretly supported the Ming and so the new dynastic government was gradually curbing their influence. Eventually this will lead to the burning of Southern Shaolin in the reign of Emperor Yongzheng (1723-1735). Within the White Lotus Temple, Fang Qi Niang continued her development of the new system and started teaching her first students. As her reputation grew, so the number of students increased and she renamed the Temple Jiao Lian Si - Training Temple.

One day two travellers from Yongchun came by the Temple. Their names were Zheng Si and his master Yan Qiyan (also known as Yan Shang Guan ) and they were teaching fighting methods using the staff. During their travels they had heard of Jiao Lian Si and decided to pay it a visit. On the night that they reached the Temple they were caught out by a sudden storm and sought shelter under the Temple gates. Fang Zhong happened to spot them outside and invited them in. As they made their introductions, Fang Zhong realised that they were from the original Shaolin group and therefore invited them to stay in the Temple a while as his guests.

While in the temple, Zheng Si and Yan Qiyan heard about Fang Qi Niang's new system of Kung Fu and that the young woman was as yet unbeaten by any fighter. Yan Qiyan, who was a Tiger boxing master, decided to challenge her to test out this new White Crane Fist. He was an experienced and famous Shaolin Fist fighter and did not expect to lose. However, as he fought Fang Qi Niang, he saw that all his attacks were easily avoided or deflected and Fang answered with lightning fast strikes of her own. Yan Qiyan was forced to accept defeat and praised the young fighter and her new powerful Fist. To show his respect to Fang Qi Niang, Yan Qiyan told his student Zheng Si to stay at the Temple and learn from Fang.

After master Yan Qiyan had left the Temple, Zheng Si studied diligently with Fang Qi Niang and soon became her best student. At the same time, love blossomed between the two of them and Fang Qi Niang agreed to marry him. In this way, after 7 years at the Jiao Lian Temple, Fang Qi Niang moved with Zheng Si to live in Yongchun. By this time Fang's reputation preceded her and she quickly set up a Kung Fu school in Yongchun and taught there together with Zheng Si from 1662 to 1722. It is at this point that the style became known as Yongchun White Crane Fist.

Master Fang Qi Niang was greatly honoured as the founder of Yongchun White Crane and her husband Zheng Si was thought second only to her in the Fist and so the people called him the Front Yongchun Famous Master. Together they taught the next generation of White Crane masters, who were known as the 28 Heroes (1) . One out of these 28 famous masters was Fang Qi Niang and Zheng Si's own son - Zheng Lushi. However another five masters became even more famous than him and came to be known as the Five Front Tigers: Le Jie, Wang Da Xing, Gu Xi, Gu Cui and Zheng Li.

Gu Xi was famous for his staff techniques and Wang Da Xing became famous for going over to Japan and introducing Yongchun White Crane Fist over there. The other masters all helped to spread the system in Fujian Province as well as outside, including the neighbouring Zhejiang and Guandong (2). In this way the system spread and gradually began to change and be adopted into other styles by new generations of masters. New styles such as Tiger Crane and Dragon Tiger Crane came into being.

Already during Fang Qi Niang's long life, the system became so profound in terms of its principles that it required a practitioner's lifetime to learn. For this reason, masters often did not pass down the full system to their students and this was another way in which Yongchun White Crane diversified into new styles. It is still said in Fujian Province today: 'If you know only a little bit of Yongchun White Crane you will be good'.

(1) The known members of the 28 Heroes were: masters Le Jie, Wang Da Xing, Zheng Lushi, Li Yuanqin, Lin Ban, Gu Xi, Chen Chuan, Zhang Ju, Ran Buying, Gu Ban, Gu Zhu, Lin Cui, Yao Hu (or Ye Fu), Pan Yan, Liu Zhou, masters Wu, Cai, Xu, Zhou, Kang, Yan, Bai Jie.

(2) Yongchun White Crane Fist was said to reach Guangdong Province during fourth generation of Yongchun masters.

The technical similarities of Wing Chun and Fujian White Crane suggest that the two are related. As Yip Man's student Leung Ting put it, "Wing Tsun System is derived from the Fukien System of kung-fu, which is related to the Hakka System. Their common features are that during fights, pugilists of these systems prefer short steps and close fighting, with their arms placed close to the chest, their elbows lowered and kept close to the flanks to offer it protection. Another characteristic of these two systems of kung-fu is, unlike those of Guangdong (Kwangtung) Province and Northern China, their boxing forms are rather simple".


These are the main forms of the system (there are over 80 forms in total).

1.          三戰 (San Zhan) Three battles

2.          十三太寶 (Shi San Tai Bao) Thirteen royal-defenders

3.          穿心中 (Chuan Xin Zhong) Piercing through the core of the heart

4.          美女梳妝 (Mei Nu Shu Zhuang) A beauty dresses and makes up

[大千字打] (Da Qian Zi Da) Big thousand words fighting

5.          螳螂照日 (Tang Lang Zhao Ri) A mantis illuminates the sun

6.          猛虎擒豬 (Meng Hu Qin Zhu) A fierce tiger seizes a pig

7.          白鶴八分 (Bai He Ba Fen) A white crane with eight components OR A white crane divides into eight

8.          白鶴展翅 (Bai He Zhan Chi) A white crane spreads its wings

[白鶴扇胛] (Bai He Shan Jia) A white crane fans its shoulder blade

9.          吹風掃地 (Chui Feng Sao Di) Blow the wind and brush the floor

10.      利刀削竹 (Li Dao Xue Zhu) A sharp knife peels off the bamboos

11.      鴨子汆水 (Ya Zi Cuan Shui) A duck flapping the water

12.      十七敗甲 (Shi Qi Bai Jia) Seventeen defeated armors

13.      鐵牛入石 (Tie Niu Ru Shi) A iron ox enters the rock

14.      四大沉中 (Si Da Chen Zhong) Four big elements – earth, water, fire, air – sink into the center

15.      小四門 (Xiao Si Men) Small four doors OR The four small doors

16.      大四門 (Da Si Men) Big four doors OR The four big doors

17.      白鶴雜技 (Bai He Za Ji) The White crane acrobatics

18.      鶴翅中 (He Chi Zhong) The middle of the crane’s wings

[短套] a short cover OR a short version OR a short set

19.        鶴爪中 (He Zhua Zhong) The middle of the crane’s claws

20.        鶴頭中 (He Tou Zhong) The middle of the crane’s head

21.      魁星點斗(Kui Xing Dian Dou) The chief star points at the mantle

[長套雙刀] (Zhang Tao ShuangDao) Long set, double knives

22.        鐵鈀 (Tie Ba) The iron trowel

23.        白鶴棍 (Bai He Gun) The White crane stick

24.        小千字打 (Xiao Qian Zi Da) Little thousand words fighting


Later White Crane substyles:

By the 19th century, masters of Yongchun White Crane had spread far and wide through the province, as well as to Taiwan, Japan and South East Asia, taking their style with them. In the provincial capital of Fuzhou five separate Crane styles developed, all of which survive to this day: Flying Crane, Sleeping Crane, Shaking Crane, Calling Crane and Eating Crane. All of these styles share the key White Crane principles first developed by Fang Qi Niang. The stances are low and rooted, with weight distributed 60-40 or 70-30 to the back foot. Back is straight. Arms use crane wing movements to deflect blows and crane beak strikes to attack vulnerable parts of the body. The spring power, pressure point attacks, diaphragmatic breathing, tight masking movements are there in all of these styles to a lesser or greater degree

Flying Crane (Fei He) was developed by Zheng Ji, a student of Yongchun White Crane third generation Master Zheng Li. This style is immediately recognisable by the loose flapping strikes of the arms, which resemble the movements of a bird's wings. This is an exaggerated version of the basic Crane principle of using spring energy (Jin or Dun) to strike, so the blows feel more like being struck with a whip than with a club. It is achieved by keeping the arm relaxed through the movement apart from the very point of impact, when the energy thus generated is transferred into the opponent's body.

Shaking Crane (Zong He) uses the same principle of spring energy, but instead of large movements, it is localised and focused in a particular area. This can either be used to deliver the so called "three inch punch" (which was first invented by a White Crane Master Bai Jie under the name Cun Jing Jie Li Kung Fu, but later got adopted into many southern styles and made famous in the West by a certain Bruce Lee) or to break free from a grab. Shaking Crane was invented by Fang Shipei towards the end of the nineteenth century.

Sleeping Crane (Su He) was created by Lin Chuanwu, who spent five years in seclusion in the Shimen Buddhist Temple learning the rudiments of the White Crane System from Monk Jue Qing, before establishing his own school. The theory of the style is that you can catch your opponents out if you pretend to be half asleep, in practice this translates into a powerful breaking and trapping system. In Sleeping Crane patterns tight closed-in movements of the arms mask hold breaking and joint attacks. Keeping the movements close to the body not only helps to hide your intention, but also makes sure that every move of the arm is supported by the full power of the torso. Again this comes from the general crane principle of using small movements to produce big effect.

Eating Crane (Shi He) was created by Ye Shaotao. Ye had learned the Crane System from Master Fang Suiguan and the Tiger Style from Master Zhou Zihe, combining these two he arrived at a new Crane style which emphasised hooking and clawing motions with the hand and strikes delivered by the fingertips and palms. The principle is to create an opportunity to deliver a devastating strike, targeting one of 36 vital points on the opponent's body. Pressure point fighting is an important feature of the Crane System as a whole as it allows a smaller fighter to defeat a much larger and stronger opponent, which would have been the case with just about anybody Fang Qi Niang had fought. The effectiveness of the whole system was born very much out of necessity and a kind of lateral thinking on the part of the woman who created it.

Calling Crane (Ming He) was created by Xie Zhongxian and today is probably the most famous of the five Fuzhou Crane styles outside of China. This is mostly due to memory of its founding master, who was one of the most influential teachers of martial arts of his generation. Apart from inventing Calling Crane Xie's teaching also lay the foundation for a number of Karate styles in neighbouring Okinawa where he is known as Ryuruko. Calling Crane is characterised by its powerful breathing techniques that give it its name. As with all Crane styles the breathing is diaphragmatic and stimulates the Dan Tien (area in the abdomen just below the navel). Sound is produced as the diaphragm is compressed downwards and this is used to generate extra energy at a key moment. Apart for the breathing, Calling Crane is also well known for the lightning speed of its open hand attacks, so much so that the nickname for them is "arrow hand."


The most famous of the Five Front Tigers was Zheng Li. He was a later student of Fang Qi Niang and Zheng Si than the 28 Heroes, but his achievements in many competitions and his influence in spreading the style outside of Yongchun earned him the place in ranks of the Five Front Tigers. Zheng Li grew famous by fighting and beating masters of many other styles, so securing the reputation of Yongchun White Crane Fist. Many of his own students became famous third generation masters.(The known students of Zheng Li were: Liu Jiang, Zheng Yang, Zheng Pang, Lin Tian, Lu Yi, Li Xu, Cai Xi, Lin Chun as well as others.)

There was one master whose reputation perhaps surpassed even that of Zheng Li. This was master Bai Jie, one of Fang Qi Niang's earliest students, who started training with her while still in Jiao Lian Temple. He was also one of the 28 Heroes and his fame was such that he was later known as the Back Yongchun Famous Master, rivalling the position of Zheng Si himself.

Bai Jie was famous for two reasons. First, he was the Kung Fu teacher of Shi Lang, the commander of the Chinese fleet who in 1683 invaded Taiwan on the orders of the Emperor Kang Xi. Second, master Bai Jie is credited with inventing the Cun Jing Jie Li Kung Fu style (3 Inch Power Style) with which he improved the White Crane system upon his return to Yongchun. Bai Jie had many famous students, including two that were also taught by Zheng Li: Zheng Pang and Lin Tian. These two together with Zheng Ban, Gu Chu and Gu Yong became known as the Five Back Tigers due to their mastery of the Yongchun White Crane Fist.

In the third generation of Yongchun masters, the most famous was master Zheng Pang, a student of both Zheng Li and Bai Jie. He is credited with spreading the Yongchun White Crane system to the Fouzhou area (the provincial capital of Fujian), where later generations of masters developed the 5 Fouzhou styles of Crane in the late 1800's.

Zheng Pang's best student was Chen Tie Yu from Da Tian County, who in turn taught Chen Jien from An Xi County, Lin Zhou and, at a later time, one Zheng Cheng Qiu from Yong Fu (Yong Fu is now known as Yong Tai County, Shong Kou area.) . All of these became famous masters of Yongchun White Crane Fist in their own right. The spread of Yongchun White Crane system gradually gained pace during the first 5-6 generations of masters counting from Fang Qi Niang, in the reigns of Qing Emperors Kangxi, Yongzheng, Qianlong and Jiajing (1644-1821).

The San Zhan (3 Battles) set and the Su Men (4 Doors) set seem to be in common between many Southern Chinese martial arts, including Hakka Quan, Southern Tai Tzu Quan, and White Crane. San Zhan (3 Battles) is a very important form that encompassed all the southern styles mechanics and principles. We could say that it's the mother of all forms in southern styles. It's primary function is similar to all those so-called Qigong forms such as Ba Duan Jin (8 pieces of brocade), Yi jin jing (tendon change classic), etc. It is to build the person from inside out in a holistic manner.

Also commonly found in the south, is the San Bu Toi, the 3 Step Push set. It is believed that this set was from Monk Chi Zin's line and came out of the Fujian Shaolin temples. One of his students was a Hakka and taught it in the Red River area of Guangdong province.

Other Fujian martial arts that are related this way are:

Three Arrow One Way is another style from the Putian area of Fujian Province. Putian is the location of one of the three South Shaolin Temples. This style uses short and long range movements. Close ties between Three Arrow One Way and other southern styles like the Crane System and Five Ancestors can be seen, in particular the use of Dun, or Spring Force, when striking.

Yong Tai Tiger is from Xiao Lian Temple, Yong Tai, Fujian Province. At Yong Tai is located a temple for Zhang Dao Lin, who was an expert in Monkey and Tiger, a mystic in Daoism and Buddhism, and the inspiration the 'Journey to the West' or of the Monkey King novel. Xiao Lian Temple is credited by some masters to be the center of southern Tiger Style Kung Fu. Crane sets are also practiced there that show many movements typical of crane. For example, the twin downwards palm strikes near the beginning of the pattern are seen in many crane patterns. Also the set shows a crane's claw in many movements.

Da Zun Quan, widespread in the Zhangzhou area of Fujian Province.

Wumei Hua Quan (5 Plum Blossom Boxing or 5 Roses Blossom Boxing), this style is known for its wooden pile training, logs driven into the ground in a huge matrix of patterns of five. The five pattern is called "plum blossom" because the plum blossom has five symmetrical petals. This may represent the five extremities of the human body: head arms and legs; the five elements: metal, earth, wood, water, fire; or the five directions: center, north, south, east, west, as well as many other groupings of five. The result of training on the wooden piles was a refined sense of balance, strong ankles, legs and "horse" as well as symmetrical precision in her horse stepping.

Shi Fa (Lion Method), also called Jin Shi (Golden Lion) is from Northern part of Fujian originated from the Lianjiang areas but practiced mainly in the Yongfu areas (Fuzhou, Yongtai, Changle, Lianjiang etc) .Although it is practiced with an emphasis on both Gang and Rou (Hard and Soft), it actually is more of a Hard explosive power type of art. The Wei Family of Lianjiang are considered the keepers of the style currently and the style is not very well known outside of the general Fuzhou districts. There are 6 empty hand forms in the style such as Sanzhan (3 Battles), Jinshi Sanjiao (3 Angles), Sanshixiwuhu (3 lions play with 5 Tigers), Shizi xiqiu (Lion Plays ball), Jinshixiwohu (Lion plays with sleeping tiger), ShuangShi (Double Lions 2 man set) etc

Weng Chun / Wing Chun:

From the roots of Five Animals, Fut Gar, Fujian Crane, and other styles taught at the Fujian Temple, arose another major southern style known as Wing Chun. There are many different branches of Wing Chun in Southern China. This style has its roots in the Fujian area also.

