The historical journey and development of Eagle Claw Kung Fu – Ying Zhao Fan Zi Men.
The following approach of the historical development of the Eagle Claw kung fu is a personal version of Eagle Claw master Doukas Dimitris.
Ying Zhao Fan Zi Men, known as “Eagle Claw” or Eagle Claw Kung Fu is a traditional Chinese martial arts system. The myth cites that its history exceeds 800 years and begins in the famous Saolin monastery. The military general Yue Fei used the techniques he have learned from the monk Zhou Tong, in order to train his soldiers. Following his death, his soldiers spread the style to many students and through them it reached again back to the monastery. The above description cannot be verified from historical evidence, it is though common ground that most Chinese Wushu styles link their origin to some famous historical figure in order to attach glamour to it.
The general Yue Fei, the patriarch Da Mo, the monasteries and the weird hermits with their magical powers who were teaching young men and women and in their turn they were circumvent pirate hordes; inspired ancestors who by waking up from a dream or being enlightened observing an animal or insect were creating a famous style, is the repetitive pattern of narration that test the limits of logic of the most serious researchers.
We have to face with sympathy and a flavor of humor that habit of our ancestors since it doesn’t differ from the familiar narratives where babies stifled snakes in their swings and immortals had sensitive heels!
The exaggerations in fiction do not deprive their timeless value, the traditions and the functionality of the techniques.
Disregarding the myth, the historical record for Eagle style, proves that it begins with the founder and master Liu Shi Jun who lived during the 19th century. Liu Shi Jun has learned the system from the monks Dao Ji and Fa Cheng, he became known for his fighting abilities in Beijing and that secured him a position as a trainer in the imperial guard, a position that confirms his abilities.
In Beijing he taught many and famous fighters that their descendants live up to our days. He named the style he was teaching Yue Shi Sanshou (Yue Fei fighting techniques). It consisted of the 50 roads of continuous fist, locking techniques, Qi Na and techniques with weapons.
When he withdrew in his village in Xiong Xien province, he taught his relatives and among them an equally great figure of the system, his nephew Liu Cheng You.
Liu Cheng You has received guidance in martial arts at a young age from Liu Dekuan (a prominent personality in martial arts of that period and student of: Liu Shi Jun (Yue Shi Sanshou), Dong Hai Quan (Bagua Zhang), Li Cunyi and Zhang Zhaodong (Xingyi Quan), Xia Guoxun (Yang style taijiquan).
Liu Cheng You taught among others the son of Liu Qi Wen and his nephew Chen Zizheng.
Liu Fa Meng(Lau Fat Mang) was a student of the abovementioned teachers.
I have been taught Eagle Claw Kung Fu for many years with the eldest daughter of Lau Fat Mang, Liy Lau.
I have learned the techniques that constitute the core of the system and they are:
1. Eagle Claw Xing Quan (haun kuen shap lo) (10 roads of fist).
2. Eagle Claw Lian Huan Quan (lin kuen ng shap) (50 elements).
3. Eagle Claw 108 Qina (108 techniques of grapple and locking).
I have also learned Qi Qong for the production of strength in the forearms, wrists and fingers, more than fifty fist and weapon forms of the system, almost the whole material of Lau Fat Mang genealogy.
I was lucky enough to meet my teacher in internal fist, Niu Sheng Xian and learn through him the Yue Fei fighting techniques(Yue Shi Sanshou), as they were taught by Liu Shi Jun at the time he lived in Beijing. Before he met Li Tian Ji and devote himself to the internal boxing (Nei Jia Quan) master Niu have been taught the fighting techniques of the general Yue Fei from Yang Feng Xiang, student of Liu Enshou genealogy, student of Liu Shi Jun of Beijing line.
The truth is that those techniques, do not resemble by no means those of the continuous fist that is known nowadays as Eagle Claw Lian Huan Quan. According to my personal view, fighting techniques of Yue Fei are somehow “primitive” compared to the techniques of Lian Huan Quan that we know today. The conclusion that effortlessly derives is that masters Liu Cheng You, Chen Zi Cheng and Lau Fat Mang, each more or less formed and developed those techniques.
Chen Zi Zheng was one of the first five teachers chosen to teach at the famous Jing Wu association and right after Lau fat Mang continued teaching at Jing Wu in Shanghai, Foshan and Hong Kong. In that particular union, some of the most advanced fist systems of the period (beginning of 20th century) were taught. Tai Ji, Xing Yi, Bagua Zhang, Tan Lang, Eagle Claw, Shaolin Quan, Mizong Quan e.t.c. Jing Wu was an innovative Wushu union that introduced many changes and brought new and fresh ideas to the conservative world of the Chinese martial arts at its era (1910).
For the first time, everyone who wished could attend Wushu lessons paying a small price, without passing through the classical trial of acceptance by the teacher. For the first time there were classes for women. Emphasis was given in spreading Kung Fu for the cultivation of Chinese’s health and in separating its fame from the practices and superstitions that were exaggerated during that period. The coexistence and cooperation of great masters from the abovementioned styles is given and the interaction inevitable.
That interaction as well as the life of those teachers that was full of challenges brought in my opinion the development of those techniques.
In concluding, the various styles are living organisms that interact and ferment with their era. They are in continuous development and this is keeping them alive attributing a timeless meaning to them. The idea that at some point, some person created a style that travels unchanged through time and this is how it should be preserved is totally wrong and of course the life itself refutes it. In contrast, teachers of every generation are responsible to enrich the initial idea and render it timely.
The 50 continuous fist techniques (Lian Huan Quan) of Eagle, are seasonable in our days, mainly due to the development that came of the two great masters of the previous century. Chen Zizheng and Lau Fat Mang.
It is not required more than little fantasy from the teachers of our era in order for those techniques to become more efficient in full contact (Sanda) competitions or applicable in self defense situations in today’s conditions.
The 108 Qi Na techniques of Eagle, stand-up grappling in today’s terms, is the only training method and necessary complement for self defense training.
They teach its application but also the avoidance of it, something of equal importance.
The 108 techniques although difficult to be applied all in an experienced opponent, is required to be trained all since they show you the limitations of its application and you learn how you can avoid the possible trial of its application by the opponent.
The forms of the system are exceptional for the practice of mainly younger athletes, their proper preparation in order to apprehend later on the fighting techniques and to acquire a good physical condition.
Eagle claw system is a unique library of martial techniques, simple and directly applicable, free from unnecessary movements.
In our club the famous techniques from Lian Huan Quan, are taught right from the beginning when one comprehends the fighting position, that is at the second level, while the stand-up grappling techniques (Qi Na) at the intermediate level, as they require good control of the movements.
One detailed approach for the history of Eagle Claw system in the website of an exceptional teacher of the system Panayiotis Dervetnis – here-.
The book by the same teacher: Ten roads of Eagle fist .
Also the official website of Master Lily Lau –here -.