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.
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.
Whilst listening to the (1967) Jimi Hendrix album entitled 'Fire' - I thought I would make a copy of two Goju Ryu Karate-Ka displaying what is called 'Online Kata'! This involves an elaborately designed Kata being disassembled and applied in a straightforward 'one-on-one' self-defence situation. Generally speaking, Kata are multi-dimensional entities designed as a militarised response to multiple attackers coming in from all different directions. Online Kata condenses this down to just a single defender and a single attacker - with both changing roles when the sequence is completed. As can be seen, the blows are delivered with full-power - whilst safety is assured by each blowing landing an inch or two before the intended target area. The arms and legs are making full-contact with regards to 'blocking'. This is pure 'bone-on-bone' full-power conditioning. If the blows landed - then damage would certainly arise - although at this level the body-conditioning is of such a high standard that it would be limited only to the robust surface structures. Those who have mastered the 'internal' - are able to 'pierce' the conditioned outer areas (like a sharp metal knitting-needle) - so that a concentrated force is directed straight into the central nervous system and the neural pathway. The only way to counter this high level of power is to a) experience it within a strictly controlled environment, and b) learn to accept this incoming force and pass it 'through' the body' so that it does not congregate in the central nervous system. In the above example, this is probably happening in the limbs of the practitioners themselves - with the bones being made strong through a combined and integrated 'external' and 'internal' interaction. On a practical level, within a self-defence situation it is preferrable to harness the erratic technique of the aggressor and channel it into a more conducive frequency of aggression - a frequency that can be easily controlled, diverted and negated.
These ideograms are written in Old Chinese Script - but pronounced using Japanese and Okinawan language.
[square] brackets = Chinese pronunciations
(round) brackets = Japanese-Okinawan pronunciations
a) 補 (Ho) = [bu3] - increase, aid, repair, supplement, mend, compensate and nourish
b) 助 (Jo) = [zhu4] - help, support, augment and assist
c) 運 (Un) = [yun4] - transport, carry, utilise, revolve, buoyancy and fate
d) 動 (Do) = [dong4] - move, act, alter, momentum and touch
It seems that the four ideograms are deployed using two couplets:
1) 補助 (Hojo) = supplement and auxiliary [Buzhu]
2) 運動 (Undo) = sporting and competitive vigorous movement [Yundong]
The following is a contemporary webpage from Taiwan (auto-translated into 'English' entitled '法規內容-教育部運動發展基金補助各級學校運動團隊作業要點') continuously uses the term '補助運動' (Hojo Undo - Buzhu Yundong) - which is used exclusively to refer to 'supplementary sporting exercises':
Regulations (Content) - Ministry of Education - Sports Development Fund - Subsidies for Main School Team Sports - At All Levels
The inclusion of the terms 'buoyancy', 'touch', 'transport', 'momentum' and 'fate' - all suggest an 'internal' management of the 'external' (physical) body (through the attainment of an 'effortless momentum'). Therefore, although this term is common-place in China - the mastery it refers to is certainly not common-place. On the one-hand, a man or woman might train to win a Gold Medal or World Title - but these achievements (as important as they are for the 'Nation') only fall inside the 'external' component of this term. On the other-hand, Karate-Do Styles such as Goju Ryu exemplify the principle of the 'internal' superseding the 'external' - even though a lifetime must be spent subsumed in the 'external' whilst attempting to understand this relationship and transition into the infinitely powerful 'internal' position. Of course, ultimately, both the 'external' and the 'internal' integrate into a perfect, functioning 'whole' - as can be seen during a perfect execution of a Kata.
