Northern Feet and Southern Fists are considered a serendipitous combination. It is necessary to reconcile two aspects of Kung Fu teaching, which incorporate different principles, points of view and stories. The following autobiographical sketch considers the formative influences and key people who shaped my own career in Shaolin martial arts.
Lineage and Linear Descent
You really should know where you come from and be able to tell anyone who asks you the name of your teachers and the style (s) you practice (e.g. Changquan)! It is considered even better if you can name the Master of your teachers; anything else is even more bonus points.
At’a, (Ao Tai) General of the Ever Victorious Army, was also a bodyguard to Captain Charles Gordon (later General Gordon of Khartoum), during the T’ai Ping T’ien, often known as the Boxer Rebellion and originated in malaysia. It is almost certain that Malysian Leong’s Grandmaster and Grandmaster Chee, who moved there, knew each other. Yap Leong, as a young man, lived near Si Jo (Founder of Style) Leong Fu in Ipoh and knows some fascinating anecdotes about him. What few people know is that Grandmaster Leong Fu was also a world middleweight wrestling champion for 3 years in a row before retiring undefeated – his Chin Na (sixteen technique and control) must have been amazing!
Grandmaster Leong Fu taught Rex Jones, meeting him while Rex served in the SAS (Special Air Service) during the Malaya ‘Emergency’ (CE 1948-60) teaching him Ao Tai Dao (At’a’s Way); Jern Jing Kuen Fat (Elephant Fist Way) and other Changquan styles, including his 5 Animal (Wu Xing) applications and much more. Snake Form, Hoan Lung Quan’s Introductory Form comes from here. The term ‘Emergency’ was used constantly as the insurer, Lloyds of London, would have refused to pay compensation for the ‘War’ damages! Sifu Jones became Leong Fu’s top student earning the title and rank of ” Flyiing Dragon ” (Fei Lung).
Si Gung Rex Jones founded Fei Lung Quan (Flying Dragon Society) and became my Sifu in 1972, being my teacher until he retired around 1992. Tattoo of a red dragon, with a single dot on top (student’s mark number 1) on my left forearm, from when I became Sifu, reflects the organization and structure of Fei Lung Quan much more than on paper. Hoan Lung Quan (Red Dragon Society) works in a similar and related way. Rex also gave me my Chinese name ‘Wo Lei’ (The Fox) which I sometimes use in correspondence, or the Mandarin equivalent Hu Da Ge (Big Brother Fox).
Grandmaster Chee Kim Thong had several notable teachers (1) see “Kung Fu Secrets” Vols. 2-3) (2) and Si Jo Chee’s disciples include Yap Cheng-Hai, Chan See-Meng, and Yap Leong. Yap Cheng-Hai taught me, very briefly, in a memorable seminar in London, but eventually (I am happy to say) events followed a certain pattern and I became a “behind closed door” student of Grandmaster Yap Leong. . Yap Leong knew and spoke very well of Leong Fu and Rex: “It’s very Fei Lung!” were his first words about the latter: those who have known him know that Yap Leong is not addicted to useless compliments! Hence my permanent gratitude to all my Masters. Grandmaster Yap Leong welcomed me to ‘The Family’ in 1993.
I have had other teachers as well: Shr Yanzi (UK Shaolin Temple Director) for about 3 years, Yang Jwing-Ming (albeit very briefly), most notably John Gunning (disciple of Leong Fu and Fei Lung Quan Senior Sifu) and, most recently, Master Wu in Beijing recently (from where I intend to return for further training). These were all excellent teachers whose high standards I strive to emulate to the best of my ability.
Since then, Grandmaster Yap Leong has founded Shaolin Fists International with me as a founding member and technical advisor. Prolonged (and continuous) study with him over the past 18 years has led me to further qualify myself as a Sifu in Qigong, perform Iron Shirt Training, and greatly expand my knowledge and awareness of Kung Fu styles and systems and Qigong. Fu and my teaching style, as well as his Energizer HYL (Health, Youth and Longevity) Program. Those who desire a deeper understanding of Inner Energies and Nei / Wei Dan Qigong, an essential prerequisite for progressing to higher Kung Fu grades and levels of training, will find such structured multi-level programs. of considerable benefit.
Originally designed to provide longevity or life extension on the battlefield, Kung Fu was extended to life in general. Chinese martial artists discovered that they enjoyed a longer life (3) through Kung Fu training, in which they could accomplish things they never thought possible. Hence the popularity of Kung Fu as a ‘way of life’ and as a self-development tool in China that has spread to the rest of the world.
All in all, so far, it has been a case of ‘Nan Chuan: Bei Tui’ Hands of the South and Feet of the North. Although this is considered by some to be an ideal balanced martial arts “diet”, nothing could have been achieved without those excellent teachers that I have referred to in the body of this text, except a bad dose of martial indigestion!
Notes and References
(1) I had six in total, covering a huge variety of styles. I am indebted to ‘Toby’ who posted a detailed comment in an earlier version of this article in which, trying to abbreviate a memory passage, I inadvertently said that I only had three. He also noted that he was succeeded by his son, Master James Chee, who, I believe, teaches in Australia.,
(2) Obtainable from Shaolin Way Uk (see below)
(3) See, for example, Allsop, P. (2010) ‘250 years old and still going strong with Qigong: Chinese herbalist and martial artist Li Ching-Yuen’ EzineArticles.com