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Thread: Shaolin Wahnam Lineage - inconsistent?

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2015

    'Hung Gar' Lineage of Sichangung Lai Chin Wah

    'Hung Gar' Lineage of Sichangung LaiChin Wah

    Sichangung Lai Chin Wah learned from 3Kung Fu Masters, but ‘we count our lineage’ from the first one. The Tiger-CraneSet for example Sichangung Lai Chin Wah learned from his third Sifu.

    How the lineage continues from the starting point isexplained by Sitaigung in a Q&A from December 1998, which was also repostedon kung fu magazine in 2001:

    For convenience the relevant part is given below,where the original is not in bold letters (‘I’ve highlighted them here in bold’):

    Question 7
    Also, can you tell me the lineage of Sifu Lai Chin Wah's Hoong Family Kung Fulineage from Chee Seen?

    Answer 7
    My sifu, Sifu Lai Chin Wah, was not only a great fighter but also highlyrighteous. He was actually better known by his nickname Ye Sook, or UncleRighteousness. He learned from three masters, namely Ng Yew Loong, Chu Khuen,and Lou Chan Wei. All these three masters were the best known Southern Shaolinmasters of their time. My sifu was an idealist; he sought and learned from thebest. Ng Yew Loong learned from Chan Fook, a Shaolin monk from the southernShaolin Monastery in Fujian province, who returned to lay life.
    I could nottrace beyond Chan Fook.

    The Venerable Chee Seen was the last abbot of the southern Shaolin Monasterybefore it was razed to the ground by the Qing army. Hence Chan Fook could havelearned from one of Chee Seen's disciple in the monastery.

    My sifu, Uncle Righteousness, passed on to me as a legacy a secret kungfu setknown as "Essence of Shaolin". This kungfu set is reputed to be thespecial set of the Venerable Harng Yin, the most senior disciple of Chee Seen.It was from this kungfu set that I learned the poetic couplet I mentioned inthe webpage Amazing Techniques in Shaolin Kungfu, namely, in Cantonese,"miu fatt fatt chong shang miu fatt, kei kung kung seong kin keikung".
    Itmeans "marvelous techniques beget marvelous techniques; wondrous skillsgenerate wondrous skills".

    My notes:

    According toSitaigung’s explanations he could not trace the lineage back beyond Chan FookSijo.

    Venerable Jee Seen is starting point of the lineagebecause he is the ‘patron saint of Southern Shaolin Kung Fu’ and practically allHung Gar liniages trace their roots from him.

    That VenerableHarng Yen is included in our lineage is according to Sitatigung’s explanation amere fictional construction, a hypothesis based on the fact, that SichangungLai Chin Wah taught the ‘Essence of Shaolin’ Set and that it can read in kungfu history or legends that this set a specialty of Venerable Harng Yen.

    But even going with this hypothesis:

    With Chan Fook Sijo we again – as with Venerable JiangNan Sijo – only ‘come back’ to the middle of the 19th century (‘the 18hundrets’) approximately to the generation of Wong Fei Hung.

    But Venerable Harng Yen was the generation of Hung HeiGun (also see the article in a different answer), who lived from 1745-1825.

    The Wong Fei Hunglineage does have two generations inbetween, and I would suppose, that also ‘ourlineage here’ would need one or two more generations inbetween to bridge thedistance between Chan Fook Sijo and Venerable Harng Yen (the latter’s appearanceis hypothetical).

    With Shaolin Salute,

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2015

    On Kung Fu lineage

    On Kung Fu Lineage

    My reflection based on my limited 'observations' regarding Kung Fu lineage:

    Lineages go person to person the same as the teaching/learning or transmission.

    They are not lineages of Institutions.

    The lineage in a Kung Fu School is the lineage of the Sifu of the school.

    It is quite common that a 'Kung Fu Master' learns from many teachers/masters, but it is not common practise to count all of them as lineage, there are specifics, for example depending on the kind of training ('Only courses' or 'regular school training' or 'personal training'), which 'Art' was taught/learned ('Tai Chi Chuan' or 'Hung Gar' or 'Praying Mantis' etc.), whether this was essential or a round-up, or how deep the learning was in terms of the 'DNA' of a 'school' or 'how much of the standard curriculum', for how long the training was, from whom was learned ('head-master directly or instructor/sihing'), or whether one just learned forms etc. without going through the process 'of building ones system according the style' and 'getting fully into the flavour' of the style.