It is said that around 1926, the ethnic Chinese man named ‘Go Genki’ (呉賢貴) or ‘Wu Xiangui (1886-1940) – migrated to Okinawa and became a Japanese citizen. My view is that the name ‘呉賢貴’ (Wu Xian Gui) is a transliteration of this person’s chosen Japanese name – and is not his given ethnic ‘Chinese’ birth name. I believe this is true despite many Western scholars treating this transliteration as if it were his ‘true’ and ‘genuine’ ethnic Chinese name. Furthermore, Japanese language historical texts state that this Master of Fujian ‘White Crane Fist’ (白鶴拳 - Bai He Quan) married an Okinawan woman surnamed ‘Yoshihara’ (吉原 - Ji Yuan) - and that he took this surname as his own. This surname is common in Japan and the Ryukyu Islands and has more than one origination. This name literally translates as ‘Lucky Origination’ - and although one branch is linked to the Japanese imperial house – many others are simply linked to ‘good’ and ‘pleasant’ places. If Go Genki took this name, then he would have been known as ‘Yoshihara Genki’ or ‘吉原 賢貴’ - if these names (and facts) are correct.
Go Genki is believed to have taught Miyagi Chojun the ‘Open Hand of the Crane’ exercise. This is recorded within Japanese language texts as '鶴の手'. The first and third ideograms - '鶴’ (he4) meaning ‘Crane’ and ‘手’ (shou3) meaning ‘Open-Hand’ - are of Chinese language origination, whilst the second character (‘の’ - ‘no’) is entirely ‘Japanese’ in nature. This phrase can be read in the Japanese language as:
a) 鶴 (he4) - Crane = ‘か’ (Kaku), ‘つる’ (Tsuru) and ‘ず’ (Zu), etc.
b) の (no) - Hiragana Character – ‘Belonging to’, 'Possessing’ and ‘Pertaining to’, etc.
c) 手 (shou3) - Open-Hand = ‘ず’ (Zu), ‘て’ (Te) and ‘手’ (Te), etc.
As this training method has been transmitted into the practice of modern Goju Ryu Karate-Do - the above concept can be compared to its contemporary counter-part – namely that of ‘Sticky-Hands’ generally referred to as ‘Kakie’ (カキエ). This analysis reveals a startling correlation in that ‘Kaku’ (か) - Japanese for ‘Crane’ - shares the first particle of ‘Kakie’, namely the Katakana particle of ‘カ’!
This is said to be linked to the Chinese language ideogram ‘加’ (jia1). This ideogram is composed of two particles:
Left Particle = ‘力’ (li4) - meaning a ‘plough’ used to cultivate the land. The foot presses down so that the plough may ‘cut’ into the soil whilst being firmly rooted.
Right Particle = ‘口’ (kou3) - referring to an ‘open mouth’ which is calling-out encouragement to the oxen pulling the plough!
During the Heian Period of Japan (794-1185 CE), however, the Chinese ideogram ‘加’ (jia1) was modified and reduced to only the left-hand particle – forming the Japanese Katakana letter of ‘カ’ (and the Hiragana letter of ‘か’). Interestingly, the Japanese term ‘Kaku’ (meaning ‘Crane’) is written as ‘か’ (mirroring the ‘Hiragana’ letter) - but in this instance it is a direct conjunction of the Chinese ideogram - 鶴 (he4), taking on a more specific and direct meaning. The Chinese ideogram - 鶴 (he4) or ‘Crane’ - is comprised of the following constituting particles:
1) Left-Hand Particle: 寉 (he4) - Archaic – Meaning ‘Crane’ and ‘Bird’. The Japanese equivalents for reading this Chinese particle include ‘か’ (Kaku) and ‘つる’ (Tsuru) - all referring to a ‘Crane’.
2) Right-Hand Particle: 鳥 (niao3) - ‘Bird’ and ‘To Breed’ Birds. The Japanese equivalents for reading this Chinese particle include ‘か’ (Ka) and ‘とり’ (Tori) - all referring to a ‘Bird’ and/or ‘Chicken’.
The Japanese term ‘か’ (Kaku) - although a recognised conjunction of the Chinese ideogram 鶴 (he4) (meaning ‘Crane’) - is used today to refer to a ‘Mosquito’ (although an archaic interpretation also refers to a ‘deer’). Perhaps the association between a ‘Crane’ and a ‘Mosquito’ refers to both being flying creatures that are known to be ‘dangerous’ due to their ‘biting-stinging’ capabilities.
