A long history of Shaolin Weng Chun Tradition By Chu Chong Man
Translations by Sifu Ignasius
Shaolin Weng Chun Style kungfu got its name from the Weng Chun (Forever Spring) Hall. In those years, the Shaolin Monastery had in its curriculum a great number of different styles taught by various instructors and assistant instructors, forming the modern date Shaolin Style. The training was conducted in various chambers e.g. Lo Hon Hall, Boon Yeuk Room, Weng Chun Hall, Buddilharma Hall, etc. The story goes that the SiDai (younger kungfu brother) of Fong Sai Yuk had his training of Fa Kuen (the Floral Fist) in the Weng Chun Hall.
Abbot Chi Sin after the burning down of the Shaolin Monastery by the Qing Administration, went into hiding from the hunt of the Qing soldiers in Fut Shan and Qing Yuen cities in GuangDong province. Then he settled down in King Fa Association Club, and traveled with the opera actors in the ‘Red Boats’ (Remarks: 1) from place to place for their performances. During that time, he taught the Shaolin kungfu techniques to Tin Nung and subsequently Dao Wah Bo. So the descendents later addressed the two as Master Tin and Dao. When living on the Red Boats, the space was quite tight and not suitable for practicing long and wide movements and so the Shaolin kungfu techniques were somehow amended and improved to fit the environment to close range combat techniques. The essence of such were later developed into a form called ‘Jong Kuen’ and the Wooden Dummy techniques into 3 sets, called the ‘Heaven Set’, the ‘Earth Set’ and the ‘Human Set’ and a long pole form called the ‘Six and Half Points’ Long Pole techniques, to suit the practicing environment. Then Dao Wah Bo taught his techniques to an opera actor ‘Dai Fa Min Kam’ (Sun Kam) (* Remarks: 2), and taught the long pole techniques to Kan Ming, Sun Kam. Then it was transcended to Fung Siu Ching, and then to Dong Jik as the 4th generation, and to Chu Chong Man, as the 5th generation student.
According to GM Chu Chong Man, other than learning from Dong Jik as his Sifu, he also had a very superior master called Wong Jit Shing, who was an expert in Shaolin Weng Chun. It was said that during his hiding from the hunt of the Qing administration, Abbot Chi Sin stayed in the house of a certain Wong family who was a Martial ‘Gui Yan’ (the 3rd place winner in the open martial arts tournament operated by the government). At that time, Wong was like over 50, and had already gained high recognition as a martial arts ‘Gui Yan’. But he was privileged to meet the grand master (Abbot Chi Sin) and he served as a disciple to the grand master. Abbot Chi Sin, observing that Wong was not so young anymore, resolved that what he had learned in the past in long and wide movements (external kungfu) was not really fit for his age, taught Wong another series of kungfu called “Fa Kuen” (The Floral Fists – which included 3 different forms : ‘Ping Kuen’, ‘Fut Kuen’ and ‘Mui Fa Baat Kwa’). Upon getting the essence of kungfu in its high level, Wong taught the new series to his son and grandson, Wong Jit Shing. So in a sense, Wong Jit Shing was the 3rd generation disciple of Abbot Chi Sin. GM Chu Chong Man on some occasions chuckled and mentioned that by learning from Wong Jit Shing, he in a way overrode the lineage of generation grading (from the 5th generation to the 4th). But the fact was he was very much influenced by GGM Wong Jit Shing in his kungfu training.
With the consent of GGM Wong Jit Shing, GM Chu pursued his training in Shaolin Weng Chun and got accepted by GGM Dong Jik as a student and learned from Dong the ‘Jong Kuen’ (*Remarks: 4), and was reminded that the ‘Jong Kuen’ and the ‘Fa Kuen’ series were both in the curriculum taught in the Weng Chun Hall in Shaolin Monastery. Also, it should be noted that GM Chu learned the ‘Six and Half Points’ long pole techniques from Kan Cheong, the nephew of Kan Ming. The story goes that after becoming a student of GGM Dong Jik, GM Chu later went to Macau and started a studio and invited GGM Dong Jik from Fut Shan to Macau to stay with him when he supported his Sifu’s for his livelihood for 8, 9 years. Meantime he had a sworn brother, Tsui Kwok Leung who took up the kungfu training in Shaolin Weng Chun from GGM Dong Jik, with GM Chu together. It only ended when the Japanese invasion on China started and GGM Dong Jik went back home to Fut Shan.