There are many versions and legends of its origins (and this one is one that I subscribe to until I am shown otherwise and then a will make adjustments accordingly): After the closing of the Fujian Shaolin Temple, during the late 1600s, various peple escaped and hid disguised as actors in the Guandong Opera. The opera traveled on boats called Junks, and Monk Chi Zin received protection from the Red Junk boatmen, who were called Hung Suen Men, and who were secretly part of the Hung Men secret society. While at Shaolin, he worked with other Shaolin monks who were in hiding to develop a style that could be quickly mastered in a very short amount of time, and that would be able to fight other martial artists (such as the Manchu Guards and spies). The styles being explored were the Shaolin Five Animals style and the Fujian Crane style.

Within the Southern Shaolin Temple, there was a place called the Weng Chun Dim, the Everlasting Spring Great-Room. The style that was taught in this hall, called (Chi Sim) Weng Chun Kuen (Everlasting Spring Fist), represented one of the highest levels of Shaolin Kung Fu. This system is a Chan expression of martial arts meaning that it is complete; it deals with Chan Buddhism, all ranges of combat and, it also has complete Chi Gung training. It's a system of fighting that is based on the concepts of Time/Space, Energy, and Gravity (Heaven, Man &, Earth).

A related system that also came out of the Southern Shaolin Temple was directly connected to the revolutionary societies, or the Hung Mun. (Hung Fa Yi) Wing Chun Kuen (Praising Spring Fist). It was developed in the Wing Chun Tong, or Praising Spring Hall, and is also based on Chan and the concepts of Time, Space, and Energy. However, the focus of Wing Chun is on the Economy of Motion, which created different sets of body structures than those found in Weng Chun. However, both systems share the same roots in Chan Buddhism and come from the Southern Shaolin Temple. They are considered sister arts. It is most probable that Hung Fa Yi Wing Chun gave rise to modern day Wing Chun, while Chi Sim Weng Chun most likely gave rise to Hung Gar.

The southern Shaolin monks worked to develop styles and training methods tailored to aiding Ming Dynasty revolutionaries recapture the throne from the Manchurians. One was a Buddhist monk originally from the Northern Shaolin Temple with the alias "Chiu Yuen." His real name was "Chu Ming." He was one of the surviving members of the royal Ming Family who took shelter in the monastery as a monk following the fall of the Ming Dynasty. He learned all that he could of the monk's fighting styles and used his knowledge and money to continuously foment anti-Manchurian activities. His actions were highly responsible for the ultimate burning of both Shaolin temples by soldiers of the Qing army.

The second principle figure in the monk's revolutionary activities used the alias "Da Jung." His real name remains unknown, but his past and origins are not so hidden. Prior to his arrival at the Southern Shaolin Temple, he was a Ming military officer from the northern provinces. He fled south when the Ming Dynasty fell and sought shelter in the Southern Temple. He is truly important to the history of the Southern Temple because, prior to his arrival, kung fu was not of primary interest there. He is what Chinese martial arts traditionalists would call a "Joi Si," or "First Leader," because he is believed to be the first person to give his extensive knowledge of Chinese Kung Fu to the Southern Shaolin Temple. In the process of teaching his martial arts at the Temple, he formed a secret society known as the "Buddhist Hung Moon." The society's express purpose was the overthrow of the Ching Dynasty. It was this organization that was used to link Northern and Southern Shaolin revolutionary activities together. Secret sub-societies were formed to carry out the intent of the Buddhist Hung Moon, the most significant being the "Hung Fa Wui" (Red Flower Society), and another counterpart organization on the island of Formosa (Taiwan), called Tien Dei Wui (Heaven and Earth Society). The Formosa based society was established by one of the last surviving Ming general officers, Cheng Sing Kung.

During this time, General Cheng Sing Kung fled to the island of Formosa 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.

Early in the 1700's, during the reign of Emperor K'ang Hsi (1662-1723), the Manchurians became concerned about the Shaolin Temple's rebellious activities as well as their advanced fighting abilities and continued development of their martial arts system. Under the decision to eliminate the threat of these rebels and their rebel leaders, the Manchurians sought to exterminate the Shaolin monks to prevent them from spreading their martial arts skills and rebellious activities. Eventually the Southern Shaolin Temple was burned and destroyed. Following the destruction of the Shaolin Temples, surviving members of both the Hung Fa Wui and the Tien Dei Wui extended their efforts to numerous other resistance organizations and personages loyal to the Ming and interested in training revolutionary fighters. The common battle cry was "Overthrow the Ching and Restore the Ming." This expansion of influence and cooperation gave rise to new secret societies that ultimately gained public attention, the most notable being the "Triads," (Three Harmonies), the Gua Lo Wui (Brotherhood), and the Dai Doe Wui (Big Sword Society).

Two additional key figures are credited with keeping the Wing Chun system of martial arts alive following the burning of the temples. We do know that many (not the legendary five) monks and rebel leaders escaped the Manchurian massacres and that, to aid the secrecy of the system, historical material was passed directly from teacher to student. Thus, the elders told of two Siu Lam monks/rebels who survived the temple raids and were able to keep their Wing Chun system alive. One of these was a monk, a 22nd generation Siu Lam Grandmaster, Yi Chum or Yat Chum Dai Si from the Northern Shaolin temple. The other was a rebel training under him in the Southern Temple, named Cheung Ng (Zhang Wu), also known as Cheung Hin (Zhang Xin). He hailed from Hubei and worked as a singer in Beijing. Highly accomplished in opera, excellent in both music and drama, Zhang was also said to be unsurpassed in martial skill, especially the techniques of "Shaolin" (Siu Lam, though it is not clear whether this was Henan Shaolin Temple boxing system proper, or the so-called Shaolin-School, which included many related and unrelated "external" arts). He is believed to have descended from a Hanbuck family noted for producing generations of military men who served the Ming Regime. For certain, the Ching Dynasty wasted no time in attempting to kill all of the Ng family in Hanbuck. Cheung Ng himself fled to the Northern Temple and sought shelter there as monk sometime after the departure of Yat Chum Dai Si for the Southern Temple. While at the Northern Temple, Cheung Ng heard rumors of the activities of the Hung Fa Wui at the Southern Temple in a place called "Hung Fa Ting." This was the gathering hall for the members of the Hung Fa Wui where revolutionary activities were planned. Wishing to participate in these activities, he sought and obtained permission to leave the Northern Temple and traversed to the Southern Temple where he met Yat Chum Dai Si. Under this Grandmaster, he began his study of the art that was to become Wing Chun Kung Fu.

Following the Southern Temple's destruction, Cheung Ng escaped to Guongdong province, fleeing the Manchurian persecutors. Historically, we know that rebel activity flourished in the Red Boat Opera Troupe. The Red Boats allowed talented stage performers, accomplished in kung-fu and gymnastics, to form their own secret societies to overthrow the Manchu Dynasty. The Troupes provided the ideal sanctuary for fleeing rebels as the performers wore elaborate costumes and stage make-up, providing excellent but natural/plausible disguises for them. Additionally, the performers adopted and were known by their `stage-names', further cloaking their secret identities. One of these rebel opera members was Cheung Ng, who arrived sometime between 1723 and 1736. (The actual extent of Cheung's rebellious activities remain uncertain, and range from his including anti-Qing comments in his songs, to expressing his dissatisfaction with the administration of the Qing Government through satirical plays. Cheung taught the Red Junk performers the traditional Gong Wu Sup Baat Bun, (Jiang Hu Shi Ba Ben, Eighteen Plays of River & Lake) and later generations regarded him as the "Great Teacher" and Zu Shi (Jo Si, Founder) of the modern opera.).

When Cheung Ng founded the Opera Troupe he became known as Tan Sao Ng - not only a stage-name but also a sly nod to his skillful deployment of the Wing Chun deflection/striking technique, Tan Sao. Of this generation of inheritors, Cheung Ng is one to date that has proven to have historically existed. After establishing the Beautiful Flower Society Association (the precursor to the Red Opera and the public name for the Red Flower Society) and providing Wing Chun training to the secret societies, Cheung Ng went into hiding, disappearing from the public eye to escape Qing Dynasty persecution.

He was hidden by distant relatives, a Fuk Gin business family named Chahn. The Chahn Sih Sai Ga (Chan family) were well established and wealthy. Through indirect action they were willing to help Cheung Ng. Staying with the family for over a decade, Cheung Ng taught the family the art of Hung Fa Yi Wing Chun. It was preserved by the family for four generations before it was taught to outsiders. The direct members of the Chahn family were never directly involved with the secret societies themselves, resulting in a low profile in Praise Spring Boxing history. The last generation of the Chahn family to learn the art was a distant nephew, a high level secret society leader, Huhng Gan Biu. In Qing archives as well as historical research into Chinese secret societies, a person by the name of Chahn Biu was recorded as the leader of the Heaven and Earth Society. He was caught and executed by the Qing authorities. Due to similar names appearing in difference sources at around the same timeframe, there is much debate as to whether the Opera's Biu and the Heaven and Earth Society's Biu were the same person. According to members of the Hung Fa Yi Wing Chun clan, Huhng Gan Biu was the 4th generation leader of the Hung Fa Yi Wing Chun clan.

From the time of the Red Boat opera, the system of Chi Sim Weng Chun was preserved by two separate lineages. Inside the Opera, Wong Wah Bou is credited as the first person to learn Chi Sim Weng Chun. Sum Kam, a.k.a. "Painted Face" Kam (daaih fà mihn gám) is credited as the second person to learn the entire system; he passed the art from the first to the second generation. Fung Siu Ching, Sum Kam's apprentice, learned the system as a member of the Red Boat Opera and taught the art on to three main families in the third generation, the Dung, the Lo, and the Tang. Outside the Opera at the Ching Yuen Fei Loih temple, the Tang family also practiced and preserved the Chi Sim Weng Chun system. Tang Bun was the first generation, Tang Jauh was the second generation and Tang Seun was the third generation. Tang Seun also learned from Fung Siu Chin, thus uniting the two lineages into one family.

In summary, both the Weng Chun and the Wing Chun systems came from the Southern Shaolin Temple, but from different places within the Temple. Both share the same roots and Chan tradition; however Wing Chun focused on the Sap Ming Dim (Formula), radically changing its appearance as compared to Weng Chun. The Wing Chun system was transmitted down the coast and along the rivers of south-eastern China by the people who ply those waters, such as fishermen, traders, opera junk performers and others, who would have had a use for good fighting skills and many an opportunity to test, refine and exchange skills.


The Myth of Ng Mui / Wu Mei was created by the fourth generation to protect the identities of the creators and the perpetuators of the Wing Chun system, a smokescreen was thrown - the story of Ng Mui and Yim Wing Chun. The style name was originally called Weng Chun. The word 'Weng' means ‘always, perpetual, or everlasting’. Within the Fujian Shaolin Temple, the Weng Chun Tong was the “Everlasting Springtime Hall”, where new martial arts were being developed to combat the Manchu. After the destruction of the Southern Temple, the character changed from 'Weng' to 'Wing'. “Wing” can mean ‘recite, sing, praise, or chant’. The use of the term Spring symbolized the rebirth of the Ming Dynasty and Always referred to the reestablished dynasty lasting forever. After the destruction of the Southern Shaolin temple and its Wing Chun Tong, the survivors changed the character of Wing from Always to Praise. The term Praise referred to the fact that the revolutionaries had to spread the word about the revolution after the destruction of their base. Thus, `Yim Wing Chun' was actually a codename, meaning (protect) the secret art of the Wing Chun Hall. (In southern Fujian province, about one hundred kilometres north of the port city of Xiamen, lies the small town of Weng Chun, the characters being exactly the same as those in the name for the Evergreen Hall.)

But, the word Chun in ancient times can also mean “play”. Thus, Wing Chun Kuen can mean the “boxing of those who recite or sing plays”, such as opera. Perhaps it was a play on words to represent the singing Red Junk opera performers, who were anti-Qing rebels in disguise that developed and spread the early Wing Chun and Hung Gar styles. As for Ng Mui (Wu Mei), the latest reseach shows a great possibility that Ng Mui was a fictional cover, adopted by people such as Chan Wing-Wah or the founder of Hung Mun Wui who was also named the "White Crane Daoist" in the early 1670s. One thing that has been overlooked by all is that the great General Yue Fei was called Wu Mei (Ng Mui). So, here is another play on words, since General Yue Fei was always seen as a symbol of the fight against the Jirchin invaders from the North, who eventually became the Manchu.


Many Fujian martial arts, symbolize the union of the snake and the crane and the tiger, as seen in Yongchun White Crane, Wing Chun, and some other styles. Legends say that Miao Shun (Miu Shun) was the person who fused these arts. Miao Shun was in all likelihood a nickname, and his real identity may never be known (though the Miao family were relatives of the Ming royal family and thus hunted by the Manchu). Others join the Crane and Tiger, or the Dragon and Tiger. All are based on the union of the soft and hard jings.

It is possible that this “Miao Shun” had Emei training because many similarities exist between Emei and some Fujian styles, especially those that are Snake-Crane-Tiger based, such as Yong Chun White Crane and Wing Chun. Like Emei, White Crane is known for its Chuen Ging Jeet Lak (inch force exerted from the joints) and is considered a Hard/ Soft (pang guy noon) martial art. Perhaps what became Wing Chun originally came from merging Yongchun White Crane (which part of it was Crane and Tiger based) with Emei Snake and Tiger methods? The Tiger typically refers to training of the Spine, but is there also a connection between Emei’s “Snake” Body and “Tiger” Walking, and Wing Chun’s Snake and Tiger? There is according to research by Jim Roselando, a Wing Chun master that met with Emei Grandmaster Fu Wei Zhong (see his website for additional info: http://www.wingchunkuen.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=107&mode=&order=0&thold=0 ) :

The root of Wing Chun is the Siu Lin Tao (training of the little details) set, and the root of the other common arts of the Fujian region is San Chin (Three Battles) or Som Bo Jin (Three Step Arrow). These certainly represent two different types of Base Cultivation and most certainly different forms of “Ging/Qi” cultivation.

Wing Chun Kuen is characterized by its ‘narrow’ horse and ‘short’ bridge. The Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma (character “=” clamping the “yang” meridian horse) and the Emei “=” shoulder Wuji (empty) horse both are designed to cultivate the Zheng Qi (True/Proper Chi) and both follow the same Yin/Yang relationship of sinking of the Yin and raising or supporting of the Yang (as in Yee Jee Kim “Yang” Ma). It is also interesting to note that in the alchemy traditions of the art, the Snake or Serpent can be regarded as the dormant dan tien Zheng Qi coiled at the base of the spine waiting to be unleashed to penetrate the body’s pathways (much like Indian yoga discusses the kundalini: uncoiling of the snake at the base of the spine.

Research conducted by Wing Chun master Cho Hung-Choy, his students, and grand-students in the U.S.A, shows strong evidence in the form of written records with regards to the "mother system" of Cho family Wing Chun Kuen, the Siu Lien Tao. This mother system was a Buddhist internal martial system created during the Song Dynasty.

Wing Chun begins with Siu Lin Tao (Small/Little Ideas or Training). One of the Emei 12 Zhuang sets is called Siu Zhuang (Small/Little Ways). The first section of the Siu Lin Tao set (also found and further expanded on in the first section of the Biu Jee set) contains this same training concept for the hands/fingers as done in the Emei Mountain neigong sets. In the Cho family lienage, this section is called Snake Sliding Cocoon, in the Yuen Kay-San lineage it was originally called Sae Ying Sao (Snake Shape hand), and in the Fung family, Sae Mun Bai Jee (Four Direction Swaying Fingers). Many arts have this sort of training but what makes Wing Chun’s process different from that of other Fujian arts like Southern Mantis is the “Rou”(soft)-style Snake Binding property.

Emei also has the Tracing the Taiji Circle movement. In the same manner, in the Wing Chun lineages of Fung, Cho, Yuen and others, there is a common Sao Kuen/Sik (Fist or Section Closing Sequence), often referred to as Lop Sao, which is also popular in most southern martial art traditions. Wing Chun calls it the Taiji Circle, which is “O”-shape and an older, symbolic term for the line the fingers follow when performing the action. Another aspect of Emei is the Inch Silk Worm Finger, which functions like Wing Chun’s Darting Finger method. The actual Darting Finger motion itself is common to numerous Southern Fist traditions, and is even called by the same name in arts such as Southern Mantis.

