Grand Master Chan Tin Sang (1924-1993)
Master Chan Tin Sang (陳天生) trained as a traditional doctor of Chinese medicine, at a time when doctors took one or two students, and spent a lifetime transmitting their medical knowledge to those students. Medicine, in the old days, was conveyed very much like gongfu (功夫 -literally ‘skill time’, or ‘time for hard work’). With learning being a slow maturing process, designed to thoroughly train the student from the inside out. This mastery is designed to produce good human beings, and along the way, the aspiring student gains a working knowledge of the chosen art. There is no rush for this process, and time is viewed as something of a blessing in disguise. The following is the only known written statement (translated into English from the original Chinese) made by Master Chan Tin Sang regarding the practice of his martial system. This is partly due to the traditional Hakka Chinese attitude of 'secrecy' surrounding family systems of martial arts and medicine, as these bodies of knowledge were closely guarded against theft, misunderstanding, misrepresentation, and misuse. Although medical recipes were written down and recorded, the practice of martial arts tended to be taught only by word of mouth, and even then out of sight of the general public. In feudal China, a family's martial art could be a very valuable asset for maintaining law and order in the local community, and as a means to earn respect and influence. Master Chan Tin Sang was a very well educated man, but diligently upheld the Hakka Chinese tradition of not easily parting with his hard-earned knowledge. Master Chan Yun Fat (d, 1944) was the 9th Generation Lineage Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao System. Chan Yun fat passed the lineage to his son - Chan Tin Sang who became the 10th Generation Inheritor.
Guidance from A Master
Grand Master Chan Tin Sang (1924-1993)
10th Generation Family Lineage Inheritor
and Preserver of the Northern Hakka Ch'an Dao Tradition
Translator’s Note: This short document has been translated from the written Chinese, and contains a summation of the guiding principles of the Northern Hakka lineage of Ch'an Dao Chan Gar Gong Fu, from our family teacher Master Chan Tin San (1924-1993). This text clearly shows the importance of Confucian teaching, and its place in disciplined training. Ch'an Dao – as a Buddhist and Daoist teaching - is nothing without the influence of Confucianism. It is believed that this text was written around 1980 for use in a Hong Kong Training Hall, and that Master Chan Tin Sang wrote this text for a student of his. Ch’an Dao students have been historically encouraged to study Buddhist, Daoist and Confucian texts as part of their martial training. ACW 27.11.15
Traditionally, Confucian ethics dictate how a perspective student should approach a gongfu teacher. The student should be honest and sincere. They should approach the teacher with a sense of deep respect - even if they are rejected at the first attempt. How the student behaves is of utmost importance if the master is to consider the student as a candidate to pass into the beginner’s stage of acceptance. If accepted (and this may require a number of respectful approaches and perhaps lobbying from people who know the master - to test the student's resolve), the student will be on the fringe of the group, the periphery of the master's teaching influence. Here, the student will be expected to show tolerance and endurance to physical and psychological stresses of gongfu training - this is essential as the foundation of what is required to fight is being laid at this early stage - the question is whether the student can keep him/herself under control during this process which might even include an element of humiliation - again, another test.
The student should show the utmost respect to other students who have trained longer and experienced more in the process. After about a year, the student might be accepted further into the group and cease to be a complete novice - the master will show more interest and correct the student's technique here and there, but will remain wary that even at this stage, the student may still not be able to keep the training-up. Being struck in sparring will start virtually straight away, if the student cannot take the pain and show the right courage, they might be thrown out without any way of gaining access to the school again. After 3 years, the student enters the school proper and the way others relate to him or her will change. The master will start to grant these students responsibility for caring for the training of the beginners. After 6 years, the student becomes an intermediate student, and after 12 years an advanced student. The advanced student can only be called ‘Shifu’ (or ‘Master/Father’) when he or she has successfully established their own training group, and continue to exhibit the correct character and attitude. Not training regularly, or training with another teacher (without prior agreement) leads to instant dismissal from the school. A teacher must show both strength and a calm relaxation, and never drink (alcohol) in front of the students, thus always setting a virtuous example. The school's martial secrets should not be shown in public, or sold for money, and only be taught to those worthy of them. Remember that in the old days, any infringement of the code of honour would lead to a fight to the death - every student should be prepared for this eventuality. If you do not want to fight to the death, then do not train here.
The term ‘death’ is not just the physical possibility - but includes the death of the ‘ego’. The ego is our small, deluded minds that need polishing so that they might shine brightly in all directions. Penetration into the essence of the true mind is the real aim of our school. We train our minds and bodies to transcend self-imposed limitations. Our 'Mind Way' training must use the body to concentrate the mind so that it might break free of the ego and become fully enlightened to its own nature. And although many unusual powers may be acquired at the advanced physical level - the truly unusual powers are only acquired when the mind is fully developed and transcended. Martial prowess is but a by-product of mind development. The true nature of 'Mind Way' boxing has nothing to do with the body and abides in eternal peace and tranquillity. In this way we assist the maintenance of a strong and peaceful society by training ourselves in virtuous self-discipline.
Mastery is to achieve a peaceful strength that can dissolve or negate unjust or unwanted negative energy. A Lineage is an expression of a perceived pathway of communication, linking the past to the present. It serves to remind us of those who have gone before, and preserved their art so that we might benefit from its practice. The Ch’an Dao martial system is preserved today within the familial descendants of Master Ch’an Tin Sang and through the efforts of their students. Master Chan Tin Sang inherited the 10 generation Ch’an Dao martial lineage from his father Master Chan Yun Fat (陈润发) [d. 1944] - who was the 9th generation inheritor. The current 11th Generation lineage holder is Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (陈恒豫 - Chan Heng Yu).