The funny thing is that component movements of the Islamic martial art of 'Chaquan' looks identical to our 'Hakka' Longfist Style - even down to the applications - but Longfist is generic and certainly not rare! It comprises hundreds (or thousands) of Northern Styles and is common-place (it has even penetrated a number of Southern Styles). We all approach these movements from our different lineage perspectives - but all traditions use the 'external', 'Internal' and 'Integrated' aspects of ancient Chinese science.
My research suggests that the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE) instigated a country-wide martial culture - probably through a specially constructed manual comprised of illustrations and basic directions. As the Qin Emperor expanded the model of the Qin State (originally situated in Northwest China) across the whole of the conquered territories of what is today considered 'China' (which excluded at the time the swamp-infested area of what is now Fujian province) - this 'unity' of culture spread over a massive geographical area and converted every village into a military barracks - and ordered that every local man, women and child became a 'soldier' serving the Qin State whilst having to train in a standardised martial art (both 'armed' and 'unarmed').
This makes Longfist over two-thousand years old - and pre-existing the arrival of Muslims in China by about 1,200 years! The Arab merchants constructed their Chaquan version of Longfist from what they saw around them in the areas of China they had settled within (possibly acquired from the families of the Chinese women they married). Of course, this specialised Longfist was then taught to non-Muslim Chinese people (for various reasons) over-time - so that today Chaquan is practiced by millions of ethnic Han people - as well as Hui Chinese-Muslims. Hakka gongfu is typically 'Confucian' with Buddhist and Daoist overtones. There are theories, however, that suggest the 'Qin' and 'Han' Dynasties may have been 'Hakka' - that is founded by displaced peoples who originally lived on the edges of geographical Northern China (before migrating Southward) and which had developed cultures that mixed 'Han' and 'non-Han' (Barbarian) cultural elements together.
This history is disputed, but certainly DNA studies have linked (modern) Hakka women living within South China with (Evenk) women living today in Siberia. Certainly, our Spear Forms were originally practiced (in-part) whilst riding a Steppe pony and gripping and steering the animal with the legs - whilst keeping the hands free to wield the spear from one side to the other without striking the animal's head. Later, when ponies were nolonger available - the 'Horse Stance' was developed to take their place in training. The 'Horse Stance' used to prepare the practitioner by building the lower-body strength for riding a Steppe pony through 'holding' the stance for long periods of time. Today, most practitioners use this method for strength-building - but have no knowledge of the historical development behind its structure.
Everything that needs to be said can be seen in this photograph. Those who are suitably 'aware' and who have developed genuine self-respect - will treat others with respect and understand the true 'essence' of Hakka Gongfu! We train in old warring arts that would not work on the modern battlefield simply because they are out of date. Great martial skill could be wiped-out in a second even by a stray bullet! We train to uproot greed, hatred and delusion, so that warfare does not arise a) in the mind, and b) in the environment. This means we train to create, establish and maintain genuine peace in the world! Chinese culture evolved out of the requirement to 'fight' on the one hand (in 'self-defence') and develop the personality to the highest psychological, emotional and spiritual level possible. This is why Confucianism and Daoism include warriorhood within spirituality. Technically speaking, Buddha advises that ALL violence be given-up but the reality of the matter is that if certain groups of Buddhist monks and nuns had not 'defended' their temples from external attack - their temples (and very probably 'Buddhism' as a whole) would have been wiped-out in China! This is not to say that violence is 'right' or 'preferred' - but rather an acknowledge that Chinese society (and most societies in the world) need to evolve to a higher level of reality so that violence can nolonger exist or flourish!
In the West, Asian martial arts have been thoroughly commercialised and converted from a battlefield spiritual art – into a vehicle for making money. The instructors ‘sell’ their knowledge to classes of students – with an emphasis upon a very narrow definition of ‘self-defence’ (in the UK, many such teachers attempt to relate to their students by assuming they are in a pub on a Saturday night – and another drinker ‘starts looking at your bird’ and such other laughable narratives! In other words, the ancient martial arts of the East are taught to students in the contemporary West as a method to ‘defend’ themselves from attacks from other Westerners in a social (leisure) setting! Teachers of this type tend to cultivate a ‘cult of personality’ mentality throughout their school, which suggests that their art contains some sought of ‘mystical’ core that grants invincibility to each practitioner, and certain defeat to all those who are unlucky to confront it!
Ironically, I have been shown evidence of so-called ‘contracts’ signed by students when setting-up their monthly bank payments to the instructor. In the small print a disclaimer reads ‘The ‘student’ acknowledges that the movements taught are for guidance only, a may not be effective in any position of ‘self-defence’ - and that the instructor has no liability whatsoever for the well-being of the student.’ A lawyer-friend of mine advises that such contracts and ‘clauses’ are common-place nowadays in the martial arts scene which tends to target large classes of young children – where the training is sold to parents as ‘play’! The teachers do not care about the psychological, physical or spiritual well-being of their students, as the individuals concerned exist only to generate income and pay the bills.
In the expensive leisure centres, for example, the martial arts are sold as ego-trips for well-off and very rich! These people like to pretend that for the duration of the lessons they are legitimate martial arts fighters, when in reality the classes are designed around retaining their comfort levels in an air-conditioned room, with movements that do not go beyond a light cardiovascular workout. Each lesson is a self-contained episode as there is no guarantee that the ‘clients’ will be back next week! There is no continuation, but only the repeating of the myth of a deficient self-empowerment that occurs within one of the safest and crime-free environments on earth! The teacher must alter everything and change whatever the clients want changed to keep their attention levels up and to keep them coming back for more (whilst paying the ridiculous membership fees)!
Should a student progress in their martial arts practice and attend long enough for the teacher to take their presence seriously, he or she may well be considered suitable for participating in martial sports. This is a safe type of combat within which neither of the participants actually hit one another – but purposely throw-out their arms and legs to empty air in the direction of the opponent! He who throws enough such techniques is declared the ‘winner’ and the instructor’s school receives all the kudos for this success (hence the interest shown in the student by the teacher). Then there are the mixed martial artists who roll around on the floor in one-on-one bouts – each trying to ‘submit’ the other. In some versions, kicking and punching is also allowed during ‘stand-up’ periods to excite the fee-paying crowd! Although presented as the ‘best’ type of martial arts, modern militaries do not use this type of fighting simply because it does not work in reality (on the battlefield).
Legitimate Asian martial arts do exist. They exist in Asia and they exist in the West but they are well-hidden behind the thick blanket of highly commercialised martial arts. If a sincere student genuinely seeks-out a proper martial arts teacher, it is highly likely that they will be drawn into something very similar to what is described above. In fact, given the current conditions, such a scenario is virtually inevitable. In such a situation it is better to make the best of what is on offer in the outside whilst retaining you own inner freedom. It is a matter of bidding your time until you encounter what you are really looking for. Until that time, adaptability is the key to ongoing development. Understanding a situation does not mean that you have to be in conflict with it. It is better to remain quiet and meaning onto a situation and breathe new life into it. Traditional Chinese martial arts do exist, but they are difficult to find and even more difficult to enter!
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.