There are many
stories and legends surrounding the creation of ‘Fu-Jian Bai He Quan’ (White
Crane Fist of Fu-Jian Province), with each family or lineage having their own
oral and/or written traditions. The story of Fang Chi-Niang learning from
watching a crane is probably nothing more than the founders wish to express
the inspiration and spirit of the style. White Cranes in Chinese culture
represent nobleness and longevity and are revered by scholars, particularly
The oral and written
history passed down from Shi-fu Liu Hong-Shen to his students states that;
Fang Zhong was an unshaven disciple of the ‘Nan Shao-Lin Si’ (Southern
Shao-Lin Buddhist Temple) who had mastered one of the many Shao-Lin fighting
arts. When the Shao-Lin Temple was attacked by the Manchu forces, Fang Zhong
and his daughter Fang Chi-Niang were away roaming the countryside.
When he heard of the attack Fang Zhong and his daughter Fang Chi-Niang fled
to Fu-Zhou, Fu-Jian Province where Fang Zhong left his daughter Fang
Chi-Niang in the safe hands of the ‘Bai Lian Si’ (White Lotus Temple) while
he went to find and help his Shao-Lin brothers.
While Fang Chi-Niang was staying at the temple she got news that bandits had
murdered her father Fang Zhong during a dispute for control over local villages
in the Yong-Chun, Fu-Jian Province area. Fang Chi-Niang was distraught and
vowed to take her revenge but knew that her kung fu which her father had
taught her was not strong enough.
Fang Chi-Niang struggled with her training and became frustrated because of
her lack of strength. A senior Taoist who had watched Fang Chi-Niang struggle
offered to teach her an internal method, which did not require the use of
brute muscular strength. After a short period Fang Chi-Niang started to grasp
the internal mechanics of what the senior Taoist was trying to teach her, and
by understanding the profound teachings of the internal art Fang Chi-Niang
combined them with what she had learnt from her father Fang Zhong and
developed the ‘Nan Shao-Lin Bai He Quan’.
Soon after Fang Chi-Niang met a tiger stylist named Zheng Li, who was
visiting the temple with his master. After watching Fang Chi-Niang training
Zheng Li challenged Fang Chi-Niang to a friendly bout, which quickly became a
battle when Zheng Li could not hit his target. Fang Chi-Niang swiftly moved
from side to side avoiding the strong oncoming force defeating Zheng Li’s
every move. Zheng Li could not believe that a woman could best his tiger
style and asked if Fang Chi-Niang would teach him. Fang Chi-Niang agreed and
taught Zheng Li her newly developed style.
When Zheng Li became proficient in the newly developed style he accompanied
Fang Chi-Niang and traveled through Yong-Chun Village, Fu-Jian Province.
While there Fang Chi-Niang and Zheng Li dealt with a local outlaw who was
terrorizing local villages and also had a hand in her fathers death. The
villagers were amazed at the skill of Fang Chi-Niang and her disciple and
asked if she would stay and teach her martial style.
Fang Chi-Niang agreed but after a short period she decided to travel back to
Fu-Zhou to follow a more monastic life at the Bai Lian Si, leaving her
disciple Zheng Li to teach the local villagers.
Zheng Li taught 28 students from Yong-Chun and surrounding villages, who
later became known as the ‘28 heroes of Yong-Chun’.
These 28 students started to teach the surrounding villages and eventually
transmitted the art all over Fu-Jian Province. This style is known as
‘Yong-Chun Bai He Quan’ (White Crane Fist of Yong Chun Village), and is
considered to be the original style. From these students came the creation of
different styles of Crane Fist each with its own unique essence. Some of the
original styles are Fei-he (Flying Crane), Shi-he (Feeding Crane), Ming-he
(Whooping Crane), and Su-he (Sleeping Crane).
While in Fu-Zhou, Fang Chi-Niang had many students from surrounding villages
and also from local militia and underground secret societies who also
transmitted the art to other parts of the province.
Over the years there
have been many white crane masters who have traveled to Taiwan either on
business or pleasure and all have left their mark in one way or another. Some
of the most notable are Fang Shao-Qi, Zhang Chang-Qiu, Lin Guo-Zhong, and Lin
Three out of the four masters above that traveled to Taiwan were either
direct students or linear descendents of Master Fang Shi-Pei.
Fang Shi-Pei (方世培) also known as Fang Fei-Shi (方飞石) studied
from Master Li (李师) at the Tian-Zhu Temple, who was a third (3rd)
generation student of Master Zheng Long (郑龙). Master Zheng Long passed away in 1755 and was a
student of Zheng Li who in turn was one of the original 28 students from Yong
Chun village, Fujian Province.
While studying under Li Shifu, Fang Shi-Pei observed the birds shake the
water from their feathers and was intrigued by the energy created from this
action, he also observed dogs shake water from their coats using the very
same actions and began to wonder about the use of this energy if he combined
it with his knowledge of white crane fist.
After many years of practice Fang Shi-Pei created the Zong He Quan (纵鹤拳), this
style is sometimes referred to as ‘shaking crane fist’.
Fang Shi-Pei had many students; some of the more notable ones are;
Fang Shao-Qi (方绍耆) also known as
A’Feng-Shi (阿凤师), and Fang A’ Feng (方阿凤), was a student of
Fang Shi-Pei who traveled to Taiwan. Fang Shao-Qi taught in the areas of
Kao-hsiung, Tai-nan, and Yan-shui.
Fang Shao-Qi had many students; some of the most notable are Tong Jin-Long,
Lin Xi-Di, Li Dong-Liang, Chen Bo, Lin Se, and many others.
Zhang Chang-Qiu (张常球), was
a student of Fang Shi-Pei who traveled to Taiwan and began teaching in Taipei
before moving to Tai-Chung (台中) around 1915. After a while he was given the nickname
Tai-Chung Er-Gao (台中义高).
Zhang Chang-Qiu had many students; some of the most notable are Chen
Chung-Chen, Lin Huo-Wang, Zheng Bo, and many others.
Lin Guo-Zhong (林国仲) also known as Hu-Wei Er-Ge (虎尾二哥), had several teachers who were students of Fang
Shi-Pei, such as Fang Yong-Cang (方永苍). Lin Guo-Zhong was
very famous for his Shaking crane in Taiwan and had many students.
From these three
masters there are many branches of white crane fist which have emerged in
Taiwan, each style with its own unique essence and spirit. The white crane
arts are many and varied depending on the lineage and can all be traced back
to the founder Fang Chi-Niang.
The full history of
our lineage can be seen in the members section of this website and is fully
accessible to all students of the Shen Zhao Pai Athletic Association.
Tai Tzu Quan