In the ambiguity of Chinese history, abysmal at times, many forms of martial arts came into prominence. It was no wonder, Chinese history, with its numerous dynasties, was fraught with chaos and civil wars. It was therefore very important for most people to take up martial arts. In those days, the use of weapons was also considered part of martial art training. There were also the constant wars against invaders whom the Chinese generally classified as barbarians.
There was a sort of evolution in martial arts. Styles varied from region to region. In time they became distinctively different from each other. Forms and techniques varied from style to style. There were also countless feuds between practitioners of different styles. After each feud, the masters would be trying out new counters against the techniques of their foes. It became a kind of scientific development and proficiency in martial arts reach new horizons.
The barbarians also had martial arts of their own. Some of these were mastered by conniving Chinese working as spies for the barbarians. Many of these sympathizers of the barbarians were excellent pugilists. Sometimes they were discovered and had to flee. They would then to underground, trying to recruit new supporters and teaching them their arts.
Among all the styles, Shaolin boxing was the most prominent, so much so that it was synonymous with Kung Fu. Shaolin gained its fame from the time the monks of Shaolin Sze succeeded in repelling bandit attacks of enormous numbers. To the layman Shaolin is Kung Fu and Kung Fu is Shaolin. This is not quite true. Shaolin Sze was the meeting point for many prominent pugilists of different styles.
Although China was supposedly united under one emperor it was actually divided and ruled by many warlords. Through intrigue or otherwise, many pugilists had to flee. Sometimes it was for crimes against emperor and sometimes they were wanted by one or the other warlords.
Shaolin Sze was a haven of refuge for those fugitives. Once safely within the walls of the sanctuary they would share their arts with the resident monks. Thus the fighting skills of Shaolin exponents soared to tremendous heights with the influx of new blood into its system. It reached its peak during the fall of the Ming dynasty and during the Ching dynasty. Shaolin men initiated moves to topple the repressive rule of the Manchus. They were constantly thorns to the Manchus. They conducted revolutionary warfare against the conquerors. The Manchus spared no efforts to destroy them, culminating in the burning of Shaolin Sze. This did not bring about the end of Shaolin exponents. They scattered to the four winds, teaching their art and spreading the flame of revolution wherever they went.
Of all the Shaolin styles, the most controversial is Ngo Chor. Some claimed that it was given as a cover name, Ngo Chor or Five Ancestors signifying the five survivors of the Shaolin holocaust.
Others have claimed that it is a combination of five of the more famous Shaolin styles. This is not quite probable, but if it is so, then the art would not be too comprehensive, for it takes as much as three decades to master one single system. It would be humanly impossible for one to master all five of them.
Ngo Chor, whatever its origin was, was reorganized and made famous some two hundred years ago by a man named Chua Geok Beng. It was not created by him, as some people believe.
The art is Shaolin origin and hence it is Shaolin Ngo Chor.
Ngo Chor, the art is composed of five systems, namely Tai Chor, Crane, Lohan, Monkey and that of the Fighting Nun.
“The Tai Chor system was evolved by the Emperor Sung Tai Chor. He had gathered the finest in the land to teach him martial arts. From the various arts he took the best and incorporated them into a blend of his own which he called Tai Chor art. At first it was only taught to the nobles, court officials and high ranking military officers. Later, it was allowed to be propagated to others. It was said that the Emperor, being a staunch Buddhist made a pilgrimage to Shaolin Sze. On seeing the shrine of Bodidharma he was greatly moved. There and then he knelt before the shrine and acknowledging and proclaiming that his art was a product of Shaolin,” Chan said.
“The Crane art was evolved from the movements of the crane. Hand postures and maneuverings are copied from those of a crane in battle. Hand strikes are likened to the flicking action of its wings and kicks like those of the legs.
The Monkey art is generally termed Cay Teng Tai Seng, Tai Seng being the Monkey God of Chinese Buddhist mythology. It places emphasis on agility and dexterousness, just like a monkey. Hand postures are held like the monkey’s paws and used like the pawing action it utilizes in battle. It is a fast and nimble art and is most suited for people of small stature.
There are eighteen Lohan or Immortal forms, one for each of the legendary Chap Puay Lohan or Eighteen Immortals. However, most Ngo Chor practitioners are attached to just one form of Lohan.
The final form is the Nun’s art. It was originated by the nun Ngo Mei. Being a woman she had to develop her body to be able to withstand blows from male opponents. The style she developed was for infighting and very vicious, blows being delivered to vital parts like the groin and eyes.”
Grand Master Kan Teck Guan
Grand Master Kan Teck Guan, Alias Kee Lian, was born in Pa Kong of Yong Choong state in the province of Hokien. He lost his parents during his childhood, but he was brilliant in nature and loved to learn pugilistic art. He followed his teacher for many years and learned a lot of secrets from his teacher. He knew the art of curing broken bones and the art of curing injuries. He had detailed knowledge of medicine and hence was ordered by his teacher to set up a school to teach pugilism.
For only a few years, his students had multiplied a lot in number. One of his best students, Mr Lim Poh Shan, had obtained distinguished prize in an examination of pugilism held in Nanking. During that time GM Kan was in Siang Poh in Nanking and was not free to go to Nanking to see the exam. After this incident, the pugilistic association of the Hokien province was sent by the government of the Republic of China abroad to encourage the learning of Chinese pugilistic art in overseas. Mr. Lim Poh Shan then invited GM Kan, his teacher, to lead the team. Everybody had no objection to GM Kan being the leader. Consequently, as he was favored by everybody, he was selected to be the principal of the school of pugilistic art. GM Kan had been excellent in the pugilistic art and also was very kind and sincere, he had therefore been able to lead the other outstanding pugilistic and hence was famous both in China and Overseas.
When he arrived at Singapore, many people knowing his excellent skills appealed to be his students. Therefore, GM. Kan set up a school of pugilism at Club Street Singapore to teach the art of pugilism as well as to practice medicine. Eventually, he had many students and was also known to be an excellent doctor. He also taught everything he knows to his three sons, Aw Hai, Aw Cheong, Aw Nam.
After this the Japanese invaded South East Asia, many people became poor. When GM Kan knew that his patients was poor, he gave them free prescriptions and helped them as much as he could. Not long after the invasion, Singapore was liberated by the allies, GM Kan had also grow old, unfortunately, he was unable to enjoy his old age as he passed away after suffering a slight sickness.