What links the Japanese term ‘か’ (Kaku) - or ‘Crane’ - to the Goju Ryu Karate-Do practice of ‘カキエ’ (Kakie) - or ‘Sticky-Hands’ - is the Japanese (Katakana) language particle of ‘カ’. This corresponds to the ‘Hiragana’ particle of ‘か’ (also pronounced ‘Ka’ when discussed as the sixth syllable of the gojuon order). In and of itself, ‘カ’ (Ka) indicates a ‘question’ or a ‘sense of doubt’ when used with general Japanese language discourse – although it is also used as part of hundreds of other concepts, from Buddhist enlightenment to a glowing fire and many others! Whatever the case, when ‘か’ (Kaku) is used within the context of Goju Ryu Karate-Do - the particle ‘カ’ (Ka) forms an important constituting element of the Japanese word for ‘Crane’. In this instance, the fighting abilities of the Crane are emphasised. The Crane is defined as a large, long-legged bird of the Gruidae family – which can be dangerous because of its fierce squawking and deceptive movements – coupled with the use of its long and sharp beak, its strong kicking and its dangerous ability to powerfully deflect blows through the use of its wings. The alternative Japanese term for ‘Crane’ - ‘つる’ (Tsuru) - does not refer to the Crane’s fighting ability – but rather the length of its slender legs, body and beak. This is because ‘つる’ (Tsuru) is linked to a description of a ‘vine’, ‘string’ or ‘twine’, etc, - referring instead to the slim dimensions of the ‘Crane’ rather than any combative or fighting abilities it may possess. (Indeed, ‘つる’ (Tsuru), due to its association with ‘fishing’ and ‘hooks’, etc., also carries the meaning of ‘to hang’ - as if ‘hanging’ from a hook – perhaps referring to a ‘Crane’ as it soars through the sky – or perhaps as it stands upon one-leg – giving the impression that its solid stance has some other supporting device).
As the practice of ‘カキエ’ (Kakie) is said be ‘Crane-like’ - then it is logical to assume that the practice of '鶴の手' (Kaku No Te) - or ‘Open-Hand of the Crane’ - must be directly related to the practice of ‘カキエ’ (Kakie). I suspect that as the Master to Disciple transmission was traditionally premised upon physical action and spoken instruction, the Chinese practice of ‘鶴の手’ (which could be pronounced in China as ‘He De Shou’ or more succinctly as ‘He Shou’) was passed on in Okinawa as ‘Kaku No Te’ - which was then transformed into ‘Kakie’ (カキエ) overtime – being finally written down through the manner in which the description of the practice had evolved. The original emphasis upon the ‘Crane’ as a noun – was transformed into an emphasis of the dynamics of the practice itself (as a ‘verb’). I believe the clue to this association is the inclusion of the Japanese particle ‘カ’ (Ka) in both ‘か’ (Kaku) - or ‘Crane’ - and in ‘カキエ’ (Kakie) - ‘Sticky-Hands'.
Thank you for these explanations - they are all 'ingested' and 'processed'! Here is a short Japanese language blog article about 'Muchimi' (ムチミ):
What Is Muchimi?
I fed this through a Universal Translator but it looks good! Probably the content is a bit basic for you - but a good Japanese language reference. I always try to seek-out a Chinese transliteration (or original ideogram) for unfamiliar concepts as this helps me understand the meaning to a greater degree. This is the fruits of my research:
a) ム (Katakana) = 牟 (mou2) - An 'Ox' Mooing! To use great strength - to exceed and to expand! As strong (and as 'heavy') as an Ox!
b) チ (Katakana) = 千 (qian2) - Thousand, many - to greatly multiply!
c) ミ (Katakana) = 三 (san1) - Three, third or repeat three times, etc.
Therefore, the Japanese concept of 'Muchimi' (ムチミ) seems to suggest that the strength (and 'weight') of the Ox is increased in all directions (including 'downward' as in 'rooting') not only a 'thousand' times, but 'three' times a thousand! As the Ox is 'Mooing' - this might suggest an emphasis upon the outward breath - or perhaps the making of a special sound (or 'Ki-ai') whilst breathing-out!
