Having defeated Master Wu Sheng Jian, Leung Lan Kwai's name spread around the town. However there is a saying "Big trees catch more wind" and so Lan Kwai's victory was only the start of the storm.
One day, after Leung Lan Kwai had finished his morning practice, he went to a restaurant for Yum Cha (literally meaning "Drink Tea" but which means to have some Chinese breakfast). In the middle of breakfast, he heard the sound of heavy footsteps. He could tell that someone with a very high level of martial art skill had just come in; Lan Kwai's senses were more developed since he had been practising Wing Chun a lot and, in particular, training his Siu Lim Tao for a long time.
When Lan Kwai stood in the same position a lot his mind was totally empty and all his senses, such as his vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch and mind, had become highly developed. This is the reason why most of the Chinese martial arts have internal training, which is Qigong and meditation. At that moment Lan Kwai looked in the direction the sound had come from. Immediately he recognised one man whom he had encountered quite recently. It was Wu Sheng Jian and with him was an older man with a bald head who was wearing light yellow robes. He was obviously a Buddhist monk. His face was very skinny, with high cheekbonesand hiseyes showed very strong spirit. Lan Kwai knew this old monk was even higher level than Wu Sheng Jian.
At the same moment, Wu saw him. He spoke quietly to the old monk and pointed to Lan Kwai's table. Lan Kwai knew something was going to happen, so he told his friends having tea with him to go home, but his friends were very loyal to him and so they wanted to stay to help. On the other hand they were also very curious to see what would happen.
Wu Sheng Jian, the old monk and some other people approached. Now it was too late for Lan Kwai's friends to leave. Wu Sheng Jian stood in front of their table and said, "Leung Lan Kwai, this is my Sifu, Grandmaster Qing Ren. He has come here to find out about your Kung Fu. This time you have trouble." Whilst Wu Sheng Jian was talking, his sifu, Grandmaster Qing Ren, stopped him as it was embarrassing him.
The grandmaster then said, "I came from Shun Shen Shaolin Temple. I would like to know about your Kung Fu. Would you mind letting me experience it?" It was so obvious that the grandmaster wanted to challenge Lan Kwai. Lan Kwai thought, "Last time I beat Wu Sheng Jian and now he has brought his sifu here. This really could be trouble. If I refuse him, they must keep challenging me. If I accept the challenge I might not be able to handle this grandmaster. I wish my Sifu and Sigong were here. They would be able to help handle this tough master." But Lan Kwai was a proud person and there was nothing that could make him surrendereasily. So no matter what, he would not run away from the challenge.
Lan Kwai replied to the grandmaster, "Can't you see I am having tea with my friends? Please do not interrupt us." The grandmaster said, "Don't worry...I can wait until you have finished your tea."
Actually, GrandmasterQing Renwas crazy about martial arts. He had trained very hard in Shaolin Temple. He had studied many styles including Hard Qigong and weapons. He knew all of them. In the temple all the monks respected him, even the Abbot respected him. His hand could break twenty bricks in one go, his fingers were so strong they could make holes in a brick. Once, a Chinese buffalo ran into him and he grabbed it by the horns and pulled it down. He could play a 100 kg Da Dao (big sword and long weapon) very easily and that was his favourite weapon. Needless to say he was very strong.
Lan Kwai looked at the grandmaster and all the people around and, with a very annoyed expression, said, "Now I have lost my appetite. All right, whatever you want! If you want to fight we cannot do it here. Let's go outside, otherwise we might damage all the plates and cups and I don't want to scare all my friends who are having tea." Grandmaster Qing Ren did not understand what Lan Kwai said, he just knew Lan Kwai had accepted the challenge and that was the most important thing for him. Now he was happy.
L an K wa i wanted to pay for breakfast but his friends told him not to worry about it, they would sort it out. They all walked out of the restaurant where there was a space right in front.
More and more people followed them. Curiosity is part of human nature, some people knew Lan Kwai, some people found the sight of a Buddhist monk interesting. Leung Lan Kwai was popular in the town since he had defeated Wu Sheng Jian. Seeing them together nowand with a Buddhist Monk meant that more or less there would be a fight. The whole restaurant almost emptied, even the boss and the waiters were not worried about losing business because something like this they did not see every day
Everyone gathered around in a circle with the Buddhist Monk and Lan Kwai inside the circle. The monk pulled up his robe and Lan Kwai also pulled up his Cheung Sam (long clothes) in order that they could both move comfortably. Lan Kwai also wound his queue (pig tail) around his neck so that he could move his head easily. In the Qing Dynasty, all men had a queue. It was alright as long as you did not move the body too much, but once you had to work or move the body a lot you would wind the queue around the neck to keep it out of the way
Both looked serious. The atmosphere was tense and quiet and all you could hear was their breathing. Grandmaster Qing Ren was much taller then Lan Kwai and also bigger and stronger. This was all because of his Kung Fu training. Lan Kwai was a head shorter and everybody was worried about him. They all were wondering how could he handle the strong master? Even Lan Kwai's friends also wondered how he could handle this big monk who had come from the famous martial arts place, Shaolin Temple. This was no joke. Though they had seen Lan Kwai beatWu Sheng Jian, this time was very different. This monk was Wu's teacher who had to be much better then Wu.
