Sil Lum Hung Kuen Fut Dao (Buddha Knife)

This weapon is one of the first to be learned, but it has two forms both bearing the same name one a little more difficult than the other.

The name comes from the hand configuration which is predominantly held at the chest height with open palm as a traditional Shaolin salute.

Both forms involve all the basic striking and blocking but as this weapon is a hacking type it has some spinning and jumping techniques to add power to strike.

Within the forms there are also kicking techniques coupled with twirling the Dao and also rolling and cutting low.

This weapon was mainly used against a long range weapon like a spear or pole but we also practiced close range techniques.

Control was one of the main training exercises you would twirl the Dao then attack a dummy and stop the Dao an inch from the dummy. Eventually you could control the weapon, as the idea was being able to change the angle quickly if your attack was blocked at full speed and power. I also learned the Chu Gar Dao, completely different from the two forms I learned in Sil Lum Hung Kuen. The training was also different with more emphasis on close range and manipulating the Dao at soft targets on the body, instead of hacking them and cutting and blocking at the same time.

Sil Lum Hung Kuen Baat Charm Dao (8 Cutting Knives)

These are some of my favourite weapons in the system and the forms are difficult in having jumping and rolling techniques. The knives themselves are much like the ones commonly seen in Wing Chun, but the guard is a rolled bar not square which makes it easier to reverse the knives.

There are two forms to be learned the first is relatively easy jumping and blocking in four direction performing the cutting as well. The second is more difficult in that it has rolling techniques as well has jumping techniques.

This is a very flexible weapon and because of the length can change height and direction quickly enabling the practitioner to defend against multiple opponents.

Within the system there is also a two man set involving the knives against the pole. Myself and John Farrell performed this many times, it is a very fast set and the pole is used double ended which is a real test of speed to defend and counter against.

We performed the set for Lama Yeshe Losal the Abbot of Samye Linge temple who told us he could see our energy in colours spiraling as we performed the moves it was a great experience.

The Baat Charm Dao can also be called mother and son knives and that is their traditional name within Hung Gar, but for us they were 8 Cutting Knives.

Sil Lum Hung Kuen Dai Pa (Big Fork)

Within the system this is a formidable weapon, it is approximately 7 feet long and weighs between 30 and 40 pounds it was not a weapon I chose to learn but it was what Chu Sifu thought would be best for me as I was a big guy back then and I think he gave it me to develop the attributes of stable fast footwork with power.

I am so pleased he decided to teach me this weapon I grew to love it but it was as with everything in the system difficult and very hard work.

First I was taught the basic movements pressing, uplifting, sweeping, thrusting, twisting and striking with reverse of the Pa. This was done in a straight line involving horse stance, bow and arrow stance and twisted stance turning and repeating until Chu Sifu said enough. This was repeated daily and after about 6 months I felt the Pa was not heavy and I could control it without it controlling me.

Over the next five years I was taught two forms each about 12 moves long which eventually linked into one form. The moves were what I had been practicing but in a set of movements with some additional flourishes and designed so I could perform it when needed at events and Chinese New Year.

As well as the basic movements there are exercises designed to strengthen the grip and forearms.

Some of you might think that learning an archaic weapon such as this is not relevant to today’s world of Martial Arts, but to keep alive a tradition and also to develop the strength and skill this weapon bestows was well worth the effort.

Diary 2008

The following is excerpts from my trip to Beijing in 2008, as usual it was a great trip and my thanks to Mr and Mrs Lei Shi Tai for making it a truly memorable one.

Day 1
Arrived Beijing and was met by Lei Laoshi, went for dinner with Mr and Mrs Lei.

Day 2
Practicedwith Mr Lei and Students, learned Hu Xing and Ma Xing, as well as practicing Tui Shou and the 5 elements from Xing Yi.
Laoshi said Taiji is like putting you hand in a stream to catch fish you cant see them but as soon as you feel one you grab it.
Xing Yi is like catching shrimp which jump so you have to explode quickly to catch them.
Bagua is like turning a mill stone.

In Taiji the backbone should be like a bow and you should not lead from the waist, you should move altogether, try to keep the tailbone tucked in and facing the floor.

Day 3
Reviewed Hu Xing and Ma Xing, then learned Lien Wan Quan and practiced pushing hands.

Day 4
Reviewed Hu Xing, Ma Xing and Lien Wan Quan, learned Toh Xing and Tai Xing

Day 5
Reviewed Tuo Xing and Tai Xing got corrections, learned Ji Xing and looked at Pi Quan in more detail

Day 6
Reviewed five elements and did push hands, Mr Lei showed me Huo Xing but not learned it yet.

Day 7
Reviewed Ji Xing, Hu Xing, Ma Xing, Tuo Xing and Tai Xing, then learned Yen Xing.

Day 8
Visited Mr Lei’s club practised Taiji and all the Xing Yi I had learned so far, did some push hands with his students.

