All genuine Chinese gongfu (family) lineages possess a TCM (folk) prescription for 'Iron Fighting Wine'! These pages written in Medical Chinese ideograms are highly valued and treasured - even though they possess a number of different (but related) names - all variants of theme! As we value Traditional Okinawan Goju Ryu - this bottle is heading to a very good and esteemed Instructor of that martial art living in the UK! Brewing and bottling Dit Da Jow is a family affair that involves an element of profound spirituality.
Author's Note: One of my Western Gongfu students once navigated his way to Sai Kung Town and caught the local bus which travelled in a loop throughout the countryside of Sia Kung. We had given him the name and map coordinates of our Ancestral Village - and he found it - but there was a catch. When he rang the bell in the middle of nowhere to get-off (many of the Hakka villages are hidden from obvious view and must be accessed through a think cover of trees - the bus-driver, seeing that he was alone, refused to open the door. The driver explained that this was a Hakka area and that these people are renowned for their aggressive tendencies. The driver was under strict orders not to let any Westerners (unaccompanied by Chinese people) to get into trouble in areas they do not understand or are not familiar with. Therefore, my student had to safely return to Sai Kung Town. ACW (17.11.2023)
Sai Kung is a Hakka coastal area of the North East New Territories where our ancestral Chan Village is (or was) located. The area is now a very well structured National Park. Sai Kung is also a town which lends its name to the region. We have visited many times and never had any trouble navigating. Hundreds of years ago, the migrating Hakka people planted sustainable forests as part of the charcoal trade they pursued. These forests strewn the hills and valleys to this day.
We have never heard of hikers going missing - as hikers have no reason to enter these areas. Still, things change and the graphics on the maps contained this episode show where our Gongfu took root in South China after migrating from North and Central China many years ago. The Hakka people who occupied these areas used to be highly aggressive to uninvited guests. This martial attitude stems from the history of the place and the reality of the Hakka-Punti Clan Wars of the mid-1800s which killed millions. This was poor quality land that the Hakka had to cultivate and then defend from Cantonese (Punti) attack.
Author's Note: I suspect there are many localised names for these folk remedies often linked to family gongfu styles. For instance, I was verbally taught to refer to this medicine as 'Iron Fighting Wine' (铁斗酒 - or 'Tie Dou Jiu' in Putonghua) - with the idea that the wine both 'cures' and 'toughens' the body - especially the anatomical weapons. However, when checking the medical notes of Master Chan Tin Sang (1924-1923) we discovered that this TCM treatment is listed as being referred to in a number of different ways. One such description is '跌打酒' (or 'Die Da Jiu' in Putonghua) - although this is not how we refer to this treatment in general conversation. This alternative description literally means 'Bruise Wine' or more specifically 'Bruise Removal Liniment' - although some versions (including our own) are also made to be drank (in small quantities). The complication seems to stem from the fact that in our Hakka-Cantonese dialect - both these names are pronounced 'Dit Da Jow'. The idea of 'Iron Fighting Wine' is linked to arm and leg conditioning which involves smashing the hands and feet repeatedly into hard objects. Afterwards, the broken skin and the deep and shallow bruising is treated with this liniment - which not only 'cures' but also hardens' the effected areas. As the liniment is vigorously rubbed onto the area in question - a 'Great Heat' ('Die Yeet' in Hakka-Cantonese) is produced - forming yet another descriptive explanation (Die Yeet Jow) that regularly use! ACW (26.11.2023)
These medicinal ingredients were gathered in Hong Kong by Master Chan Tin Sang long before his passing in 1993. Indeed, many of the constituent herbs were actually sourced from various places throughout Mainland China and transported to various Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctors who ran the Herbal Medicine Shops throughout the New Territories and Hong Kong Island. Invariably, these shops were often located within dark and obscure back alleys.
A customer and/or patient has to approach the main desk at the front of the shop and present the 'Dit Da Jow' (铁斗酒) prescription (or 'recipe') - which is traditionally written in the Chinese medical-script - a different type of formal Chinese writing that is something akin to how classical Greek or Latin is used in the West for medical terms (although unrelated in structure). In the Hakka dialect - 'Dit Da Dow' - is usually termed ''Die Yeet Jow' (大暍酒) - but this changes the emphasis of the name from 'function' (fighting) to 'treatment' (rubbing the bruised area vigorously so that a great healing 'heat' is produced).
