In 1992, Master Chan Tin Sang (1924-1993) - passed on his family style of Hakka (Longfist) Gongfu to me. In 1993, he was involved in a car accident in Sutton, which led to him developing further medical complications, and following a stroke – he passed away in St Helier Hospital. I received a scrap of paper with Chinese writing on in 1992 – confirming the transmission – which was formally confirmed by his widow –Mrs Chueng Yat Tai – in 2002. This type of time scale is not unknown with regards to traditional Chinese transmissions. I moved to permanently live in Sutton around 1996, and quietly set-up a small Gongfu Training Hall after first securing permission from the local Chinese clandestine societies operating in the area. Due to the respect that Master Chan Tin Sang was held, a) permission was granted (which means the training hall was acknowledged as truly representing traditional Chinese spiritual and martial culture), and b) we were granted ‘exemption’ status from paying the usual monthly ‘fees’ to these groups. This goes on all the time within Chinese culture throughout the West, with many Westerners being completely unaware of it.
As a consequence, many supposed Gongfu Training Halls – even those that are commercially successful and interviewed for publication in Eurocentric magazines and journals – are not acknowledged as ‘legitimate’ by the Chinese community these groups claim to represent (regardless of whether any Chinese people train in them). Even in modern China, although the influence of these clandestine associations no longer exists, the idea that there is ‘legitimate’ and ‘illegitimate’ representation of Chinese culture is still a very strong. Master Chan Tin Sang stated that if I decide to ‘teach’ in public (and if he is no longer alive), I am not allowed to lose any fight – be it in sparring or during a ‘honour’ fight (of which I have had many since). As I have taken on the leadership of the ‘Chan’ (陳) clan, I must represent all the ancestors going back thousands of years, and not let them or their descendants down! All opponents must either be taught and improved as both human-beings and martial artists - or ‘removed’ as a threat – end of story.
Many of those who read this (and were in our Training Hall in Sutton at any time since 1996) will know this to be true, as they witnessed the many fights (at the end of training sessions) that I was involved in. Fighting does not bother me at all, and I enjoy it as a physical, cultural and spiritual activity. I have no hatred in my heart whatsoever, and only cultivate love for existence. Insult me, my family, our friend, other people or our beliefs and I will deal with you in a firm, disciplined and ‘fair’ manner, in accordance with the law, and as a gentleman. Before this, you will have to survive one of our Ch’an Dao training sessions which have defeated professional fitness instructors, combat sports athletes as well as serving soldiers. If you doubt this to be true – we can start with a thousand squat kicks and see how well you fight after this! This is genuine Hakka gongfu and I suggest a quiet and humble approach whilst you build experience and strength.
Generally performed in groups of 50 - squat kicks condition the mind and the legs. If recovering from injury or inactivity, start slowly but exactly with groups of 10 (as this will also work the heart and lungs). The muscles (quadriceps) of the upper (front) leg will soon become fatigued, weakened and difficult to move. You must train through this experience with further movement, and use the other muscle sets of the legs to distribute the effort. As a conditoner for combat, squat kicks develop tremendous strength, power and endurance. A practitioner can hold a stance with strength, move with fluidity and kick with power. The bones, joints, tendons and muscle structures can absorb or deflect incoming blows with little or no damage. Squat kicks are an essential preparation for ruck sack running, and can be performed whilst holding dumb-bells, or with a free-weight bar held across the shoulders.
Starting from around 16 years of age with a ruck sack of around 15Ibs - 20Ibs - a practitioner should start running over various types of terrain, and for different distances at various times of the year. The point is to 'sweat' and a number of clothing layers should be worn. This practice is a combination of weight-lifting and running. As the body (and mind) strengthens, the weight should be slowly increased. As a grown man, the weight should reach 56Ibs (perhaps 40Ibs for a woman) - but temporary increases up to 76Ibs can be used for short periods. Distances should vary from 1.5 miles to 5 miles on paved roads, but it is also good to run on grass and occasionally on sand. Much longer distances can be used if running is replaced with hiking. If a practitioner is only just beginning to get fit, or is recovering from injury or illness, always start by walking over a certain distance. It is a good idea to lift free weights for a time prior to ruck sack running so as to build the bones, muscles and joints, and to practice ordinary running (and periodic sprinting) to condition the cardiovascular system. For many, just 'wearing' the iron vest for any extended period of time is very difficult to do, and creates substantial muscular pain in the neck, shoulders and back, as well as in the knees, ankles and various parts of the feet. This is normal and will pass. Just as the iron vest compresses the body - the structures of the body 'resist' and generate an outward counter-pressure - which generates a substantial repelling force. This is how the body withstands and rejects any incoming power. Furthermore, carrying this weight forward generates tremendous 'forward' momentum which is very difficult for an opponent to 'stop', and which has the effect of 'uprooting'. All the blood vessels are opened and strengthened through a stimulated circulation, the bones are hardened and the both strengthened and relaxed in a coordinated and dynamic manner. The mind becomes calm and all expansive as the qi (vital force), jing (essential nature) and shen (all embracing empty mind) are thoroughly cultivated.
During 2005, myself, and my eldest daughter Sue-Ling - travelled to Glastonbury for educational purposes - accompanied by Ch'an Dao student 'Liz'. As I was was writing and publishing numerous articles in magazines and journals at the time, and given that Liz was also training with John Davies in Yin Bagua (I had also attended a few lessons in Regents Park), it was thought we should carry-out a photo-shoot in the grounds of the spiritually charged Glastonbury Abbey (of King Arthur fame). Although some of these pictures were subsequently published, most are now being shown in public for the first time. I am not a Yin Bagua practitioner, but I do respect this style and hold its students and teachers in the highest regard. When Master Xu Yun (1840-1959) was forced to flee the Western aggression in Beijing (following the Boxer Uprising in 1900 (together with the Royal household) he was protected en route by the imperial bodyguard 'Yin Fu' (尹福) [1840-1909] - the inventor of this syle. The Chinese surname of 'Liz' is '尹' (Yin) pronounced 'Wan' in Canttonese.
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.