If you’ve read this blog before, chances are pretty good you know that I consider the late Chan Tai-San my primary teacher and his Lama Pai kung-fu system the foundation of my teachings. You are probably also aware that my current teachings focus a lot on fighting, particularly combat sports. Now, some people find this strange. I’ll even admit, at first I pondered the situation. Then as I looked around me, I started to think I was most definitely not alone in this.
Lama Pai descends from an older tradition known as “Lion’s Roar.” The other two descendants of Lion’s Roar, Lama Pai’s cousins if you will, are Pak Hok Pai (white crane) and Hap Ga. In retrospect, I’ve always identified these traditions with fighting. The first time I traveled to San Francisco, they had just promoted a full contact kung fu show. The Pak Hok Pai had won all their matches. Not hard to see why; take a long arm system and put gloves on, let them swing full power to their heart’s content, magic happens.
One of the tradition’s most famous figures is Wong Yan-Lam, who fought 150 challengers on a platform in public. One of the tradition’s most famous concepts is Chaan, “ruthlessness”, do what needs to be done to get it done. Are you seeing a trend?
In 1998, I was already training fighters and competing in sanshou events. At the national tournament, I met Hap Ga Sifu David Chin. He was the subject of the first English language work ever on the tradition. He was there with students, trying to figure out how the sanshou game worked. We talked a few minutes, here was a respected sifu but also one of the most open minded person I’ve ever met.
I came to be friendly with David Rogers, a UK based Hap Ga teacher. He not only trains fighters, he cross trains in Jiu Jitsu. Another open minded, traditional based person. The more you look around, the more you see they are out there.. but I’m tempted to point out that in every example, we are talking about REAL traditional Chinese martial artists. Sadly, there are too many fakes and wannabes.. but that’s another blog I guess?
Now go train!