Therefore, 'Die Yeet Jow' translates as 'Great Heat Wine'. We mixed these medical herbs with Western brandy on February 23rd, 1997 - and it has been brewing now for 26-years and nearly 9-months as of November 2023!
The above is a video on Bili Bili designed for Goju Ryu practitioners in China (or Chinese language speakers around the world). Essentially, Chinese language subtitles have been affixed - with Okinawan-Japanese concepts (cultural interpretations) translated into Chinese philosophical terms. This was uploaded on September 7th, 2022 - but I have not encountered it before. The direction of breathing is explained (stating there are two methods) - with 'kime' (決め) emphasised. This is written as '决定' (Jue Ding) in the Chinese language.
决 (決) = jue2 (ki) - certainty, dredge and kill
定 (め) = ding4 (me) - steady, fix and stabilise
Interestingly, within Buddhist philosophy the Chinese ideogram '覺' is also catalogued (within modern Pinyin) as 'jue2' - and is related in structure to '决' (jue2) which is used above in 'kime'. This means the ideograms share a common root and depicts a related meaning. Whereas '决' (jue2) suggests a mind-enforced control over the body - '覺' (jue2) refers to the achievement of 'enlightenment' through the mind 'waking-up' - a state achieved only through following the utmost disciplined paths of bodily control. Perhaps the two variants of these ideograms are related. I would suggest this is the case on the grounds that '定' (ding4) - the second ideogram used within 'kime' - is also used to translate the Sanskrit term 'Samadhi' - which refers to a method of 'fixing' the awareness of the mind in one place (preventing the surface mind from moving about without control) - and thereby achieving a permanent 'stillness' of mind (which allows for the perception of 'emptiness'). Again, the physical body is subject to the utmost discipline (through the Precepts as taught in the Vinaya Discipline).
The breathing is 'Daoist' in nature and involves a basic filling-up of the dantian with qi (inward breath into the lowest area of the pelvic girdle) - which is then redistributed throughout all the regions of the body (through the outward breath). The retained tension 'pulls' the qi into the dantian - and the maintained muscle tension 'extracts' the accumulated qi into the extremities (both breaths meditated by the awareness of the mind). The 'advanced' breathing is only hinted at and involves the microcosmic circulation of the qi. Qi is breathed into the dantian - which triggers the flow of qi up the Governing Vessel (which runs through the spinal column) and over the top of the head to the upper palate of the mouth. The tongue touches the upper palate with completes the circuit between the Governing Vessel and the Conception Vessel - which starts in the tongue, flows down the front of the body and through the grown and around to the perineum - where the Governing Vessel begins. The Sanchin breathing strengthens and maintains this Daoist breathing.
2023-10-17 Global Times Editor: Li Yan
Lined up neatly, over 50 ancient explosive weapons were recently excavated at the Badaling Great Wall in Beijing.
A total of 59 stone bombs were discovered by archaeologists along the western section of the Badaling Great Wall in Beijing’s Yanqing district. Ma Lüwei, an archaeologist specializing in ancient Chinese military history, told the Global Times that the stone bombs were major weapons used to “defend against enemy invasion” along the Great Wall during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
“The bomb was often installed in medium-sized hollow bits of stone. Those weapons were easy to make and were also very handy for soldiers to throw them down at invaders while standing on the Great Wall,” Ma told the Global Times.
Shang Heng, an associate research fellow at the Beijing Institute of Archaeology, said the stone bombs possessed “big explosive power” and were once the preference of Qi Jiguang, a Ming Dynasty military general who made major contributions to China’s military system and strategy as well as the innovation of military weapons.
Those 59 stone bombs were found inscribed with orders at one of the Great Wall’s station houses that were once used for standing guards watching out for the enemy. The space was later identified by archaeologists as a warehouse for storing weapons.
Prior to the new discovery, no similar “warehouses” had been found along the Beijing sections of the Great Wall.
Besides the weapon warehouse, other ancient buildings along the Great Wall, such as a “horse face” wall, an ancient wall used on the Great Wall that allowed soldiers to climb up and shoot arrows, were also discovered during the latest archaeological project.
A stone fort that was once used to support cannons was also discovered along the Beijing Great Wall for the first time.
Archaeologist Wang Meng told the Global Times that these relics shed light on the functions and design planning of the Great Wall.
The new discoveries at the Badaling Great Wall reflect China’s continuous research and conservation efforts concerning the Great Wall. Taking Beijing for example, between 2000 to 2022 more than 110 project were carried out to preserve the Beijing section of the Great Wall, which is known for having the most complex buildings and geological conditions compared to other Great Wall sections such as those in the provinces of Hebei, Gansu and Shaanxi.