    Here is a link to an overview article on 'Knowing your lineage':

    Some key words from the article:

    allochronism - mythological history of a style - actual history of a style

    With Shaolin Salute,


    Last edited by MichaelS; 7th November 2017 at 11:48 AM. Reason: typo

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2015

    Shaolin Wahnam Tai Chi Chuan & Co lineage

    Shaolin Wahnam Tai Chi Chuan & Co. Lineage
    Sitaigung writes and says that he learned Tai Chi Chuan from books and YouTube/Videos.

    As this is common knowledge in our school I guess I do not need to post a source here.

    He writes he never found a Tai Chi Chuan Master that seemed competent enough to 'know what he's doing' (in my words). From the limited overview I've got about it I can quite relate to this, as in martial arts circles this seems to be 'common knowledge' along with 'typically reported symptomps' that there seems to be no Tai Chi Chuan Practitioner that can use it for combat (and if somebody can fight this would normally mean, that he learned another type of Kung Fu and uses this other style in sparring), that there seems to be no one who could demonstrate the 'typical Tai Chi Chuan flavour' in Sparring etc.

    So, we do not have a Tai Chi Chuan lineage, and other arts in our school like Xingyichuan or Baguazhang seem to have 'the same lineage'.

    I do not know for some other Style names or Sets in our school, there are some that I cannot trace to Sitaigung's lineage or there are sets of one lineage, that he would not have learned during the time in the corresponding school according to my understanding of what he wrote about it.

    With Shaolin Salute

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2015

    Counting generations again

    Counting generations again

    Now, after the further 'cross-check's' I've become aware that I have to correct a statement I've made inbetween in a post to the lineage via Sijo Venerable Jiang Nan in post No. 8 here on this thread:

    'I do not say that the counting is wrong as counting from a southern Shaolin temple...'

    This also depends on what can be called a Shaolin Temple and how the counting is represented or specifically formulated and which temple in referrs to.

    But here as on the webside of Shaolin Wahnam Switzerland in connection with the usual linieage chart and a Shaolin monastery before the one on the Nine Lotus mountain together with the description for Sitaigung:

    He is 6th Generation Shaolin Successor through his first Master's line, Sigung Lai Chin Wah
    He is 4th Generation Shaolin Successor through his third Master's line, Sigung Ho Fatt Nam

    It cannot be denied that this counting is obviously wrong.

    Furthermore it cannot be denied that such a counting as shown in the posts before is not possible in our School in these lines, as these lineages cannot be specifically traced back to any of the Shaolin monasteries in the 18th century ('17hundrets').

    But an approximation would be, that the same as in lineages that can trace it back, Sitaigung would be around 9th generation (with the usual inclusive counting and from the time of Venerable Chee Seen as in usual Hung Gar lineages) in either line.

    With Kung Fu Salute,


  5. #15
    Matt F. is offline Sifu Matt Fenton - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam USA
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Epsom, NH - USA
    Hi Michael,

    Looks like you've been doing a good deal of research! I must admit, I have not read your posts in depth, but quickly read through them, and think you are addressing an interesting topic that applies to most (likely all) traditional martial arts. I suspect the inconsistencies that you have been finding are due to a combination of several interesting factors.

    1) oral traditions - stories change as they are told over and over again. Years, dates, people's ages, etc. are all details that do not significantly alter the story. I am not surprised to see some inconsistencies in this information from one telling of a story to the next, especially if multiple years pass between tellings.

    2) the telephone game - I am not sure if you are familiar with this game, by this name, but one person whispers a sentence to another, who in turn whispers it in the ear of a third, and so on through a chain of people. The last person in the chain then says the sentence aloud. Most often, there is quite a bit of variance between the original sentence and what is spoken at the end. This is closely tied to oral tradition, and also likely is the cause for many of the inconsistencies that you have noticed.

    Both of the above assume there is no attempt to intentionally deceive the listener by telling the story. But that brings us to the most interesting factor...

    3) the true history of "Shaolin" - What is the true history of Shaolin? How many temples were there, and where/when did they exist? Who were the "monks" at these temples? Where did they learn kungfu? Of course, there is the traditional history of Shaolin, which likely is based on some facts from some point in history. How much of that story, though, is actually what happened? That I do not know.