Certainly Lan Kwai had the same thoughts, that this time was not the same as last time. He needed to pay more attention than last time. Whilst he was still thinking, the monk was already attacking, very quickly throwing five or six punches, rushing forwards towards Lan Kwai. It was so fast that Lan Kwai did not see the attack. Not only was it fast, it was also very strong. Lan Kwai responded very quickly blocking all the punches with Wu Sau using both hands. However, the punches were so strong, Lan Kwai could not handle them and he was almost falling over.
Everytime that Lan Kwai hit the monk's arm with his Wu Sau, it almost pushed him backward, so powerful were the monk's punches. Fortunately, Lan Kwai's footwork was good. He managed to balance himself but the attack did not finish. Once the monk had done his punches, his flying kick followed. This time Lan Kwai could not hold onto himself and he fell to the floor! All the people around watching gasped together. Every one of them thought the same thing, "Howcould a small man handle such a big man?" They expected Lan Kwai to lose and, of course, people felt sorry for him.
Lan Kwai's friends rushed to help him up, but before they could reach him, Lan Kwai had already gotten up. The monk put his palms together in a Buddhism gesture and said, "Amitofo" (this is something all Buddhist monks say whenever something, no matter whether good or bad, happens. It is Buddhist religious chanting.) In this case the monk thought the competition was over and that he had already beaten up Lan Kwai.
The monk was very surprised when Lan Kwai got up so quickly. But Lan Kwai knew from Wing Chun Kung Fu training, that if we are on the floor we must get back up as quickly as possible. He remembered his Sigong, Yim Wing Chun, had said to him, "Wing Chun Kung Fu's skill is on the foot not on the floor."
Sometimes we need to lose before we win. Now Lan Kwai knew he could not use any strength against the monk and he needed to be more sensitive and so he sunk his stance a little bit lower. When we are in a lower position, the upper body will be lighter and more sensitive. This is the principle of Yin and Yang. By putting more weight on the legs, the hands will be lighter.
"Lan Kwai could hold on himself and he fell to the floor! All the people around watching gasped together.""
Lan Kwai held one Wu Sau forward and his other hand behind it and stood with one leg forward. His face showed more spirit and his eyes were stronger. He then said to the monk, "Come and try again." Seeing this, the monk paid more respect to Lan Kwai. He was pleased to find someone who did not give up very easily. Also, he wanted to find out what else Lan Kwai could do.
This time the monk immediately kicked at Lan Kwai. Lan Kwai moved to the side but the second kick was already coming. The kicks were very strong and if he were just to touch them a little, Lan Kwai would be on the floor again. Most people were worried about Lan Kwai and they did not want to see him get hurt. Lan Kwai, this time, did not think any thoughts. He just treated it the same way as when he had practised Chi Sau with his Sifu in the past. He remembered what his Sifu had said, "In Chi Sau we cannot think. It must all come naturally. Use your opponent's energy and do not think about attacking. That is high level."
The monk had already kicked twice but they did not succeed and hit only the air. This only created more fire in him because the first time he had won so easily. How come this time he even could not touch Lan Kwai. So the third kick was even stronger. The monk jumped up with a round circle kick. Just a little hit on Lan Kwai's head would knock him unconscious.
His face showed more spirit and his eyes were himself but Lan Kwai would not give him a chance. After hitting his chest, he thought that he would have been able to make the monk lose his balance but he could feel his punches had not hurt him at all.
The monk's Hard Qigong was very good. But Lan Kwai suddenly turned his right hand around the back of the monks neck and sharply pulled his head down. This was much easier for Lan Kwai to do because the monk was taller than him. The monk could not prevent his whole body from being jerked forward and his head being snapped forwards and down. All he could see was Lan Kwai's left fist shooting towards his face. The combined force of the pull stronger. He then said to monk, "Come and try again.
However, the third kick also did not touch Lan Kwai and, as the monk's leg landed on the ground, Lan Kwai used his right leg to quickly kick the monk's standing leg. It was also very fast and the monk lost his balance and crashed to the ground, feeling pain in his knee. He could not believe he had fallen and thought it must have been un-even ground that made him lose his balance and Lan Kwai was just lucky.
Qing Ren was a great master. He flipped his waist and was immediately back on his feet again. As he was just righting himself on the ground Lan Kwai was already in front of his face. The monk did not expect that he could do this so quickly! Actually, Wing Chun Kung Fu is based on footwork because Wing Chun Kung Fu was created by a woman who could not compete with the strength of a man. So footwork is used to avoid all the problems and make the attacks more efficient.
As he had to get up it took a little bit of time for the monk to prepare himself, but Lan Kwai was already there and his punches were already hitting the monk's chest - one after another. It was so quick and the monk stepped back to balance
and the fist would caused so much damage that the monk was totally lost and did not know what to do. All he could do was take the impact. Suddenly, though, Lan Kwai's fist stopped right at the tip of his nose.
to be continued... by Michael Tse
Upon returning back to Manchester after Christmas I thought that the surprises of the festive season were all done and dusted but, in fact, there was one more surprise present which came in the form of a new Chun Yuen class..
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