Thursday, December 01, 2005

Bak Mei, Pak Mei or White Eyebrow Kung Fu

Bak Mei (Cantonese), Pak Mei (Catonese), 白眉派, White Eye Brow (Direct English translation), Nan Quan (南拳 Southern Fist) 白眉拳 (Baimeiquan), Bach My Phai (Bach Mi,Vietnamnese)

Bak Mei Kung Fu is a Chinese Martial Art popular in Southern China, especially in the regions of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau. Bak Mei is considered to be the Southern Internal Close Fighting Style (白眉派乃是南方之短打內家拳種 ).


Bak Mei ( 白眉道人 ), Founder
Bak Mei (白眉 ), lived during the Ch'ing Dynasty (Emperor Ch'ian Lung era). Although very little historical information exist – only rumours and speculations. In some martial arts schools, Bak Mei is considered to be one of the five elder monks of Shaolin Temple, Songshan, Province of Henan while others suggest that he was a Taoist from the Ermei Mountains in Sichuan Province. He is the acknowledged founder of a Southern martial arts styles (南拳 Nan quan). In some stories, Pak Mei was considered to have allied with the Ch'ing Empire and fought against the Shaolin Temple. Those stories are often represented in many Hong Kong kung fu movies and stories but are not based on any verifiable facts.

Bak Mei was followed by his student, the Monk Kwong Wei (Gong Wai) of Sichuan province. Kwong Wai's students include: Zhu ? Taoist (竺缘道长), Ling Sang and Monk Jok Fah Wan (Chuk Fat Wan, Zhu Fuyun 竺拂云, 竺法雲禪師),

The Taoist Zhu Yuan had one student, Chi ShangGuo(在韶关). Chi's student, Liu Shaoliang (刘少良 (刘伯)) together with another Bak Mei practitioner, Qiu Taisheng (仇太生 (老仇)) promoted the style in FuShan (佛山), Guandong Province. They eventually established Fushan Bak Mei Quan (佛山白眉拳).

Monk Jok Fah Wan ( 竺法雲禪師 ) eventually moved to Kwong How Temple, Guangzhou, Southern China. In this region, the Monk started to accept lay students including Chang Lai Chuen ( 張禮泉, Cheung Lai Chun).

Chang Lai Chuen ( 張禮泉 , Cheung Lai Chun)

Chang Lai Cheun ( 張禮泉, Cheung Lai Cun, Zhang Lich'uan, Truong Le Tuyen ) was born in 1889, in in Weiyang District, Dong Jiang, Guangdong Province (廣東省東江惠陽縣). He studied martial arts since he was thirteen years old. Through his life, Cheng acknowledges four teachers. His first two teacher's were Sek Lam (石林 Wanderers Style) and Lee Sze-yee (李義, Lee Gar). His maternal uncle then introduced him to Lam Ah-hop (林亞合), a student of Monk Yu-seng (玉成大師)of the Wah Sou Buddish Monastery, Law Fau Shan, Guangdong Province (廣東省羅浮山華首台玉成大師). Both Lam Ah Hop and Monk Yu Sheng were acknowledge masters of the Dragon style (龍形拳). Chang first learned from Lam Ah-hop's son, Lam Ah-yuen, but later became friends with Lam Ah-yuen's son, Lam Yiu-Kwei (林耀桂).

Chang, at nineteen, moved to Canton, the capital of Kwong-tung province in Southern China. In the provincial capital, he meet and challenge the Monk Lin Sang (蓮生). He was defeated by the Monk which prompted him to ask Lin Sang to be his teacher. Lin Sang declined and instead refer Chang to his own teacher. This is how Chang meet his fourth and final teach, the Monk Jok Fah Wan (竺法雲禪師) and learned the complete art of Bak Mei Kung Fu. He studied with the two monks for the next two years.

Chang opened his first Lai Chun Martial Art School in Wai On Lane in Guangzhou. The local newspapers reported on his exploits and the martial arts community gave Chang the nickname “The Tiger of the East River” (「東江之虎」, 東江猛). The press also labeled him as the “martial champion in seven provinces” (七省拳王美譽). He continued to teach during the war agaisnt the Japanese and the Chinese Civil War. Because of his close ties to the Nationalist government, Chang and some of his students moved to Macau after the victory of the communist government. He continued to teach in Macao and established a strong Bak Mei Community in the former Portuguese Colony. He later moved to Hong Kong and continue to teach with his three sons, Cheung Beng Sum ( Hong Kong), Cheung Beng Lam (張炳森; Hong Kong) and Cheng Beng Fat (,Cheung Beng Fat; Hong Kong). In 1964, Chang passed away at an age of eighty-six. His students have continued to spread the art throughtout the world.

Philosophy and Practice

The essence of this style can be summarised in the following poem:

The Internal Style of Bak Mei,

Practice using power from short distances

Both eyes glows brighter and brighter

The body as light as the flying swallows.

The fundamentals of this style is summarized by the following ideas:

Three body shapes (三形) – concerns the various angles of the body, namely: round, flat and straight (三形為身形角度,即:圓、扁、直)

Four Dynamics (四標) –the four dynamics deals with internal strengths and concerns the concepts of: inhale, exhale, float and sink (四標為內勁,即:吞、吐、浮、沉)

Six Points of Power (六勁) - Six strengths is obtained from the cordination of the parts of the body: teeth, neck, waist, back, hands and legs (六勁為發勁身體配合,即:牙、頸、腰、背、手、腳)

Eight Techniques (八式) - Eight techniques describes the skills used, namely: whip, inward cut, outward clear, body ram, spring out, hand pull, double-hand outward clear and body charge (八式為拳術之手法,即:鞭、割 挽、撞、彈、索、盤、衝。)

Five Features - powerful, fast, accurate, stable and merciless

The characteristics of Bak Mei fighting includes chain movements of heavy strikes, the hollowing of the back to generate power and the use of the phoenix –eye punch to attack the opponent's vital points.


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