Last time I did it!!!

CNY08This is a photo I found that my friend Lun Lok took in 2008, at the Manchester Chinese New Year celebrations and it made me think about that day and what a good time it was. As I had brought some of my friends and students with me to experience for the first time being at a Lion Dance and Chinese New Year from the inside. It is completely different when you are involved walking along Princess Street seeing the huge crowds cheering and clapping it is truly a great experience and a tribute to the people of Manchester that they come out year after year to celebrate with the Chinese community.

This was the last Chinese New year I participated in simply because I moved to Thailand. Although I have visited Manchester since and spent time in the Kwoon of Chu Sifu I have not been able to arrange to be there for the celebrations. In 2009 I went to the celebrations in London to support my friends there, Dave Stevens, Iain Armstrong and Eddie Barrios and since then have not been in the UK as the Chinese New year was celebrated.

The picture shows myself waiting for my turn on the drum, my good friend and senior student John Farrell on the cymbals, his son John on the drum and my good friend and student Jane Jackson taking it all in to my right.

A Great day!!!!

Unfinished Business

I am 52 years old and been doing Martial Arts, most of that time but I still feel like I have unfinished business another thing to learn a style to try, I watch boxing and think yeah I should go back to it get myself back into boxing shape, just to show that I can? My training with Chu Sifu was about getting rid of ego training in an art to keep that art alive and to be part of a culture and to learn skills that are no longer taught. When I went to Krishna it was like an epiphany in a lot of ways what he was doing and showing sort of made the jigsaw whole for me, it made my Kung Fu better by opening my mind to different concepts and ideas. After illness I started Taiji but not just a mainstream style I wanted to train in a little known and rarer style, so went to Sun Style Taiji and in Dave Martin found a great guy with no ego who just wanted to do the best he could in promoting his chosen style. I am not sure where this blog is going as I write it I just need to get some thoughts down as to why after all this years I still feel I have something to prove to myself? Is it ego? is it vanity to be known as one of the best? or is it just the way I am made? I lost my dad when I was 12 years old and maybe not being able to prove to anyone that I was good at anything, academic has driven me on as I really feel within Martial Arts I have found what I was born to do, I have trained with some of the best guys in the world within their chosen arts and continue to do so when opportunity arises, as I sit here typing I think well I could train the old stuff pick up the sticks again, push myself to new heights physically and mentally, but I don’t want my mind writing cheques my body cant cash, to me that would be detrimental to my development, I think where I am I am meant to be, training in what I should be for my health and well being, I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone who cares to read this but would appreciate any thoughts you have, I have stopped at many crossroads along my Martial path, stumbled and fell many times, been kicked and punched without a blow being thrown, I suppose I have answered my own question, do I have unfinished business?yes, with myself

Sil Lum Hung Kuen Cum Na Sao Training

This is very important in Sil Lum Hung Kuen and also Chu Gar Kuen though the training is a little different.

The first exercise was using a 25kg barbell plate and stepping into bow and arrow stance whilst pushing the hands forward holding the weight.

Next using the same weight and a partner, standing back to back pass the weight around to each other.

The third exercise was using a normal house brick, throw upwards and catch with alternate hands whilst sitting in horse stance.

Fourth exercise was again using the house brick, put the brick in front of left foot whilst in a bow and arrow stance pick up with right hand then place in front of right foot then repeat exercise with left hand continue till Sifu said stop.

Fifth exercise using 50 bamboo chopsticks or garden cane bound together, twist forwards and backwards.

Sixth exercise, use an 8 foot pole have the pole in front of you whilst in horse stance turn to bow and arrow stance performing an uppercut movement with the pole then straighten arm and lower slowly so tip touches first repeat then on opposite sides.

Seventh exercise using same pole sit in horse stance opposite your training partner, then you both turn in opposite directions into bow and arrow stance trying to keep your grip and trying to avoid the pole turning.

Cum Na Sao is a system in its own right and after these exercises there are techniques to be practiced in seizing and grabbing, then a form called 72 Cum Na Sao.

I have avoided giving the amount of repetitions, as Sifu just left you to it and you did whatever he gave you till he said stop! If you stopped or gave up he would not show you any more. So it is important to remember that when training that way, is not for everyone and it was under his supervision and control so he could stop you if you were in any difficulty. Also herbal liniment was applied after training and this might not be available, this training was very traditional and needed 100% commitment to complete.

History of Chui Siu Woon

Chu Siu Woon

Chiu Siu Woon was born in Tibet in 1923, his father worked as an artisan repairing the temples, his early exposure was to the practice of Virgin Hei Gung which can only be learned before puberty, and I personally feel this practice has helped maintain his good health and vigor as a basis for what he later learned.

When his father passed away the young Chiu his mother and sister took the body on a pilgrimage through India and back to China to Kwantung province.

Unfortunately Chiu’s mother and sister became opium addicts and gambled away what money they had, this forced him to find a job cleaning. He was asked to work for a local doctor cleaning and keeping the house. The doctor observed the young man and eventually asked him if he would like to learn medicine and Kung Fu, the doctors name was Go Lo Tin and he taught the young Chiu medicine, bone setting and Kung Fu. The name of the style was ‘Chu Gar Siu Lam Hung Kuen’. The name means ‘Chu Family Red Fist’ and is different to the other styles of Hung Kuen. It was predominantly a village boxing art, the history of the style is that a temple was dedicated by Chu Hung Mo an emperor, the practice of Kung Fu was done at this temple and in deference to the emperor the style was called Chu Gar, the red fist comes from the red door the graduates passed when leaving the temple.