Finally, Emei’s Tiger Walking sets have a first section called 8 Methods Under the Foot, which is similar to Wing Chun’s 8 leg methods or 8 kicks. Wing Chun masters have said it is composed of 12 Ways and 8 Methods, same description that Emei uses as well. Perhaps this Emei Snake was fused with the Fukien White Crane of Fang Chi Niang’s Five Plum footwork to create the Siu Lin Tao? Siu Lin Tao and its Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma are different and distinct from other Fukien arts. Instead, other Fukien arts and offshoots preserve the San Chin (3 battles)/ Su Men (4 gates) root (which is seen in the Hakka martial arts that were influenced by Tai Tzu Quan).


During the early Qing era, many monks had traveled to Emei mountain and learned the martial arts and neigongs taught there. They eventually reached the Fujian temples and brought this internal martial arts influence there. The tiger based neigongs from Emei were said to have been brought to Fujian by Bak Mei. Today the Bak Mei style is a dragon and tiger based martial art.

(In 1227 A.D., a monk traveled to the top of Mt Emei, one of China’s Four Holy Mountains. This monk trained and meditated on Emei and, when he reached enlightenment, took the name Bai Yun (White Cloud). Grandmaster Bai Yun wrote all his sacred knowledge, including his system designed to cultivate health and treat illness while striving to attain enlightenment, in a book called The Emei Treasured Lotus Cannon which is currently being held in a Beijing Museum. Bai Yun’s art consists of The Twelve Ways, The Six Tiger Steps (or Tiger Walking), Meditations, Healing Sounds, Medicine, Weapons, etc. Emei neigong emphasizes healing, internal self-cultivation of Qi (energy), and the cleansing of one's heart so that one's true nature and latent abilities can emerge. In the Emei system, the 12 Zhuang - Ways (or Paths), commonly known as 12 posts, are the Body Cultivation. These are specific short sets designed to un-lock and holistically link the body while keeping it healthy and strong. They are similar to India’s Yogic practices but of Chinese origin. In the Emei system it is the Snake that binds the 12 Zhuang and Emei Art together. According to the 12th generation Grandmaster Fu Wei Zhong, the Mother of the 12 Ways is the Tian Zhuang (Heaven Post). According  to Fu Wei Zhong: “Tian Za Zhuang is to Emei just as San Ti Shi is to Xing Yi”. The last Zhuang in the Emei art, Mei Za Zhuang, is based on Meditation practice, one of four different types of meditations that the Emei practitioner studies at that level. The Emei 6 sets of Tiger Walking exercises are the 12 Ways for the Lower Half and uniting the Upper and Lower Half. Emei Weaponry comes in three forms: Sword, Short Blade (Dagger) and Hand Spike, with the long weapons not being practical in the Emei dense and mountainous terrain.)


Wing Chun Kuen has had different branches since the middle of 1850. During the last half of the 19th century Wing Chun moved off the boats and settled in Foshan. From there it grew to a number of modern branches, including - but not limited to - lineages descending from Yip Man, the Cho family, Chan Wah Shun, Ng Chung So, Pan Nam, Sum Nung, Pao Fa Lien, and Gu Lao village. Some of these lineages, like Sum Nung's, Pan Nam's, and Yip Man's that descend from Wong Wah Bo, have variations of the three forms which are normally associated with wing chun. Other lineages, like Gu Lao, have no forms at all. And others, like Cho Ga and Pao Fa Lien have a differing number of forms. Most have only two weapons in their curriculum, the double knives and pole. Some others, like Pao Fa Lien, have numerous weapons.

Two older lineages that appear closer to their Shaolin roots are:

- Pao Fa Lien is said to be a style of Wing Chun that came from the north. During the revolutions against the Manchurians, a monk, nicknamed Dai Dong Fung (Great East Wind), while trying to escape arrest, came to the south. In the area of Qingyuan, Guangdong, he was made a guest by brothers named Tse Gok-Leung & Tse Gok-Jeung, and he taught them his Wing Chun. The [Tse] brothers admired the monk's pugilistic skills and invited him to live in their household and become their kung fu instructor. A few years afterwards, Monk Dai East Wind took leave of the magistrate and traveled to the north. No one knew his where-abouts ever since. Sets praticed are: The Little Idea; [Chum Kiu] or Seeking-Arm; [Biu Jee] or the Thrusting Fingers; [Dui Sao]; [Tut Sao]; [Sup Jee]; [Bien Kuen], or the Whipping Fist; [Jin Kuen] or the Arrow Fist; [Jin Jeung], or the Arrow Palm; [Juk San] or Sidling. Weapons practiced are: [Mor Poon Do] or the Millstone Broadsword; [Siu Lung Gim] or the Book-bag Sword; [Yay Yan Bian], or the inverted-V shaped whip; [Ba]; [Tiu]; staff; etc. The forms for basic exercises are: The hard dummy, the soft dummy, the internal dummy, and the external dummy.

- Pan Nam Wing Chun carried on its development in Fatshan (Fushan) and never left the area and it has retained many old characteristics that are similar to Shaolin Kung Fu, confirming once again the Shaolin ancestry of the style. This style of Wing Chun is also known as "Shaolin Wing Chun" for its obvious ancestral connections. Pan Nam was a practitioner of Sil Lum Kung Fu. He then changed to the Wing Chun System. Monk Yit Chum taught Tan Sau Ng, who taught 'Dai Fa Min' Kam, Wong Wah Bo, and Leung Yee Tei (Leung Jan's teachers). 'Painted Face' Kam taught Lok Lan Koon and his nephew, who taught Pan Nam's teacher Lia Yip Chi. This branch of the Wing Chun family tree has not only preserved a different, possibly older, form of Wing Chun but has preserved the chi gung exercises that were not seen in other modern branches.

It is done with a slower and more fluid pace. In Siu Nim Tao, the Horse Stance, instead of being 'pigeon toe' the feet are parallel like in Shaolin Kung Fu. The Bong Sau, the angle between the forearm and the upper arm is closed and the elbow is ninety degrees to the centreline which makes it resemble an elbow strike. The fists are kept to the sides with the knuckles in a vertical line. The Gum Sau is performed to the front as well as to the sides. In Chum Kiu. the moving stances are wide and deep and the manner in which the stepping is done is completely different to Yip Man's sliding stance. In Bui Chee, the pressing down elbow movement (Kup Jam) is performed by bending the torso forward. The upward chop to the side (Man Sau) is replaced by finger jabs to the sides. The Chi Sau resembles more the pushing hands of Taiji Quan and the grabbing techniques of Chin-Na. The wooden dummy form includes grabbing techniques, finger and claw strikes to the nerve points. The wooden dummy arms are not fixed to the main body but can slide in and out for arm pulling/pushing techniques. The six and I half point pole techniques are performed with the arms fullv stretched with short snappy movements reminiscent of the one inch punch; whereas Yip Man's pole techniques usually comprise of larger circles. The butterfly knife techniques comprise of slashing in four directions against multiple opponents, simultaneous slashing in two different directions, left and right, front and back, are very common.

Lai Tung Pai, or Encircle or Circle Fist, is another style of Southern Kung Fu that is said to be created by a Shaolin Monk. It was originally called Poon Kuen, but was renamed in honor of the town Lai Tung, Guangdong, which did much for the monks that took refuge in the town. Many believe that Lai Tung Pai may have a connection to the early days of Wing Chun. Although Lai Tung has many similarities to Wing Chun, it contains techniques that use long fist as well as short fist unlike its counterpart. Lai Tung Pai uses various forms to teach students to blend from short to long fist applications. It also teaches the original weapons of Kung Fu. Other training exercises used in Lai Tung Pai are Chi Sau, Mok Jong, and Chi Kung. It also teaches the student Traditional Chinese Medicine and Chi building exercises.

Lai Tong Pai is an art concentrating on internal power, the one and three inch punch, and long, medium and short range techniques. Lai Tong Pai uses Long Fist as well as Short Fist techniques. What makes it unique is the fact that it not only uses long fist/long stances and short fist/short stances but that it also uses long fist with short stances and short fist with long stances. Luk Sao (Sticky Hands) is also included in the style. This art consists of 12 empty-hand forms and 10 weapons forms. There is also Lion Dancing and luk sao or chi sao ("sticky hands") training, as well as use of the mook jong (wooden dummy), similar to Wing Chun. It is possible that this is a transition style between Henan Shaolin martial arts and the eventual development of Wing Chun in the south.

Hung Gar:

The next major Fujian Temple style was the Hung Gar or Hung Ga style. The style was named after the first Ming Emperor ("Hung Wu"), in his honor. It is a style that has its original roots in the Qing Dynasty era's Fujian Shaolin temple martial arts. The movements are said to be from Fujian Shaolin Tiger, with elements from Fujian White Crane, Southern Shaolin Luohan, and other styles. Hung Gar traces its origin to Monk Chi Zin, who taught material from both Northern and Southern Shaolin to his students. Hung Gar developed almost 100 years after Yongchun White Crane in Fujian. Hung Gar was a martial art that was associated with secret societies. During the 1760s, the Heaven and Earth Society 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).

Various styles of Hung Gar

There are many different looking Hung Gar systems, although their core is still the same. Among them the Canton Hung Gar, Hung Moon, Wubei Hung Gar, Szechuan Hung Gar, and Ha Say Fu (4 lower Tigers) Hung Gar. The best known versions of this style come from "Canton". But, there are very old Hung Gar lineages from far elsewhere as well. The "Wubei" and "Szechuan" Hung Gar bear such a minimal resemblance to "Canton" hung gar that it is hard to imagine that they were once the same style (maybe). More than likely they are a different style that is slightly related historically or stylistically to Hung Gar from Guangdong province.

  • The Wubei (Hubei Province) style of Hung Gar roots come from the Tai Tzu Quan of the first emperor of the Song dynasty, Zhao Kuang Yin. Also Hubei Hong Quan is said to be influenced by the Wutang style. Its major sets are:

    - Gold General's Hand (Jin Zong Shou / Gum Gong Sao)
    - Jamming Hand (Feng Shou / Fung Sao)
    - Big Combination Hand (Da Zhong Shou / Dai Jung Sao)
    - Gold Splitting Fist (Jin Pi Quan / Gum Pek Kune).

Early texts describe the original Hung Gar as having short-hand techniques and focusing upon close-distance fighting. Its horse stance was described as small, only the width of the hips plus a half. Furthermore, it contained no jumping movements and could be practiced in a four-tile square (which is about a square yard). Monk Chi Zin (Gee Sim) was said to have made three journeys from the Fukien Shaolin Temple to Canton. There, he observed different styles of fighting and determined his hung gar short-hand techniques were good for defense, but lacked offensive capabilities necessary for Canton's brutal city streets. So he modified the system by adding longer hand techniques and widened the horse stance. He increased the focus on offense. Eventually, this modification grew to become described as the "Canton" branch of Hung Gar. That earlier version may still exist in these branches of Hung Gar.

  • The Ha Sai Fu style (下四虎) Hung Gar of Leung Wah-Chew fits the description of the original Hung Gar. It focuses on short-hand techniques and defense, its basic stance is narrow, and it does not have any jumping or take up a lot of floor space to practice. Perhaps it is a vital clue to the early roots of Hung Gar. The Hung Gar salute is a fist and a tiger claw, made with two steps forward then two steps backward. Both the salutes of Canton and Ha Say Fu hung gar fit this description, but their salutes are distinct. The Canton school steps forward to a cat stance, while instead Ha Say Fu uses a stance with the heels together and the toes pointed outward. Ha Say Fu emphasizes unusual ancient weapons. Ha Say Fu contains many weapon sets that are seldom seen anymore, such as the thunder hoe, the double tiger-head shields, the gen (a precursor to the Okinawan sai), the nine-pointed rake, the dragon-head wooden bench and the double-headed dragon chain whip. Both Hung Gar styles share the same distinctive weapon, the butterfly swords. However, each school has its own individual version of this set. Another fascinating aspect of Ha Say Fu is that it has a unique iron palm training method. Ha Say Fu hung gar favors the tiger claw to attack, just like the Canton school. So, its iron palm trains the tiger claw strike in addition to palm strikes. This iron palm method utilizes a special training table where the iron-filled striking target can move. The moving target is struck, grabbed and moved with the tiger claw within the designated sequence of palm strikes.
  • Five-Pattern Hung Kuen (五形洪拳). Like Ha Sei Fu Hung Gar, the Ng Ying Hung Kuen of Yuen Yik-Kai—conventionally translated as "Five-Pattern Hung Fist" rather than "Five Animal Hung Fist"—fits the description of Jee Sin's martial arts, but traces its ancestry to the legendary Ng Mui and Miu Hin (苗顯) who, like Chi Zin (Jee Sin), were both survivors of the destruction of the Shaolin Monastery. From Miu Hin, the Five-Pattern Hung Kuen passed to his daughter Miu Tsui-Fa (苗筴花), and from his daughter to his grandson Fong Sai-Yuk (方世玉), both Chinese folk heroes like Chi Zin, Ng Mui, and their forebear Miu Hin. Five-Pattern Hung Kuen is a Five Animal style, one with a single routine for all Five Animals.
  • Tiger Crane Paired Form (虎鶴雙形). The traditions of the Tiger-Crane Combination style associated with Ang Lian-Huat attribute the art to Hung Hei-Gun's combination of the Tiger style he learned from Chi Zin with the Crane style he learned from his wife, whose name is given in Hokkien as Tee Eng-Choon. Like other martial arts that trace their origins to Fujian (e.g., Southern Tai Tzu, Fujian White Crane, Five Ancestors), this style uses San Chian as its foundation.
  • The Tiger Crane routine in the Southern Shaolin system of Wong Kiew-Kit is attributed not to Hung Hei-Gun or Luk Ah-Choi but to their classmate Harng Yein.
  • Canton Hung Gar. The curriculum that Chi Zin (Jee Sin) taught Hung Hei-Gun is said to have comprised Tiger style, Luohan style, and the Taming the Tiger (Fuk Fu) routine. Exchanging material with other martial artists allowed Hung to develop or acquire Tiger Crane Paired Form routine, a combination animal routine, Southern Flower Fist, and several weapons.

The original sets of the Canton Hung Gar system were the:
- 36 Technique Fist Form, which became later known as the Tiger/Crane (Fu Hok) Form when it was later changed by Hung Hei Kwun (some say this form was first developed by Bak Mei, the later founder of the tiger-based White Eyebrow style). It has been shown that this form is very similar to the 5 Phases of Sanjin and the 8 Crane Techniques of BabuLien.
- Gong Gee Fuk Fu (Subduing the Tiger in an I Formation), This is the oldest Hung Gar fist set which comes from the Siu Lum (Shaolin) temple of Fukien province. It is belived that this form was developed by Hung Hei Goon after training under monk Chi Zin/Gee Sin.
- Tie Xin Quan (Iron Wire, which was a wholly internal strength building form), developed by Tid Ku Sarm from the Tam family's 3 Extentions. In some non Wong Fei Hung Hung Gar lineages, there is a form called '3 extentions cross over to iron wire' (sam jen gor tit sin).
- and Xiao Luohan Quan (the ancient Small Lohan Form of the Northern Shaolin system), which was taught as a foundational training set.

The Hung Gar practiced in the Guangdong Province area is still similar to this original version. Canton Hung Gar is composed of crisp, powerful strikes that were swift and deadly, meant for close range destruction of the opponent. The moves were made to counter the martial arts that the Manchu Guards all knew and fought with. Hung Gar was a combination of various Shaolin styles: Abbot Chi Zin had taught Hung Hei Kwun the Hei Fu Jow (Black Tiger Claw) and the Northern Long Fist (Hong Chang Quan) style; Sam Tak had taught him the Short Fist (Duan Quan) style. Also, he learned Five Animals as part of the temple teachings. He combined both his teacher's styles and emphasized the Tiger and Crane aspects of his lessons. He later met Fong Wingchun, who further taught him Crane style fighting, said to have come from Wu-Tang internal wu shu. They united both to further develop the style and make it famous for its tiger/crane fighting techniques. Later other forms were added that had aspects of other Southern Shaolin styles, such as the Ten Animals (five animals/five elements) form, Heart Penetrating Palm form, Lou Gar forms, Butterfly Palms form, etc.

