Bak Mei Pai
Bak Mei (literally White Eyebrows) is said to have been one of the legendary Five Elders survivors of the destruction of the Shaolin Temple by the Qing Dynasty imperial regime (1644–1912) who, according to some accounts, betrayed Shaolin to the imperial government. He shares his name with the Southern Chinese martial art attributed to him.
Accounts of the Five Elders are many and varied. Some versions identify the traitor not as Bak Mei, but as Ma Ning-Yee. In other versions, Bak Mei and Ma Ning-Yee both betray Shaolin, sometimes joined by Fung Do-Duk. Still other versions say that "Bak Mei" is a nickname for either Ma Ning-Yee or Fung Do-Duk. The stories of the Five Elders may have no basis in historical fact at all, and may come solely from wuxia novels like Wan Nian Qing and the mythology of anti-Qing organizations such as the Heaven and Earth Society, which were spreading wildly through China in the early 19th century.
Whether justified or not, Bak Mei's traitorous reputation has led to real life animosity between practitioners of his namesake martial art and practitioners of arts identified with those whom he is accused of betraying. In the accounts of some Bak Mei practitioners, their founder did not so much betray the Shaolin as decline to join their rebellion against the Qing. Other tales portray Bak Mei as having been banished from the Shaolin Temple because he killed several of his fellow monks when he first tried out his new style. Some Bak Mei practitioners embrace their founder's reputation as a murderer of Shaolin disciples as proof of the superiority of their style. Some famous Bak Mei forms that may suggest Bak Mei had many vicious and deadly altercations with Shaolin Monks are Sap-Baat Ding Jeung (18 Crazy Monks) and Sap-Baat Moi Kiu (18 Ghost Bridges).
Cheung Lai Chuen branch
Cheung Lai Chuen began his study of the martial arts at the age of 7 with the traditional Chinese medicine practitioner Shak Lim, who taught him the vagrant style. Cheung would later learn from Li Mung, who taught Chueng his family style. While he was studying martial arts with the Lam family, he became close friends with their son Lam Yiu-Kwai, with whom he had much in common, and eventually studied under Yiu Kwai's uncle. Lam would later become known for disseminating Dragon Kung Fu much as Cheung would later become known for disseminating Bak Mei. Both were born in Huìyáng County in the Huizhou prefecture of Guangdong and a marriage between their families would eventually make them cousins. They both left Huizhou to build their futures in Guangzhou and did so by opening several schools together.
After moving to Guangzhou, Cheung was defeated by the monk Lin Sang after which the monk referred Cheung to his own teacher master Juk Faat Wan, who taught Cheung the art of Bak Mei over the next two or three years. Cheung had a background in Hakka Kuen, the martial arts of the Hakka people, from his study of Li Mung's family style and the vagrant style. Because of this, Cheung's style of Bak Mei is associated with Hakka kuen, but more strongly still with the dragon style of Lam Yiu-Kwai—who is also said to have had a background in Hakka Kuen—due to the many years Cheung and Lam spent training together.
In 1972, Master Tang Cho Tak moved to London and began, with the approval of Cheung Peng Fatt (Cheung Lai Chuen's son who succeeded him as grandmaster), to teach non-Chinese students for the first time. He continues to promote the art in Europe.
The Bak Mei Pai traces its origins to Mount Emei, where Bak Mei is said to have transmitted the art to the Chan (Zen) master Gwong Wai, who then passed it on to Juk Faat Wan.
Bak Mei's fighting style makes use of the four principles of "floating" (fou), "sinking" (chum), "swallowing" (tun) and "spitting" (tou) common in the southern Chinese martial arts. It is characterized by its emphasis on powerful close range hand strikes, specifically with the extended knuckle attack known as the "phoenix-eye fist". Bak Mei strikes are usually executed in conjunction with intercepting and jamming the opponent's strike. Unique to Bak Mei is its classification of the following 6 nei jin (powers): biu (thrusting), chum (sinking), tan (springing), fa (neutralizing), tung, and chuk. Bak Mei emphasizes the movements of the tiger and its strikes are executed with explosive power via Fa Jing. Additionally, it contains numerous kum la (joint manipulation) techniques as well as ground-fighting methods in the Dei Saat Kun form.
Last Updated (Friday, 14 January 2011 22:40)