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To the student of Chinese martial arts (CMA) a world of confusion is encountered with naming systems brought about by the fact that a number of languages, mainly Mandarin and Cantonese, are translated by two different systems, Wade-Giles and Pinyin, which lead to a myriad of different spelling for same things. Lok Hup Ba Fa is the Cantonese spelling for a system more commonly encounter by it’s Mandarin name of Liu He Ba Fa or their abbreviated form of LHBF. Other spellings that are commonly encountered are the Cantonese, Lok Hap Baat Faat, Lok Hop Pat Fat and the Mandarin, Liu Ho Pa Fa, Lu Ho Ba Fah. To make things more complicated the system has also been called Hua-shan boxing, Hua-boxing, Hwa-Kungfu and Hwa-Yu T’ai Chi Ch’uan. Wu Yi Hui’s son referred to the form as “Huayue XingYi Liuhe Bafa” or Mind Intent Six harmonies and Eight Methods from Mount Hua”. It is said the true name of the form is “Water Boxing” and Lok Hup Ba Fa refers to the governing principles of the form. For the rest of this document we’ll use the term Lok Hup.
Legend has it that Lok Hup re-entered the world when Li Dong Feng discovered the remains and documents of Chen Xi Yi, also know as Chen Bo (871-989). Li Dong Feng found this treasure in a cave on Mount Hua, 300-500 years after the death of Chen Bo. Chen Bo was a scholar who lived in the Tang Dynasty and was a member of the Sect of Hidden Immortals. Chen Bo was a master of many Taoist arts and an advisor to Emperor Song Tai Zu before going off to become a hermit under the Lotus Peak (Lian Hua Peak) at Hua Shan where he developed the foundation of what we now call Lok Hup. Today many scholars feel that the above legend is just that a legend and the form was most likely developed in the latter part of the Ming Dynasty or the early part of the Qing Dynasty.
In the early 20th century Shanghai and Nanking were the centers of Lok Hup development. Our school is derived from the Shanghai school. When Moy Lin-shin (Mei Lian-xian, (梅連羨))was still very much student Moy, he would have showed up at the door of the Ching Wu Martial arts Academy with a letter of introduction from his Taoist master in Hua Shan to Wu Yi Hui (1887-1958), who was one of the pre-eminent Lok Hup instructors of his time. Wu Yi Hui learned his Lok Hup from Yan Guoxing (Henan), Chen Guand (Hebei) and Chen Helu (Beijing). He blended their teachings and based them on principles from Daoyin to develop his form of Lok Hup. Wu Yi Hui made the decision that Moy Lin-shin should become a student of one his disciples Liang Tzu-peng (1900-1974), for whom the Gei Pang Lok Hup Academy would later be named. While Moy Lin-shin was introduced to Liang Tzu-peng at Ching Wu he would never be a student there as communists forces were closing on the city. They agreed to meet in Hong Kong and left by independant means. Shanghai fell to the communists at the end of May 1949. Were not sure when they got together in Hong Kong but it safe to say that Master Moy was Liang Tzu-peng’s student for over twenty years.
In Shanghai and Nanking tradition senior students were encouraged to develop their own set to accommodate their background and needs. This is the reason that there are so many various forms which fall under the blanket term of Lok Hup. Liang Tzu-peng’s background was in Baguazhang and this evident in his interpretation of the Lok Hup form. Thus Master Moy was following tradition when he changed both the order and shape of the moves in the Lok Hup set to enhance health benefits and to make it more accessible to western students. He developed his form in the late 70′s and began teaching it to mainstream students in 1980.
Lok Hup is found in six different number forms and a virtual endless number variations of each of them. Set numbers of 16, 37, 66, 96, 104 and 108 are found. The 16 and 37 are quite rare, the northern 104 and southern 96 are the oldest and not as well know as the 66 forms of Shanghai and Nanking. By far the most prolific is the 108 form called either Taoist Tai Chi or Moystyle Tai Chi. Just as Hwa-Yu T’ai Chi Ch’uan is not Tai Chi neither is Master Moy’s form. An examination of the name of the form spelled in Chinese characters will help explain. 六合八法太极拳, the first four characters, 六合八法, Lok Hup Ba Fa, the last three 太极拳 T’ai Chi Ch’uan or LokHupBaFaTaiChi Chuan. The governing principles of the form are Lok Hup and it uses the Yang long form as a medium of expression. In other words it’s a Lok Hup form that looks at first glance like a Tai Chi set. Master Moy designed the set to be a vehicle to prepare the student for the more complex Zhu Ji set.
The Lok Hup forms of the Shanghai and Nanking tradition are 66 moves in length which is divided into two halves. The first half is to integrate mind/body, while the second half designed to be an esoteric center channel opening exercise. In other words the first half is to prepare the student for the second half. This is the very reason the set is taught in two parts and several years can elapse before the student is ready for the last half.
While the Zhu Ji set is only 66 moves this is deceptive as moves like Warm Breeze Sweeps Leaves contains 14 steps with corresponding arm movements. Despite the fact some of the moves have been translated into English with the same name there are in fact no two moves the same in the set. Moves like Part Clouds and See Sun and Pick a star to switch for North Star have movement elements not found in the Tai Chi set. The movements may be regarded as an ‘intensifier’ of the turning and stretching effects that are already evident through the practice of Master Moy’s Tai Chi. Movement originating from the spine forms the essence of Lok Hup and this art is most beneficial to students who have already developed some degree of spinal articulation through practice in Master Moy’s Tai Chi. He considered Lok Hup to be the, “Cadillac” of internal systems, and it was his desire that his students consider Lok Hup as part of their long term goals.
