Northern Shaolin Lo Han Grandmaster Sun Yu Fung

Source: New Martial Hero #27 (1970?)
As Studied and Recited by Buddha Mountain Men
Translated by Larry Chau (December 3, 1990)
Edit by Robert Louie (December 7, 1990)

In the 20th year of the Republic, Sun Yu Fung, a famous Lo Han teacher, was sent by the Shanghai Central Ching Wu Physical Association to Kwangchou to promote Shao lin kung fu. Sun Yu Fung and his son, Sun Wen Yang, taught kung fu as dictated by the Ching Wu Association, which was the basic kung fu of Ching Wu: Twelve Rows of Tan T’ui, Kung Lick Kuen, Big War (Battle) Fist, Loose Battle Fist, Combination Battle Fist, etc. Weapons included Five Tiger Spear, Shepherd Staff, etc.

(NOTE: The ten sets as required by Ching Wu were: Tan T’ui, Kung Lick Kuen (Power), Jeet Kuen (Section Fist), Dai Gin Kuen (Big Battle Fist), Dui Tan T’ui (Sparring Tan T’ui), Don Do Dui Chiang (Sabre vs Spear), Toa Kuen (?), Pa Kau Do Eight Trigram Sabre), Ng Fu Chiang (Five Tiger Spear), and Kwai Yeun Kwan (Shepard Staff)….Ed.)

But Sun Yu Fung’s specialty was Lo Han style. Lo Han is a branch of Shao lin, whose main part is the Lo Han Fist. Lo Han consist of eighteen sets; the first six sets are regarded as hard, the middle six sets are a combination of hard and soft, and the last six sets alternated hard and soft.

Sun Yu Fung’s kung fu is Sung Shan Shao lin Temple from Honan Provence. His Sifu was Yuan T’ung T’san. Sun Yu Fung and his classmate, Ma Lang, both learned about the same time and later became accomplished instructors who later went their own way.

Sun Yu Fung was an expert in the eighteen Lo Han sets, Ch’ing Na Shu (Grabbing) and single sabres. He worked in a protection agency which escorted convoys in five provinces (Shangtung, Hupei, etc.). The martial arts people called Sun Yu Fung, The Sabre King of Five Provinces. The saber he used incorporated techniques from the Ching Na style which made his saber techniques unique. When he came to Kwangtung Provence, his sabre was considered to be his strongest point.

Sun Yu Fung started to learn kung fu at an early age. He was a native of the city of Ching in Shangtung Province where Wu Shu was very popular. The most popular martial art was wrestling. Many martial art experts taught in Ching. The government also encouraged youngsters to learn the art of wrestling. Contests were popular and the competitions were divided into divisions with different age groups. Sun Yu Fung learned wrestling when he was 12 years old in Ching city. He was very big for his age. After studying wrestling for a few years, he became even stronger. When he was fourteen or fifteen, he entered competition and because of his large frame and strength, he was unbeatable.

When he became an adult, he entered the adult competition. After a contest that he won in Shangtung Province, Sun Yu Fung became well known. However he, himself, was (still) not satisfied and trained harder.

Ching county and Peking were not too far from each other. All types of kung fu men who knew all kinds of styles concentrated in Ching city. If you wanted to improve your kung fu, just go to Peking, look for a famous fighter and ask him to teach you. Sun Yu Fung became well known from many of his contests and made contact with many Wu Shu people. He met Ma Lang during this time. They were especially close since both were from the same village in Shangtung Province.

Just at that time, Yuan T’ung T’an Sifu, wanted to promote Shao lin Lo Han. He went to Peking to search for some talented and intelligent individuals (so he could) teach them some Wu Shu. He saw Ma Lang and Sun Yu Fung, both of which had good National Arts background and were young and smart and taught Yan Lo Han to both of them. The style is called Yan Lo Han because it was passed down into parts named one o clock, two o clock, etc… to twelve o clock. (This is an old Chinese way of naming things) and Yuan was the third person to pass it down, so he called it Yan Lo Han.

(NOTE: It is unclear if Yuan T’ang T’an was the third person to learn Lo Han, the third generation to learn or the third person to teach Lo Han within the same generation. Ed.)