Hung gar is famous for its animal sets. The Canton school is famous for a set known as "sup ying" (ten forms). These forms are the five animals (dragon, snake, tiger, panther, and crane) and the five elements (gold, wood, water, fire, and earth). In the Ha Say Fu Hung Gar, each of the five animals get their own respective set. Each set has a different focus upon internal power. Each of these animal sets rely heavily upon yee gee kim yeung ma (withdrawing the gonads horse stance,) instead of the sei ping ma (four corners horse stance). This stance is shorter, the width of the hips plus a half, with the toes pointing inward, as seen in the Wing Chun style's stance.

Hung Hei Kwun is considered the main developer of the orginal Hung Gar style. Canton area Hung Gar was used by the anti-Ching rebels of the Heaven and Earth Society (founded in 1760 AD). The founder of the style was Hung Hei Kwun (Hung Hei Goon), considered the most gifted student of the Fujian Temple. The Heaven and Earth Society learned his Hung Gar style in secret at Shaolin and used it to combat Manchu guards. But, the Ching sent troops to Fujian and destroyed this temple also, forcing many to flee. Some say about 1,000 monks were killed and about 30 escaped and scattered further south. Among these were Monk Chi Zin, Monk Sam Tak, Hung Hei Kwun, Choi Hin Fook, and Tze Sai Fook. According to the legends, Chi Zin/ Gee Sin Sim See travelled through southern China and finally ended up at the what has now become known as the famous Red Boat Opera Troupe (Hung Syuhn Hei Baan). It is said that Gee Sin Sim See stayed with the Red Boat Opera Troupe, teaching gung fu and carrying on with his support for the anti-ching movement. According to some Hung Gar legends, Hung Gar was created on these red boats. It is also said that Gee Sin is associated with the creation of Wing Chun style on the Red Boat Opera Troupes.

Around the late 1760s, Hung Hei Kwun was a tea merchant. Some have said that Hung's real name was Jyu (Chu?) Gu Chah, however he later changed his name to Hung to hide his real identity from the Qing government. It is said by some that he was born into a distant royal family and was descendant of Prince Leung, the 15'th son of the Ming Emperor Chung Chen. On a business trip to Kwantung Province, he had a dispute with some Manchu Nobles. In anger, he abandoned his tea business and asked to be admitted to the Fujian Shaolin Temple. Monk Sam Tak and Monk Chi Zin (Gee Shimn Sien See), who was from the northern temple, instructed him and after only six years was considered the best layman follower there (among about 100 or so there). According to some sources, Hung Hei Kwun, Chi Zin, and some others went into hiding in "hung sheun" or red boats/red junks which belonged to the Chinese Opera troupes that travelled all over China and staged playes. During his travels Hung met and married Fong Wing Chun (Fang Yongchun?) (not to be confused with Yim Wing Chun). Fong Wing Chun was an expert in the crane style and some believe that she was the niece of the Legendary Fong Sai Yuk while others dispute this and say she was Fong Sai Yuk's daughter. Whatever the case may be the actual known fact is that Hung learned his wife's crane style and combined the the soft and fluid techniques of the crane with the straight forward and powerful tiger movements of siu lum temple to create the famous Tiger/Crane form. An interesting point to mention here is: some sources state that Fong Wing Chun was Hung Hei Goon's second wife. His first marriage was to a lady named Liu Ying-cheun but sadly she passed away. He latter married to Fong Wing-Chun. It is also said that Hung Hei Goon had a son named Hung Man Ting. Hung Hei Kwun fled to Kwantung Province and eventually began secretly teaching martial arts at the Big Buddha Temple in Kwantung. In 1813, the Ching lifted the restrictions on martial arts instruction (because the peasants there were forced into conscription were weak and could not fight well). Hung went to Fa City and opened a school named 'Hung Gar Boxing'. Over time, Hung Gar proved to be very popular in the Shantung, Canton, Hubei, and Guantung Provinces.

Tiet Kiu Sam is regarded as one of the best Chinese Martial Artist in China. His real name was Leung Kwan and said to have been born in Nam Hoi district of the Kwungtung province. Leung Kwan was the third son of the family. According to legend he started his Gung fu training at a young age under the famous master Lee Hu Si who was nicknamed Bearded Li, also known as Golden Hook. Leung Gwan trained under the guidence of Lee Hu Si for a long time. During his search for new knowledge and skills, he met Gwok Yan, a shaolin monk and a famous martial arts master. Gwok Yan, who was said to have lived to the age of 110, took Leung Kwan as his disciple and taught him everything he knew. Some sources indicate that Gwok Yan taught Leung the "Gung Gee Fook Fu Kuen" and "Fu Hok Seung Ying Kuen". Leung Gwan learned much from his teacher Gwok Yan and through his dedication and hard work he developed extremely strong, iron like arms and solid stances. According to the legend he was so strong that not even 100 people could match his strength. Combining his vast knowledge in martial arts and everything he had learned, Leung Kwan created the famous Tid Sin Kuen - Iron Wire Fist. Leung Kwan (Tit Kiu Sam) taught Lam Fook Shing, and Lam Fook Shing taught some with Wong Fei Hung. The Fu Hok form was later modified by Wong Fei Hong.

Luk Ah Choy (陸阿采) was another well known disciple of the Monk Chi Zin (Gee Sin Sim See) and class mate of Hung Hei Guan. He, unlike many other Hung Gar masters, was a Manchu descendant who is credited for his efforts to spread the art of Hung Gar. It is indicated by some sources that Luk Ah Choy started his gung fu training as a young boy under a monk named Li Bakfu who taught Luk Ah Choy the Hua Quan (Flower Fist), a northern style of Gung Fu. He became an expert in this style.

Luk Ah Choy trained under Chi Zin/Gee Sim for a long time. According to one story, when Gee Sim heard about Hung Hei Guan's school he sent Luk Ah Choy there to further develop his skills and help him with his new school, which had already became one of the most famous Gung Fu schools in the southern China. Hung Hei Guan passed all his skills on to Luk Ah Choy, teaching Ah Choy everything he knew including the famous Tiger/Crane Set - Fu Hok Seung Ying Kuen, which he had further developed. Luk Ah Choy became an expert in Hung Gar Kuen. He was later send to Canton by Hung Hei Guan to help and spread the art of Hung Gar in Canton. According to some sources Luk Ah Choy opened a school in Canton where he taught Hung Gar openly to the public.

Luk Ah Choy's best student was Wong Tai (and later Wong Kei Ying) who learned the complete system under his sifus instructions and became an expert in the Hung style. From this point onwards, the traditions and teachings of Hung Gar were carried on by the three generation of the Wong Family; Wong Tai, his son Wong Kei Ying and grandson Wong Fei Hung. It is believed that Luk Ah Choy died at the age of 68.

The Hung Gar curriculum that Wong Fei-Hung learned from his father was comprised of the Single Hard Fist, Double Hard Fist, Taming the Tiger Fist (伏虎拳), Mother & Son Butterfly Knives (子母雙刀), Angry Tiger Fist, Fifth Brother Eight Trigram Pole (五郎八卦棍), Flying Hook, and Black Tiger Fist (黑虎拳). Wong distilled his father's empty-hand material along with the material he learned from other masters into the "pillars" of Hung Gar, his version of the four empty-hand routines that constitute the core of Hung Gar instruction in the Wong Fei-Hung lineage. As a teenager, Wong Fei-Hung learned Iron Wire from Lam Fuk-Sing (林福成), a student of Tit Kiu Saam.

Wong Fei Hung also created or redeveloped other of his Hung Gar system's sets:

- Fu Hok Seung Ying Kuen. Wong Fei-Hung choreographed the version of Tiger Crane handed down in the lineages that descend from him. He is said to have added to Tiger Crane the bridge hand techniques and rooting of the master Tit Kiu Saam as well as long arm techniques, attributed variously to the Fat Ga, Lo Hon, and Lama styles. Tiger Crane Paired Form routines from outside Wong Fei-Hung Hung Gar still exist.

- Su Ying Kuen - Ten Pattern Fist. Sup Ying Kuen literally means ten pattern or ten shape fist. Sup Ying kuen was created by Wong Fei Hung as a bridge form between Fu Hok Seung Ying Kuen and Tid Sin Kuen. This advanced form of Hung Gar teaches the five animals-Ng Ying and five elements- Ng Hong (hence the name) as well as other important concepts of the style. Each one of these animals and elements with their own unique characteristics, philosophy and movements trains and teaches many important key concepts of the style.

- Ng Ying Kuen - Five Shapes/Five Animals Fist. It is said that this set was created by Wong Fei Hung. Ng Ying Kuen or the five animal form is a long set which teaches the fighting concept and techniques of the five animals; Dragon (Lung), Tiger (Fu), Crane (Hok), Leapord (Pao), Snake (Sare).

The Five Animal Fist was expanded by Lam Sai-Wing (林世榮), a senior student and teaching assistant of Wong Fei-Hung, into the Five Animal Five Element Fist (also called the "Ten Form Fist"). In the Lam Sai-Wing branch of Hung Gar, the Five Animal Five Element Fist has largely, but not entirely, superseded the Five Animal Fist, which has become associated with Tang Fong and others who were no longer students when the Five Animal Five Element Fist was created.

Wong Fei-Hung was known for his Fifth Brother Eight Trigram Pole (五郎八卦棍), which can be found in the teachings of both the Lam Sai-Wing and Tang Fong branches of Hung Gar, two of the major branches of the Wong Fei-Hung lineage, as are the Spring & Autumn Guandao (春秋大刀), and the Yiu Family Tiger Fork (瑤家大扒). Both branches also train the broadsword (刀), the butterfly knives (雙刀), the spear (槍), and even the fan (扇), but use different routines to do so. Mother & Son Butterfly Knives (子母雙刀) can still be found in the curriculum of the Tang Fong branch.

Other Hung Gar sets introduced by other masters:

Lau Gar Kuen - Lau Family Fist. Lau Gar Kuen means "Lau Family Fist". The Lau Gar routines found in certain branches of Hung Gar, another of the five major family styles, which do not come from Lau Gar proper, but were originally a Mok Gar empty-hand routine (Lau Gar Kuen 劉家拳) introduced into the curriculum by a student of Lam Sai-Wing named Lau and a Chu/Chow Gar Mantis staff routine (Lau Gar Gwan 劉家棍) introduced into the curriculum by a student of the Chu/Chow Gar Mantis master Lau Shui, after whom the routine was named.

Chin Cheung - The War Palm. Created by the famous master Lam Sai Wing, Chin Cheun is a short, repetitive yet an extremly practical and useful form. One of Wong Fei Hung's top students was Lam Sai Wing (1861 - 1942). At an early age, Lam had learned Hung Gar from his father (giving us the Arrow Hand and Butterfly Knife forms), and Sifu Wu Gum Sin. Lam also learned Buddha's palm kung fu from Sifu Jung Hon San, and the Iron Wire (tit sing kuen) form from Sifu Lam Fook Sing. Sifu Lam Fook Sing was a disciple of another famous Hung Gar exponent, Tit Kiu Sam, the Iron Wire developer. In 1917, Lam Sai Wing would write three books on Hung Gar. These books were the first to formally introduce Hung Gar or any southern kung fu to the general public.

Mui Fa Kuen - Plum Flower Fist. Mui Fa Kuen means "Plum Blossom Fist". It is said that the original Mui Fa Kuen was a Northern Siu Lum set. There are different accounts about how and who by this form was incorporated into Hung gar. This short and simple but very practical form is presented in four directions, like the petals of a Mui Fa (plum blossom), teaching attacking and defending in four basic directions. The Plum blossom set teaches the basic footwork and stances as wells as basic hand and leg techniques. The powerful tiger claw and Hung Gar's kiu sao the bridge hand are also introduced in this set.

Some other southern Shaolin derived styles:

To avoid the attention of the Qing government, the Southern Shaolin Kungfu taught by many masters was not named “Shaolin Kungfu”, but named afer the surnames of the masters.

The Lau Gar (Liu Jia Quan) style (founded by Lau Sam Ngan - Liú Sānyǎn, who was said to be a tiger hunter) was a Five Animals based style, with a strong emphasis on tiger forms, for strength and external power, and crane forms, for balance and agility. It was a middle range fighting style. The style was practiced at Kuei Ling Temple, situated in Kong Sai Province in West China, where an unknown monk eventually traveled to and taught the sets. Lau Gar became popular in South West China during the later part of the Qing Dynasty. Lau Sam Ngian was actually the master's nick name, and it means Lau Three Eyes, because there was a mark on the master's forehead that resembled a third eye. He was famous for his Shaolin staff techniques. There are very few sets in the Lau Gar system. The complete set of Lau Gar contains fist forms, palm forms, and weapon forms. Stances are very low and very fierce. Hand techniques come in the form of punches, phoenix eye fist, and palm strikes while leg techniques includes swinging kicks and thrusting front kicks. The style is well known for its staff techniques as well. Towards the end of the 1800's, Yau Luk Sau, who made the style public, traveled to the Kuei Ling Temple and learned Lau Gar from Tang Hoi Ching and later from Wan Goon Wing.

There are Lau Gar routines found in certain branches of Hung Gar that do not come from Lau Gar proper, but were originally a Mok Gar empty-hand routine (which was named Lau Gar Kuen) introduced into the curriculum by a student of Lam Sai-Wing named Lau and a Chu/Chow Gar Mantis Staff routine (Lau Gar Gwan) introduced into the curriculum by a student of the Chu/Chow Gar Mantis master Lau Shui, after whom the routine was named.

The Mok Gar style was also Five Animals based, and it placed more of an emphasis on the Snake forms. It is a short range style, with heavy kicks, which is unusual for a Southern style. It originated first with Shaolin Monk Huey Jeng, who taught Mok Ta Shih (legends say he was a midget), after he moved to Hai Feng village in Guangdong. There are two branches of Mok Gar, one is from Mok Ching Giu, (also known as Mo Ta Chang), and the other is from Mak Shing Mo. Both learnt from Choi Kau Yee, who was renowned for his kicking skills, and speed. The famous Wong Fei Hung's wife was Mok Kuei Lin, a member of the Mok clan who had been studying since childhood. Sets include: Zhong Quan (Mok's basics "seed" form), Lau Gar Kuen a "borrowed" form from the Lau Family style, Lian Tui Quan (Practice Leg Form), and others. Also, the style includes various forms of weaponry, such as Kwun (long staff), Leung Gip Kwun (split staff), Siu So Gee (little sweeper, big sweeper), Sam gip Kwun (three section staff), Dip Do (butterfly swords), and Guay (tonfa / nightstick). It has been said that the style is very much like Fut Gar, with some movements being interchangeable.

Besides these two styles, there was also the Lee or Li Gar style (developed by Li Yau San), which was a middle range fighting style, with emphasis on the Leopard forms. The style was developed later than the other Five Animals styles, which was during the early 1800s. Said to be a student of Monk Chi Zin, while others believe him to be a student of Li Sik Hoi-one of the 5 Ancestors of the Hung Mun, Lee Yau-San is known as a teacher of Chan Heung, and recently discovered of Cheung Hung Sing as well.

Finally, there was the Choy Gar style, which was a long range fighting style. Choy Ga is noted for its complex kicking, footwork and stances. It has low stances and a footwork inspired by the rat while the arms and the upper body follows the pattern of the snake. The names of three Southern Shaolin masters were connected with the founding of Choy Gar, namely Choy Pa Tat (Cai Bai Da), Choy Kow Yi (Choy Gau Lee), and Choy Fook (who taught Chan Heung, the founder of Choy Li Fut style). There is no clear cut conclusion who among these three masters was the first to teach and pass down Choy Gar to posterity. It was also likely that there were actually three versions of Choy Gar, transmitted by these three masters, and since all the three were from Southern Shaolin, the three versions of Choy Gar were similar. Choy Gar is well known for its kicks, especially its Organ-Seeking Kicks, its agility, and its phoenix-eye fist. The stances are generally short. The Four-Six Stance, usually called the Triangle Stance, is widely used. Traditional Choy Ka kungfu sets include “Sap Tze Khuen” (Cross-Road Set), “Tai Wen Thien” (Great Cosmic Circulation), “Siew Wen Thien” (Small Cosmic Circulation), “Thien Phin Ngan” (Horizon Bird), and “Lau Shuei Mui” (Willow-Miscellaneous-Plum).

