Ten years to pry the door open...

Flying Crane

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I thought I'd share a recent turn of events with you all, with regards to my training.

A little background, first: I've been training with my kung fu sifu for some eleven years now, mostly in Tibetan White Crane, but with some Shaolin influences and taiji as well. White Crane has always been my primary interest of study with him, and he has generously given me as much as he could.

His training in White Crane goes back some 40 years or so, when he learned under his uncle, who is a lineage-holder and master of White Crane, and is one of the top White Crane people in the Western Hemisphere at the least. The problem was that he was unable to complete his own training in White Crane, due to an injury after a few years (not related to martial arts). This sent him in other directions, studying Shaolin and Taiji and Bagua and such. But he was unable to continue with his own White Crane training.

Over the years, he has taught his White Crane to very few people, instead teaching mostly taiji and shaolin. He generously agreed to teach me when I requested it, and I have been his only White Crane student for some time now. But he was always honest with me about the fact that he does not know the complete system, and that some of what he learned he has forgotten over the years. But he gave me what he could, and I just kept on working on it. From time to time I would try to encourage him to "jog" his memory and see if he can remember more, or suggest maybe he could get some of his classmates from back in the day to come in and help teach, or maybe get his uncle involved. All to no avail: his uncle closed his school decades ago and only teaches four disciples who have each been with him for 30 or 40 or more years, and he doesn't take new students, and the four disciples he does have aren't teaching either. So no luck.

But I kept with it, and kept reafirming my own dedication to the art, and my interest in learning as much as possible.

A few weeks ago, sifu took me to meet his uncle. And his uncle agreed to give me a chance, and let me come to the training sessions with his four disciples. He only agreed to do this because of my relationship with my sifu, and he made it clear that he was willing to do it because I am not a complete beginner.

So now I am training with sigung, and I am the new student there. We train in his back yard and garage, and I've been doing this now for a couple weeks. The training has been great, I've been drilling the hell out of my basics to clean up what I am doing, and relearning all my forms to get them just right. We train hard, and I am loving it. And I know that in all likelihood, I am the last student that he will accept.

Tibetan White Crane is a system that is not very openly taught nowadays, and it is quite difficult to find someone teaching it. And most of those who do teach it only have a partial knowledge of the system. Sifu has often said that the art is dying, and most of the old teachers are content to let it die. They feel that students aren't willing to work hard enough to learn it properly, so they don't bother to teach more than just the basics.

I am not going to mention names, because these people are rather private, and might not appreciate me putting their names out on the internet. But I feel tremendously fortunate to have been given this opportunity, and I hope my skill and knowledge in the system will rise to a new level.

After ten years, the door has finally been opened for me (and likely locked again after I walked thru), and I am excited.

Just wanted to share.
 

Bill Mattocks

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Congratulations! Do you suppose you will pass on your training at some point?
 

terryl965

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Michael that is a great story and has a wonderful ending, my friend I know you will be one of the best student with your dedication to the arts. Keep us up to date on the progress.
 

just2kicku

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That is way too cool. It's a shame that people are not willing to put the time and effort into it and thus it may be a dying art. I am glad for you. Keep us informed of how your training is going. Good luck
 
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Flying Crane

Flying Crane

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Congratulations! Do you suppose you will pass on your training at some point?

Hi Bill,

well, that is actually a bit of a story in and of itself.

For these ten or more years, I've been sifu's only White Crane student, working by myself on the sidelines while he was teaching his taiji classes (older students) and shaolin-based modern wushu classes (younger students). Every once in a while someone would show up and ask to learn White Crane, so sifu would give them to me. I'd take them thru the paces, and they never came back more than about 3 times.

White Crane is kind of weird. It absolutely defies the Western mind's intuitive notion of what a fighting art should be. But if you take the time to figure it out, it is TREMENDOUSLY powerful. You just gotta be willing to have some faith in what you are doing, and get past that initial confusion about what you are doing. But nowadays, especially with the MMA popularity, people think that if it's not useful RIGHT NOW, they don't want to learn it. And it's very demanding on a physical level. So usually people didn't come back after the first session. The art itself sort of weeds people out. I dunno, maybe it's just my winning personality
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.

But at any rate, recently I've had a couple younger guys who have decided to stick with it. I've got four guys now that I work with at Sifu's class, and I've been working with them for a number of months. They are struggling with it, but they seem to really want to learn it, so under Sifu's guidance, I've been working with them. And now that I'm getting a lot of corrections from Sigung, I'm doing my best to pass that on to my guys too.

My wife and I bought a house recently, and we are having the foundation and basement completely redone. The work ought to be done in another month or so. But part of what we want is to have a place to train in the basement, so we are very excited about that too. And a couple of my guys have asked if I could run another session at home, when the basement is done. So I guess I've got students, tho I tell them that I am just "di-sihing", (spelling?) older brother, and not Sifu. My sifu is their sifu, and sigung is still sigung.
 

dancingalone

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Congratulations, Michael! Is there a difference between Tibetan White Crane and the White Crane Dr. Yang Jing Ming practices?
 
