Probably from around 35-years onward, a serious practitioner of traditional Chinese martial arts should be beginning the slow transition from purely ‘external’ to predominately ‘internal’ training methods, exercises and understandings. The point of this is purely age-related – as we get older, we see more in different ways to a younger person – who naturally possesses a different type strength (which changes as age progresses). If a practitioner does not possess access to correct instruction, then he or she will not ‘understand’ how to accommodate these age-related changes, and almost always will ‘give-up’ their practice. Another factor that needs to be considered is the age that training start for an individual, as this will affect what objectives should realistically be sought-after. However, prior to 35-years old, a practitioner of gongfu should have experienced much of the ‘hard’, ‘external’ training, understand psychological and physical suffering (through direct experience), and ‘know’ how to defend themselves during a violent encounter. External ‘sensitivity’ training is very different from ‘internal’ sensitivity training. The latter example involves the turning of the mind’s awareness ‘inward’ so that a) the blood flow can be sensed, and b) after a deep-breath, the oxygen can be felt as it distributes throughout and around the entirety of the body! The point of ‘external’ and ‘internal’ training is a perfect ‘integration’ (zagong) of the two aspects so that qi-power can be manifested at anywhere on a scale from imperceptible to ‘massive’ and ‘highly destructive’. If none of this makes any sense, then train harder!
This is myself and Ch'an Dao student Liz Wan - my friend and one time landlady. I was told by the Editor of this edition of the magazine that Jet Li had read and liked my article.
The British Nationality Act of 1948 granted the right of all people born within British colonies to be 'British Subjects', or 'British Citizens' and therefore entitled to settle in the Mainland UK. Master Chan Tin Sang came to the UK in 1956 and the story was hat he worked hard at all kinds of jobs in and around Sutton, and eventually saved enough money to send for his wife and two young daughters. I was told this took about ten years and always assumed that 'Por Por' (i.e. our Chinese grandmother Cheung Yuet-Tai - known in the UK and Cheung Yat-Tai) came to the UK in 1966 - but these Immigration Papers record that she was granted permission to leave Hong Kong and fly to Britain in late 1968. From what her daughters have told me, the air-tickets Master Chan sent from the UK arrived two-weeks late due to a postal delay. In fact, the air-tickets arrived on the morning of the day of the flight - and Por Por had to quickly pack a few small cases, and rush to the local school to extract her children! This she did, and they eventually made their way to Sutton in South London. Master Chan Tin Sang went on to open one of the first Chinese Restaurants in Sutton - the King Wah - situated on the opposite side of the road from the Masonic Lodge and the Post Office in Grove Road. We have never managed to find a photograph of the King Wah.
Madam Cheung Yuet-Tai was born in the New Territories (Hong Kong) in 1924, and passed away in Sutton during January, 2011. She was 86 years old, and in her 87th year (her 87th birthday would have been on the 3rd of September, 2011). She had been suffering from kidney problems for quite sometime prior to her passing. In 2001, Madam Cheung Yuet-Tai 'confirmed' Master Chan Tin Sang's 1991 'Transmission' to me - and also passed on to me one of his jade rings, a gold and jade clan-leader's ring, and gold wristwatch.
My Chinese gongfu teacher (living in Sutton) - Master Chan Tin Sang (1924-1993) - advised me to ‘explore’ the many martial arts that were then around, bearing in mind that virtually all Japanese karate has its roots in the Chinese gongfu styles imported into Okinawa from China’s Fujian province over the last few hundred years. As long as this exploration was carried-out away from Sutton (where I did not live at the time), there was no problem despite the memories of the Japanese atrocities carried out in China still being fresh in the minds of the elderly members of the British Chinese community (many of whom had witnessed these barbarous acts, been subjected to them or lost relatives). Whilst attending college in the Reigate area, myself (and a friend – Robert Townsend) decided to make a study of a Japanese school of karate. As we started in September, 1983 and only had to July, 1984 at this college, our study would be relatively short, but committed. The classes were held once a week (I think Tuesday evenings – 730pm-9pm) at the Sovereign Leisure Centre, and conducted by Sensei Alan Bound 1st Dan (at the time).
We did not know what style this was to start with, but just turned-up (we were both 16 years old). It turned-out to be administered by the ‘Southern Karate-Do Wako Kai’ association which interpreted its mission as returning to the ‘true’ of the Wado Ryu (和道流) style founded by Hironori Otsuka (1892-1982) - who had only passed away the year before. It was felt that the original ‘spirit’ of Wado Ryu had been departed from, and a return to the ‘Way of Peace’ was needed. Within the Chinese language ‘和道流’ is pronounced ‘He Dao Liu’ - and means ‘Harmonious Way Tradition’. Like many ‘old’ traditions in Japan, Chinese ideograms are used to describe its principles. In this style I was taught power through correct positioning. There was no body conditioning such as in my family gongfu style, but a practitioner was taught to assume a superior psychological and physical positioning from the very beginning (which eventually culminates in ‘enlightenment’ for those who pursue the spiritual aspects), a dominance which is maintained in combat through continuously out-manoeuvring an opponent so that they cannot set themselves to deliver their best techniques against your body. Within our Ch’an Dao System, this is reflected in the principles of aligned power and correct approach found within Taijiquan (and internal martial arts), although Wado Ryu has part of its roots in Jujitsu. We generated power through exact movement and we learned a reverse-punch drill I have never seen in any other karate style (involving ‘snake’ stepping). Sensei Alan Bound was a very good and talented teacher.
Eventually, the classes (which always seemed to have around 20 or 30 people attending), were moved to the Scott Hut next to Redhill train station. The spiritual message was that if you align yourself with the deepest and loving principles of the universe (and do not conflict with life), then you will be invincible in the face of untoward violence and harassment. I have a soft spot for Wado Kai (and genuine Wado Ryu) despite the fact I am a Hakka Chinese martial artists! As young students, Sensei Alan Bound gave use a karate suit each and allowed us to pay for it over a few weeks. He was a gentleman! We successfully graded for our yellow belts (and probably our orange belts) - I think we travelled to Guildford to do this (and were graded under Sensei Barry Wilkinson 4th Dan) – and many years later, whilst looking through boxes of old documents and academic work, I came across my Wado Kai ‘licence’ and a grading certificate! It is my belief that Wado Ryu could do a lot of good bringing the Chinese and Japanese communities together! Thank you Sensei Alan Bound for enriching our lives!
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.