Also related are the Choy Mok style, which is of fairly recent origin (over 50 years ago) and is composed of small circular movements and short range fist attacks that combine elements of the Choy and Mok Gar styles.

Fut Gar (Buddhist Family) was a major style that consisted of only palm strikes and redirecting moves, with evasive hand fighting tactics. These Fut Gar techniques (called Butterfly Palms) were similar to the hand forms of later Wing Chun style forms. Butterfly palm techniques are also found in the Hung Gar, Choy Li Fut, and Hung Fut styles. Both the left and right hand are used in attack and defense. Long and short-range footwork is employed. It is further characterized by evasive footwork, circular blocks, and using opponents force against themselves. It is not known who the founder is, but the style was being practiced in south China during the 1700s, at least. Before then, it was practiced in northern China, around the Henan Shaolin temple area.

It is said that Fut Gar (sometimes spelled as Fut Ga) was created by five monks in the southern Sil Lum Temple who mastered the five Gar, or family styles, which were now taught in the temple by that time - Choy Ga, Hung Ga, Lau Ga, Lee Ga, and Mok Ga. The best techniques from each of those styles was taken to create a new hybrid which would become the new standard curriculum for the monastery. Thus, Fut Ga is sometimes called by another name, Ng Dai Ga, which means Five Great Families style in Cantonese. (One such master was Lum Tai-Yong, a priest who fled his home in southern China for Hawai'i in the early part of the 1900s. He was well versed in the art of Sil Lum Fut Ga (Shaolin Buddha style) and the healing arts as well.)

The Fut Gar style originally had three empty handsets and later nine weapons.  The original empty handsets were:
·      Hu Dip Jeong (The Butterfly Palm)
·      Sup Ji Kuen (Cross Fist)
·      Dai Ga Lu (Great Family Set), sometimes referred to as Ng Dai Ga Lu (5 Great Families/Masters Set).

The nine original weapons are the staff, spear, straight sword, broadsword, butterfly swords, kwan do, tiger fork, three-sectional staff, and the monk's spade.

There are now ten empty-hand forms starting with a hard, almost karate-like form, all the way to an internal form similar to taiji quan.  The forms are:
·      Seah Ying Diu Sau (Snake Form)
·      Tai Ji Kuen (Prince's Form)
·      Bak Mok (White Hair)
·      Lohan Kuen (Monk's Fist)
·      Dai Lin Wan (Large Connection)
·      Dai Gum Gong (Big Solid Body)
·      Chut Yup Bo (Out In Step)
·      Maang Fu Ha San (Fierce Tiger Descending the Mountain)
·      Tien Jaang (Complete Elbow).

It is known that the monk, Leong Sil Jong, taught Fut Gar in the mid 1800's.  This monk entered the monastery at the age of ten and left 50 years later.  In his travels, he arrived in Wong-Nam province, where he met a wealthy nobleman, who requested him to teach martial arts to his frail son, Hue Lung Gong.  The monk agreed, and the nobleman had a school built, where his son would be instructed for the next decade. Hue Lung Gong is responsible for spreading this system throughout Southern China.  His master’s nephew, Leong Tien Chiu, who was already an accomplished martial artist, of over 25 years, discovered that his uncle was teaching in Wong-Nam, and set out to find him.  When he arrived, he found that his uncle (now over 80 years of age) had recently died.  Hue Lung Gong decided to teach his masters relative to show his appreciation.  Tien Chiu completed his training at age 40 and returned home to his native province of Guang Xi, and later created two of his own styles, which his disciples later passed on called Fut Gar Kuen (Buddhist Fist Boxing), and another system called Sae Ying Diu Sao (Snake Form Mongoose Hands).  The further development and proliferation of the system is credited to Monk Ching Cho Wo Seung (a.k.a. Choy Fook, and Ng Wo Seung) who was a disciple of an abbot of the Shaolin Temple.  He was now living on Bak Pai Shan, Gong Xi province.  Chan Heung (founder of Choy-Li Fut) sent his student, Cheung Yim, to learn Fut Gar.  Cheung Yim left to train under Ching Cho Wor Seung and spent the next decade training in both the martial arts and medicine.  At the end of his training, Ching Cho Wor Seung gave Cheung Yim another name, and from then on, he was to be known as Cheung Hung Sing.

Hung Fut, developed around Hung Hei Kwun`s time, combined elements of the Hung Gar and Fut Gar styles in a uniquely left-hand oriented manner. Hung Fut was created in 1700s by a Shaolin Monk named Wun Lei, who was a student of Hung Hei Kwun, the founder of Hung Gar. Wu combined powerful movements from Hung Gar with the soft flowing Fut Gar he had learned previously. There are many training forms in Hung Fut. The complete Hung Fut system contains forms of 10 animal styles, 25 classical weapons, 8 drunken immortal forms, 4 cripple forms, and a left-hand fighting form.

Southern Luohan Men - Fuzhou Luohan is of the Minbei arts which extend from around Putian and northwards including Zhejiang regions, arts such as Huzunquan, Luohanquan, Jinggangquan, Heihuquan, etc. Luohan that's found in Fujian area is not like Northern Shaolin Luohan. Southern Luohan as a martial art had to do with the White Lotus cult movement. This Luohan may be a derivitive of Fanziquan, which was based in Minbei, the northern regions of Fujian. (This is the area where the Fang family of Yongchun White Crane fame came from and the original art that the family practiced.) In some White Crane lineages, a Luohan set is still practiced.

The Luohan of Fojia Pai includes Tingjing, Fuhu, Xianglong, Xinu, etc., Luohan methods. These are fairly different to common Luohan, which does not include such practice.

Southern Yizhimei Quan is a branch of Southern Shaolin Boxing. Yizhimei Quan is an evolution of Shaolin Luohanquan.

Hua quan means flower style fist. It thought to have first been taught in Jiangsu province and Zhejiang province. According to some it was originated by Gan Feng Chi, a native of Ningxian County in Jiangsu Province, who lived under the reign of the 4th Qing Emperor Yongzheng (1723-1735 CE.) He eventually became the layman disciple of a Shaolin monk name Zhao Yuan. Chao or Zhao Yuan was originally from the royal family of the previous Ming Dynasty, whose secular name was Chu or Zhu Fu. When the Qing overthrew the Ming in 1644, Zhu Fu renounced his family name and became a monk, in hopes of learning Shaolin kungfu to help restore Ming reign. He is said to have trained Gan for twelve years. Gan was expert in the sword as well.

Also, Gan is said to have learned Sanhuang Paochui or Three Emperor Cannon Boxing from Monk Puzhao, who had toured Mount Emei in Sichuan Province, where he met a Daoist priest from whom he learned the style. After mastering the art, Monk Puzhao taught it to Qiao Sanxiu and Gan Fengchi during Qing emperors Kangxi and Yong-zheng's reigns (1622-1735). He taught Qiao to temper suppleness through hardness, with suppleness as the core and hardness as the outward application. In contrast, he taught Gan to temper hardness through suppleness, with hardness as the core and suppleness as the outward application. The Gan-style focuses on maintaining health.

Finally, Huang Bai Jia had learned his arts on Wu Tang Mountain and he also was said to have been a teacher of Gan Fengshi. Eventually Gan combined all he knew into a style called Hua Quan or Flower Boxing, which he even wrote a book about the style, Introduction to Huāquán. He taught this style in the southern Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces from 1662 to 1735 A.D. (Gan also said by some to have influenced the creation of the "Northern Shaolin" style. Gan at one point taught Wan Bengcai, who taught Yan Degong, who taught Yan Sansen, who taught Yan Jiwen, who taught his nephew Gu Ruzhang (18941952), who later developed his 10 sets of Northern Shaolin.)

It is taught that the early practitioners of the Hua Quan style were attempting to overthrow the Qing and restore the Ming dynasty. This is supposed to be represented in their beginning and ending bow, left fist exposed by the right palm. The boxer forms the arms into a circle and draws an arc in a clockwise direction in front of the chest. In 1729, the seventh year of his reign, Emperor Yongzheng had Master Gan arrested by Qing officials. More than 100 others, many of who were also martial arts masters, were taken into custody in connection to a secret anti-Qing religious sect, led by the Monk Yi Nian. Like many such secret societies of China's turbulent history, Monk Yi Nian's followers espoused a doctrine of mysticism and martial arts with an undertone of rebellion.

The style uses 24 stances, 72 holding and strangling techniques, 88 falling/tumbling techniques, and 120 hand techniques. It is a Long Fist style considerably "softer" in performance than most Shaolin. There are evident applications geared toward fighting. "Sort of Wing Chun if invented by Northerners." The techniques take "open wide and reach out to detect" as its main hand techniques. In actual combat, the boxer often attacks the opponent by the movement called "Hiding flower under the leaves" with defending and attacking mutually used. It can be viewed as a collection of wrestling and falling methods. A veteran boxer can co-ordinate his up and down, right and left movements and actions without any trouble. As soon as he touches, the opponent is thrown to the ground.

An examination of Old Yang Tai Ji Quan Form reveals similar postures to Gan Feng Chi's boxing. Gan was a noted Internal Boxing expert. Postures like `Playing the Lute', `Cross Hands', `Double Fist To Ears' (including the characteristic head to knee smash) and `Carry Tiger Back To Mountain' are present in both forms. These postures are absent from the current Chen style of Tai Ch'i Chuan but some are present in the Zhao Bao style. (Gan Yan Ran, the grandson of Gan Feng Chi, taught Wudang nei jia quan to Li Wan Dong, creator of Li style Tai Ji Quan.)


East River Fist:

In Guangdong in the 1750s, the closely related martial arts of Bóluó ( 博羅 ) and Huìyáng ( 惠陽 ) counties, which occupy either bank of the Dongjiang in the prefecture of Huizhou just east of the Pearl River Delta, came to be collectively known by the name East River Fist.

The Dragon style master Lam Yiu-Kwai, the Bak Mei master Cheung Lai-Chuen, the Kwong Sai Jook Lum Southern Praying Mantis master Chung Yu-Chang, and the Chow/Chu Gar Southern Praying Mantis master Lau Shui were all from Huìyáng County. On the north bank of the Dongjiang in the northwest of Bóluó County is the sacred mountain Mount Luofu. Choy Fook, one of the teachers of Choy Lee Fut founder Chan Heung, is said to have been a monk there. One of its temples, Wa Sau Toi, is linked to both Dragon and Bak Mei and another, the Temple of Emptiness, is where the Mok Gar master Lin Yin-Tang studied meditation and traditional Chinese medicine.

Because this area is part of the Hakka heartland of inland eastern Guangdong, East River Fist is associated with Hakka Kuen, the martial arts of the Hakka people.

Though the origins of Southern Praying Mantis may be contested, what is indisputable is its association with the Hakka people of inland eastern Guangdong. The region that is home to Southern Praying Mantis begins in the very heart of Hakka territory at Xingning , where Chow Gar founder Chow Ah-Nam came from. From Xingning, the Dongjiang flows west out of the prefecture of Meizhou through Heyuan , where Iron Ox founder Choi Dit-Ngau came from. In the prefecture of Huizhou, the Dongjiang forms the northern border of Huìyáng ( 惠陽) County, where Kwong Sai Jook Lum master Chung Yu-Chang and Chow/Chu Gar master Lau Shui came from. From there, the Dongjiang flows into the Pearl River Delta at Bao'an County (present-day Shenzhen), where Kwong Sai Jook Lum masters Wong Yook-Gong and Lum Wing-Fay came from. These masters all belonged to the Hakka people, who kept Southern Praying Mantis to themselves until the generation of Lau Shui and Lum Wing-Fay.

Both Guangdong and Fujian are provinces that the Hakka call home, both are strongly associated with the southern Chinese martial arts, and both saw strong and persistent opposition to Qing rule, such as the Hakka-led Taiping Rebellion and the Heaven and Earth Society, whose founders were from the prefecture of Zhangzhou in Fujian Province, on its border with Guangdong. Societies like Heaven and Earth were noteworthy for how their membership transcended traditional Chinese social barriers like those separating Hakka from non-Hakka. In fact, a precursor to the Heaven and Earth Society was organized by Ti Xi, one of the Heaven and Earth founders, in Huizhou, part of the aforementioned "heartland" of Hakka Praying Mantis. The Heaven and Earth Society developed myths of Shaolin origins as part of a larger anti-Qing narrative. Perhaps the Hakka opposed to the Qing Dynasty did something similar, redacting their own migration and the southward flight of Ming loyalist refugees into a single narrative.

The martial art of Southern Mantis and the martial arts of Bak Mei and Lung Ying all seem to be related to each other, but this may have happened in modern times.

Before the final closing of Shaolin, the White Eyebrow (Bak Mei or Pak Mei) style was created by a Shaolin Monk named Bak Mei (who is falsely accused in legends derived from fictitious novels to have betrayed his follow monks by siding with the Manchu rulers). The style passed on eventually to Chueng Lai Chuen, the first non-monk who learned the style and became grandmaster of it. It is a highly internal, short range fighting style based mostly on the movements of the Tiger. It uses soft power that suddenly hardens on impact and is characterized by a hunched shoulders effect in order to better concentrate force that is to be sharply expelled, using pressure point strikes, and a loping gait that has whip-like waist generated power behind it.

Related to the White Eyebrow style and developed around the same time was the Lung Ying or internal Dragon style. It was founded by monk Tai Yuk, who passed it to Lam Yiu Kwai, who was friends with the grandmaster of White Eyebrow. It is a very strong internal/external style that relies on swift and unrelenting chains of attack, with gripping strikes. It too uses the concave chest, rounded shoulders stance of White Eyebrow. It was a slide stepping walk that appears to slide or shuffle sideways towards an opponent. It is also famous for its terrific Dragon claw.

Lung Ying (Dragon Claw):

Lam Yiu Quai was born into a family that studied and taught martial arts. His father and grandfather were both proficient in martial arts. Lam Yiu Quai’s father, Lam Qing Yeun, was a store owner at the base of Luo Fo Mountain. Lam Quig Yuen learned East River fist from his father Lam Yao Hing, and taught martial arts in his village.

Lam Qing Yuen also studied with the monks on Luo Fo Mountain. This mountain is famous for its many temples, both Buddhist and Taoist, located at different levels on the mountain. Some temples specialized in martial arts, some in herbal medicine, and others in meditation. Lam Qing Yeun knew many of the monks on Luo Fo Shan and was welcomed all over the mountain. He was close friends with several of the Teachers at Wah Sa Tsoi ( White Hair Temple).

One of these Teachers was a monk who went by the name Hai-Fung. Hai-Fung was not his real name, but the name of the area where he was from. Hai-Fung was also known as Gong Gee Dai See (meaning “ Upright River”). He came to Luo Fo Shan around 1848 from Fujian. Another monk, Tai-Yut, also came from the southern temple and was quite proficient at his boxing skills. Wong Lee Kiu was a Taoist who lived on the Mountain. Lam Qing Yuen learned the kung fu taught on Luo Fo Shan from the monks ‘Hai-Fung’ Yung, Tai-Yut, and Wong Lee Kiu. He studied techniques and more importantly, the concepts and principals of the Kung-fu style.

Lam Yiu Quai made the decision to follow in his family’s way and go to Wah Sa Tsoi to study kung fu. When he arrived, and had gone through the process of introductions and acceptance, he was asked to perform in order to evaluate his knowledge and understanding. He was able to overcome several students but not all. There were some he could not overcome and he did not understand why. His teachers recognized he needed to study the mental and spiritual aspects of kung fu. Part of his training at Wah Sa Tsoi was to learn the subtleties of unifying the natures of heaven and earth (Yin and Yang). These practices were made clear to him.

