Northern Long Fist Gong Fu - Northern Hakka Quen
“Of old the expert in battle would first make himself invincible and then wait for his enemy to expose his vulnerability”.(Sun Tzu)
This style of Long Fist is called Tongbeiquan, meaning “Through the Back Boxing”. It is approximately 2,500 years old.
The techniques in this style produce force using the entire body weight generating very powerful blows from both hands and feet. Originating from northern China these systems were extremely effective on the battlefield.
A Hakka (guest family) style, it contains elements of “Eagle Claw” and “Praying Mantis”. It is practised in Buddhist monasteries and has become associated with Ch’an Buddhism and the Shaolin tradition. With long range kicks and shorter punching technique, leading to a mastery of long, medium and short-range fighting abilities. It’s fluid footwork and power-hitting techniques are legendary. Tough, rigorous body conditioning hardens both muscle and bone creating an indomitable spirit.
This art has been preserved through the Hakka migrations from north China to south China, over the last two thousand years. In that time it has evolved from fighting on horse-back, to fighting on foot. The Juk-Bow, or Clan Book, which is passed on from generation to generation, talks of mounted warriors at the beginning.
In Hakka – the Chong Kuen – Long fist style or frame is used. This is exactly the same frame that is used by the Yang Tai Chi that we practice – and ‘Long fist’ is an alternative name for Tai Chi Chuan. In Mandarin it is pronounced ‘Chang Quan’ and in Hakka ‘Chong Kuen’. Literally, ‘to move the fist a long way from the body’. This means that we practice through all the body ranges – near, middle and far, for both the arms and legs. So that is what we do with our bodies – but it does not explain how we make power.
In the kung fu, we use the concept of Tong Bei. The physical structure of the back, is the pathway that the body-weight moves up and down within. When we become aware of this pathway, the power is unified, and we strike from any part of the body with full power. This is really an internal method of producing power. At the beginning of training, it has an external aspect, where fully trained and understood. The muscles move the limb, but do not make the power, etc. Tong Bei as a concept, has nothing to do with any style – nor does the character for ‘ape’ exist in the name Tong Bei.