After a few years, Yuan T’ang T’an returned to the Shao lin Temple. Before leaving, he told Ma Lang and Sun Yu Fung that their Lo Han was good and that they could go teach. Ma Lang returned to Shangtung Province and organized the Chi Nan Wu Shu School. It gradually became well known and his Lo Han spread to all of Shangtung Province.

Sun Yu Fung took the position at the Chen Wei Piao Company. Using his Lo Han and his single sabre, he traveled the five provinces and encountered many famous fighters. The ones that compared skills with him, were defeated. All the villains he encountered, he was able to beat them. Later in Peking Sun opened his own security company called Ning Yuan Piao Company. The company flag was colored black and was triangular with sawed edges, and had white words. Whenever they went they were never stopped and Sun Yu Fung received his name, The King of Five Provinces.

After Huo Yuen Chia died, Chen Kung Che and several other disciples carried out Huo’s will of searching and gathering all the different styles and teachers of Wu Shu. They were to teach at the Ching Wu Association. They knew that Ma Lang was promoting Lo Han and that his school was doing well. So they wanted someone to teach Lo Han at Ching Wu. They knew Sun Yu Fung was Ma Lang’s classmate so they sent someone to invite Sun Yu Fung to come to teach in Shanghai. Sun Yu Fung’s business was slowing so he agreed. He taught Lo Han with his son Sun Wen Yang.

After teaching a few years in Shanghai, he went to Kwangchou’s Ching Wu to promote Shao lin. As a Ching Wu teacher, he taught the Ching Wu basic fist. If any of his students were superior (in abilities) and asked for further instruction, then he taught Lo Han.

In Kwangchou, many Southern teachers looked down on Northern styles. Many wanted to challenge Sun Yu Fung so that they could knock Sun Yu Fung down. During the times when father and son were teaching, someone would come to say they like to watch. Then they would ask ridiculous questions and then suddenly attack Sun Yu Fung. In the end the opponent would always submit and praise Sun Yu Fung. Many challengers would ask to be a student.

Hwang Hsiao Hou learned Ts’ai Li Fut from Li En. Li En was Chen Kwan Po’s student and was very famous in Kwangchou. Hwang Hsiao Hou was really an expert in many forms of the Ts’ia Li Fut. He learned Crossing Strikes, Long Fist, Eight Trigrams Heart. In weapons he learned Plum Blossom Double Sabres, Big Red Staff, Left and Right Thirteen Spear, Crossing Short Spear, and Single Chain. He was very important to Li En. Hwang Hsiao Hsia knew that Sun Yu Fung was from the north and was considered an expert and was also known as “The King Sabre of Five Provinces.” Sun Yu Fung had beaten every Southerner who challenged him. He even welcomed anyone to come compare skills. Hwang Hsiao Hou was young and he felt Sun Yu Fung looked down on all Southern kung fu. He wanted to challenge Sun and knock him down.

One day Hwang Hsiao Hou walked to the Ching Wu Sport Arena which had not open for a long time. Sun Yu Fung was teaching at the Ching Wu from 9 AM to 11 AM. Hwang Hsiao Hou entered the school and saw Sun Yu Fung teaching twelve rows of Tan T’ui. As Sun Yu Fung was demonstrating the move, he was explaining the use of the technique involved, i.e. strike, blocks, etc. Hwang Hsiao Hou felt the 12 rows were simple but contained all kinds of varieties. It was deep, quick and fast.

Sun Yu Fung was explaining to his students that the Hammer with a chain attached to the end was a special Northern weapon. It was used to strike the opponents’ collar (Ling Ti).

Hwang Hsiao Hou said, “No, Master Sun, I learned Ts’ai Li Fut and the style also has a weapon like the Hammer and Chain. It is similar to what you said but it is a better weapon.” Sun Yu Fung looked at Hwang Hsiao Hou and he saw that Hwang Hsiao Hou was a big man. Sun Yu Fung was aware that Hwang Hsiao Hou had come to challenge.

Sun Yu Fung asked, “How many years did you learn Ts’ai Li Fut and from whom?”

