1 What Was The Last Common Ancestor Of All Animals Monkey-Style Shaolin Kung Fu: Its Principles and Practice!

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Monkey-Style Shaolin Kung Fu: Its Principles and Practice!

This article examines the monkey’s place in Chinese history, martial arts, and Qigong. Western views of this often rested on outdated, ethnocentric, inaccurate 19th-century perceptions of China that are still (wrongly) considered authoritative in the present day.

Serious martial artists who wish to learn the training, fighting, and health-preserving skills of the agile anthropoid must discard such prejudices. Inevitably, informed sources of Chinese military wisdom, rather than 19th century Eurocentric ignorance, provide the key insights required.

I am indebted to Si Gung Rex Jones and Grandmaster Yap Leong, my two most revered teachers in over 40 years of Martial Arts study, for inspiration, help and encouragement in this area. Grandmaster Yap’s knowledge of Chinese martial arts, their culture, history and interrelationship is truly encyclopedic and both have been taught by contemporary world-renowned Malaysian Grandmasters (1).

Tang, Sung and Ming

The popular Western myth of a great, powerful and unstoppable ape (King Kong) is rooted in the early activities of the Shaolin Temple of the Tang Dynasty. The temple helped reshape China’s future and introduced China and the world to Shaolin Mahayana Buddhism and Kung Fu.

This included the extraordinary achievements of the Monk (and Monkey King/Kung Fu expert) Xuanzhang (596-664 CE) described in the 14th century Ming Dynasty novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng En. This, the world’s most popular book, describes Xuanzhang’s adventures during his epic journeys to Nepal and beyond in vivid, humorous fashion, contrasting with the dispassionate formality of the official Tang Dynasty historical records of the same events.

During the Ming period (1368-1644 CE) Monkey Kung Fu (Huoquan) was extremely popular and the Shaolin-trained general Zhao Kuang Yin (later Emperor Taizu) the previous founder of the Sung Dynasty also practiced Huoquan along with Kung Fu his fearsome Changquan (‘Long Fist’). Taizu is the Tai Jo (Supreme Founder) of Changquan and the 5 Fist Ancestors (Wu Tzu Quan). Both styles originate from the Sung Dynasty and incorporate key elements of the older (Monkey) style, originating from before the Han Dynasty.

5 Main principles

The strength and Kung Fu skills of high-ranking Monkeys sometimes lead to the status of “Monkey King” according to the 5 main principles:

Similarity; practitioners may look, pose, use limbs, and adopt monkey-like expressions when performing techniques;

The soul; realizing more that ‘similar’ status was necessary, they saw threats and advantages from the Monkey’s point of view that enabled them to successfully apply techniques for attack and defense;

Concentration; like monkeys they could attack continuously, using closely related tactics in series of 3-4 technique, in concentrated volleys.

Footwork; light, fast and noiseless they could evade opponents, sidesteps and missteps in many ways with coordinated body movements;

Versatility; they possessed the speed, bodily agility, and dexterity of movement essential to the Monkey technique.

In general

In 1982, Venerable Master Xiao Yingpeng was the Monkey King of the People’s Republic of China. At the age of 66 (and counting) he continued to win Kung Fu competitions and accolades for his Houquan performances (1). This highlights how Monkey Kung Fu and Qigong, originating from the acute observation of the behavior of Man’s most revered ancestor, can also make a valuable contribution to anti-aging and longevity practice.

records

(1) ‘Martial Arts Ezine: Red Dragon No.74 November 2012’ features more about these and their ‘monkey business’!

(2) Xi Yuan-tai and Li Xiao-gong (1982) ‘Chinese Kung Fu Series 1: Monkey Style’ Hai Feng (Publishers), Hong Kong

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