Twenty-two years of conservation efforts have achieved a great deal. In 2021, a project aimed at rescuing the Liugou section of the Great Wall in the Yanqing district helped identify exactly how the Ming Dynasty Great Wall was constructed. A year later, ancient everyday objects such as plates, scissors and bowls were discovered along the Jiankou section of the Great Wall, providing insight into the daily life of soldiers stationed along the wall.
“The Great Wall holds value not only for its remarkable architecture, but also the cultural and historical connections to ancient Chinese people’s lives, their unity as well as their spirit,” historian Fang Gang told the Global Times.
Among all the projects, the Great Wall National Cultural Park, scheduled for completion in 2035, is China’s blueprint for integrating Great Wall resources nationwide into one landscape. The strategy aims to preserve the legacy of the Great Wall, while also extending its reach into fields such as cultural tourism.
A total of 37 provincial-level planning projects have been carried out so far in 2023. A total of 16 have been completed, including one to promote the establishment of Great Wall museums in Qinhuangdao, Hebei Province.
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Dressed in a hide coat, wool pants, and leather boots, the rider was buried with her saddle “placed on her buttocks as if she was seated on it,” the team note. And it clearly isn’t just for show: the saddle shows “[o]bvious traces of repair,” they write, showing that it was “intensively used and maintained” throughout its lifetime.
Recently, an international archaeological team discovered the earliest known saddle at an excavation site in China. The saddle was found in a tomb in a cemetery in Yanghai, Xinjiang, China. The tomb was built for a common woman who was wearing what seems to be a 'saddle' - positioned so it looks as if the deceased person was still sitting upon it - as if in life.
Research shows the tomb owner and saddle are from about 2,700 years ago. Previous research has found that the domestication of horses first occurred around 6,000 years ago, although during the initial stages of domestication, the animals were used solely as a source of meat and milk. It is thought that horse riding took another 1,000 years to develop. Shortly thereafter, riders began looking for ways to cushion the forces of riding.
Researchers believe saddles likely originated as pads strapped to a horse's back. The saddle found is constructed externally from cowhide and is internally padded using deer and camel hair - as well as straw filling. This saddle was designed to assist riders sit with greater stability whilst sat on horseback - so that arrows could be fired from a bow with greater accuracy - whether the horse was standing still or engaged in movement.
There are no stirrups on this Xinjiang saddle - as is to be expected. However, a simple stirrup has been found in ancient India dating to the 2nd century BCE - but stirrups were not used by the Greeks or Romans and did not appear in Europe until the 8th century CE. This saddle found in China predates the ancient saddles previously found in the Central and Western Eurasian Steppes. The earliest known saddles date back to between the 5th-3rd centuries BCE - leaving researchers to conclude that China is the earliest known civilization in the world to have designed, made and used saddles.
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English Language Text:
2,700-Year-Old Saddle Found In Ancient Chinese Tomb Is Oldest Ever Discovered
This curved Japanese sword usually measures around four to five feet or longer. Many examples are over six feet. The average (modern) 'Katana' is around 90cm long - or just under three feet. As this sword requires plenty of 'open space' to be used effectively - it could be that this is the preferable translation - which is open to debate. Being sat upon a horse grants the kind of space required and the freedom of movement needed. The speed of a charging horse would provide the power for the sword to perform its task - cutting-through the enemy - with the sword 'dragging' through the air. Even so, this Japanese sword is much longer than Western cavalry swords.
The Japanese and Chinese script used in this article is incompletely translated - which I rectify below. I have also added the proper Japanese-script name (not included in the above article). The other included historical data in acceptable for further research. I have added different photographs in this email.
The Chinese name is ' 大太刀' (Da Tai Dao) - or 'Great Grand Blade'.
The Japanese name is ' 野太刀' (No Da Chi) - or 'Field Grand Blade'. As this uses Chinese ideograms - this name can also be read as 'Ye Tai Dao' - 'Field', 'Open Space' or 'Wild' Sword - depending upon interpretive emphasis.
In Japanese script proper - this sword is named 'おおたち' or 'O-Otachi'.
The article below is auto-translated and gives a chronological record of the development of all Japanese swords - from the Tang Straight Sword to the modern Japanese Katana:
History of the Japanese Sword (English)
According to Japanese and Chinese language texts - this sword should be used only by warriors on horse-back due to its varying length (90cm-150cm or longer). This blade is designed to severe the legs of attacking enemy horses - and to cut enemy infantry soldiers across the waist area. Some Japanese Sword Schools, however, do attempt to use this sword on foot with the scabbard sometimes (but not always) secured across the back.
