Wu, it is worth noting has the distinction of having been cited by Wang Xiang Zhai as one of "only three people in all China who truly know martial arts"Because of my teacher's social and economic position he was able to accompany Wu Yi Fan in histravels throughout the country. He was with Wu in Nanjing during his tenure at the national KuoShu Academy. During those years in Shanghai and Nanjing. Chan was able to meet and observethe leading exponents of every conceivable style. After the Communist takeover, though, Chanrelocated to Hong Kong.
What was your training with Chen Yi Ren (Chan Yik Yan) like?
My training with Chan was a very traditional one. In fact, it took over a year of courting andentertaining him before I was accepted as a student. As his student I was allowed to attend classfor three days a week, two hours each session. A movement would be demonstrated only threetimes, after which you were expected to perfect it without further instruction. Only when Chansaw that you performed it correctly did he explain its application. After the various techniqueswere explained, extensive shadow boxing was practiced in order for the mental and physicalaspects of the movements to become coordinated. In this way the student developed a sense of howthe techniques should be executed, but without the tension of confronting a sparring partner.That came later. The reason behind this training progression is simply that, under the stress of afighting situation, you will protect yourself. You will tense up, causing your breathing to becomeshallow, and hindering your ability to react quickly. So it was not until Chan recognized that youwere capable that you began with the actual sparring.
Which of the four systems (Xing Yi, Ba Gua, Taiji, Liu Ho Ba Fa) did you learn first?
I learned Liu Ho Ba Fa followed by Xing Yi, Ba Gua and then Taiji. I as taught in this orderbecause it was the most expeditious. Liu Ho Ba Fa has elements in common with each of theinternal styles. Consequently, after you have understood it. It was mush easier to see thedifferences between the other styles. It enabled you to see more clearly how and why these stylesproceeded as they did.Nowadays Taiji is riding a crest of popularity. Ba Gua and Xing Yi are also gaining in exposure.However, Liu Ho Ba Fa remains fairly obscure. Can you please give us some information about ithistory, principles and characteristics?The founder, Chen Hsi I, was a famous scholar/hermit who lived in early Song Dynasty (about the11th century). He was a noted mathematician and Daoist. During his youth he demonstratedexceptional intellectual ability, reciting Chinese classics from memory and offering extensiveinterpretations of the
Book of Changes
. Still, he was unsuccessful when he took theimperial examination, the route to employment in the Confucian bureaucracy. This was not anexamination that rewarded original thinking and after his failure, he decided to become a recluseand devote himself to the study of Taoism. Nonetheless, he was still courted by several Sungemperors, who sought his help in administrating the government. Chen was resolved, however, tocontinue living the life of a hermit. It was during his many years on Mount Hwa in central Chinathat he developed the Qigong postures still used today. He also developed Liu Ho Ba Fa, whichoriginally was called
because of its smooth, flowing, continuous character.Several generations later, Tung Fun Lee discovered Chen's manuscripts in the cave where hedied. Intrigued by the precision, with which the Daoist sage had laid out his system, Tung studied