Green Dress Lady
(1) Kung Fu Lineage as appeared in Kung Fu Secrets No.1 - Yap Leong
Kung Fu practitioners like to belong to an earlier generation or lineage. This makes them feel important with regards to seniority as well as respect. The moment they 'enter the door' or 'yup moon', they can claim seniority from those who come later.
When does one consider being 'yup moon'? Does it happen when the student starts paying his or her training fees, or when he or she is formally accepted as a disciple via a ceremony? Imagine a situation when a student just wants to train and does not even consider the formality of being a disciple. He/she could be training for ten years, but a newcomer could, through good connections, wealth or influence within a year, become a disciple. Who then is more senior? The student who is not a disciple or the one who is?
How about the new student, who is much older than an existing student, but joins a day later? Who then should call who 'Si-Hing'?
Why the confusion? In a Western style education, we know where we stand - whether qualified or not. We cannot escape the certificate system! In Oriental martial arts, it is based on a mixture of patronage, wealth, influence, dedication, and being there at the right time. It also depends on the mood, integrity, greed and attitude of the Master.
For instance, a student may be training with a Master for 20 years. Suddenly they fall out, and the student goes his own way. The Master then accuses his student of being a 'farn kuat chai' literary meaning 'a guy who turns the bone' or 'one who betrays'. Out of spite, jealousy, anger or whatever, he disowns his student and appoints his next student, who may not have done as many years or even be as skilful as 'his future heir. Never mind. The Master will then say that he never taught his departed student anything, and that the secrets are still with him. He will of course offer his so-called secrets to his future choice. What does the departed student do? To justify his departure, he will say that his (former) Master was greedy, and that he never taught him anything at all, and always indulged in martial arts politics.
With modern communications, it is not difficult to find out information or identities of Masters or seniors of those publicly teaching, provided they are still alive. Hence all these travels to far flung corners in China to 'bye si' (to be accepted) and 'yup moon' with a handy red packet. These red packets may not mean of lot in financial terms to a Westerner or Overseas Chinese, but to a poor Chinese Master it is 'hell of a lot'. They usually pay a visit each year, and after a few years, come back with a scroll, letter, certificate, plenty of photos with their Masters or whatever to say that they have mustered a complete kung fu system. They then became the appointed custodians of their system on the death of their Masters.
What about the poor blokes in China, who toiled day in, day out and made tea, even for the foreign students? They could be training from the age of six for twenty years upwards, but never mind, they were not good enough to earn the attention of their Masters or become the next 'Jeon Moon Yern' (appointed guardian of the system)
The well-tanned Westerners or Overseas Chinese then return to their countries and tell the world, especially through the popular Martial Arts Magazines, that they would become the next 'Jeon Moon Yern' after the death of their Masters. They display their certificates and pelt out Chinese terms like 'Lau Soo or Sifu (teacher), Dor Jia or Xia Xia' (thanks) etc. to convince us skeptics that they had in fact deserved to inherit their systems.
What about their Ex-Masters who taught them the same systems? Bad luck to them. They would have become 'juniors' if their Masters in China were their Grandmasters. By this process, the foreign Westerners or Chinese have moved one generation up and pushed their Ex-Masters one generation down. Their Sifus have become their Si-Jut through a simple process of going to the source.
At worst they can then addressed their Ex-Masters as 'Si-hing' if both shared the same Masters in China.
The moving up the ladder of seniority does not have to be within the same Master lineage. It could be through an indirect lineage, through another Master, but within the same system.
It is very common to see a 'family tree' showing who is who. This is a sneaky way to show one's seniority over another through an indirect link back to as far back as possible to a famous Master a few generations back.
The first thing for a student or potential student would be to pick out a famous Master in the family tree - one who is currently teaching. He then look for names listed 2 generations above that Master. Those listed do not need to be any good or capable. They could very well be geriatric or incapacitated. The only criteria is seniority. They would then pay a visit to that person and 'bye see' and 'yup moon'. After that, they proudly announce to the world, by updating the family tree with your names added, and publishing the facts in a popular magazine. They then keep on repeating the Mantra that that so and so famous Master is in fact their Si-jut (nephew), if not in front, then, behind his back.
(2) Kung Fu Lineage II (short extract) - will be appearing in future edition of Kung Fu Secrets - Yap Leong Once upon a time there was a guy who fell out with his Taekwondo master, left and started his own dojo. He neither had permission from his ex-teacher to teach nor a certificate to prove his lineage. Subsequently, through his contacts he joined a famous master of a different system.. He then claimed lineage by having a signed and dated certificate and proudly bragged of his 'status'. What he had forgotten was his own past and also the fact that none of the masters or grandmasters in the past had certificates. Their only certificate was the size of their fists. In those days, in China, all these masters needed to prove was to prevent their sign-boards from being smashed by outsiders. It was known as 'Charc Jiu Pai' in Cantonese. If they still remained intact, they would be their certificates. The advice to these so-called diploma holders is to quietly teach their own students, make a small living and refrain from bragging, because by doing so, they are insulting their masters or grandmasters who never held 'diplomas'.
The Ancient Sage he says: 'show me your certificate to prove your lineage'
The Modern Sage he says: 'show me yours first'
(3) Chi Experts & Empty Force - as appeared in Kung Fu Secrets No.2 - Yap Leong
There is an abundance of ‘Chi’ in this universe. Not surprisingly there are just as many ‘Chi’ experts who claim they have the power of Chi, seen it or heard about others performing it. When asked to prove it, they were unable to do so, or the person who could, who is also their great grandmaster, is either dead or meditating somewhere in the Himalayas.