The recognized Master of Southern Dragon was Lam Yiu Quai who was born in 1877 in Wai Yeung district in Guangdong province in Southern China. Lam Yiu Quai studied with the monk Wong Lee Giu who taught him the Saam Tong Gor Kiu set (“Three Ways to Cross the Bridge”) and with Ke Hing Ma who taught him Mui Fa Chut Lo (“Plum Flower Fist in Seven Sections”). He learned the concepts and principals of the style, with all its subtlety and nuances from all his teachers. Lam Yiu Quai made several stays at Wah Sa Tsoi to completely understand the essence of Dragon style.

Lam Yiu Quai married and had several children. In the early 1920’s, Lam Yiu Quai went to the city of Guangzhou where he had heard there was a need for martial arts teachers. Lam took his oldest son with him to make a living teaching. Once in Guangzhou, he was introduced to Lin Yum Tong, a Mo-Gar master. Lin was from Dong Gwan County just south of Po Low County. The two of them became friends. Later they learned they had studied on the same mountain in Guangdong; Lam Yiu Quai at Wah So Tsoi to learn Dragon Style and Lin Yum Tong at Chong Su Gwan studying meditation and medicine.

Lin Yum Tong introduced Lam Yiu Quai to General Lee Yum-Chu. The General hired Lam Yiu Quai to teach martial arts to the troops. Because Lam Yiu Quai was the new teacher, there were times where he had to demonstrate his ability. He gained the name Tiger Lam of East River due to his success with martial arts skills.

Southern Dragon style as we know it today is comprised of Hakka kuen (the style of Lam’s grandfather and father), Shaolin (his teachers from Wah Sa Tsoi), and Taoist forms (from Wong Lee Giu). He synthesized all he learned from these teachers into the style we know today. Lung Ying's forms are basically in 3 stages. From first form "16 moves" to the highest 7 routines of Plum Flower fist. Poison Snake Flicks Tongue is an intermediate form. It is one of the five original forms which Lum learned from Ta Yuk sim si.

According to an article made by the "Mo Lum Chow Bo" Wu-Lin Weekly in the 1970s, Dai Yuk Sim Si and Chuk Fat Wan (Jook Fai Wan) were Si Hing Dai and they both taught the set of Mor Kui. That's why the similarities of Mor Kui in both Bak Mei and Lung Ying. Both styles are based on the same principles but with slightly different order of importance of these principles. It was not hard to switch from one to the other. The closeness of styles can be seen in that Lam Hap and Lam Quig Yeun both learned the set “Three Step Push”, which became “Nine Step Push” in Bak-Mei and “Sixteen Steps” in Dragon style. If we compare Lung Ying's Sup Luk Dong (16 Moves) and Bak Mei's Jik Bo (straight Steps), we can see that there is the same kind of a jong (on guard position) and then the left Bil Ji - right punch combo. Further more they are both taught as the novice first form. It seems that Lum and Cheung shared a common background yet developed into two individual systems.

Pak Mei (White Brow):

The Pak Mei (also known as Bak Mei, and in Mandarin, Bei Mei) style was created by a Taoist monk of the same name. The date generally given for the formation of the style is 1647, just after the creation of the Qing Dynasty (1644). Bak Mei is said to have sported white hair on his brow but it may be, as was common in China, that the name refers to a distinctive white head band. Supposedly, Pai Mei's real name was Chu Long Tuyen, which would make him be a member of the Chu royal Ming family. Bak Mei was said to have studied Shaolin at the main temple on Song Mountain in Henan. From this he travelled to O Mei (Emei), where he learned new information while refining his early studies. This is one reason that Pak Mei is said - as is Wing Chun - to be the child of the two parents: Buddhist and Taoist martial arts. The style is based on the spirit and essence of the Tiger and the Leopard. Pak Mei had only one disciple, a monk named Gwong Wai (or Guang Hu in Mandarin). Gwong Wai's only disciple was another monk name Jok Fat Won (or Zh Fa Yn in Mandarin). Jok Fat Won passed his knowledge to Lin Sang (Lin Sheng), who had no disciples, and also to a martial arts teacher named Cheung Lai Chun (1880-1964, Zhang Li Quan in Mandarin) in the Canton area.

What is passed down as history in Pak Mei is that master Cheung Lai Chun brought this art to the public after learning it from monk Jok Fat Wan, who had been a disciple at Kwang Wai temple (Emei or Omei Mountain area) at Szechwan (or Sichuan / Sze Chuan) Province, where Pak Mei himself is said to have taught. He and his disciple Lin Sang moved to the Canton area and came across Cheung Lai Chun, who was already a master of Li (Lee) Gar, Dragon (Lung Ying), and Vagabond or Wanderer's Style - Lo Man Gaau (流浪教 Liu Min Jiao).

Lam Sek was Cheung Lai Chun’s first teacher of the Wanderer’s Style, which emphasized close-range seizing and striking maneuvers. Lo Man Gaau is a very rare and old style. Even in those days not often taught or seen. It is most probably the oldest style of Hakka boxing. The Wanders or Beggars style has aspect of Daoism (道教), specially the occult practises. The art is pure for self-defence and has no fancy moves, some will compare it to street-fighting. It’s on-guard posture "beggar asking for rice" is found in many other styles. From Lo Man Gaau, Chueng integrated into Pak Mei Pai the forms Sup Ji Kune (十字拳 Sip Su Ken) and Sam Cha Tai Pah (三叉大扒).

At the age of 13, Cheung next learned Li Yi’s Family methods, which was famous for mid-range fighting techniques and superior staff skills. Cheung was accepted at the school of the famous Wai Chow Li Ga Cyun (惠州李家拳 Huizhou Lijiaquan), founded by master Li Yi (李義) (1708-1793). Li Yi (also called Li Cunyi (李存義), first had learned from his father Li Gau (Li Jiu 李玖), later studied with Yuchan on Lau Fu mountain (羅浮山), and finally with Chan Gau Sik (Chen Gouxi 陳苟息). Returning home to Wai Chow Fo Dei village (惠州郊區火地村 Huizhou's huodi village), he started teaching.
There Cheung Lai Chun was taught Wai Chow Li family Boxing (Li Ga) by master Li Yi and his son Li Mung (李朦 Li Meng). The curriculum of Wai Chow Li Ga consists of : "72 Earth Gods Fist" (七十二地煞拳), " 8 Diagram Fist" (八卦拳), "Small Cross"( 小十字), "Big Cross" (大十字), "3 Doors Fist" (三門拳), and others. Weapon forms are the "Double Head Staff" (雙頭棍), "Center Pull Staff"(中拉棍 ), "Long Dragon Staff" (長龍棍) , "Big Wave Staff" (大陣棍), "Left Right Thousand Character Big Rake (trident)" (左右千字大耙), "Single Dish Sword" (單刀碟), and "Big Sword Whip" (大刀鞭). From Li Ga, he took into Pak Mei the forms of Sam Mun Zeoi (三門搥), Zung Laan Gun (中欄棍), and Ng Hang Gun (五行棍).

Following these two famous instructors, Cheung Lai Chun learned from the Dragon Style masters Lam Yun and Lam Hap. This fierce close-range system famous for its pressuring and relentless attacks was the most instrumental style within Cheung Lai Chun’s vast repertoire of fighting techniques. Lam Hap changed the famous "3 step push"( 三步推) into "9 step push"( 九步推) and Lam Qing Jyun changed it into "16 step push"( 十六步推). In 1862, Lam Hap started his own famous Boxing school with the name "Wai Joeng Lam Ga Mou Gwun" ( 惠陽林家武館Huiyang Lin Jia Martial School) in "Wai Joeng Loeng Fa Heoi" (惠陽梁化墟 Huiyang Liang Huaxu). Among the students were Cheung Lai Chun, Lam Hap's younger brother Lam Qing Yuan (林慶元 Lin Qingyuan), his nephew Lam Yiu Quai (林耀桂 Lin Yaogui), Lam Wun Sin (林煥先 Lin Huanxian), Lam Caan Gwong (林燦光 Lin Canguang), and others. Of the teaching of his master Lam Hap, Cheung Lai Chun took into his Pak Mei the form of Ying Jow Nim Kiu (鷹爪黏橋).

Cheung later met Lin Sang and was unable to best him in friendly matches. Lin showed him the techniques of darting fingers (鏢指 biu tze), one "phoenix eye" (鳳眼 fong ngaan) punch, and "monk disrobing technique" (迫馬羅漢脫袈裟 baak ma lo hon tyut gaa saa) (which this move comes from the ancient Rou Quan sets from Songshan Shaolin). He asked to meet Lin's teacher, Jok Fat Yan, who was 92 years old, and was staying at the Gwong Hau Temple, and petitioned him to be accepted as a disciple. After three years the old sifu taught him Kao Bo Teaw (九步推), Sip Pat Mo Kjauw (十八摩橋), and maybe other forms. Cheung Lai Chun then became the first man to introduce the Pak Mei style into South China. Cheung Lai Chun not only excelled in kungfu but also in Chinese herbal medicine: bone setting and such, meditation, and making the body impervious to pain. ater he returned to Guangdong. On his way he went to the Toi San District (台山 Taishan) and stayed there for two years. After several years of living and teaching Pak Mei in several villages he returned to Guangzhou. In some villages in the Guangdong province there are still tances of his "early Pak Mei". Many times the forms look a bit different but they mostly have the same names and principles.

Within Pak Mei can be found the four principles of Fou (Float), Chum (Sink), Tun (Swallow), and Tou (Spit) common in the Southern Chinese martial arts and also found in Karate. Unique to Bak Mei is its classification of the following 6 powers: biu (thrusting), chum (sinking), tan (springing), fa (neutralizing), tung, and chuk. Pak Mei is a very effective style that uses powerful strikes and a triangular foot work common to many southern arts like Dragon style and Wing Chun. Although Bak Mei seems very external and powerful, it is not a truly hard style. The principle use both yin and yang to combine soft and hard. Power release is executed upon contact only. Much of Bak Mei's power comes from the back and is often utilized by their famous phoenix eye punch. Strikes are often aimed for softer areas or pressure points instead of smashing style blows that can be found in Hung Gar and other styles. This system uses a combination of straight and circular attacks but the circular attacks are not as great as those of Choy Lee Fut but can come from various angles. Training can be very intense utilizing body conditioning and weight training. Strikes are fast and lethal and launched from a solid even weight distributed stance, which is wider than Wing Chun, and utilizes a 50/50 stance work.

Some of the basic forms taught by Cheung Lai Chuen include:
Jik bo kune (Straight Step Fist), Sup ji kune (Cross Pattern or 10 Step fist), Ying jow ling kiu (Eagle claw), Saam mun kune (3 Door Fist), Gau bo tui (9 Step Push), Sup bak moir kiu (18 Deflecting Palms), Mang Fu Tjoe Lin (猛虎出林) (or Mon fu ja lum) (Ferocious Tiger Comes Emerges from Forest) - which was a set that Cheung developed himself.

Cheung developed Jik Bo to better teach the body movements and stepping patterns. Sub Jee is also usually considered a basic form that contains many of Pak Mei's key principles. The two main sets that Cheung learned from the old monk, Jok Fat Wan, were the Gau bo tui and the Sup bak mor Kiu. Originally, people first learned Jik Bo and then these two sets. Weapon sets include spear, staff (long pole), broad swords, bench, chain, and various other weapons.


Lum (Lam) Yiu-Kwai and Cheung Lai Cheun were known as "the Two Tigers of East River". Also, from the speculation out there, the Lum Family (LYK’s father Lum Ching Yuan, and uncle Lum Hop) studied some forms or a system called Sam Bo Tui (3 Step Push) from the "Hoi Fung" (a place name) Monk (who IKF names as “Huang Nian Jiao”). This same Monk taught a man named "Liang Hua Su Ren" who taught CLC. CLC also learned from LYK's uncle Lum Hop. A Monk named Tai Yuk, who taught Lung Ying Mo Chiao Style, as well (at Lau Fou Shen) to LYK.

Relationship to Chu Gar:

From the magazine articles out there on Chu Gar (written by Gene Chen and Paul Whitrod), they say Lao Sui learned his Art from a Wong Fook Gao (who was also born in Wai Yeung - Huang Nian Jiao and Wong Fook Gao are the same name with different pronunciations). All three also learned from a "Chung Yel Jung" - the Poison Snake, in Hong Kong. Therefore, we have 3 kung-fu brothers, with a possible 4 shared teachers. Lam Yiu-Kwai (Lum Yil Gruw), came to HK during the 2nd WW. And stayed and taught for a few years, then he came back to HK to settle at 1958. Cheung Lai Chung settled in HK with his 3 sons only at late 40s. Although he had been to HK many times before and was a close friend of Lau Soi. Lau Soi went to HK during the 1910s where he started teachings in Shar Gay Van in HK island. His birth place is called Kwoon Yum Kwok in Wai Yeung, Guangdong Province.)

Dog (Guo Quan) style boxing and ground fighting. Many people consider Dog Boxing to have originated in the Southern Shaolin Temple. Some say its creator was the famous martial teacher and nun, Wu Mei. From Wu Mei it was passed to Miao Jin Hua. Miao, another woman, taught her son: Fang Shi Yu who make a hybrid style containing Dog Boxing and Hua Quan. After the Southern Shaolin temple was burned down, Fang did as many others and escaped. He went to Yong Chun, then Da Tian, then to Guan Yan Shi Temple known at the time as Zhu Yuan Shi. Fang started teaching at this temple. Thereafter Dog Boxing became a monk's style for generations. One of its students was the monk Hui Kai. In his wandering Hui Kai visited Fujian and Guangdong. He taught one student, Zheng Yi Shan, who was a native of Nan Tai, Lao Ya Zhou county. Zheng did not pass on the art to many but after an incident force him to flee to Yong Chuan he did teach one Zhuang Zi Shen.

A completely different legend traces Dog Boxing to a Bai Lian Si Temple near the Southern Shaolin Temple. Nuns at White Lotus studied methods invented by the martial genius Qi Ji Guang (perhaps Tai Tzu Quan) and also dog boxing. This continued into the Qing Dynasty until a nun, by the name of 'mother Si Yue' learned the art then, after the Shaolin temple was burned down, went to Yong Chuan - Yong Qin - Fu Qing - and Fu Zhou. She stayed with one family in particular in Yong Qin and she gave them the art. Once it was in the Chen family it became a family treasure. It passed from one grandmother to Chen Yi who killed a bandit and had to flee to Fu Zhou.

Southern Mantis:

The Southern Mantis style has an interesting history. It was originally a collection of techniques used by the Ming royal family, who fled south after the Manchu invasion in 1644 AD. The style name was changed to Southern Mantis to hide it from the Manchu spies. It was probably a derivative of Northern Shaolin Practice, was established as the official martial art of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and was originally taught only to members of the Ming royal family, who were blood relatives of the Song Dynasty's Zhao (Chao/Chow) family. Perhaps the Chu family practiced the martial arts handed down to them from their relatives the Zhao family, famous for their Tai Tzu Quan and Monkey sets.

After the Shaolin temples were closed down, the surviving Mings went to the Juke Lum (Bamboo Forest Temple) and others went to areas just outside the Chinese border, where they most likely hid as the local Hakka (northern guests), and their style became known as Hakka Quan. Those that stayed at Juke Lum taught their style to monk Sam Dart, who developed the forms that are now known as Southern Mantis. This style is a close range fighting style, with rapid phoenix eye fist attacks to the pressure points. They maneuver from a back leaning stance that shuffles with a sliding step, and don`t withdraw their strikes after completion. It relies heavily on speed of execution and much deep internal power through chi circulation. There are no blocking movements, nstead redirection is made to set up the opponent for a barrage of strikes.


written by Fernando Blanco


The Chu Gar style legend mentions Tang Chan, (his real name was Chu Fook Too or Chu Fook To), who belonged to the Ming Imperial court (1) as one of this rebels that emigrated to the Southern temples.

At the Fujian temple (located in the Nine Little Lotus Mountains) the monks and rebels shortened the time it took to master the boxing styles from 10 years to 3 years with the purpose of train quickly the fighters to overthrow the Ching rulers and restore the Ming dynasty. The Chu Gar legend says that Chu Fook Too became abbot in the Fujian temple and changed his name to "Tung Sim" (anguish) due to his deep anguish and hatred for the Ching's reign of terror and suffering. In the style's legend he was the person that developed the Southern Praying Mantis style.