Hwang Hsiao Hou replied,”I learned from Li En for two or three years. I think that I can win against an old Northerner.”

Sun Yu Fung answered the challenge, “Okay, let’s try it out. If you beat me, I will learn Ts’ai Li Fut. If I win, you have to kneel in front of me and bow your head three times.”

Hwang Hsiao Hou said, “I am young and strong. I can win with no problem.” Hwang Hsiao Hou attacked with hang, grab, sweep, and chop techniques which were all executed at the same time. Hwang Hsiao Hou felt that he could win by striking fast. But Sun Yu Fung did not panic. He blocked every technique and at the same time, Sun Yu Fung was explaining to Hwang Hsiao Hou what mistakes he was making as if he was teaching Hwang Hsiao Hou. None of Hwang Hsiao Hou’s strikes touched Sun Yu Fung. After a while, Hwang Hsiao Hou got tired and he made his final attack: a spear hand. Sun Yu Fung uses a technique from the second row of Tan T’ui called Strike the Belly Fist. (Note: This technique is in a square horse and the left (or right) fist is at the waist with the right (or left) fist punching with a horizontal fist to the side, parallel to the ground..Ed.) Sun Yu Fung then subdues Hwang Hsiao Hou’s attack by using his left leg to kick Hwang Hsiao Hou’s shins. Hwang Hsiao Hou goes down in pain. Being a smart guy, Hwang Hsiao Hou was already bending forward because he is holding his shins, suddenly kneels and bows in front of Sun Yu Fung . Hwang Hsiao Hou said, “Master, Master”, as he bowed. With this action, Hwang Hsiao Hou performed exactly what he was asked to do and he was able to demonstrate to Sun Yu Fung that he wanted to be a disciple. Sun Yu Fung acknowledged and accepted Hwang Hsiao Hou. Hwang Hsiao Hou was able to learn Lo Han. Hwang Hsiao Hou also introduced three other people from the Ts’ai Li Fut school to the Ching Wu school. All three later became famous in Lo Han. The three were Chin Chun Wu, Ts’ai Po Ta, and Lin Shao Li.

Ts’ai Po Ta learned the best part of Ts’ai Li Fut. He went to Kwangchou and his disciple was Chen Kuen Po. Chen Kuan Po learned Ts’ai Gar Kuen which is a style based on a fight between a Farm Mouse and a Snake. Chen Kuan Po founded the style.

The second disciple, Chen Chun Wu is a disciple of Leng Chi. He was strong, thought of himself as a very good fighter and would challenge everyone. At this time, Wu ______ Chung, who was a White Crane Master, went with Chen Chun Wu to challenged Ts’ai. Both Wu ____ Chung and Chen Chun Wu won their fights and became very famous.

Hwang Hsiao Hou told Ts’ai Po Ta and Chen Chun Kuei that Sun’s kung fu was very good. Both Ts’ai Po Ta and Chen Chun Kuei knew right away that Hwang Hsiao Hou had challenged Sun Yu Fung and lost because Hwang Hsiao Hou never compliments anyone’s kung fu.

Sun Yu Fung knew three men who were called Three Tigers of the East River. They were Lin Yin Tang, Lin T’iao Kuei and Chang Li Tung. Lin Yin Tang was very good at public relations and he had hired the Five Northern Tigers (of China) to teach at his school.

(Note: The Five Tigers of China were Wan Li Sheng – Northern Shao lin and Spontaneous Boxing, Kuo Yu Chang – Northern Shao lin, Spontaneous Boxing, Ch’a Kuen and Hsing-i, Fu Chen Sheng – Pa Kua, Wang Shao Chou – Northern Shao lin and Ch’a Kuen, and Li Hsien Wu – Northern Shao lin, Hsing-i and Tan T’ui) . They were part of the Thirteen Champions of all China in the 1928 National Arts Tournment in Shanghai….Ed.)

