San Gam (新錦) helped Fung Siu Cing (馮小青) to hand in resignation to the shop owner Siu Kyun¹ (蕭權) and took him back to the Red Boat², to be San´s personal attendant. When San played on stage and changed his own costumes, Fung would tidy up, fold them neatly and put them back into the chests. Because Fung worked carefully and systematically, he won the favour of San. San regarded him as his personal protégé. No matter where the Red Boat travelled to perform, San always took Fung along. Eventhough San was a very famous Cantonese Opera actor at that time, he continued practicing martial arts assiduously. On the Red Boat, facilities such as Gwan Zong (棍樁, longpole dummy), Wut Zong (活樁, movable dummy) and sandbags were installed.
According to what San told Fung, those practising tools were the Wing Chun Kyun (永春拳) installation. After Shaolin Monastery (少林寺) was burnt down, Zen Master Zi Sin (至善禪師) as an anti-Manchu³ mainstay, he was closely watched by the Qing (清) government. Since he wanted to travel to the southern part of China to pass his martial arts skill, he disguised himself as a cooking staff on the Red Boat, and where he took in two protégé. One was Wong Waa Bou (黄華寶) who played Daai Faa Min (大花面, strong male character) in the troupe. The other one was Loeng Ji Dai (梁二娣) who was the boatman known as Duk Seoi Gwai (篤水鬼, Punting Water Ghost). He steered the boat by pushing a long bamboo pole against the riverbed. Zen Master Zi Sin secretly passed his Wushu (武術) to them.
Master Zi Sin taught students according to their aptitude. The technic of Siu Lam Kyun (少林拳, the Shaolin fist-figthing) was based on the Ng Jing Kyun (五形拳, five forms fist fighting). Nevertheless, due to the lack of space on the Red Boat, Master Zi Sin could not teach Wong and Loeng the Ng Jing Keun which required Coeng Kiu Daai Maa (長橋大馬, long bridge and wide stance). Instead, he taught them Dyun Kiu Zaak Maa (短橋窄馬, short Bridge and narrow stance) and modified the wide stance to the Ji Zi Kim Joeng Maa (二字箝羊馬, sign two, clamp the goat stance). In practice, the two feet were about a foot (0.3m) apart and the two knees were about few inches apart. In such a position, the feet were like a pair of pliers and if one rode on a goat’s neck, it would not be able to free its head and escape, that was why it was so named.
The Kiu Sau (橋手, bridge hands) could be categorized into Tan Sau (攤手, spread out hand), Fuk Sau (伏手, concealing hand), Bong Sau (膀手, wing hand), Gang Sau (耕手, plow hand), Zaak Sau (責手, reproaching hand), Laan Sau (攔手, blocking hand) and Sik Sau (拭手, wiping hand).
The Zoeng Faat (掌法, palm method) could be categorized into Zing Zoeng (正掌, straight palm), Waang Zoeng (橫掌, crossing palm) and Dai Zhang (底掌, basis palm). The alteration of the stance was simple, that was only from Maa Sik (馬式, horse style) to Gung Sik (弓式, bow style). The Gung Sik stance was characterized by having the foot behind as the dominant weight anchor while the foot in front played subordinate. Wing Chun (永春) training focused on practicing with the Wooden Dummy. The Stance for practicing is to turn the body from sideways to front while engaging the hand and elbow at the same time with the elbow and palm striking simultaneously, fist-fighting with elbow, strike with the palm when the body is sideways. Laat Goek (辣腳, sweeping feet) and Gang Sau (耕手) are heavy blows.
Ci Sau (黐手, sticky hands), wooden dummy and sandbags were practical skills. Ci Sau was a practice between two persons, which was similar to the Tui Shou (推手, Pushing Hands) of the Tai Ji Quan⁴ (太極拳). Practicing with the wooden dummy needed only short bridge and narrow stance, and very few stepping. Therefore, preforming a whole set of fist-fighting required only a few square feet, which made it suitable to be practiced on the Red Boat.
The pole technic was called Luk Dim Bun Gwan (六點半棍, 6.5 Points Pole). The 6 points were Tai (提, raise), Laan (攔, block), Dim (點, point), Kit (揭, take off), Got (割, cut) and Wan (運, transport). The half point was Lau Gwan (漏棍, leak pole). The type of this pole technic was only 6.5 points, but it was very changeful. Because Loeng Ji Dai propelled the boat and held a pole in hand whole day, so Master Zi Sin taught him pole technic particularly. The propelling pole was very long, around 9 foot 3 inch (2.8 meters).
When Master Zi Sin passed his Wushu skill to Wong Waa Bou and Loeng Ji Dai, they were mostly on the boat. Therefore the boat was installed with sandbags, Wut Zong (活樁, movable dummy) and Gwan Zong (棍樁, longpole dummy). The sandbags were hanged. Since it was on the boat, the Wooden Dummy could not be fixed on the ground. So, the base of the dummy could only be placed in the cabin and fixed with big stones. When approaching to the dummy, it moved a bit inevitably. That was why it was called Wut Zong (活樁, movable dummy). It was different from the Sei Zong (死樁, static dummy) which base was buried deep inside the ground and did not move when one approached it. The Gwan Zong (棍樁 longpole dummy) was built with wooden stand. The stand was 8 feet x 8 feet (2.44meters x 2.44meters) in the shape of「田」. Wooden poles were embedded at each of the 4 corners and center. The poles were around 1 foot (30cm) protruding from the stand, only the center pole was a bit longer. The longpole dummy was hanged on the wall, at the height as people chest. When one practiced the longpole dummy, he faced the stand and imagined those 5 protruded poles were the point of pole of an enemy, and then applied Luk Dim Bun Gwan (六點半棍, 6.5 Points Pole). Once blocking, once transporting, once pointing, once cutting, once raising, once taking off, all were followed by the set.
Besides those practicing installation, Master Zi Sin taught Wong and Loeng meticulously too. After some years, they both had great achievement. Wong was good with the fist, while Loeng was good with the pole. Master Zi Sin has told them that, besides them, he had once taught this Kung Fu to Jim Ji Gung (嚴二公) in Jiangxi (江西) and Loeng Bok Lau (梁博流) in Dongguan (東莞).
¹ Siu Kyun was a master tailor and Fung was his journeyman
² During 18th - 19th Century, Cantonese Opera boats travelled along the rivers between Guangdong and Guangxi. Red was the symbol color of those boats
³ The Manchu still are an ethnic group in northeast of China. They finished the Ming Dynasty in the year 1644 and burned down the Shaolin Monastery in 1732. According to legend the Five Elders could flee, among them was Zen Master Zi Sin. The Manchu coming from the north spread to the south, and that's why the monks fled into the south. Zen Master Zi Sin fled into the province of Guangdong
⁴ The commonly known Tai Ji Quan or Tai Chi Quan is written 'Taai3 Gik6 Kyun4' in Jiutping Cantonese. Here the generally transcription is used, that is related to the Mandarin
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