Kung Fu’s incestuous past PART THREE

25 Nov

PLEASE NOTE: Before you begin reading this blog, be sure to read Kung Fu’s incestuous past PART TWO

As we examine the story of Hung Hei-Gun (洪熙官) and the Hung Ga martial arts tradition, we begin to see many common threads in Southern Chinese martial arts. They all have common bonds in Fujian province, they all attempt to link themselves not only to a “Shaolin monastery” in Fujian, but also to the legendary “Shaolin Elders.” Of course, we have already discussed the lack of evidence of such a monastery and the counter evidence that these stories might all have common origin in a myth created by secret societies both as a recruitment tool and as a legitimization and justification tool.

Tourist dollars obscure searches for the truth about "Fujian Shaolin"

Tourist dollars obscure searches for the truth about “Fujian Shaolin”

If you keep digging, the common threads begin to weave together. For example, Hung Hei-Gun meets, exchanges kung fu with and marries Fong Wing-Chun (方詠春). Is Fong related to the Fujian white crane tradition? Perhaps to Wing Chun? Perhaps to both? Some stories tell us that Fong’s uncle is no other than Fong Sai-Yuk (方世玉), another of southern China’s famous kung fu figures.

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Fong Sai-Yuk may or may not have killed or been killed by Pak Mei (白眉), another one of the legendary elders of the Fujian Shaolin monastery. Of course, the fact that Pak Mei may never have existed further complicates our tale. In 2012 academic research was done into the origins of the Pak Mei kung fu system. Both American and Chinese professors, of both history and Buddhist studies participated, including members of the Emei mountain historical society in Sichuan province. They note that the earliest reference to Pak Mei are not in historical records but rather in a “Wu Xia” novel called Wunnian Qing (A Thousand Years Green or Evergreen). This novel is in fact the source of the “Shaolin temple elders” story, with no reliable, historical documents to support it.

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Another aspect of Fong Sai-Yuk stories concern his mother and primary instructor, Miu Chui-Fa (苗翠花). Miu Chui-Fa is yet another figure of prominence in southern kung fu, with many tales about her skill. She is also supposed to be the daughter of yet another of the Shaolin elders, Miu Hin (苗顯). Not only are all three of these figures associated with the so called Fujian Shaolin temple, they also appear in different versions of stories concerning Fujian white crane, sub traditions of Hung system and even some Wing Chun traditions. Incestuous indeed these kung fu people!

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However, it is at this point that we see a pin point of light shine through a curtain of what is probably for the most part fiction. Miu (苗) is a relatively rare family name. It is in fact one of those names that does NOT appear in the “Book of One Hundred Names.” It is also a family that has many verifiable historical records concerning it.

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The Miu family, NOT to be confused with the Miao ethnic people, were in fact strongly affiliated with the former Ming Dynasty. As such, they have been persecuted and “moved north” until they settled on Zhou Shan Island (舟山岛) in Zhejiang Province (浙江省). They were warriors, as evidenced by the fact they settled in what had formerly been the Zhang (張) ancestral fortress, i.e. they forced them out (I know this because I have been there personally).

A quick look at a map will reveal that Zhou Shan Island is south of Shanghai. While we don’t know exactly how far north the Miao family was forced moved, south of Zhejiang is Fujian. So we have a family that potentially was situated near Fujian, which definitely was both affiliated with the former dynasty and which had an established tradition of training warriors. A Miu Hin or a Miu Chui-Fa, a trained martial artist with anti-Qing sentiments, can therefore not completely be ruled out as a possibility.

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