This blog is dedicated to accumulating all the info, some received in written form and other from oral accounts from the many teachers, elders and seniors who had graciously and unconditionally passed on their knowledge to me.
Most of the info that you are about to read are obtained from elders who taught in the Fuzhou White Crane School that I spent many years of my life studying the arts of Fuzhou Zhong He / Ancestral Crane and Fuzhou MingHe / Singing Crane.
It is sad that the school is now defunct and this blogsite, humbly I hope, serves to keep the memories of all the devoted teachers and their solid teachings alive.
I will commence with some views of the origin of Fukien White Crane and as explained in the opening paragraph of the first account, there are many versions.
It’s impracticable to pinpoint the “right” description so instead of wasting time to try to do so, I will present as many reports as possible, hopefully, to present a panoramic perspective.
Chinese wushu has a very long history, passing down from generation to generation, splitting into many different styles and sects.Martial arts masters had never had high social positions in the past, most of them were illiterate. Many of the wushu masters simply instructed their students orally in the absence of any written records. As China is a huge country, with very many local dialects and languages, one style of wushu could have different names in different places, confusing the would-be learners. Very often, the same wushu originated from the same grand master would end up differently when the younger masters made certain changes due to certain needs or established their own sects or “ doors”. Thus, there are a large number of styles or sects of wushu nowadays.
White Crane Quan is among the earliest and most popular wushu inFujian. It originated from White Crane Quan of Shao Lin Temple, well known for its Five Types of Quan. Over the years, White Crane Quan evolved into different styles: Northern Fujian Style and Southern Fujian Style. They are similar and yet different. In this article, I will try to show the different types of White Crane Quan in Fujian. Fujian has four main styles of White Crane Quan: Flying(fei), Crying(min),Sleeping(su) and Eating(shi).There are also a few others: Long Twig Crane, Short Twig Crane, Wondering Crane, Tai Zhu Crane, Small Crane, Single-legged Crane, Hopping Crane etc.
One of the earliest written record of White Crane Quan:-
“It is said that to reach the depth of wushu, one has to learn widely. Only the devoted one will master the arts. The man, who has acquired very wide knowledge, spent regular time in wushu practice and training in the mornings and evenings, is able to achieve the peak of wushu in mind and body. Fang zhang-guang was such a man. Born to a rich family inZhejian Province, Li-shui ( Beautiful Water) County, Fang was an upright and helpful man. His love of wushu allowed him to socialise with many wushu masters. He would eagerly seek instructions from any grand master and practised seriously days and nights. Therefore, he was very fast and nimble in his performance. At first he thought he was the best inChina. One day, an old man visited him to discuss wushu. Fang was very pleased and proudly demonstrated his wushu. At the end of the show, the old man , while praising Fang a littile for his great show, commented that Fang had not really mastered the finer points of wushu and his muscles and limbs were not strong enough. So Fang decided to learn from the old man. The old man came to Fang’s house at night and left at dawn, never once revealing his true identity. When he saw that Fang had learned all he could teach, he found an opportunity to leave. One night, Fang saw that the door of the room where the old man stayed was closed, so he got up early next day to wait for him. Suddenly, he found the old man turned into a crane and flew out of the window. He realized that the old man was sent to teach him from the heaven. From then on, Fang practiced what he had learned even more diligently. As he progressed and achieved mastership in wushu, he became very well-known. At Yong Chun County, there was a master named Yan Qi-dan who learned from Ye Jin-xi of Tong An County. One day, Yan Qi-dan and his student Chen Si paid a visit to Fang Chang-guang at Li Shui . But Fang did not take any students, only his daughter Fang Qi-niang was able to inherit his wushu. Fang had planned to pass his wushu down to his son-in-law Chen Dui-xu. But Chen was an ungrateful man who left his fiancee and home and never returned. As a result, Fan Qi-niang decided to live in the temple and became a nun. Yan Qi-dan visited her in the temple. They talked about the origin of their wushu and knew they belonged to the same family line in wushu. But Yan was a very hot tempered and rude man. His wushu was the tough and rough kind and he was not humble in his words. So Fang Q-niang chided him. Being very annoyed, Yan requested her to try it out with him. Fang Qi-niang gladly accepted the challenge. Yan started his left“grip and catch”, attacked with single whip (dan pian). Qi-niang only lifted one finger and threw Yan to the ground, injuring him badly. Sadden by his defeat, Yan went home for treatment. But he knew that he would not recover from the injury, so he told his disciple Chen Si that he had not mastered wushu well enough and urged Chen Si to sincerely practice under Qi-niang. Yan thus brought Chen Si to the temple again to meet Q-niang and said to her,” I have paid for my mistake without any hatred. My disciple is still young yet intelligent. I hope you will take him in as your student so that one day he will spread wushu in the country. This will be the wish of our ancestral masters.” Chen Si thus followed Fang Qi-niang and trained until his muscles and limbs were very tough and became one entity. He was steady, quick in changing different fighting styles. He had inherited everything from the grand master Fang Qi-niang. “
“After leaving the temple and his master Qi-niang, Chen Si coached many students, including Zheng Li. Zheng proved to be the most hardworking student. He was able to combine many different types of wushu into one. Later Zheng had many more students under him. ’’There is no record of Zheng’s students.
According to the above record, White Crane Quan‘s family tree is as follows:
Fang Chang-guang—-Fang Qi-niang—-Chen Si—- Zheng Li ….Ye Jin-xi – Yan Qi-dan