    I HIGHLY suspect that a more interesting history/research project would be to compare the Shaolin stories of the temple locations/dates and famous monks with Chinese government and military history. Chinese history is violent and there were many armies, generals, and soldiers. With each regime change, there would be highly skilled military men suddenly found without homes and the target of the new government. What better way to hide than to shave your head, change your name, and hide in a temple? This would easily explain the high level of martial arts often attributed to Shaolin, as well as the many different arts throughout history. It also explains why temples would have been burnt.

    I suspect that if you compared enough historical information of regime change and governmental turmoil, you would find a pattern between date of turmoil and appearance of Shaolin "monk". I suspect this would also apply to many of China's great, historical healers and doctors. The need for highly skilled people to hide and reinvent their identities cannot be something that is disregarded when discussing violent histories.

    4) people lie - Sometimes people make up stories. Sometimes people allow stories to be told about themselves, even if they know the story to be untrue. Sometimes stories are spread faster than someone can correct them.

    So... Shaolin Wahnam lineage? I do not know. I know Sifu has been very up-front about where, when, and from whom he has learned. He is also very up-front about what, in Shaolin Wahnam, he has changed/altered/composed. Beyond that... I have no direct experience.

    History is an interesting topic, especially when dealing with what is not being told and why. Once enough people believe one story, it becomes the "truth". But the true truth?... if you do not live it, you may never know.

    Interesting subject, though! Thank you for bringing it up.


  6. #16
    Join Date
    May 2006
    I don't think Sifu ever said learning taijiquan from youtube videos, as there was no youtube back then.

    Sifu took matters in his own hands after being put off by a taijiquan master saying his kungfu was 'too hard'. Then Sifu learnt from Yang Chen Fu his book if I'm not mistaken.

    It's common knowledge Sifu introduced taijiquan into the school after students asking for it. The same applies to the Xingyiquan and Baguazhang.

    Some sets in our school (or style if you want, for example Eagle Claw), Sifu learnt from exchanging sets with fellow masters, or other practitioners in the area.

    If I could be so free to add something, if we are nitpicking about lineage and styles;

    Baguazhang, has it roots in Northern Shaolin styles.

    Check this link to a book for more information. The person who wrote it has done extensive research on this topic:

    In the past, if one would ask, what style do you train, they would not differentiate at all.
    The proof can be found in interviews with old masters.

    When they asked Dong Haichuan what martial art he was practising, he had to think, and made up the name on the spot; baguazhang.

    Where taijiquan comes from, people laugh at it being Zhang San Feng, as they say, it's not possible, he was not real, and all that. Yet all creators of their respective off-shoots point at Zhang San Feng as main creator.

    If you look at the taijiquan from the Chen village, the influence from Shaolin is very clear.

    True or not, who knows. But if we start nitpicking in such matters, you'll never find the answer. Because they didn't differentiate at all in the past.
    Kungfu was kungfu, whether taiji, bagua, xingyi, lohan, the list is endless.

    Everything is an off-shoot of something, is it is well established in Chinese martial arts, that everything can be traced down to Shaolin.
    In this regard, we DO have the lineage of the respective styles you mention.

    All the old masters just developed in different ways, different goals, different make-up, etc.

    It's the same story with our Grandmaster.

    If I could be so free to add something again, (or maybe a different discussion entirely);

    I think a main difference in kungfu, and the way it developed across old China,
    is some masters included internal arts from buddhist origin in their respective styles, and some where more influenced by daoist forms of chikung.

    There are literally alot of different ways to cultivate internally, some use the small/ big universe, some use just the 3 dan tian, others will just focus on the all around body.

    Our school is pretty special in this regard, the root is Shaolin, yet we have different off-shoots.

    This is exactly how it has been done in the past.

    So I wouldn't fall over semantics concerning lineage. The Shaolin lineage is real, traceable, and we all know the rest.

    As Matt Siheng says, if you don not practise/ live it, you may never know.

    Best regards,
    Last edited by Tim Hoorens; 20th February 2018 at 02:54 PM. Reason: typo

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Frankfurt, Germany
    I asked Sigung about the other monks having escaped the burning of the Southern Shaolin Temple apart from the 5 elders and Jiang Nan. He said there were some, but he doesn't know anything about them.

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