After the war (2nd World War), Chu Chong Man operated a clinic in Macau at No. 7 Fung Loy Sun Street. Other than teaching Shaolin Weng Chun kungfu to his son, Chi Wai, he also took some students on the side, but rarely open to the public. Not long after that in 1953, he came to settle down in Hong Kong, and was appointed as the chief physician in The Chamber of Floral Association, also as a medical consultant in a few other chambers of commerce. Incidentally, his clinic (The Hong Kong Floral Association Headquarters) was not far from Dai Tak Lan (*Remarks: 3) and therefore he got together with other Weng Chun Kuen masters for training. During that period, there were 4 different masters teaching Weng Chun Kuen in Dai Tak Lan and they were Tang Yik, Lo Chiu Woon, Tam Kwong and Wai Yan, and GM Chu Chong Man was appointed as a consultant. So during the Dai Tak Lan Era, there were quite a number of kungfu practitioners who had the privilege of learning Weng Chun Kuen and some of them became quite good. Anyway, the family tree’s history traces back to the earlier stage and it should be noted that Tang Suen (father of Tang Yik) and Lo Yum Nam (father of Lo Chiu Woon) both were students of Fung Shiu Ching.
In the 60’s, after GM Chu left Dai Tak Lan, he was invited by a friend, a certain Mr. Siu, who offered a space for training (on the upper floor of See Kwong Electric Supplies on Shanghai Street near Mongkok Road) and GM Chu then officially started his teaching of Shaolin Weng Chun in Hong Kong and began to accept students. Some years later, his son Chi Wai also came from Macau to settle down in Hong Kong for good. So GM Chu shifted his teaching of Shaolin Weng Chun from Shanghai Street to No. 50 Reclamation Street (the top floor of Kam Shan Restaurant). In the course of almost 2 decades from the early 60’s to late 70’s, Gm Chu was busy with his medical profession, and on the other hand was very selective in accepting students. Nevertheless, he treated his students like his own sons and taught them the best he had to offer. In Hong Kong, inheritors for his Shaolin Weng Chun kungfu included his son Chu Chi Wai and his grandsons, his disciples such as Chan Wing Yu, Siu Shui Ming, Ng Hing Lam, Leung Kwai Wo, Leung Lai Chung, Mok Chung Wai, etc.
Time passed by and for many years, GM Chu’s reputation in martial arts was well spread and highly respected by others in the martial arts’ world. In an interview over 20 years ago with New Martial Heros, he was honored as the “Chairman of Weng Chun Style. Scholar, doctor Chu Chong Man”. Other than the students of GM Chu to continue teaching Shaolin Weng Chun, the other masters like Tang Yik, Lo Chiu Woon, Tam Kwong, Wai Yan all had their disciples to carry on training and teaching the art. Regretfully most of them did it indoors in private, and very rarely open to the public. As a result, it is now rather low profile and not so many people know about our style.
1. Red Boat – in the old days the opera performers traveled in big boats which carried the different opera characters, assistants and cooks. Such big boats hosted colorful flags so as to attract audiences. So they were called Red Boats. 2. Sun Kam – was a famous opera actor in martial arts and in those days, different characters had different paints (make-ups) on the face. That is why he was also called ‘Dai Fa Min Kam’ (Painted Face Kam) 3. Dai Tak Lan – a poultry wholesale shop in Yau Ma Tei district in Kowloon. At that time, wholesale shops for fruit and poultry was centered in Yau Ma Tei. In the 50’s and 60’s, the workers or the wholesale operators very often had conflicts for one reason or another and hence resulted in fights. So a lot of them hired instructors to teach them kungfu for self defense purposes. 4. Jong Kuen – one of the forms of Shaolin Weng Chun Kuen. It is a form that must be practiced before the training on the ‘jong’ (wooden dummy) whereby the practitioners will get a good fundamental in the agile footwork and solid stance to coordinate with the techniques and power in the training of the ‘jong’.
- New Martial Hero
- Oral and Written Tradition Chu Chong Man
- Translations by Sifu Ignasius
- Special thanks to Derek Rouzanski