The reason this is important is that when the Japanese scholars shortened the Chinese ideogram of '牟' (mou2) and replaced it with 'ム' - they chose to retain the emphasis upon the Ox emitting the 'mooing' sound! Originally an 'Ox' was written using '牛' (niu2) with the particle '厶' added to the top - to represent its 'mooing' (or 'lowing'). There is a 'rootedness' (heaviness) and strength expanding in all directions that is effortless, natural and somehow linked to 'sound'!
There is a belief found in ancient China that as soon as words are made on paper - a corresponding material reality is a) generated, and/or b) reinforced (in the case of pre-existing realities). This sense of 'importance', 'inevitability' and 'mystery' stems from writing (a rare art right up to the 20th century in China) being associated with the ancient divination process.
Indeed, the Chinese writing system evolved from the shamans 'interpreting' and 'reading' the cracks made in collected turtle plastron and ox scapulae by the application of a hot poker. This followed a question being subnitted by the 'King' - which was carried-up to the divine-sky by the smoke generated by the hot poker 'touching' the shell or bone - with the (returning) answer being assumed to be contained in the subsequent 'cracks' that appeared! Needless to say, a body of knowledge (and associated 'interpretative' symbols) was eventually established.
Up until 1949 only around 10% of the Chinese population was 'literate' (with 90% remaining permanently 'illiterate') - with the 'literacy' rate today being in the high 90% (with 'illiteracy' remaining mostly amongst the very old or the cognitively disabled, etc) - but the cultural attitude toward the importance of 'words' still persists. Therefore, the naming of a martial art within Chinese-influenced cultures is rarely a trivial matter, and I suspect Miyagi Chojun had been thinking about - (and discussing this issue) - far more extensively (and in depth) than the usual 'naming' stories would suggest and imply.
When Miyagi Chojun chose the two traditional Chinese ideograms of '剛' (Go - Gang) and '柔' (Ju - Rou) he was achieving two objectives:
1) He was generating order in the material environment by 'confirming' the existential presence of his martial art. The art exists because the name exists - and vice versa. Within ancient China it was believed that by compiling lists of 'things' and 'objects' (including 'names') - a corresponding order was being constructed and reinforced in the material environment. An 'order' that cannot be questioned.
2) Miyagi Chojun was stamping his authority upon the art he had been taught and entrusted with by his teacher Higaonna Kanryo - projecting this order 'backwards' into history - all the way back through time (and associated 'lineage') to the 'root' of the art in Southern China. In other words, Miyagi Chojun was confirming the transmission and his receiving of the transmission - whilst proving he is worthy of it! He is placing his family's clan banner firmly in the ground, making a statement of authority and authenticity, and daring anyone to challenge him - which, of course - no one was stupid enough to do!
In this case, the martial art defined as 'Go' and 'Ju' had previously existed (in one form or another) - but now had reached a level of technical sophistication (and stabilization) so that the profound physical-psychological principles of 'Go' and 'Ju' (containing the corresponding meanings you ascribe) could now be considered fully established and developed!
Comment by ‘Meng Bin’ (梦斌) - 22.5.2020
This 'Comment' was added to the referenced video (below) designed to ridicule the reputation of Master Ma Baoguo. Interestingly, although many still criticised his movements - all agreed that he showed the true bravery expected by an ex-member of the PLA!
'Really, very touching! Tears poured out of his eyes. Ma Baoguo, an Old Comrade who was almost 70 years old - faced the challenge of a much young and stronger man who was less than 50 years old! He bravely accepted the challenge! Although he was knocked down three times in more than 30 seconds – during the previous two times - Mr. Ma stood up with perseverance! For the third time, in my heart, Teacher Ma also STOOD UP!
This level of tenacity and courage must come from hard training on a daily basis. This type of righteous attitude represents an era of traditional Chinese martial arts now long gone! Teacher Ma is simply the embodiment of Huang Zhong (黄忠)! The unyielding and old-fashioned spirit of the Chinese Nation is vividly demonstrated! Just imagine - the road to success must be full of hardships and difficulties - whilst the bitterness of failure erodes a shaken heart!