One expert whom I met many years ago, told me that he could send someone flying across the room without having to touch that person. It was called ‘Empty Force’. I was obviously very keen on the subject and pretended to be amazed by what he said. He said he could do it from a distance of upto 20 feet. He also had a couple of disciples who could do it, but at a lesser distance of 15 feet.
Furthermore, he was a re-incarnation of the Jade Emperor and one of his disciples, a reincarnation of Tamo (the Shaolin Patriarch).
Without wishing to show disrespect, I suggested myself as a guinea pig and just stood about 3 feet (not 20 feet) away, so that I could taste his amazing power. He immediately declined to demonstrate stating that it would not have an effect on me.
I asked why he could not do it and he replied that I was a reincarnation of a ‘High Immortal’ I felt really pleased with myself. How lucky I was to meet a reincarnation of the Jade Emperor who had a student, a reincarnation of Tamo and me, a reincarrnation of a Higher Immortal. What more could I wish for. That encounter was the last I heard or seen of the ‘Jade Emperor’, who was a regular visitor to my shop.
(4) Long Distance Chi
Then there is a case of another master who talked about his ability to send chi energy down the telephone line to treat his patients. He usually had to travel long distances to meet them. Since his healing ability became more and more powerful, all he did was simply use BT. (British Telecom - in case you are.......)
He was also saving himself a costly train journey, not to mention the travelling time.
He, like most others, had obviously gone into a state of delusion about his ability to transmit ‘empty force’ or ‘healing chi’. Now he claims he can stop anybody without even touching. I will have to ask him to give me a demo when I next meet him.
The Ancient Sage sighs with consternation yet again.
Obviously I did not have enough encounters with the real ones to prove or disprove ‘empty force’. Inevitably I had to ask one, whom I held the highest respect - the late Grand - master Chee Kim Thong. He even told me a story.
There was a master in Malaysia who dressed up like ‘Wong Fei Hung’ and could strike with his ‘empty force’ A lot of people were really convinced he had the skill.
Chee Kim Thong then took up the challenge and told the master that he would stand with his back towards him. He could strike anytime with his empty force whenever he was ready. The master declined the invitation.
I was not interested in that master’s skill. I wanted to know whether he, Chee Kim Thong, believed in it or had it. He gave me a smile and said it was possible, but only within a short distance of about a foot.
(5) Shaolin Monks - Go Home - as appeared in Combat Magazine in 1999 - Yap Leong
Twenty years ago I saw performances by Wushu performers from China. They were great entertainers. Now we have Shaolin Monks. Their performances are no different from those Wushu performers years ago. The only difference is that they are dressed in monks' robes and shaved off their hair. Tamo would not have approved of such degradation of their dignity and status as Shaolin Monks. What happened to the Buddha's concept of non-attachment? Others are commercially using them. Instead of practising martial arts to attain non-attachment and enlightenment, they are doing the opposite. China - please take note and send them home. If we want to see the Shaolin Temple and the Monks we will visit them. Instead they are flying all over the world in droves, and deserting the Shaolin Temple for their so-called contractual obligations. The last great desertion of the Shaolin Temple was when the Manchus burned it down. Now greed and temptation drive them out. So return to Shaolin and complete your mission of non-attachment.
The Ancient Sage he says: My representative, who is coming down to Earth to take you all to Heaven, is late. So please be patient.
The Modern Sage he says: We have been patient for over 2000 years.
(7) Excerpt from Steve Morris An Incomplete Martial Arts Autobiography
It was also around 1988-89 that I met Yap Leung (Leong) at his martial arts shop Shaolin Way and formed an instant rapport with him. In no time Yap was enthusiastically divulging to me the intricacies of Fujian boxing. It was through Yap and his teacher, Yap Ching Hai (Actually Yap Cheng Hai was not Yap Leong's teacher, but his senior kung fu brother or Si-Hing) , that I came to better understand the essential ingredients of Fujian boxing, ingredients that for one reason or another over the course of time had been removed from Goju ryu and Uechi ryu.
Putting the tiger back in its skin
It was with the idea of putting those ingredients back into Goju ryu and Uechi ryu that both Yap and I decided to hold a weekend seminar at a venue arranged by Harry Cook (subsequently jailed as a convicted paedophile). Although the course seemed to have been a success, there were few follow-up phone calls. Perhaps it might have had something to do with Cook’s reluctance to engage in knocking hands with Yap again. After engaging with Yap in knocking hands on the Saturday, Cook begged off the Sunday session, which is not surprising in that both his arms looked like giant black Geordie sausages, whilst Yap’s looked perfectly normal.
What always strikes me about all too many so-called martial artists, particularly those of a karate persuasion, is that although they claim to have an open mind and give the impression they are prepared to learn from anyone who has something credible to show and say, the truth is a little different. They are only prepared to learn from those who will not contradict their particular viewpoint—which, with regard to Cook’s knowledge of knocking hands, if Cook had bothered to ask Yap how he did it, Yap would have undoubtedly done. I very much doubt when Cook has knocked hands with Higaonna Morio, who is far larger and who uses more obvious power than Yap, whose strikes are almost imperceptible, that Cook suffered anywhere near the same damage—which begs the question, how did Yap do it? Very few martial artists seem to ask this question of anybody who is truly effective. It is not a case of whether Higaonna could beat Yap in a fight, but rather, what does Yap know with regard to releasing energy that Higaonna and obviously Cook don’t, and which if Higaonna and Cook did know, they would be the better for it?