The movements of Lok Hup emulate the movement of water and should be circular and flowing, always varying in speed, tempo, height and direction. The Bai Hui should be lifted as if suspended from a hook, and the practitioner should be reaching for the floor with their tail bone. All movements use the spine as the center of rotations. The intention should be focused on each movement, and the movements are led by one’s mind and intention. The energy should alternately be opening and closing, rising and sinking, moving forwards and backwards in a spiraling motion, guided by ones mind and intention rather than being forced by physical exertion. The source of the strength is a product of Chi and Geng, as opposed to muscular strength. The Lok Hup student would not meet force with force but rather use the least muscle resistance with yielding, emptying, entwining and penetrating finger and palm strikes aimed at the eyes, throat, groin and meridian points. Throws and takedowns with heavy use of chi na are used as well. Lok Hup is not just a string of martial techniques but is also a qi gong medical exercise which benefit the overall health by strengthening the body, dispelling sickness and increase longevity.
The use of the force of the Five Hearts and Nine Joints controlled by Six Harmonies and Eight Methods is what make Lok Hup.
The Three Levels
Inner Six Harmonies
The body is controlled by the mind, performing the tasks set for it. Although the mind is in control sometimes awareness of the body can be lost. The mind must become aware of the smallest movements as the body transitions from move to move.
The mind must know the purpose of the movements. Purpose leads to intention. This informs the way in which the moves are performed.
When intent becomes clear chi will flow as the body relaxes. Mind directs chi with intent as long as mind and body are relaxed.
When chi flow is hamonized spirit or emotion manifests. This can be detrimental to development unless one is prepared.
Spirit or emotion guides the action. The way one moves will differ given the driving emotion present.
By emptying ones mind while embracing movement one gains superior awareness and unlimited power.
Outer Six Harmonies
The three joints of the body are the neck, upper back and lower back. These joints must move together.
The three joints of the arm are the shoulder, elbow and wrist. Movement begins at shoulder and runs through the elbow to the wrist.
The three leg joints are the hip, knee and ankle. Movement begins at hip and runs through the knee to the ankle.
The movement of the hands tracks the movement of the feet.
5. Elbows and Knees Combine
The movements of the elbows track the movements of the knees.
The movement of the shoulders track the movement of the hips. No body part or joint moves in isolation. Everything moves together.
Inner Eight Methods
1. Chi – Use intention to move the chi
2. Bone – Use the skeletal structure for support
3. Shape – Use postures to focus intent
4. Follow – React and adapt according to the situation
5. Rise – Press the head up to open the spine
6. Return – Create an even balance in the bodys motion
7. Retain – Move naturally with calmness and clarity
8. Conceal – Use refinement to conceal the intent
Outer Eight Methods
The outer eight methods refer to the the sphere one moves in. All directions must be equally developed or the whole becomes weakened and unbalanced.
1. Forward 2. Backward 3. Upward 4. Downward 5. Left 6. Right 7. Straight 8. Circular
Lok Hup is said to contain the neutralizing, redirecting aspects and the soft and hard energy of Tai Chi, the stances, stepping method and subtle turning power of Bagua and the forwardness and power of Xing Yi. Never-the-less it is very much a stand alone system with it’s own hand forms, weapon forms, exercises and meditation sets.
The Zhu Ji is the main set and the foundation of the school. In it the student works on perfecting the technique so they will be ready for the deeper training to come.
Sanpan Shiershi (三盤十二勢) Three coils and Twelve powers or 12 Spirits consists of twelve short forms which contain the foundations of Lok Hup. Different schools/teachers introduced them to the student at different times in their training. It is understood that Liang Tzu-peng taught the twelve after the student had learned the full Zhu Ji set. The twelve spirits/animals are: 1.Dragon, 2.Phoenix, 3.Tiger, 4.Crane, 5.Leopard, 6.Ape, 7.Bear, 8.Goose, 9.Snake, 10.Hawk, 11.Roc, 12.Qilin. While the forms can be worked on individually it’s common practices for them to be done in consecutive order.
LuHong BaShi “Lu Hong’s 8 Imperative Fist” (LH8), also called the “mother-son form”, consists of eight short forms that are commonly practiced consecutively with a 120 moves in total.
Dragon and Tiger Fighting is a form that specializes in chi na applications.
Coiled Dragon Swimming is an advanced form that takes the student to a higher level of skill and expertise in internal action.
Coiled Dragon Fist is the most complex of all the forms and takes the student to the highest level of internal action.
While it was the goal that everyone learn the Zhu Ji set, the vast majority only got as far as the modified Yang form.
Heart of Intent Staff, Jade River Straight Sword, Dew Mist Broadsword are the traditional weapons of Lok Hup. Master Moy never taught weapons, either people who studied with Sun Di or who had joined and brought their skills with them were given permission to teach. The most common weapons forms were Yang 32 and 67 sword and Yang 13 sabre. No one was known to have done any staff work.
Ruler, ball and three levels push hands. To a small group of students Eva Wong taught ruler and to a smaller group the ball. Of course at one time everyone did push hands.
Zhan zhuang is by far the most commonly practiced, there are other forms but the vast majority of students never get that far.