The monks (or Chu Fook Too himself) developed kung fu fighting styles that were faster to learn, based on close range fighting, designed to defeat a martial art skilled opponent (Manchu soldiers and Imperial Guard) with fast, powerful chains of attacks that left no time for counter-attacks. If we take as an example of those styles the Southern Praying Mantis one, we will see that it is a way of boxing developed with one purpose in mind: destroying the enemy. Restore the Ming; overthrow the Ching, was the primary purpose of the Southern Praying Mantis and the slogan of the day. It was violence of the Manchu rulers as they hunted down and destroyed revolutionaries of the Ming dynasty that caused Southern Praying Mantis to develop into a direct, deadly fighting style --- destroy the enemy before being destroyed.


The Jew (Chu, Chiao, Ju, Choi, Tsoi, Gee in Toishan, Zhu in Mandarin etc., all variations of the same name!) royal family was descendant of the Sung Dynasty by bloodline, and their members were by uncles and cousins related to the Ming Dynasty royal family (2)

The Jew Gar (Royal Family style) was a collection of techniques used by the Ming royal family. Emigrated Monks and rebels worked in the Fujian temple to develop a new style based on those techniques, but following their new concepts (no fancy movements, few forms to be learnt in a three year period, etc.). They created the new style combining the Northern Jew Gar techniques with the Southern Five Animals style. Therefore the new style has a southern flavor, but the remnant from the Chiao Northern family style is the phoenix fist punch, it is used in many northern styles, especially in the military ones (it is considered the hidden or special fist of some of these styles).

This style had at that time three forms and the name was changed to Praying Mantis to hide it from the Manchu spies. It was called mantis hoping to trick the Manchu guards making them think that the style was the same as the more popular Northern Shandong Praying Mantis. If the manchu soldiers knew that they were practicing the Ming royal family style, then they of course would be surely killed.

Later on, the south Shaolin temples where also destroyed and the surviving monks and rebels dispersed again. This original Jew Gar (already known at that time as Praying Mantis) split in various branches. The style was kept secretly during generations by the Hakka Chinese.

The main branches of Southern Praying Mantis are:
* Chu Gar ( 朱家 ; Chu family) / Chow Gar ( 周家 ; Chow family) – offshoot of Chu Gar
* Kwong Sai Jook Lum ( 江西竹林 ; Jiangxi Bamboo Forest)
* Iron Ox ( 鐵牛 )
* Hakka Nan Tang Lang

A common antecedent can be surmised not only from their similarities but also from the fact that they all share a common routine, Sarm Bo Jin / San Bu Jian (Three Step Arrow). (Another Southern Chinese martial art, Three Arrow One Way style, also practices a set that is very similar to Three Step Arrow.) However, the genealogies of these branches are not complete enough to trace them to a single common ancestor.

Chu Gar 朱家 - Zhu Jia or Zhou Jia. Also known as Chu Gar Gao (Chu family religion).

Rebels and Shaolin monks went to another (Shaolin ?) temple in southern China, where one of them (Wong Dao Yun), circa 1800, taught the original Southern Mantis style to Chow Ah-Nam( 周亞南 ), a Hakka who as a boy left his home in Guangdong Province for medical treatment at the Southern Shaolin Monastery in Fujian Province where, in addition to being treated for his stomach ailment, he was trained in the martial arts and eventually created Southern Praying Mantis, who added more forms to the original three and founded the Chu Gar Southern Mantis. He was also the first person to teach the style outside the temple.

Chow Ah-Nam in turn taught it to Lau Shui, 劉瑞 / 劉水, who was responsible for bringing Chow Gar from China to Hong Kong. One of his best students, Ip Shui, changed the pronunciation of Chu to Chow Gar 周家 as a result of a dispute over the proper dialectic pronunciation, establishing what is currently known as Chow Gar. Only the kinship between the Chow and Chu family branches can be verified as their most recent common ancestor, Lau Shui ( 劉瑞 , 劉水 ﹞ , died in 1942, comparatively recently.

Chu Gar Southern Praying Mantis tradition contends that the Hakka descend from loyalists of the Ming Dynasty who fled south when it was overthrown by the Qing Dynasty. The Chu family branch attributes its art to Chu Fook-To, who created Southern Praying Mantis as a fighting style for opponents of the Manchu Qing Dynasty (1644–1912) that overthrew the Han Chinese Ming royal family (1368–1644) of which he was a member. According to the Chu family branch, because Chu took refuge there, the Qing destroyed the original Shaolin Monastery in Henan, forcing Chu to flee to the Southern Shaolin Monastery in Fujian.

 Kwong Sai Jook Lum 江西竹林 or Zhu Lin Shi Tang Lang Quan

The Kwong Sai Jook Lum style traces its origins to the temple Jook Lum Gee on Mt. Longhu ( 龍虎山 ) in Kwong Sai, where it was created in the early 19th century by one of the monks, Som Dot. In the mid-19th century, Som Dot passed the art on to fellow monk Lee Siem, who would visit Guangdong to the south and teach the art to lay practitioners there. One of Lee's students from Guangdong, Chung Yu-Chang, would return with him to Kwong Sai to complete his training at Jook Lum Gee. Circa 1900, Chung opened his first martial arts school and traditional Chinese medicine clinic in Bao'an County in Píngshān ( 坪山 ) Town, which his eventual successors Wong Yook-Kong and Lum Wing-Fay were natives of. Wong would be responsible for the preservation of Kwong Sai Jook Lum Praying Mantis within China and Lum (also referred to as "Lum Sang", literally "Mister Lum," out of respect by his successors) responsible for its dissemination without.

Also known as Kwang Sai Jook Lum ( Bamboo Forest) or kwong sai jook lum gee tong long pai, also known as mui fa tong long. There are conflicting stories about the origin of Bamboo Forest. Although Chu Gar and Chow Gar masters do not agree in the original name of the style both Southern Praying Mantis branches do agree when they talk about the Bamboo Forest history, mentioning that it comes from the Lau Sui teachings. Chow gar masters say that the Bamboo Forest creator was a friend of Lau Sui that came to stay with him in China and later in Hong Kong, and after Lau Sui died, he formed his own style. The Chu Gar masters say that Kwong Sai Jook Lum Southern Mantis was created when a student of Lau Sui in Hong Kong wanted to make a movie in which the South Mantis would be defeated. As Lau Sui did not approve this, the student broke away and created the Bamboo Forest style. Neither the Chu Gar, not the Chow Gar exponent mention the name of this supposed student of Lau Sui. Supporting this theory they say that is the reason why the Bamboo Forest style has less forms that the Chu Gar style, the student simply did not learn all the style's forms. I consider this an inaccurate theory made up to discredit the Southern Mantis sister style (sad to say this, but it is a common practice in the Chinese Martial Arts).

The history closer to the reality is that some rebel Mings and monks from the South Shaolin temple moved to the Jook Lum temple after the destruction of the Fujian one. In the Jook Lum temple they taught the original Southern Praying Mantis to the monk Sam Dart (the Abbot of the temple). Sam Dart expanded the original three forms, adding some new ones, founding the Zhu Lin Shi Tang Lang Quan (Bamboo Forest Temple Praying Mantis) about 1835 AD. According to the Jook Lum legend (Lam Sang See), the original source of this style of Kung Fu came from Shaolin Kung Fu and was based on the root of Shaolin Gum Jung Jow Dit Bo Yee.

Additionally, Jook Lum is probably closer to the original Fujian style. Most Fujian/Guangdong arts seem to have only a very small number of core forms, with expansion happening later as they spread. Jook Lum still has that "core" system of forms (8, 18, 108), that would be similar to the Chu Gar's root.

Chung Yel Chung

After his training in the Jook Lum Temple, in 1910's Chung Yel Chung came back to Ping Som to open his first Kung Fu & Medicine Clinic. This is the first time the system title, Gung Sai Jook Lum Gee Tong Long Pai, was used. From then until World War II, the system became very popular and was nicknamed the Hakka Kuen.

Wong Yook Kong or Wong Yoke Gon

Wong Yoke Gon, in Ping Son province, and Lam Sang, in Kai Jung province, inherited the Jook Lum system. While Lam Sang moved to Hong Kong, Wong Yook Kong remained in Continental China, being the origin of the Jook Lum mainland China branch.

Lum Sang or Lum Wing Fay

At around 13 years of age, Lum Sang began training in the southern praying mantis system of kung-fu from then master Chung Yel Jung. (Lum Sang had already trained for many years in other systems by this time.) Lum Sang trained diligently for a number of years under master Chung Yel Jung until grandmaster Lee Sum See arrived at Chung Yel Jung's door. Grandmaster Lee Sum See informed, his student (Chung Yel Jung) that he was enroute to build a temple and asked that Lum Sang accompany him. A boy of 15 or 16 years of age would prove to be great help in building a temple and also supply him with a traveling companion, Lee Sum See suggested. Chung Yel Jung respectfully complied to his master's request and Lum Sang found himself enroute to build a temple with his sigung. For Lum Sang, training directly under the grandmaster would prove to be a golden opportunity. The time Lum Sang spent with Lee Sum See (the "Old Monk" as Lum Sang called him) both building the temple and training would run six years. During this period Lum Sang would achieve an extremely high level of kung-fu, including training in the southern praying mantis chi kungs (of which there are many whose purposes vary). But the training and friendship between these truly remarkable kung-fu men would come to an abrupt halt during the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong in 1942, when upon his teacher's insistence, he found himself enroute to Liverpool ( England). While in Liverpool, England, Lum Sang trained the (hakka) dock workers in his most treasured art. Still in his mid thirties Lum Sang found his way to NYC Chinatown, he brought the art to New York ( USA) in the 40's. During his 44 years in the USA Lum Sang accepted hundreds of students and 22 disciples, all Chinese (he never accepted non-Chinese as students or disciples). In New York, he began quietly teaching the Jook Lum Tang Lang at the Son Jung Woi (Hakka Chinese Association). Later at the request of another Chinese American Association interpreter, Lum Sang began teaching as chief instructor to the members of that association (Hip Sing Tong). Lion Dance and Kung-fu instruction was the method used by the associations to recruit new members, and hundreds of Chinatown's populace became students of Lum Sang during the 1950's and 60's. During this time Lum Sang chose from among the hundreds of Chinese students, his first disciple, Wong Bak Lim. Seven others were then chosen and accepted as "enter the gate" disciples (Ah Leung, Ah Hing, Ah Eng, Ah Wong, Ah Lee, Ah Kai, Ah Sun). These first eight disciples became the family of Lum Sang Sifu and the whole group would stand before the Ancestors and the Shun Toi (altar of the art) and make lifelong promises. They would occupy the third floor of #3 Pearl Street, NYC Chinatown for years to follow.

Although, at the time, ordinary circumstances of survival were more difficult than the yearly travel and celebrations, each of the Lum Sang's disciples supported their father/teacher and each other with daily jobs, often at menial wages. Each individual's money was laid on the kitchen (bread) table for the teacher's (and each others) disposal. With another war ( Vietnam), the Lum Sang saw his first family change and adapt to survive. As the remaining disciples went to war or followed the fate prepared for them, he may have felt homeless? Circumstances, determination or fate left the Dai Sihing (senior elder brother) Wong Bak Lim to follow the tradition given him and he introduced the Lum Sang to the NYC Chinese Freemason Association in 1963.

From the NYC Chinese Freemasons, the Late Lum Sang Sifu accepted a second family (in New York Chinatown's Hip Sing Tong) among his many kungfu students; (Ah Chen, Ah Mark, Ah Lee, Ah Chen, Ah Bing, Ah Louie, Ah Kin), and they too stood before the Ancestors and the Shun Toi (altar of the art) and made lifelong promises (creating their future). A few years later (some year between 1965 and 1968) Lum Sang, after closing his hands (retirement), left the USA for Taiwan, where he lived until his return to NYC Chinatown in the early 1980's. Since that time Lum Sang has traveled extensively, returning often to the United States. After finally returning to the USA in 1981, Lum Sang accepted from among a number of students five disciples; Ah Wong, Ah Lee, Ah Soo, Ah Eng and Ah Moy. Most of his first and second family of disciples and many of his students and friends would see him regularly in the years before his death. Particularly, a disciple, Ah Lee, kindly assisted him in his last years. Lum Sang died in 1991.

Gin Foon Mark

Gin Foon Mark was born in Toison, a village near Canton (in 1927), he comes from a family of four generations of high ranking kung fu experts. His instruction in kung fu began at the age of five under the supervision of his uncles and grandfather. At the age of nine he was admitted to the Shaolin temple at Chun San and studied with monk Moot Ki Fut (a.k.a. Ki Fut Sai) and other outstanding masters. He received instruction in Sil Lum (Shaolin Boxing), White Crane, Eagle Claw, Leopard and Tiger. He also studied in the Hoi Jung Temple in Macao (where he learnt a version of Tiger Claw). In this monasteries, Gin Foon Mark was schooled in Ming Kung (self-defense and healing arts), Shin Kung (spirit Kung Fu), and Chi Kung (applied to the use of internal power for martial arts, what included Iron Shirt, Iron Palm, Cotton Palm and Dim Mak).

In the United States he studied Southern Praying Mantis under Lum Sang for ten years. When Lum Sang closed hands (retired) he designated Gin Foon Mark to be his successor in accordance with established tradition. Gin Foon Mark's teaching career began in 1947 when the trade association of the New York Chinatown requested that he instruct their young members. Gin Foon Mark opened the style to non-Chinese in 1968 and in August, 1969 he appeared on the cover of Black Belt Magazine. Bruce Lee was one Gin Foon Mark's students. He was so impressed with the effectiveness of Praying Mantis in combat, that he adopted many of its principles in creating Jeet Kune Do. In 1979 Master Mark went back to China. During his stay he studied Six Sounds Qigong under a famous Tai Chi and Qigong Master, simply known as "Old Master", in Beijing. Gin Foon Mark has opened three kwoons in the USA ( New York, Philadelphia and Minneapolis) and he has also taught at Temple University and trained the police in self-defense techniques. Gin Foon Mark regularly attends the annual International tournaments and exhibitions throughout the USA and continues to teach Chinese and non-Chinese alike in St. Paul, MN.

Iron Ox 鐵牛

The Iron Ox branch is named after its founder, Iron Ox Choi (Choi Dit-Ngau), who fought in the Boxer Rebellion (1898-1900). The only system of southern mantis that has no link to Chu/Chow Gar is Iron Ox. The style was/is completely separate from Chu/Chow Gar. But note also, in the Chow Gar system a form from the Iron Ox system is taught. So there has been trade in techniques but the origins differ.

Hakka Southern Mantis Boxing

When we talk particularly about the Southern Praying Mantis, the Hakka Southern mantis looks a lot closer to the Wu Zu Quan (Go Chu Kune) root than the Southern mantis that comes from Chu Gar and Jook Lum. Southern mantis looks like a refined version of the Wu Zu Quan movements. At the same time, the stances, footwork and weighting are different when we compare the Jook Lum to the Chu Gar. Many times it has been said that Fujian Bai He Quan (Fujian White Crane boxing) and Wu Zu Quan are the origin of the Japanese Karate. It is true that Wu Zu Quan style has exactly the same Sanchin form that the Uechi Ryu and Goju Karate styles (with some differences in the tension, and the Chinese version includes two-man version). But Uechi Ryu has a form called Som Bo Gin (Three Arrow Fist), the most famous southern praying mantis form, and both form have similar movements and also the Uechi Ryu foot movements mimic those of Southern Mantis. In addition most Okinawan and Japanese forms follow the same numerology, such as, San Chin Kata (3 steps), Seipa Kata (18), Sanseiru kata (36) and Pechurin Kata (108). May be these similarities between Karate and Southern Mantis are due to the common origin in the Fujian temple, but may be was Southern Praying Mantis, and not Wu Zu Quan the style that originated the Okinawan Karate.