Lin T’iao Kuei opened a school and both Lin T’iao Kuei and Lin Yin Tang socialized together. Lin T’iao Kuei knew Wan Li Sheng, who was one of the Five Tigers. Lin T’iao Kuei wanted to learn Northern Shao lin and knew Wan Li Sheng was very cocky. Therefore, he did not want to learn from him. Lin T’iao Kuei learned about Sun Yu Fung who was also a Northern Shao lin and went to him to learn at the Ching Wu. He became good friends with Sun Wen Yang. He introduced Sun Wen Yang to Lin T’iao Kuei school and watched Lin T’iao Kuei teach Dragon Fist. Sun Wen Yang joins Lin T’iao Kuei school and Lin T’iao Kuei sends his son to learn from Sun Yu Fung. Wan Li Sheng became the Principal Master of Lin Wu government school and as a result did not have time to teach martial arts. He knew about Sun Yu Fung and wrote a letter to Sun Yu Fung requesting that he come and teach at the government school.

Sun Yu Fung opened the letter and became angry. Sun said,”You, Wan Li Sheng, kiss ass to get where you are… to become the Principal Master of the two Kwang’s Wu Shu schools. Yet you never contacted me in any way. Now you send me a letter and want me to be under you! I have better skills yet I am your subordinate. You have less skills yet you want to be my superior!”

Lin Yin Tang overheard what Sun said and he immediately contacted Wan Li Sheng to explain why the letter was returned. Wan Li Sheng realized what went wrong and went to see Sun Yu Fung to apologize. Sun Yu Fung accepted both the apology and the offer.

At the same time Lin Shao Li learn Ts’ai Li Fut from Fang Yu Shu when she was twelve years old. She learned Cross Arms, and Level Arms.

Shortly after Ching Wu opened, Lin Shao Li went to the school to observe. She was instantly involved in the “deep movements and the shadow play of the sabres”. She loved it. She knew Hwang Hsiao Hou because he was a friend of her father, Lin See Hing. She asked Sun Yu Fung to accept her as a student. Sun Yu Fung was an old fashion master who places emphasis on the horse and hard wrist. But Sun Yu Fung notice that her foundation was good and he therefore accepted her.

She learned twelve rows of Tan T’ui, Kung Lic Kuen, the Five Battle Fists, Shepherd Staff and Five Tiger Spear. Her partner was Sun Wen Yang and they matched very well when they performed together. At the annual Kwangtung Sport Meet, she won top honors and became a champion. Sun Yu Fung asked her to teach in the school and she became known as a woman master.

Lin Shao Li was eighteen years old and many people paid her no respect. Master T’ang Mao (Katsu) of Ts’ai Li Fut saw her perform and publicly criticize her performance. He said, “She knows only needle and stitches.” This translated that what she knew was only for females and not for fighting. Of course this made her angry. One day she went to the Fang village to challenge T’ang Mao (Katsu) but he was not there. She then broke a few arms from a wooden fighting dummy and left a note to challenge T’ang Mao.

When T’ang Mao returned to the village, he saw the damage and knew right way that Lin Shao Li was responsible for the damage. T’ang Mao went to Sun Yu Fung to complain. He also went to Hwang Hsiao Hou to have him deliver the message that he accepted the challenge.

Hwang Hsiao Hou realized that both were from Ts’ai Li Fut and if the fight should occurred, it would only invite ridicule and criticism from everyone. Hwang Hsiao Hou acted as a mediator between Lin Shao Li and T’ang Mao. The local newspapers in Kwangchou heard about the potential fight and used her name in the headlines. After this many people came to Lin Shao Li to learn but she only accepted females and taught only Shao lin Fist.

Sun Yu Fung specialized in sabres: Foot-soldiers sabre, Flower Lu Sabre, Breaking Door Sabre, Plucking the Life Sabre and Loose Wrist Sabre. He was good at Lo Han Chi Kung and Iron Cloth. Therefore, Sun Yu Fung had to learn how to absorb a strike before learning Wu Shu. Sun Yu Fung always let his students hit him and it never bother him at all.

One time near the Ching Wu School, there was a Police Station which had horses. Sun Yu Fung said, “When you are good at Lo Han, you can retreat your testicles inside your body. When you get kicked in the groin, there is no harm.” One day Sun Yu Fung stood behind a horse and intimidated the horse into kicking with its hind legs. Sun Yu Fung received hits all over his body but Sun Yu Fung showed no injury. Another time, Sun Yu Fung spread his legs behind a horse, grabbed the horse’s tail and let the horse kick Sun Yu Fung between his legs. No harm came to Sun Yu Fung because “he had his babies inside him.”

