History of the Shaolin Biy Fung Wong Pai (White Pheonix kung fu system) | AspenTimes.com
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History of the Shaolin Biy Fung Wong Pai (White Pheonix kung fu system)

Xing Wah Li, translated by Joël Castillo

Our history begins late in the Ming Dynasty (around 1644) with a young Shaolin monk named Ming Guan. It is believed that he began his training at the northern Shaolin Temple, but had to flee due to the Manchu attack and partial burning of the temple. At this time he traveled to the Fukien province, where the southern Shaolin temple was ” in the Nine Lotus Mountain.

There, Ming studied many different southern styles, adding them to his northern Shaolin kung fu techniques and turning him into an extremely well-rounded fighter. He then left the temple and went into the mountains. There he sat and pondered all the techniques he had learned from northern and southern China and united them into one condensed style.

Biy Fung Wong is born

Ming combined the techniques into four hand forms, shaping them to follow the elements in nature (water, wood, earth and gold) and then created a fifth form (fire) using the most secret and guarded point-striking techniques of north and south China. He then added to the style the essence of the philosophic and mythical Phoenix. He named the style Biy Fung Wong Pai (or White Pheonix style). Each technique of the style is highly guarded and devastating, and only accessible to longtime disciples of the different masters who Ming had encountered.

Chen Mai Jung

After perfecting a training method for his style, Ming went down into the town, where he met a widow with little money and a son to support. Ming Guan asked the woman if she would like her son to become his disciple and learn kung fu. The woman accepted and her son, Chen, ascended into the mountains with Ming Guan. Ming trained Chen in the mountains for years and Chen progressed rapidly since he had studied kung fu under his late father.

Ming passed away around 1708 and Chen, who was around 18 years old, was greatly saddened by his mentor’s death. Chen left the mountains, seeking out his mother, and helped support her by working as a merchant for some 42 years. Chen, throughout that time, only trained himself in the White Pheonix system.

Yip Zi Yi

Around 1750, Chen, exhausted with work and without family, made a solemn oath to teach someone the White Pheonix form. He met a boy named Yip Zi Yi, who had very much the same characteristics that he did when he was a child. Chen taught him everything he knew, and in eight years Yip perfected it. Chen, now older, became a devout Buddhist and decided not to teach anybody else, because he knew it would be used by the rebels to assassinate political figures and government officials.

Once again turmoil erupted in the province, and in 1760 Manchu soldiers arrested and assassinated Chen Mai Jung under the assumption that he was a rebel. Yip Zi Yi, upset by his teacher’s death and seething for justice, joined an underground sect of rebel assassins called the “Jing Ser Mun” (Golden snake sect).

Hung Woo Chong

Yip Zi Yi, knowing that the White Pheonix technique was powerful and superior to many martial art styles, decided it was crucial to train somebody immediately in the style to preserve it and strengthen the other sect members’ fighting abilities. Yip Zi Yi and a few others practiced secretly on the temple grounds. There he met a boy of 17 named Hung Woo Chong, a rebel who was eager to fight the Ching government.

Yip Zi Yi took on Hung as a student and brought him to master level in just under eight years, all the while fighting side by side against the Manchus.

Lin Sing Chow

In 1836, at around 60 years of age, Hung met a boy named Lin Sing Chow. After Hung decided the boy was “loyal to China,” he decided to teach him his art. Mastering the technique took him only six years, the fastest so far in the White Pheonix lineage.

Xing Wah Li

Lin, now around 25 years old, found it difficult to find someone worthy to train. By 1860, with the widespread use of guns, interest in the martial arts was almost lost. A year before Lin Sing Chow died in 1902, unable to find anyone to pass the complete system to, he wrote a detailed manuscript of the training methods. He also added another form, the “Drunken Biy Fung Wong.” He taught all the forms to his nephew of 28, who practiced constantly and eventually passed them to his son, Xing Wah Li.

Xing Wah Li was born in 1924 and became interested in kung fu at a young age. His father told him of the family’s great legacy and Xing, being very mature for his age, dedicated his childhood to the study of this unique style of kung fu.

Though living in a modern world, Xing Wah Li trained traditionally and trained hard. At age 20 in 1944, he was granted by his father the title of grand master of the White Pheonix system.

Xing’s father died in 1946, and three years later, the Li family moved to New York City. Xing worked very hard, practicing his art in private. One year later he met a man named Kevin Chan, who was 18 at the time. Kevin trained faithfully for a long time and eventually attained a master level.

Joël Luis Mallari Rosen Castillo

Tragically in 1975, Kevin Chan died of an asthma attack, greatly saddening Xing. Xing kept his eyes open throughout the years, traveling to port cities in America, but saw no one with the right interest and drive. Xing, now feeling more burdened than interested in kung fu, thought maybe the White Pheonix style should rest with him, a true master.

Then in 1990, after relocating to San Francisco, Xing was asked by a friend to meet with a student. The American boy, named Joël Castillo, was extremely interested in kung fu and wished to be instructed further in the art. This was hard for Xing to accept, since Joël was an American.

But being an open-minded person and having few options at 67, Xing decided to see for himself whether the American kid had what it would take to be a master of the Biy Fung Wong style. …


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