Feng Shou

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Feng Shou

Feng Shou (Hand of the Wind) style is practised only by the Taoist Cultural Arts Association,... Should you find it of interest, and you would like to learn more about Feng Shou from qualified teachers, then contact the Association for the name and the address of your nearest club.

Most of the Chinese styles of kung fu fall into certain easily recognizable groups, and Feng Shou happens to be a very soft, gentle style, which in China we call the Internal Systems (Nei Hsi). Basically, the soft styles use Inner Power (Nei Ch'i) but this is more commonly known to the Taoists as the Vitality Power (Sheng Ch'i), which is generally shortened to Ch'i. Everyone who practises the Taoist arts aims to develop and cultivate Ch'i, for it is absolutely important and essential to the good health of the body, mind and the spirit too.

Don't get the wrong impression about the word 'soft', for Feng Shou is just as lethal as any other style, including the so-called 'hard' styles, but instead of using brute muscular strength to strike with, we use the dynamic force of Ch'i. Also, because it is soft, we have very relaxed movements and the body is constantly in motion with a fast, smooth-flowing action. The majority of the hand and arm movements are mainly circular, sometimes very small, whilst others can be very big rotary actions.

If you practise everything in this book, and attain a certain degree of perfection in each movement, don't think that you will then know the whole art of Feng Shou. You will be very wrong, for you will have only just got through the beginners' class, so you are still a comparative novice. For instance, look at the number of Foot Patterns in this book; when you realize that we have a total of 131 foot techniques in all, you will appreciate that you are just beginning to scratch the surface of this dynamic art. So take your time, practise and keep on practising at every opportunity, for only constant practise can lead you to the realm of perfection. That is our main objective and we still wonder if we will ever attain it in our lifetime, but we keep trying. Having spent over forty-five years in this art, we realize now, more than ever, that it will take a lifetime to perfect it and reach the standard that we personally would like to achieve. We truly wonder if we will ever reach the ultimate objective, but we still keep trying and training, and after all these years we shall certainly not give up now.

Many of the famous masters of ancient China were very particular about who they should pass their knowledge of the arts on to, and they therefore put every one of their pupils through very strict training schedules. These lasted for very long periods, until that pupil had truly proved himself to be not only dedicated, but also worthy of carrying on the secrets of the art to others, and that he had the loyalty and the capacity to work really hard. There were no gradings in those far-off days so the only way a pupil could become a teacher was when his own master thought he was ready to take on that responsibility, and had proved himself over and over again in every way.

Our own master, Chan Kam Lee, the founder of the International Wu-Shu Association, was no exception, and his principles were impressed upon us to such a degree that we have been reluctant to pass on further knowledge until a pupil had proved himself truly worthy. That is why we helped to set up the International Coaching Centres in 1958, so that all prospective teachers and coaches could seriously get down to the hard and gritty task of strenuously learning all the fundamental basics necessary for teachers to pass on to their own students. They learn the basic art of how to teach others and how to instruct new techniques. They learn how to maintain harmony within a class (especially where there is a mixture of age groups and sexes) and how to hold the interest of the students (which is not the easiest of tasks, even with experienced pupils). It isn't everyone who can become a really good teacher, even though they might have the knowledge and the skill.

However, the old masters were never confronted with the same situation that everyone finds himself in today. For one thing, no one can dedicate himself to the arts twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and live his life entirely with the arts, day in and day out; everyone has to earn a living, and therefore it is only in his spare time that the enthusiast can follow his interest. If his local club can only open once or twice a week, then again he is unable to express his innermost dedication. How is it possible to learn all those intricate movements and techniques if you are restricted through your work or the hours of your local club? Some people may be handicapped because they live too far away from a club which practises this art.
So it has become necessary to publish a reliable book or sequence of books that will help everyone in these circumstances and which will stand them in good stead, at all times. It will also give them a reference to any technical points which have been forgotten over a long period of time, or which have been overlooked during an interruption of the training. This is also why the International Wu-Shu Association endeavours to run regular coaching classes in various parts of the world.

Remember, however, that the style of Feng Shou is only taught and practised in the International Wu-Shu Association and that all the techniques, movements, evasions, sets, foot patterns, and standards are copyright of this association. Therefore no one can teach this style unless they are registered members of the Association, and they must be qualified holders of the Association's Coaching Award and its International Certificate.
It is the stringent adherence to the basic foundations that was laid down by the Lee family of Wei Hei Wei, central China, that has kept this style as pure today as it was when it was formulated over 2,000 years ago.

All teachers within the Association teach exactly the same techniques for each of the grading standards, so Feng Shou can not become the kind of bastard style that so many other styles have turned into. This has happened because some teachers in those styles have deviated in their teaching, and so over a period of time that style has changed from the one originally formulated by the masters of old, and now many of the very foundations of the art no longer exist. This is a great shame, for the old masters put a lifetime of work, dedication and experience into making them what they were, and to have the styles altered by others who do not have the same experience means that somewhere along the way many essentials and basics have become lost.

Although there are a million 'secrets' within our art, we are not going to make any boasts that we can give any away, for the understanding of many of these can only come through actual practise with qualified teachers, who can show you some of these practically and personally. It is impossible to put them down on paper. The realization of other secrets comes with feeling, intuition, direction, mental control, experience and many from spiritual growth, and you alone can only find them for they are very personal to you. You will be helped by little knacks that you acquire and the feel of a certain technique — whilst you might seem to do it exactly the same way as everyone else, by putting your own personality behind it and within it, it becomes an integral part of yourself. You have to go through this alone for they are all a part of your experience, and only time can give you that wealth.

In that respect, these so-called secrets are common knowledge to all, providing we persevere in our training. Some are relatively simple to master, but others take a long time and they will only come with time, practice and perseverance.

Your Inner Power is the doorway through which all are equal as this depends entirely on your development of the natural internal power, and not on the size of your muscles. Hence even the smallest and the weakest men and women can fully defend themselves against the tall and the strong.
Of course, there are other factors that must be taken into consideration, for instance: the ability to use the right technique at the right time, and spontaneously as well as correctly, if you are attacked; the sense of touch that enables you to feel and exploit an opponent's lack of adequate balance; the skill and ability to use blind blows, which are ones that your opponent will certainly feel, but will never see, even if you are standing directly in front of him; the intuition and sixth sense through which you can tell when and how your opponent will attack, even though you may not be able to see him.
Inner Power is something you should 'feel' as you progress through the arts, although it may not become apparent for possibly twelve months or more. Using the correct technique at the precise moment when the weakness or opportunity presents itself will become second nature to you over a period of time, and it is entirely dependent on the amount of practise that you are able to put in. This also applies to acquiring the feel of balance.
The intention of this book is therefore to try to give you a basic knowledge of the stances, foot work, hand techniques and body movements that are the foundation of Feng Shou, our style of kung fu.

We have included the equivalent Chinese terminology for the various moves, stances etc., in Mandarin, since this is the most widely spoken dialect in China, and it is now becoming the national and universal language.

Many of the techniques in this book can be practised alone, but you will need the help of a partner when you come to the more complicated moves, so try and find a friend to practise with who is as interested in the art as you are. Women and men can practise this art together easily, and more than a third of the membership of the Association are women.

Don't forget to practise constantly and diligently, and you will eventually master these basic techniques and movements and reach quite a high standard of proficiency.

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The Taoist Art of Feng Shou Hand of the Wind kung fu

by Chee Soo

Copyright ©Seahorse Books 2006 reproduced with permission