We find a different evolution in the Chinese Martial arts that emigrated from China with the Chinese communities to different Asian South East regions. Let's see two different cases. In the first one we find a considerable influence of the indigenous arts on the Chinese Martial Arts we find today in the Indonesian Archipelago. The Kun Tao style (translated as "fist way"), trained by the Hokkien (4) Chinese descents, has a strong influence of Indonesian styles (Silat, Pukulan, etc.) On the contrary, some of the old Chinese cultural and religious practices, as well as the older Chinese traditions are more prominent in Malaysia and Singapore than in China. Many of these practices are quite specific to Cantonese and Fujian culture. Most Chinese came to that area in the late 1800s and the Malaysian Chinese segregated themselves. Malay is not spoken, and very few Malay things are found. They are all Chinese communities and maintained the natural course of development. One of the main Chinese communities in Malaysia is the hakka one. Some other descendants of the Ming royal family supporters, already known as Hakka, moved to Malaysia. They continued in Malaysia to develop southern mantis in what is known as Chuka kune or hukka, which also uses the phoenix-eye fist but different stances from the Chinese mainland southern mantis. As a proof of the common origin of this style with the two mentioned before we could mention that the Malaysian Chinese Hakka call their style "Chu Gar Chong Gar Chuen" translated Chu's family Middle Range that is the same Jew Gar style !!! The style legend transmitted by oral tradition says that a Buddhist nun hiding out after the burning of the Fukien Shaolin temple was the founded the style. Her name was Leow Fah Chih Koo and she passed an amalgamation of what she know to two sisters who's family was killed. They were also part of the royal ming family: Chu Miao Eng and Chu Miao Luan. They passed the art only to one disciple: Ooh Ping Kwan, who passed it to Lee Siong Pheow (1886-1960). Currently one of the most famous masters of the Chuka kune style is Sifu Cheong Cheng Leong Later the Hakka Praying mantis would be one of the sources for the creation of the Qwan-Ki-Do (Vietnamese style). Tracing the Qwan Ki Do lineage we discover that the founder of the style (Pham Xuan Tong) studied under Chau Quan Ky, that was one of the Hakka (He Gia) population that migrated to Vietnam in 1936. And Chau Quan Ky studied under the tutelage of his uncle Chau Nam the southern praying mantis.


The forms bases their learning on sections of movements rather than a complete long form. There are unique ways of learning these forms. In-stead of learning one long form you learn sections of movements. Each section may consist of 8 moves, when you have completed all the different varieties of sections. This in turn gives a much better feeling, and could be seen as a form of shadow boxing. It will serve to give your own expression to the system. By learning to change to circumstances you evolve. So even though the Southern Mantis is a traditional system it does not lack the creativity. Nothing becomes stagnant and predictable in this system. Traditional system was created by humans too. and can only be bogged down by someone who does not share or understand its methods.

Some forms of the Mantis system are quite short and consist of only small amounts of movements. Students learn these basic maneuvers in the many 'forms, individual, and two man, which incorporate all the hand and foot techniques of the system. Mastery of three techniques is more useful than knowing nine and not being able to use them. As a result students often practice for several years only to learn the basic forms. Though each form has a two-man breakdown in which students try to develop the ability to "feel", "adhere" or "redirect" power, they are also broken down into step-by-step basic movements for self-defense. Breakdown forms range from two to five-men situations and train the students' hands to react instinctively in free fighting. Each form has a 2 or more person breakdown, allowing the student to learn the meaning and practical application of moves. The way how the forms are taught makes difficult to differentiate the forms from the exercises, that is the reason why there are so many differences in the names and amount of forms reported by the different branches and even by different instructors in the same branch of Southern Praying Mantis. Let's try to establish a list of forms in each one of the different branches:

1) Chu Gar

It is supposed that Lao Sui only taught as forms the following four sets:

* Som Bo Jin (Three step arrow punch)

* Som Jin Yu Kiu (Three arrow punches and shake off the bridge)

* Som Bond Ging Tan

* Fut Sao (Buddha Hand)

But the Chow Gar currently lists as forms much more of the style's sets of movements, including a bunch of chi/nei gungs. Let's see the detail:

Chow Gar (Ip Shui's Chu Gar)

There are ten basic forms, and then each form has three different levels. All together, in total, there are twenty five different forms. They're not long. For example, the difference between the second and the third form is TWO new movements.

The forms are the same, except that you add moves as you progress. The only difference between Sahm Gin Yiu Gee (Three Steps Shake Off The Bridge), and the following form is that the latter add a couple of movements. You have to train the form to understand how it works. The different levels mentioned in the forms is not related to the forms themselves changing, in terms of the movements, but of the student developing different kinds of 'geng', strength, within the form. For example, there's what we call chao geng, which means the power is rough, and then you come to no geng, which is hidden, power, and finally you have the mixed stage, geng geng, which means you use short, sharp contractions and expansions of power. You can learn those three different kinds of form, but you can only develop the essence of them through hard training.

These are the forms we currently find in the system:

* Som Bo Jin (Three step arrow punch)

* Yee Kup Som Bo Jin

* Sup Baat Yau Loong (Eighteen Swimming Dragons)

* Bo Sim Sau (Searching for the insect)

* Som Jin Yu Kiu (Three arrow punches and shake off the bridge)

* Som Bo Pai Kui (Three step slicing bridge)

* Som Bo Pin Kui (Three step parallel bridge arm)

* Yurn Yearn Kum La Sau (Ying Yang seizing hands)

* Fut Sao (Buddha Hand)

* Tow Mo Kuen (Breathing mist form)

* Sup Jee Jau Cow Dow Sau (Cross hands claws continuous form)

* Som Bo Loi Deng Choy

* Som Bond Ging Tan

* Jik Bo

* Say Mun Gao Choy

* Ying Chum Sao

* Som Gin Yu Sao

* Say Mun Bao Zhang

* Som Yu Som Fung

* Gan Ton Ging

* Chut Bo Tui

* Som Gong Bo

* Sup Bot Mo Jung

2) Hakka Boxing

* Som Bo Jin (Three step arrow punch)

* Som Bo Jin (two person version)

* Say Moon San Sao (Four gate single hand form)

* Tong Long Chut Dong (Praying mantis coming out of the cave form)

* Boon Ben Lin (Half lotus form)

3) Zhu Lin Shi Tang Lang Quan

Traditionally, the sifu Lum Sang only taught, the forms Som Bo Jin, Sup Bot Dim and Yup Bot Ling Bot and their two Man counterparts; but, as in the Chu Gar branch, we currently find more forms taught in the system:

* Som Bo Jin (Three steps arrow)

* Lah Sao 1 (First Loose Hands) 2 Man Form

* Som Bo Jin (Three steps arrow) 2 Man Form

* Lah Sao 2 (Second Loose Hands) 2 Man Form

* Sup Bot Dim (Eighteen Points) Single Man Form

* Sup Bot Dim (Eighteen Points) 2 Man Form

* Chut Dim Siem Kuen (Seven Point Monk Lee's Fist) 2 Man Form

* Moi Fa ( Plum Flower or Five Fists) 2 Man Form

* Yup Bot Ling Bot (108) 2 Man Form

Now that we have sorted most of the forms in the different branches we will see some details about the most important forms in the system:

Som Bo Jin (3 step arrow punch)

The basic form and the corpus of the style, we find it in all the different branches (it is the "bung bo" of the Southern Praying Mantis). It is a form that concentrates on the development of Chi power. This form goes into strengthening the body.

3 step arrow punch is simple by technique, but it is very hard by practice; through this form you will begin to attain the gen powers. For example, Som Bo Jin works on the Phoenix fist, and it is through this form that the fingers are strengthened so that the phoenix fist becomes a much more solid force with a piercing power (finger power is known as "tsee lik"). This form is done slowly, and the arms are always in front and the punching is done at a short distance of about 5 inches, it is from this practice that power can be attained at short distance. Even though the first form is basic, you could say that it's one of the most advanced forms as well.

To make another comparison with more popular styles we could say it's like Sil Lum Tao in Wing Chun. It's the first thing you learn but the appreciation of it only occurs over a period of time. In-depth study of this form teaches you the correct footwork, and the proper position of your techniques. The three step arrow form is recognized by kung fu masters as a chi kung formula which guides the breath to the lower abdomen while also developing inch-power.

Stepping, gathering and releasing power in short explosive strikes and borrowing force are the important points of this form. During the training of this single man form, one should train "fic shu" and mantis chi sao (fic shu is a series of continuous hand motions to increase fluidity, relaxation and flexibility in the hand and arms).

Once the single man Som Bo Jin form has become skillful, one next learns the two man "breakdown " of Som Bo Jin. This is a two man form stressing basic skills of stepping, borrowing force, and striking in unison with a partner. It differs from most other style's two man forms in that it is very sticky and contact oriented. The two practitioners hands, arms and legs are hardly separated once the form is begun. The two man Som Bo Jin is the application of all the principles and philosophy in a realistic way.

In the Zhu Lin Shi Tang Lang Quan, Lum Sang taught Som Bo Jin as the first form and the foundation of the system. Roger Hagood has stated that this form is often mistranslated "Three Step Arrow", although the actual meaning is "three steps forward".

1.Chow Gar (Ip Shui's Chu Gar)

Yee Kup Som Bo Jin

The second stage of Sarm Bo Jin, used to develop the Gen power.

Sup Baat Yau Loong (18 Swimming Dragons)

The 18 Swimming Dragons are part of the intermediate stage of the Chows Mantis system, they are a selection of 18 singular movements, their actions are seen as a Chinese Celestial Dragon twisting and turning. When you have completed all 18 movements you then practice them by changing into any of the 18 moves in any particular order. The idea of the 18 Swimming Dragons is to avoid the strengths and powers of your opponent, to finally land a precise blow of your own.

When the training in Southern Mantis starts the students tend to think that the it is a hard physical practice system (see the training exercises section). This is totally the wrong impression, and could not be further from the truth. However the beginning stage is tough training, as the student goes through the Southern Mantis stages of training and development he begins to flow with his conditioning. The 18 Swimming Dragons are simple relaxed movements of the Chows Mantis System. By practice and putting them to use, will make you harder to hit and get hold of, you learn to tackle your opponent by avoiding his attacks, and because you are twisting like Chinese Dragon. your opponent finds this frustrating until you land an attack of your own.

The 18 Swimming Dragons teach one to go up, down, left and right, weaving in and out causing the opponent to miss with his attacks. These movements apply themselves to the avoidance and divertion of your foe's execution of movements, of course your own foundation must be firm to use such relaxed moves. Overall they could remind someone of a boxer who bobs and weaves. as it did me many years ago, with the head and body going side to side etc.

There is grabbing and pulling situations when exercising the 18 movements. It bases itself on free form, flowing into one movement to the next. Also one has to be cool in the application of the 18 movements, by putting yourself in a better position and your opponent in a more awkward one. This is done by controlling him and his balance so he looses his sense of gravity, so the fight is completely under your control.

This is the soft side of the Southern Mantis system, the first nine dragons teach body mobility, the monkey footwork, and the last nine dragons teach techniques like sweeping dragon, turning dragon, plus the Tow Mo Loong (breathing dragon Hay Gung).

Bo Sim Sau (Searching for the insect)

A direct translation would be "Searching for the insect". The insect, refers to the pressure points It consists of thirty sections of footwork and hand movements, with each section having five different movements, and it is the longest form in the Chow Gar system.

Som Gin Yu Kiu (Three arrow punches and shake off the bridge)

Yui Kui means to shake off, and this form teaches how Yui Kui works in the Chow Gar system as a joint locking technique aiming at the wrist points.

Som Bo Pai Kui (Three step slicing bridge)

Pai Kui is the Southern Mantis slicing technique, the form has hidden Dim Mak techniques.

Som Bo Pin Kui (Three step parallel bridge arm)

This form in the Chow Gar system is renown because of the Pin Kui technique, that cuts across the vital Dim Mak points, hence the name of the form.

Yurn Yearn Kum La Sau (Ying Yang seizing hands)

Ying Yang or opposite forces are much in play in the form which include breaking techniques, and how to make your opponents limb easier to break by striking the Dim Mak points. There are many short range techniques in this form which is ideal for close-in fighting.

Fut Sao (Buddha Hand)

It is an advanced form showing the hidden dim mak points and the 12 different palm strikes to hit those dim mak points.

Tow Mo Kuen (Breathing mist form)

This Chow Gar Praying Mantis form is for close-in Dim Mak strikes

Sup Jee Jau Cow Dow Sau (Cross hands claws continuous form)

This form contains many different strikes including palms, claws, and Dim Mak techniques. It is an advanced form.

Som Bo Loi Deng Choy

This form teaches the Say Barn Lig (4 powers hand technique). It also includes hidden Dim Mak techniques.

2. Hakka Boxing:

Say Moon San Sao (Four gate single hand form)

Also known as Koy Moon, is taught by some branches of Hakka boxing as the first form of the system.

3. Zhu Lin Shi Tang Lang Quan

Lah Sao (Loose Hands)

Lah Sao (loose hands) is a short, medium and long range two man hand set with low kicks, high kicks and sweeping. Although the form is based on stickiness, there are three separations of the two men. Both sides must be learned by both men as one continuous "round" to complete the form.

Sup Bot Dim (18 Points)

Sup Bot Dim (Eighteen Points) includes, stepping, kicking, covering left, right, and center gates and striking low below the waist, all while attacking the nerves with short continuous explosive strikes. Also known as "Eighteen Buddha" form this set teaches vital point striking with the knuckles and fingertips in forward, left and right positions. Eighteen points two man form follows and the partners develop greater feeling, timing and sensitivity while learning where and how to strike the vital points with intent. Staff, broadsword, sword and sai may also be taught.

Chut Dim Siem Kuen (Seven Point Monk Lee's Fist)

This form was sometimes taught privately to those advanced students who had potential but weren't deemed acceptable by the Master to graduate the system. Unless one was asked and became an inner disciple by ceremony, traditionally his training would stop here. Only those who became personal disciples of the Master would continue their training further.

Moi Fa ( Plum Flower or Five Fists) 2 Man Form

It is four directional and includes the evasion of takedowns and sweeping. Next is the two man Moi Fa set where the skills are further refined. Moi Fa, follows and is a circular two man set teaching one to attack vital points below the navel.

Yup Bot Ling Bot (108)

It is the master's form, only taught to those who are formally accepted by the master. It is a two man form teaching 108 vital points (36 lethal - 72 paralyzing). Medicine is taught at this stage along with a spiritual gong fu (Shun Kung).

This sticky hand form teaches precision in attack, defense and counter attack of those vital areas. This skills are supported by the Monkey stepping (low). However, this training is not taught publicly. 108 has origin in symbolic Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. It represents the 36-72 Heavenly and Earthly spirits which complete nature.


There are eight basic weapons in the Southern Praying Mantis. There's the butterfly knives, the pole, the kwan dao, the spear, the dan dao, the gim, the iron ruler and the tiger fork. The style also has forms with other weapons like the walking stick and the bench, but the principal weapons of the system are the pole and the straight sword. The system has numerous weapon sets (qixie or hay hai). As we did in the bare hand forms we will classify the weapons forms according the different branches they belong to:

1) Chow Gar (Ip Shui's Chu Gar)

* Ng Hung Kwun (Five elements staff form)

* Five Elements (staff form)

* Duk say kwan or Duk Sheu Gun (Poison Snake Staff form).

* Bow sim kwan (staff form)

* Yellow Cow (staff form)

* Lau Soei Kwan (staff form). Supposedly sifu Lau Soei created this form himself. It is a short form, just half a dozen movements.

* Woo Dip Dow (Butterfly Knives)

* Kwan Do (Kwan Do form)

2) Hakka boxing

* Liu Tien Pan Kun (6 1/2 pt staff)

* Mei Hua Kun ( Plum flower staff)

* Sho Ho Chian (Neck locking long spear)

* Shih Sun Chian (13 pt. long spear)

* Chu Toh (Farmers hoe)

* Tze Mu Tau (Double butterfly knives)

* Tieh Cher (Iron rulers)

* Kun Twee Chai (Prearranged long stick sparring set)

3) Zhu Lin Shi Tang Lang Quan

* Butterfly Knife

* Broadsword

* Double broadwords

* Duk say kwan or Duk Sheu Gun (Poison Snake Staff form)


(Continued in next issue)

That's it for this issue! Click here to read article #15

Sal Canzonieri - http://www.bgtent.com/CMAQigongSchool/index.html

(c) 1997 / 2007 BGT ENT / Sal Canzonieri