Day 9
Visited Mr Lei’s club practised Taiji learned different ending, then practise push hands and Xing Yi, learned Bagua circle and straight walking and single palm change.

Day 10
PracticedJi Xing then push hands with Lei Laoshi 1.45 min. tough day!!

Day 11
Learned She Xing, then did push hands, Mr lei explained how Pi Quan makes all the other fists and that it does not matter which one defeats or makes the other, they just develop different power and so when appropriate you can use it, the 12 animals give you the ability to move freely in any direction and coupled with the techniques in them make them useful.

Day 12
Reviewed She Xing, then push hands

Day 13
Learned Xong/Ying Xing eagle and bear, plus push hands got connection in my back and must remember it!!

Day 14
Reviewed Xong/Ying Xing then push hands.

Day 15
No practice

Day 16
Went to Laoshi’s house, practiced push hands and learned theory, he said for visualisations we should use water for Taiji, a mountain for Xing Yi and a Typhoon for Bagua.

Day 17
Practised push hands as raining very heavy

Day 18
Learned Yau Xing and Long Xing, reviewed Xong and Ying plus Lien Wan Quan and push hands.

Day 19
Last day learned Huo Xing, five directions and jumping glad I learned this last!!

Also I visited the Bai Yun Guan ( white cloud temple) and Mr and Mrs Lei took me to Tan Zhe Si temple and to Sun Jian Yun’s grave site, these were great experiences for me and meeting and practicing with Lei Laoshi’s students was also a fantastic experience as there was no ego just people wanting to practice.

First Trip To Beijing Part 2

The Great Wall

This was a bit of a disappointment to me, as it has become a three-ring circus in some parts of this magnificent monument. Stallholders who are in your face trying to sell anything and everything that relates to the great wall hound you. It is mainly tourist crap anyway and you can get better souvenirs in Beijing. If you are staying at the Downtown backpackers they do a great tour to the wall but be prepared for a hard day’s walking.

Out and about

The best way to get about Beijing is by underground or bus as these two transport systems are cheap and very reliable. The stations on the underground are in pin yin as well as Chinese so us foreigners can get to most of the local attractions and parks using this system. The cost on the underground is 3 Yuan about 20p in our money and the buses are even cheaper at 1 Yuan about 7p. You can travel a long way for your money and on the underground as long as you don’t come up from the station you only pay 3 Yuan and can travel on the red line and the loop line. Taxis are also very cheap compared to England but beware as Beijing is a huge city the taxi drivers will not always know where you want to go, it helps to have a map and also a Chinese speaker if possible.

We also traveled by taxi to the International wushu association in Beijing where they have a large selection of books and DVD’s on all different styles of Chinese martial arts. I also visited Beijing Physical Education University where there are shops that specialise in weapons and managed to pick up a couple of chain whips for my Gung Fu brother John Farrell at 70 Yuan for both, less than £6!!

Yunhe Gong Temple

This is a must visit when in Beijing as the temple grounds are magnificent. On the outside of the temple are shops selling incense and beads, these shops are cheaper than buying stuff in the temple itself. Once you enter the temple grounds all sounds of the city have disappeared and it is peaceful and tranquil. There are large pagodas housing the different Buddhist deities and Buddha’s, as it was a festival day when I visited it would bring me good fortune if I lit incense at every altar, so armed with two bags full of incense I honoured this tradition which took about two hours. This temple is near to Ditan Park and after visiting it I walked the 20 minutes or so to Ditan Park to visit my friend Phil and his teacher Wen Da Sheng.

I can’t wait to return to Beijing and continue my journey in Sun Style!!

I would like to thank the following people who made this trip possible
My son Dav, David and Siu Ying Martin, Phil Morrell, Jenny, Peter Farrell and all my students from Salford and Blackpool.

A special thank you to Lei Laoshi for sharing such a wonderful gift and for Dave in opening up the door so that I could step through.

First Trip To Beijing Part 1

I had been traveling for nearly 24 hours (inc transfers) when I finally touched down at Beijing International Airport at 9.30am on 30/10/2005; nothing prepares you for the massive urban sprawl that is Beijing. My Sun Style Tai Chi teacher in England Dave Martin had told me that Beijing was big and my traveling companion Phil had also said “ you won’t believe the size of the place”. They were both right and as we traveled by taxi to my apartment for the next 18 days my tired eyes were trying to take it all in without being culture shocked.

Lei Laoshi

We arrived at my apartment situated in Wan Shou Lou Hai Dian district and were met by my teacher’s wife and my teacher for the next 3 weeks Mr Lei. He seemed pleased that I was strong and healthy and he himself looked very fit and strong, he asked what I was hoping to learn from him and I jokingly said “everything” so we arranged my training to start the next day. I would be training in Sun Style Taiji, Hsing Yi and Bagua depending on what Mr Lei thought about my current level of skill. Mr Lei’s lineage is through his Grandfather who studied with Sun Lu Tang directly so I was excited to be exposed to a more direct system than I had previously been taught in England.