If there is no clear goal, firm belief and perseverance, it is difficult to pass through the Gate of Suffering – and arrive at success! Although Mr. Ma lost in the ring, in my heart Mr. Ma won this match. Even though it was too much to win against such a young and strong man! This arena will always belong to Mr. Ma!'
Chinese Language Source:
(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)
Translator's Note: I read through (and carefully translated) this meandering Chinese language text regarding the known history of Fujian White Crane Fist! To make sense of the context - I had to reference other Chinese language historical texts in an attempt to decipher what exactly is being said! Even so, as much of this genre of (folk) history is entirely 'local' in nature, even (contemporary) ethnic Chinese language speakers do not understand the what exactly is 'meant' by the words and phrases being used. We must use our experience and knowledge to establish the most likely meaning. There appears to be a subtle blend of fact and myth - perfectly entwined - so that it becomes difficult to tell one aspect from the other! During this interpretive process, we must remain anchored within historical 'fact' - but where is the 'fact' we must remain anchored within? What we do know is that somehow a) this martial art does physically 'exist' through a discernable history, and b) as a distinct body of knowledge it ended-up in the hands of Higaonna Kanryo! ACW (5.11.2022)
White Crane Fist (白鹤拳 - Bai He Quan) is often referred to by the geographical indicator of ‘Yongchun’ (永春). This Style of martial arts is just one of the of many developed by the Han nationality throughout the Fujian area. It began to emerge as a distinct martial arts Style during the latter Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). From its root source, four distinct lineages have developed:
1) Flying (飞 - Fei)
2) Singing (鸣 - Ming)
3) Sleeping (宿 - Su)
4) Feeding (食 - Shi)
These four variations of White Crane Fist all manifest in slightly different and specific ways, so that a unique and distinct Style is evident in each case. These differences stem from the practitioners emphasising particular traits observed in the defensive and aggressive behaviour of the White Crane species of bird. All of this speciality is known today as the White Crane Fist Style. According to legend, this Style originated within the Funing (福宁) Prefecture, Fujian Province – today known as Xiapu (霞浦) County. As a Style, it developed out of the ‘external’ (外 - Wai) Shaolin Fist (少林拳 - Shaolin Quan) method taught to Master Fang Zhonggong (方种公) at the ‘North Gate’ (北门 - Bei Men). He taught his only child (his daughter) ‘Fang Qiniang’ (方七娘) - and it is Fang Qiniang who is considered the ‘Founder’ of White Crane Fist. Soon after she was born – Fang Qiniang’s mother passed away from illness. Her father believed that his only daughter should be strong and stand tall – just like a man – and he taught her to practice martial arts every day. Fang Qiniang eventually married ‘Zeng Si’ (曾四) - who was a native of Yongchun County situated within the Quanzhou area of Fujian province (although some records suggest his family originally came from Zhejiang – before moving into Yongchun and resettling). As Fang Qiniang lived and taught her Style in ‘Yongchun’ it is referred to today as being ‘Yongchun White Crane Fist’.
The White Crane Fist specialises in generating vibrating and shaking (弹抖 - Dan Dou) power (劲 - Jin) of both arms. The open-hand ‘Palm Law’ (掌法 - Zhang Fa) method emphasises a penetrating and piercing power which is similar to an arrow hitting an opponent after being fired from a bow – but devastating the opponent at very close-range. This method is supported by penetrating footwork that decisively advances and retreats – footwork that also ‘pretends’ to advance and retreat – causing confusion and mistimed reactions in an opponent. Explosive force (力 - LI) is generated by the White Crane Fist practitioner when taking advantage of an opponent’s errors. For this to happen, the joints and fingers of the White Crane Fist practitioner must be ‘strengthened’ and appropriately ‘conditioned’. Stepping must be both precise and diverse. Every blow must be thrown with explosive power. The arms must shake, vibrate and tremble with ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ energy continuously interchanging in a manner which cannot be predicted or understood by the opponent. This is held together by the bodyweight smoothly ‘dropping’ and ‘rising’ continuously and without interruption. Each Style of White Crane Fist presents these techniques in different and varied ways.