Sun Yu Fung said, “The best thing about Lo Han Chi Kung is, the stronger striking force is then the stronger the force will be reflected back.”

Not only did Sun Yu Fung not mind receiving strikes onto his body, he also liked to strike out at his opponents. Any student who could not sustain the force of his strike, then they will never learn the “good stuff” from Sun Yu Fung. His son received a lot of punishment but he learned a lot. Sometimes he was thrown ten to twenty feet by Sun Yu Fung. Hwang Hsiao Hou had help Sun Yu Fung since he came to Kwangchou and therefore Hwang Hsiao Hsia was taught a lot.

Hwang Hsiao Hou was more of a marital artist scholar. Many times Hwang Hsiao Hou would get tired of learning from Sun Yu Fung because Hwang Hsiao Hou received so many hits from Sun Yu Fung.

Chen Chun Wu was strong and young. He always sparred with Sun Yu Fung. Sun Yu Fung would always hit Chen Chun Wu until Chen Chun Wu was on the ground. One time Sun Yu Fung grabbed Chen Chun Wu after Chen Chun Wu was knocked down. Without success, Chen Chun Wu had to twist around in circles many times, trying to force Sun Yu Fung to let go of his grip. Sun Yu Fung was very impressed with Chen Chun Wu because he never backed away. By this time, even though Sun Yu Fung had been in Kwangchou for several years, he still did not speak Cantonese. He only spoke Mandarin. Only Chen Chun Wu was able to understand what Sun Yu Fung said. In return, Chen Chun Wu was able to learn a lot from Sun Yu Fung.

After Wu ______ Chung (White Crane Master) brought Chen Chun Wu to challenge Ts’ai ____ _____ of Crouching? Style, Instead, Chen Chun Wu fought the number one disciple, Ching Wah P’an. Chen Chun Wu won the contest and he gone back to Ching Wu to brag about it. Sun Yu Fung overheard Chen Chun Wu and scolded him for challenging other people when he has not learned enough.

Sun Yu Fung said, “If I were him, I would have beaten you.”

Chen Chun Wu understood that Sun Yu Fung wanted to demonstrate something to him so he said, “I will use the same technique against you”.

Even though Chen Chun Wu attack was very strong, Sun Yu Fung fended all the attacking techniques. Finally Sun Yu Fung used the technique, “Twisting Dragon Kick” to defeat Chen. Chen Chun Wu was slightly injured by the kick.

At the same time there were other students who witness Chen’s defeat They thought that Chen Chun Wu was being punished. Only Hwang Hsiao Hou understood what was happening. He said, “Don’t you ever fight the master.”

But Chen Chun Wu smiled, “Hey I don’t mind getting hit once-a-day like this. That’s how you learn.”

Hwang Hsiao Hou then knew that Chen Chun Wu had understood what the intentions of Sun Yu Fung were. He said, “Our Sifu has Yin Yang (Duel) strength. The Yang is the hitting and kicking techniques which you can hear the wind with each strike. The Yin is different. The hitting and kicking techniques do not look impressive but if they make contact, it will be deadly. The “Twist Dragon Kick” looks like one is advancing but is really retreating and vise versa. It involves jumping and leaping techniques. It always makes the opponents guess which direction the kick is coming.

In 1936, Sun Yu Fung resigns from the Ching Wu as an instructor and passes the responsibility to his son, Sun Wen Jung. Sun Yu Fung was concerned that his son lacked the experience needed in teaching and socializing so he gave Hwang Hsiao Hou and Chen Chun Wu a pair of double sabres to take care of Sun Wen Jung. One year later, Kwangchou was lost to the Japanese. Sun Wen Yang joined the resistance forces but between battles, Sun Wen Yang got sick and died. Sun Yu Fung never learned where his son was buried. After World War II, Hwang Hsiao Hou and other classmates rejoined and learned from each other that both father and son died. However, they felt the Lo Han style was not lost (because the style is alive in the disciples.)