Training

Mr Lei said that he would be best able to show me how the three internal arts that make up Sun Style work by training a lot of Tui Shou (push hands). We started and I soon realised that his skill level was a long way ahead of mine and just to prove it Lei Laoshi introduced me to a nearby bush. I picked myself up and like a lamb to the slaughter willingly went back to experience this skill again and again. Sometimes it was a bush and other times he would introduce me to a nearby tree. Mr Lei has been learning Sun style since he was a small boy and had been taught by his grandfather who was a student and great friend of Sun Lu Tang. He practiced everyday and it showed in his understanding and ability to use Taiji, Hsing Yi and Bagua. Our practise continued until it was my time to leave and I gradually got better and began to understand for the first time what true internal power was. Mr Lei has knowledge of all three internal arts and he has exposed me to teachings that I will be grateful to him for all my life as it is for me like finding the Holy Grail. I will be returning to train with Lei Laoshi as he has told me he will teach me everything if I am able and this includes the Sun style Hsing Yi weapons which until speaking to him I thought were lost. I also trained with another great teacher in Mr Liu Shu Chun who along with Mr Lei and other seniors in Sun Style founded Sun Lu Tangs Martial Arts Research Centre (Beijing). These two great teachers exposed me to the basics of Sun Style Hsing Yi and Bagua, whilst also checking out and correcting my Taiji form and also the Hsing Yi I had previously learned in England. Fortunately these did not require a lot of fixing and I came away with a great deal of material. I practise the Taiji form the same as my teacher Mr Lei, as Sun Jian Yun’s version which I previously practiced is a little different not only in movements but intent and application. Mr Lei said that Sun Jian Yun’s version of the Taiji form was her final research and it had developed into mainly a health art as opposed to being more martial in application, though the applications are there if you know where to look.

Wanderings

My favorite places to visit were the parks and out of all the parks in Beijing I liked Ditan Park the best, probably because my great friend and traveling companion Phil trains there with his Bagua teacher Wen Da Sheng. Mr Wen is a great person and gave me a lot of advice and cared about my training even though he was not my teacher, the Fan style Bagua he practices and teaches is very good and for someone near to 60 years old he is in fantastic shape. My friend Phil is his only western student and is very very good and trains really hard, Mr Wen really puts him through his paces.

Watching the older people train was a fantastic experience for me as they really put us “young uns” to shame, I never got tired of watching them perform even the most complicated exercises with ease. We met an elderly gentleman who was only 75 and practiced Taiji but warmed up by stretching his leg up a tree and even smiled for the camera whilst he did it! I met another lady in her 40’s who was practicing Yoga effortlessly and when I asked her who she studied with said “ I have learned from DVD’s and books” soul destroying or what? I saw some rare styles in Ditan park most notably Hao style Taiji, there was also some very good Chen style Taiji practitioners. One of the things that amazed me was that people in China did not wear special clothes or fancy brands to practice they just trained in the clothes they had and that might be a normal pair of trousers and dress shoes, but the ability of some of these practitioners has to be seen to be believed.

China was for me a very humbling and enjoyable experience, I have been practicing and teaching martial arts for 27 years, but to experience the power of my teacher was awesome, I have experienced similar power from my Chu Gar Kuen teacher Master Chu, but Mr Lei did it without any effort, he could push me around very easily and I also knew that he could have ripped me apart if he had wanted to.

Sun Style 5 Element Fist

The five element fists of Xing Yi are very important for producing the different kinds of energy needed to apply the art.

After the basic of San Ti has been mastered and practiced the real hard work begins. The first and most important fist Pi Quan turns up throughout the Sun Style system and it is vitally important that this fist is learned and practiced correctly, the power at the Ming Jin level is a horizontal spiraling of the front palm downward as the split is made, it is important that correct form is kept and the coordination between the hand and feet is developed.

Next Beng Quan is learned, it is important that the fist spirals in a corkscrew fashion at the Ming Jin level and again coordination between the foot stepping and the punch is maintained.

Zuan Quan is the third fist learned and the motion is down then up for the power to develop correctly, the transitional step is like Pi Quan and we are aiming for a smooth motion.

Pao Quan is the fourth fist to be learned and the energy spirals outward then back on the transitional step, it is important that the hand travels up the centre-line and turns, but does not pull back.

Heng Quan is the last fist to be learned, this fist is difficult because it spirals forward but then turns outward without any movement from the shoulder. The difficulty in this fist is also coordinating alternate hands and feet when stepping.

This article is only meant to explain how we in Sun Style Martial Arts from the lineage of my teacher practice Xing Yi, I accept that others may practice similar or different methods. I am not implying what we do is better it is just our way of developing at the Ming Jin level.

The mastery of Xing Yi at any level can take a lifetime and I am very lucky in that my teacher understands what is needed to reach the highest level and has passed that knowledge on to me.