Within the folk storytelling developed during the early Qing Dynasty, it was said that ‘Crane Immortal’ (鹤仙 - He Xian) taught Fang Qiniang – whilst others state that Fang Qiang was taught only by her father – a native of Funing! Whatever the case, all stories agree that Fang Qiniang was the Founding Patriarch of the White Crane Fist Style! Fang Qiniang was clever and pretty – and was committed to learning martial arts! As Fang Qiniang refused to get married – she was banished to a local Buddhist Temple known as ‘Bai Lian’ (written as ‘白练’ or ‘白莲’ - the second variant appearing to be a play on words) meaning both ‘White Lotus’ and ‘Pure Practice’. Her Buddhist teacher was said to be the ‘Crane Immortal’ (鹤仙 - He Xian) who came down to Earth to instruct her in the art of ‘White Crane’. Fang Qiniang had to combine hours of seated Ch’an meditation with the continuous observation of the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ movements of the White Crane birds that inhabited the temple grounds.
(Another version worthy of consideration is the following story: One day, Fang Qiniang was immersed in the shuttle weaving on a traditional loom. Suddenly, a White Crane bird flew gracefully into the area - hovering near her roof and looking down. The White Crane bird finally flew down to the floor of the hall - standing quietly next to the loom. Looking up at Fang Qiniang – the bird refused to fly away and stood quietly for a long time. Fang Qiniang was very surprised by the inner stillness and outer poise of this bird. Fang Qiniang picked up the shuttle box and threw it – but the White Crane remained unruffled and simply ‘spread its wings’ in a graceful manner – and intercepted the shuttle box perfectly – causing it to bounce back with an effortless force. Fang Qiniang raised the bamboo inkstone used for weaving and attempted to strike the White Crane. Unexpectedly, the White Crane ‘shook’ its body - and the bamboo inkstone was bounced back! When Fang Qiniang saw this behaviour she was impressed and puzzled! On this day, the White Crane bird with its plump, white feathers refused to fly away! When night fell, Mr. Fang Zhonggong asked Fang Qiniang to bring out some white rice and sweet potato to feed the White Crane in the hall! Despite all this movement – the White Crane refused to move but remain quiet and still – but always alert! These events were a preparation for a white-haired Immortal to visit the Fang family and convey the martial art of the White Crane Fist!)
Once these movements (and reactions) were understood – Fang Qiniang had to integrate this new knowledge into her already existing Shaolin martial arts practice. This process took four years to achieve, and the White Crane Fist Style of martial arts was developed! As the ‘Bai Lian’ Temple became a well-known and respected centre of gongfu practice and given that Fang Qiniang was a renowned Buddhist monastic – she changed the name of the temple to ‘Jiao Lian’ (教练) or ‘Teach Practice’ Temple (寺 - Si). One day, a man named ‘Feng Si’ visited the temple and respectfully requested that Fang Qiniang teach him the White Crane Fist Style she had developed. He trained as her Disciple for over ten-years – and eventually the two people fell in love. This prompted Fang Qiniang to leave the temple and resume the lay life so that the two could get married. This is how the White Crane Style was taken back to Yongchun (the place of Fang Si’s birth) situated in Quanzhou - and took root in this part of Fujian province! The couple had numerous children and passed this family Style. The constituent originating lineages included are:
White Crane Fist (白鹤拳 - Bai He Quan)
Bai Lian Temple (白练寺 - Bai Lian Si)
a) ‘Crane Immortal’ (鹤仙 - He Xian)
b) ‘Fang Qiniang’ (方七娘)
c) ‘Zeng Si’ (曾四)
Southern Shaolin Fist (南 少林拳 - Nan Shao Lin Quan)
a) ‘Fang Zhonggong’ (方种公) - Father
b) ‘Fang Qiniang’ (方七娘) - Daughter
c) ‘Zeng Si’ (曾四) - Husband of Fang Qiniang & Son-in-Law of Fang Zhonggong
The foot work of the White Crane is light, exact and yet ‘heavy’ when ‘heaviness’ is required! The White Crane can move across the ground – barely touching the floor – like snowflakes falling from the sky! This is the foot work of heroes! Martial arts training is beneficial for the development of the mind and body! The White Crane Fist puts a great emphasis upon physical fitness! As a result, the White Crane Fist is masterful in attack and defence! The White Crane Fist is simultaneously both simple and enriched! These are the twenty defining attributes (and forms) of the White Crane Fist:
1) The White Crane generates the shape.