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Flying Crane

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Congratulations, Michael! Is there a difference between Tibetan White Crane and the White Crane Dr. Yang Jing Ming practices?


Yes, they are completely different, with different origins, different technique and philosophy, absolutely nothing is the same. The whole approach to combat, including how power is generated, is completely different, between these two systems.

The Fukienese White Crane is a short arm system, superficially it has some similarity to Wing Chun (I've heard that Wing Chun may have originated in Fukienese White Crane).

Tibetan White Crane is completely opposite, a very long-armed system, with some superficial resemblances to Choy Lay Fut. We rely on a full body pivot and twist to generate a tremendous whipping power.
 

Chazmek

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I've also heard the two styles differentiated by color:
Tibetan Crane = White Crane
Fukien Crane = Black Crane
 
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Flying Crane

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I've also heard the two styles differentiated by color:
Tibetan Crane = White Crane
Fukien Crane = Black Crane


I've never heard that, but I've had no direct experience with Fukien White Crane.

Dr. Yang's book, however, refers to it as White Crane, and every other reference I've ever seen has done likewise.

I believe they simply share the name, tho they developed independently.
 

Chazmek

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Yeah, it's amazing how two completely different systems can be created from the inspiration of the same animal.

I can see how both styles relate to the bird that is their namesake, but they've chosen such different traits to emulate!
I don't know why, but that sort of thing just fascinates me.
 
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Flying Crane

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Yeah, it's amazing how two completely different systems can be created from the inspiration of the same animal.

I can see how both styles relate to the bird that is their namesake, but they've chosen such different traits to emulate!
I don't know why, but that sort of thing just fascinates me.

I've also found that a point of interest.

I have actually seen reference to a "black crane" system, but I've never seen it used to denote the Fukienese system. I've always supposed it was something else altogether, and I still believe that is the case, and I know nothing about it. I've actually wondered if it was something more recent that somebody just made up as their own system, thinking the name sounded sort of cool or something...

I've never heard of a Black Crane in nature, tho I suppose a genetic mutation could cause it to happen among individuals. But I don't believe a black crane species exists.

Most cranes are mostly white, with some black fringe feathers on the wings and a spot of red feathers on top of the head. This holds true for the Asian varieties as well as the American Sandhill Crane. You could probably find pics online.

There is a species of African crane that has a more fancy plumage, and I believe it has sort of bluish-grey feathers, tho I don't remember for sure. It may have a bit more color as well.
 

MA-Caver

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Michael thanks for sharing and glad to know that the art is being passed on to yet another generation (as all arts should be IMO). You've been one of a chosen few who are privileged to learn this particular art. :asian:
Keep up the good work and definitely keep us updated.
 

Chazmek

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I've also found that a point of interest.

I have actually seen reference to a "black crane" system, but I've never seen it used to denote the Fukienese system. I've always supposed it was something else altogether, and I still believe that is the case, and I know nothing about it. I've actually wondered if it was something more recent that somebody just made up as their own system, thinking the name sounded sort of cool or something...

I've never heard of a Black Crane in nature, tho I suppose a genetic mutation could cause it to happen among individuals. But I don't believe a black crane species exists.

Most cranes are mostly white, with some black fringe feathers on the wings and a spot of red feathers on top of the head. This holds true for the Asian varieties as well as the American Sandhill Crane. You could probably find pics online.

There is a species of African crane that has a more fancy plumage, and I believe it has sort of bluish-grey feathers, tho I don't remember for sure. It may have a bit more color as well.

I'm guessing it was just a way to easily distinguish Crane styles.
Similarly there are styles like White Snake, Red Tiger, Black Tiger, White Tiger, all different colors of Dragons, etc.
I doubt there is actually a crane species that is black.
 

Carol

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That's fantastic Michael! You've spoken before about Tibetan White Crane and how it appears counterintuitive at first. That's great that you're getting such an interesting opportunity, it sounds like you will enjoy it very much. :)
 

clfsean

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Fukinese White Crane is White Crane... hence the name... White Crane.

No other colors... Bak Hok is Bak hok. Fukien Bak Hok, Bak Hok (Tibetan).

If anything distinguishes them, the Fujianese stuff is normally seen referred to as Bai He in Mandarin or by style... Ming He for example.

Bak Hok is most commonly associated with what Michael's scored on since the Tibetan monk that started it all went to Guangdong & at the time, Cantonese was the language in the province.
 

clfsean

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And a couple of my guys have asked if I could run another session at home, when the basement is done. So I guess I've got students, tho I tell them that I am just "di-sihing", (spelling?) older brother, and not Sifu. My sifu is their sifu, and sigung is still sigung.

Wow... somebody paid attention... :D:D:D:D:D:D Props for the demonstration of proper respect & holding the tradition!!

I do the same thing. I tell them I'm their dai sihing & they can call me that or Gaau Lin (coach), but I'm not their Sifu.
 

shesulsa

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Sincerest congratulations! It's always great when ersistence pays off.

Enjoy!
 

morph4me

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Congratulations on a great and well deserved honor :asian:
 

bluekey88

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Congratulations! That is really very cool. Enjoy the training and keep us updated on how things go.

Peace,
Erik
 
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