Fukien Shaolin White Crane Kung Fu was created approximately three centuries ago by a woman named Fung Chi-Niang. It is a traditional Kung Fu system which reflects the particularities of its creator and her time. Fung Chi-Niang's father, Fung Fei-Sze, studied Kung Fu at the Shaolin Temple at the Nine Lotus Mountain in the south eastern province of Fukien (Fujian). He taught his daughter Kung Fu but such was her naturally petite stature that Fung Chi-Niang found it difficult to overcome her much larger and stronger male opponents in practise and sparring. In a bid to overcome this problem, Fung Chi-Niang concentrated on developing accurate pressure point strikes and evasive body movements along with versatile footwork and speed.
Though her male counterparts spent large amounts of time conditioning their legs, arms, necks and torsos, Fung Chi-Niang reasoned that there were certain areas of the anatomy that could not be conditioned against strikes, and thus these are the areas that she would target. They included strikes to the eyes, throat, solar plexus, temple, kidney, groin, floating rib and knees. Thus attacking these vulnerable spots with precise pressure point techniques became the trademark moves of Fukien White Crane.
According to legend, there is a more romanticised version of events that led Fung Chi-Niang to the development of White Crane.There is the story of Fung Chi-Niang laying seeds one day when a giant crane swoops down and begins devouring the seeds. In a fit of temper Fung Chi-Niang picks up a staff and tries to fend the bird off, but the crane blocks her attacks with its wing and pecks at her staff with its beak. The bird easily evades all of Fung Chi-Niang's thrusts, thus completely negating her armed attack. Impressed by the agility and fluent motion of the bird, Fung Chi-Niang decides to study the creature's movements and fight techniques, incorporating these into her own Kung Fu knowledge to lay the foundations for White Crane.
The White Crane style uses the Phoenix Eye Fist (Fung Ying Chuan) as its basic fist technique. In this technique the index finger is slightly protruded, resembling the eye of the Phoenix. This fist is used to deliver pressure point strikes as it concentrates the strike's power in one specific small area -the second joint of the index finger.
Another commonly used hand formation is the Spear Hand (Biao So). The Spear Hand is formed by straightening the fingers and thumb and keeping them held tightly against one another.This technique is used predominantly against the body's weakest areas such as the throat and eyes.
Being a woman of small stature, Fung Chi-Niang developed White Crane as a predominantly counter-fighting art. Once an opponent commits to an attack and enters range, the White Crane stylist blocks or sidesteps the attack and launches a simultaneous counter-strike. Sticking hands are also used to control an opponent in close and stay in close, thus negating any power strikes. When in close the aim is to deliver a series of sharp and fast strikes to the opponent's weakest points. Sidestepping (and using an opponent's forward momentum against him) forms the basis of White Crane's body movement known as Djuan Sen.
Weaponry also plays a role in White Crane Kung Fu. Main weapons include the seven star staff, spear (chiang), three-sectional staff (sanjie guen), General Kwan's broadsword (kwan dao), cane (gwaijian), horse cutter broadsword (jam ma dao) and the tiger fork (fuk cha). There are also double weapons such as the double iron rods (swan jien), double broadswords (bai her dao) and southern short swords (nan dao).
Fukien White Crane should not be confused with Tibetan White Crane. Fukien White Crane is characterised by its close quarter fighting and rapid, short range hand techniques. Tibetan White Crane utilises deeper stances and long power punching and kicking techniques, not unlike Northern Kung Fu styles.
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