Yingzhaoquan Eagle Claw Fist

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The traditional Chinese martial art known as Eagle Claw (Yīng Zhao Pai 鷹爪派) is one of the oldest and most complex of the surviving Northern Shaolin kung fu systems.

Along with the long strikes and kicks that typify Northern systems, the Eagle Claw system is distinguished by its gripping techniques and system of joint locks, takedowns, and pressure point strikes, which represent one of the oldest forms of the Chinese grappling known as Chin Na.

History: While the details of the history alter according to the teller, with names and places shifting as they tend to do in any oral history, in essence the story of Eagle Claw began in the Shaolin Temple and in Chinese military training, became a family tradition passed on from parent to child for generations, and eventually shed its air of secrecy with the advent of public martial arts schools.

Yue Fei: Eagle Claw is said to have had its origins in 1130,from Yue Fei岳飛 (Ngok Fei) who lived at a time of warfare between the Southern Song Dynasty and the Jurchen who later founded Jin Dynasty (the Jurechen were the ancestors of the Manchus of the Qing Dynasty).

Shaolin Eagle Fist

Ngok Fei credited his victories in battle to his martial arts training under Zhao Tong 周侗(Jow Tong)and Chen Guang 陈广. These skills included Archery, hand to hand combat, spear, horsemanship, etc.

His Hand Skills became known as the YÄ« BÇŽi Ling Bā Qín Ná(Yat Ling Bat Kahm Na) (一百零八擒拿 – “108 Seize-Grab”) techniques, which were supposedly based on a much older system only known as “Faan Tzi” (Elephant Fist), and focused on seizing, locking, and pressure point strikes. These 108 techniques became the staple of his new style called Ying Quan/Shou 鷹拳/手 – Eagle Fist/Hand which he taught to his soldiers.

Elephant Fist: In Chinese, elephant is pronounced Xiàng (象). However, the same character can also mean “shape, form, or appearance”. The elephant style in question might be a mistranslation of xiang, which actually refers to Xiang Xing Quan (象形拳 – “Imitation Boxing”), a fighting technique which emphasizes the imitation of the offensive and defensive actions of a certain animal or person.

Shaolin Temple: In the late Ming Dynasty Yue Fei’s material is said to have made a re-appearance at a Shaolin Temple少林寺. Li Quan Seng(麗泉)Lai Chin)an expert in the Fānziquán Style encountered soldiers practicing the hand techniques they called Ying Quan (Ying Kuen) Eagle Fist.

After taking the time to learn and master these skills he undertook the daunting task of combining them into his pre-existing Fanziquan sets. He called his new system Ying Quan (鷹拳)

Ming – Qing Dynasty: In 1644 the Ming Dynasty was ovethrown and replaced by the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Royal family members of the fallen Ming Household went into hiding, with many becoming monks, scholars and artists. Zhu Ruoji (1642 – 1707) aka Yuanji SHITAO,was a low level prince and 2 years of age when the Ming Dynasty fell.Later on in his life he took the name Dao Ji(道濟僧)(Toa Gai)

Eagle Claw Fist Master

(taking in the chronology of Eagle Claw’s development it is highly unlikely that the Dao Ji of Ming-early Qing is the same Daoji that Liu Shi Jun learned from in the 1800’s), Fa Seng(法成僧)(Fat Sheng)was another Martial Monk. It is unclear whether he was a classmate of Dao Ji or his student.

Liu Shi Jun and Liu Cheng You: Liu Shi Jun(劉士俊) is the founder (Sijo) of the yÄ«ng zhuÇŽ fān zi quán (鷹爪翻子拳 ). At a young age he enjoyed martial arts and had many teachers from various styles including Shaolin Quan, Fanziquan and possibly Chuo Jiao & LiuHeQuan. Around middle age he learned from two eminent monks of the time – Fa Seng(法成僧)Fat Sheng then (Dao Ji(道濟僧)(Toa Gai)the methods of Yue Shi Lin Quan/San Shou.

Late in his career he obtained a position of Martial Arts Instructor at one of the military barracks in the Capital, Beijing where he instructed the troops in his martial arts which consisted of Fist and Spear skills.

His 2 most prominent students were Liu Dekuan(劉德寬)and Ji Zixiu纪子修. What he taught was known as Bafanshou/Bashanfan 八閃翻; (8 flash/evasive tumbles”), aka Fanziquan 翻子拳 (Reversing/tumbling Fist). He was also known as “Dai Gong Ji Liu” Great Sage Liu for his expertise in his Dai Liu He Qiang (big 6 harmony Spear)

Yingzhaoquan Preform

Liu Chen You(劉成有) 1st learned martial arts from his uncle Liu Dekuan(劉德寬) who had been a student of Liu Shi Jun when stationed in Beijing. He continued his instruction under other other prominent martial artist of the region. When Liu Shi Jun retired back to his home village Liu Chen You received advanced training from him.

Chin Woo Athletic Association: The Chin Woo Athletic Association 精武體育會 was an founded by the famed martial artist Huo Yuanjia 霍元甲(Fawk Yun Gop) in Shangahi. Its purpose was the dissemination of not only Martial Arts but sports and other educational systems to the public.

The Eagle Claw system remained relatively restricted to the Xiong County 雄县, Baoding City 保定 in Hebei Province 河北 until Chen Zizheng (Chan Tzi Ching) was invited to teach at the Chin Wu.

After initial success with the 1st School in Shanghai Chen ZiZheng went to his training brother Liu Qi Wen to offer his students careers as Martial Arts instructors in the Chin Woo Association. In time Eagle Claw was being taught in Shangahi, Hong Kong, Guandong, Futsan, Singapore, Malaysia etc.

It is for this reason that many of todays exponents also teach numerous other sets/forms which were acquired by their teachers who had learned in the Chin Woo Schools.

Lineages: There are 3 main Eagle Claw Lineages that most teachers/schools can trace their style to. Liu Qiwen(劉啟文)(Lau Kai Man), Chen Zizheng (陳子正)(Chan Tzi Ching), Zhang Zhan Wen(Chian Jin Man).

Training: How the Eagle Claw system is taught varies between each teachers skill and experiences. What is consistent of an Eagle Claw Master is their knowledge of the 3 core sets of the style.

Xin Quan 行拳(Hahng Kuen) is known as the Walking Fist. This set consists of 10-12 Rows of technqiues representative of the founding elements of the style. (Shaolin Quan, Fanzi Quan and Yue Shi San Shou).

Lian Quan 連拳(Lin Kuen) is known as the Linking Fist. A very important set in that it not only provides the exponent with an encyclopedic base of various Seizing, Grappling and Joint Locks but a set that incoporates various Qi Gong Skills as well.

Yue Shi San Shou aka YÄ« BÇŽi Ling Bā Qín Ná 一百零八擒拿(Yat Ling Bat Kahm Na)– “108 Seize Grab” aka 108 Locking Hands is considered the “Heart” of the Eagle Claw System. Believed to be the material passed down by the legendary Yue Fei of China’s Song Dynasty. This material is 108 different categories of skills/techniques that are trained to a level of pefection with partners. Missing any of the 3 core sets will severely hinder a students hope of mastering this style.