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Wahnam? What does it mean in Chinese?

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  • Wahnam? What does it mean in Chinese?

    A student asked me an interesting question today:

    "I understand that the name of our school is meant to show respect to Sigung Lai and Sigung Ho, but then why is our school called Shaolin Wahnam and not Shaolin Holai or Shaolin Laiho?"

    Since I speak a little Chinese, the question never occurred to me before today. Rather than answer the question myself, I would like to invite some of the Chinese speakers of the forum to give their explanation.
    Sifu Anthony Korahais
    (Click here to learn more about me.)

  • #2
    Once again, I take a stab in the dark, and I must stress that I am not speaking for Sifu here. I will not guess why Sifu chose the name "Wahnam" but instead explain why I think "Wahnam" is a great name for our school.

    First to refresh everyone's memory, here are the names of our two Shigong:



    Li Zhenhua or Lai Chin Wah

    He Fanan or Ho Fatt Nam

    It is true that Chinese culture stresses the surname and it seems reasonable for our school to be "Li Ho" or some other similar name. But this is not always true. Recall Cai Lifo or Choy Li Fut, where the last word "Fo" was neither a name nor a surname.

    I personally would not use Li and He (Ho) as a combination. As those who know Chinese are aware, many words in Chinese share the same pronunciation. As such Li2He2 can mean many things other than two surnames put together. For example, it can have sad connotations, such as parting (离合). The Chinese are nothing if not practical. Why force a square peg into a round hole, why use surnames when the rest of the names present such treasures?

    Hua2 華 is an excellent word. Chinese people all over the world, other than in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong are known as hua ren, rather than zhongguo ren. (华人 / 中国人). Hua is the classical term for the Chinese Han race, dating back to the first dynasties of Xia & Shang (华夏, 华商).

    Nan as some of us may know means "South". According to Sifu, Ho Shigong's name was given to him by Yang Fakun Tai Shigong.

    Put the two words together and you get "Chinese" and "South", or Southern Chinese. And the Shaolin arts we practice are descended from the Southern Shaolin temple. The coincidence is amazing. It must have been destined that the last words of our two grandmasters' names combine to be so meaningful.

    I am not sure of the real reason why Sifu chose the name Wahnam (Huanan) but I am glad that he did.

    Interestingly, there is a school in China, Taiwan, Singapore and around the world known as Nanhua (Nam Wah) as well, and it teaches Taijiquan. That name was taken from Zhuang Zi's 庄(莊)子 classic also known as Nanhua Jing (南华经)
    Persevere in correct practice


    • #3

      Thank you very much for that excellent explanation.
      Sifu Anthony Korahais
      (Click here to learn more about me.)


      • #4
        Thank you from me as well, Wuji. That explanation and the "coincidence" in the name is quite amazing.
        Chris Didyk
        Shaolin Wahnam USA

        Thank You.


        • #5
          Awesome, well done.
          Love, and do what you will.

          - St. Augustine