I was introduced to these movements in my youth - as a foundation to learning 'Old' (Yang) Taijiquan! In those days traditional training from a Chinese teacher was never questioned. The onus was on 'secrecy' - as if no one else possessed the knowledge just shared (today, the emphasis in China is upon an open sharing). I was told that the outer bodily positions-structures guided the qi energy with greater force into (and through) the five sets of corresponding inner organs thus strengthening and purifying them.
These exercises are established upon the theory of the 'Five Phases' (五行 - Wu Xing) - first found in the 'Classic of History' (書經 - Shu Jing) - probably linked to the five planets visible to the naked-eye of the ancient civilisations:
Tiger Liver-Gall Bladder
Monkey Heart-Small Intestine
Crane Lung-Large Intestine
As the 'Bear' is the central animal influence of our gongfu family style - this practice was seen as establishing (and enhancing) the rooted and central stability (and strength) this animal represents (the 'spirit' of the bear involves the practitioner suddenly standing-up and appearing much bigger and over-powering). According to the English language Wiki-page - this 'Five Animal Interplay' exercise is linked to the development of Hung Gar and Fujian White Crane (Bak Hok)!
The way I was taught this exercise involved 'morning' practice (yin moving to yang) and 'evening' practice (yang moving to yin) - with the movements staying the same. Unlike the 'connected' flow shown in the above video (a different style or method) - I was taught 'single' structure exercises that started with feet shoulder-width apart and hands by my sides. After assuming and holding the required position - the structure was completely dropped away back to the 'ready' (neutral) position - in preparation for assuming the next (different) position. I was taught that all these five movements exist implicitly in the Taijiquan Form - and so eventually I was no longer required to practice them separately.
Coxinga (1624-1662) lived about 100-years after Yasuke in Japan. However, he was half-Japanese himself and possessed a personal bodyguard known as the 'Black Guard' comprised of African men freed from Portuguese slavery by Chinese forces. A pictures survives of one of these African men. Coxinga is famous for taking-on - and defeating the Dutch forces on Taiwan - and was granted that staus of 'King' of that island by the Ming Emperor of China. Coxinga was a Ming Dynasty General - the child of a Chinese man and a Japanese woman!
The Chinese language texts make much of the Dutch being defeated. This may have been the first military engagement between China and the West. Perhaps the Black Guard had a pivotal role. The drawn picture shows the African man carrying the Guan Dao (the blade of Lord Guan) - a high status weapon! Portuguese slavery must have been prolific! I once visited Portugal for a holiday and was astonished to find their tour guides talking about their slave-trading past with a sense of pride! Britain takes a different path and tends to deny it!
The remarkable true-story of this African man was told to me today - so I did a little research digging:
You may have already heard of this person - but its news to me!
His name is written in traditional Chinese characters but pronounced in the Japanese language - which was typical for the 16th century Japanese culture of the day
彌 (mi1) (Ya) = a 'long distance', to 'stop' or 'put down' and 'to relax a drawn bow'
助 (zhu4) (Suke) = to 'help', 'aid' and 'assist'
Therefore '彌助' ('Mizhu' or 'Yasuke' could mean the 'tall' person, the 'martial' person (as in possessing good 'self-control') or the person from 'far-away' - who is an 'able' and good 'retainer'.
'Yasuke (b.1556-d.?) was a Retainer (Samurai) of the Daimyo known as - Oda Nobunaga - during the Warring States Period in Japan. Yasuke is famous as being the first 'African' (Black) warrior in Japanese history.'
One story I read in Chinese language sources talks of the troops of Oda Nobunaga attacking an area controlled by Ninja Clans. As can be expected - the fighting was ferocious with the Ninjas fighting very much like the Vietcong and causing all kinds of enemy casualties through ingenious and under-hand methods! At one point in the fighting - Yasuke - is ambushed whilst alone by a group of Ninja warriors, but he draws his katana shouting 'My Lord is invincible!' - and proceeds to advance and carve his way through his assailants! However, soon he is completely surrounded and in a desperate position! At this point Lord Oda Nobunaga himself arrives on the scene with his warriors and after seeing Yasuke holding-off dozens of living Ninjas (as well as piles of dead Ninja bodies) he orders his immediate rescue!
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.