When Chiu had learned all he could from Go Lo Tin he was sent to his masters brother Go Tin Yat, to learn Chu Gar Kuen a style purely for fighting and used to counter the long arm styles. The cultural revolution was starting and so Chiu was sent by his teachers to Hong Kong to preserve what they had taught him. He never saw or heard from them again. After traveling to India and Australia Chiu eventually settled down in Manchester, England and began to teach a small group, one of the first westerners was John Farrell and John is now Dai Si Hing (big elder brother) and has been for many years.

Bob began his training with Chiu Sifu in 1981 and is a Si Hing of the style second only to John Farrell, Bob underwent 5 years of daily training to learn the Chu Gar Kuen. He believes he is the only one to have done this training in its totality and though others have learned some they have not had the same training over a sustained period.

Chiu Sifu said Go Lo Tin was a lay priest and had been at the Shaolin Temple, he had left to pursue a worldly existence and help people.

History Of Chu Gar Kuen

Chu Gar Kuen is a short-range style of Kung-Fu that emanates from the Toisan district of Kwantung province, Southern China. It is said to have originated to combat the long-range styles of the Shaolin Temple. However, the authors of this article determine that this information is more than likely to be too literal a translation from the original Chinese as related to them by Master Chu. It is more probable that revolutionary factions who were trying to overthrow the Ming dynasty and restore the Ching devised this style. In the early 19th century when Chu Gar Kuen was conceived, the Shaolin Temple monks were active resistance fighters and taught lay disciples their Kung-Fu to help the resistance effort.

Shaolin Kung-Fu, however, was intricate and took a long time to master and so there was a need to develop a style that was quicker to learn, less intricate, but equally effective. It is also noteworthy that the new style was named after Emperor Chu Hung Mo who financed the building of the Fukien Shaolin Temple and became a shaven headed monk himself. This fact alone seems to quell the notion that the style was in some way opposed to Shaolin.

Though we are not sure of the exact origin or the originators of this style it is nonetheless an effective form of self-defense. Stripped of non-essential techniques, Chu Gar Kuen is designed to inflict maximum damage to an opponent with minimum effort.

Master Chu Shiu Woon is the current Grandmaster of Chu Gar Kuen and was originally sent to learn the style by his Siu Lum Hung Kuen teacher, Sifu Go Lo Tin. His new teacher was the brother of his master, and was named Go Tin Yat. Chu Shiu Woon soon found that Go Tin Yat was a hard task master and suffered greatly in learning this style, as development of the anatomical weapons is stressed, particularly the fung nan kuen (phoenix-eye fist ) .

In later years, the Cultural Revolution began and Chu Shiu Woon was urged to flee to Hong Kong to escape persecution. During the Cultural Revolution many great masters were put to death and since leaving for Hong Kong Chu Shiu Woon has never heard from his two beloved masters. The Fighting System Chu Gar Kuen consists of the following elements, which make up the style:
Empty Hands: fung nan kuen (phoenix-eye fist), tit sar jeong (iron sand palm), cum na sao (seizing hand), kiu sao (bridge arm).

Weapons: gow jit gwan (nine sections pole), dan dao (single knife). Weapons contain no forms, only single techniques, two-man drills and applications.

Internal Training: tit bo salm (iron shirt).

Wooden Dummy Training: A single pile wooden dummy with no arms or leg is used to sharpen skills and toughen anatomical weapons.

Forms: There are 3 empty hand forms, which cover short, medium and long bridge techniques.

Training the Anatomical Weapons

Anatomical weapons are toughened in a variety of ways, mostly against the wooden dummy or sandbag and may employ techniques such as striking, rubbing, grinding, hooking, and pushing. Also used are weighted devices using pulley wheels to strengthen the bridge arm and grabbing, etc. The most unusual method employs a silk sash suspended from the ceiling, which the practitioner grabs and pulls whilst striking with alternate phoenix-eye fists. This drill stresses “inch force” training.

All the methods employed do some degree of damage to each area worked and after each training session it is essential to apply herbal medicine to promote healing

Chu Gar Hung Kuen

I had learned many empty hand forms and also about 6 weapon forms when Chu Sifu started to teach me some Chu Gar Gwun, this was called Gow Jit Gwun and it first involved part filling a gallon container with water attaching it to the end of the pole then performing  ten movements whilst in low horse stance using just one breath.
You gradually added more water to the container and it took about six months to fill it to 3/4 full, this training was extremely difficult but the benefits were enormous as I developed a lot of power in the short and medium range, Chu Sifu explained to me that there were three stages, I was doing level 1, level 2 would be hitting a 6″ nail in the wall in one hit! The last level was sensitivity moving around a wooden dummy striking at but not breaking eggs.
Unfortunately I never got past level 2 as other things took precedent in training and Sifu would always say there was time later to learn it.

Chu Sifu

Chu Siu Woon

 

 

 

I first met Chu Sifu in 1981 and over the next 20 years he would help me become the person I am, the style of Gung Fu he taught was called Sil Lum Hung Kuen or Shaolin Red Fist boxing. The red was meant to denote the door which Shaolin monks left the temple after completing their training. It is a complete system.of Traditional Gung Fu with empty hand and weapon forms, Lion dancing and internal training. He taught me so much about martial arts how to practise and how to teach he showed me martial.virtue and how to be without ego and humble when meeting others in martial arts and to not be boastful. Along with John Farrell and Phil Morrell as my elder Gung Fu brothers guiding me as well I could not have wished for better friends.

He also taught me Chu Gar Kuen a system of short armed boxing from his teachers brother, and I will be forever grateful for all the gifts he bestowed on me. His generation of Gung Fu masters have all but become extinct and he is the last of his kind a true legend within the Martial Arts.

Thank you Sifu, Buddha bless you, my love and respect always.