2) The shape manifests in the fist!
3) The form is taken from the name.
4) The name suggests elegance as its crowning glory
5) The White Crane protects the centreline throughout the upper, middle and lower parts of its body.
6) The Thirty-Six Divine Sky Gods
7) The Seventy-Two Broad Earth Demons
8) The One-Hundred and Eight Dharmas
9) The White Crane Flashes its Wings
10) Thirteen-Step Vibrations
11) Seven Steps – Three Battles
12) Thirteen Grand Protections
13) The White Crane is both ‘firm’ and ‘not’ firm.
14) The White Crane is both ‘soft’ and ‘not’ soft.
15) Shaking and vibrating with strength from the ground upwards.
16) There is a continuous change of skilled applications.
17) The structure is precise and always clearly maintained.
18) The awareness is always clear regarding offence and defence.
19) Always demonstrate mercy before raising your hand.
20) When the time comes to raise your hand – show no mercy!
Higaonna Kanryo [1853-1915] (东恩纳宽量) was the first Okinawan to learn the White Crane Fist. From the Chinese gongfu he took back to Okinawa – the ‘Empty Hand Way’ (空手道) or ‘Karate-Do’ would be eventually developed. It is the White Crane Fist which serves as the technical foundation to the development of Okinawan and Japanese Karate-Do. In other words, the ‘Empty Hand Fist’ (空手拳) or ‘Karate-Ken’ is really what is called ‘Yongchun Fist’ (永春拳 - Yong Chun Quan) in China! It is believed that the White Crane Fist is part of the ‘Shaolin Five Ancestor Fist’ (少林五祖拳 - Shao Lin Wu Zu Quan) tradition. This tradition developed in the Quanzhou area of Fujian province and is linked to the Southern Shaolin Temple situated in this area. The five Styles which form this System are as follows:
a) White Crane Fist (白鹤拳 - Bai He Quan)
b) Monkey Quan (猴拳 - Hou Quan)
c) Arahant Fist (罗汉拳 - Luo Han Quan)
d) Bodhidharma Fist (达尊拳 - Da Zun Quan) - also referred as ‘Mind Intention’ Boxing (心意拳 - Xin Yi Quan)
e) Grand Ancestor Fist (太祖拳 - Tai Zu Quan)
Although it is agreed that Fang Qiniang invented the White Crane Fist Style – it was her husband (Zeng Si) who is often cited as teaching the art prolifically within the Yongchun area. Historical records suggest that the couple lived in the area during four different time periods and were prone to travelling. It seems that the couple did not permanently stay in the Yongchun area, but they did favour the place as a base of operations – and it is from here that a renowned centre of White Crane Fist practice developed. The implication is that they settled there toward the end of their lives together. Although the historical text I am referencing is ‘old’ (and difficult to contextualise), there is an indication the couple taught White Crane Fist near to the ‘West Gate’ (西门 - Xi Men) of Yongchun, to the rear (and ‘outside’) of the ‘Name Temple’ (庙 - Miao) pertaining to the ‘Gu’ (辜) family. Technically speaking, this would be a Confucian Temple maintained by the local Gu family (designed only for the use of that family) comprised of a hall for social gatherings (which could include gongfu practice), and an area for the cremated remains of the Gu ancestors stored in large, sealed earthenware pots (together with pictures and biographical texts). Later, out of respect for Zeng Si, this training area became known as the ‘Zeng Martial Temple’ (曾武馆 - Zeng Wu Guan). This might suggest that the Gu Temple was eventually taken over as a centre for White Crane Fist practice – and was locally known by the above variant. This how the White Crane Fist Style took root within the Yongchun area. During the more than one-hundred years between emperors Kangxi (r. 1661-1722) and Qianlong (r. 1735-1796) - the White Crane Fist was widely disseminated and exchanged both inside and outside Fujian province. As an effective martial art favoured by the local population, it was continuously absorbed, summarized and improved upon – a process which greatly enriched and developed its technical and theoretical content. This important historical (developmental) period may be considered the ‘heyday’ of the White Crane Fist Style.
The different names associated with this Style of martial arts are:
i) White Crane Fist (白鹤拳 - Bai He Quan)
ii) Fujian White Crane Fist (福建白鹤拳 - Fu Jian Bai He Quan)
iii) Fujian Shaolin White Crane Fist (福建少林白鹤拳 - Fu Jian Shao Lin Bai He Quan)
iv) Yongchun White Crane Fist (永春白鹤拳 - Yong Chun Bai He Quan)
v) Southern Shaolin White Crane Fist (南少林白鹤拳 - Nan Shao Lin Bai He Quan)
Between the reigns of the Qing Dynasty emperors Kangxi, Qianlong and Jiaqing (嘉慶), that is to say from around 1664-1821 – the record books suggest that the White Crane Fist Style has been passed on by five or six generations of descendants in the Yongchun area – depending upon how lineages are interpreted and understood. It was one of these lineages which was eventually taken back to Okinawa and served as the foundation for the development of modern Karate-Do in all that art’s distinct and diverse variations.
Chinese Language Sources:
Always strive to be familiar with the Makiwawa! When you stand in front of the Makiwawa – stand with strength and vigour! Stand at the correct distance and in the right empowering posture when confronting the Makiwawa! When the practitioner strikes with a kick and a punch – always drop the bodyweight and strike through the pelvic-girdle and the lower-abdomen. The bodyweight is ‘dropped’ through an aligned posture so that the bones and joints are correctly positioned. This ‘roots’ the practitioner firmly to the ground whilst allowing swift and yet powerful movements to and from the Makiwawa! The entire mind and body must be used – and must not be limited to just the use of the hands and feet! This is how the ‘Hard’ and the ‘Soft’ energies are continuously ‘balanced’! Added to this is control of the breath – so that the practitioner ‘breaths-in’ during the preparation and ‘breaths-out’ during the execution and delivery of each strike! This coordination between ‘breathing’ and ‘physical’ movement must be well-practiced and refined. This is important as the breathing mechanism inherent within Makiwawa training connects Kata practice to Basics and Kumite.
Remember – the Makiwawa is a manifestation of a real ‘threatening’ opponent! This is why a Goju Ryu practitioner must generate and retain a strong sense of purpose and reality! Every punch and kick must be delivered with full intensity – with the mind and the body being fully alert, relaxed and yet ‘ready’ for instantaneous and dramatic action! A controlled aggression must be ever present – but the mind and body must free of any hindering factors such as anger or hatred! The mind must be ‘calm’ and ‘expansively’ aware – whilst the body must be perfectly ‘balanced’ and fully primed between ‘Hard’ and ‘Soft’! When the moment is correct all the combined power of the mind and body must be focused and projected toward the Makiwawa! The strike must be ‘penetrative’ and pass ‘through’ the Makiwawa striking surface! The principle is to ‘penetrate’ the surface muscle and bone of the opponent and strike deep into the neural network – to incapacitate the ability of the opponent to move their body appropriately during combat – where precise movement is required for survival! This is exactly what a Goju Ryu Karate-Do practitioner trains to take away from an opponent through landing perfectly timed and devastatingly ‘penetrating’ power-strikes!
How should the Makiwawa be used during training? Makiwawa training is a perfect manifestation of ‘external’ and ‘internal’ methodology. Therefore, the following principles must be developed and applied:
1) The execution of each technique must be developed from ‘slow’ to ‘fast’.
2) The execution of each technique must be developed from ‘weak’ to ‘strong’.
3) The transition(s) between these attributes must be thoroughly practiced and mastered.
4) Striking force must be applied in a ‘penetrating’ manner – that is beyond the collision of objects.
5) As the repetitions increase – the intensity of penetrative force is developed to devastating levels.
6) Makiwawa-training is a vital part of Goju Ryu Karate-Do methodology!
Japanese Source Article:
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.