EAGLE CLAW - ying jow pai
Eagle Claw Kung Fu is a Northern Shaolin style that emphasizes the use of Chin-na (locking) techniques. The hand in the shape of the claw is used to apply pressure to an opponent's joints, veins, and pressure points, thus controlling and immobilizing him. Eagle Claw is ideal for both men and women of any size because great body strength is not required to be effective in a defensive situation.
At the core of all Eagle Claw techniques are the principles of yin and yang. Punches and palm strikes are executed relaxed, but firm, until the end when the hand and the arm are hardened. This gives the technique a snapping action that adds power without a great need for strength. Movements are fast then slow, yielding then advancing, depending on the need of the situation and the technique to be employed. The student learns to at once be strong as a mountain, and then as yielding as a blade of grass in the wind.
Using various hand strengthening exercises the claw is developed to have a vice-like grip and a burning sensation as if hot coals were being pressed into the opponent. Eagle Claw strength is based on finger power, finger joint power, and wrist power. Without all three the claw is ineffective.
A well developed claw can control an opponent without injury, causing damage only when unavoidable. In this way Eagle Claw is a highly moral system that provides very effective self-defense without unnecessary injury to an opponent.
Forms must be practiced diligently until the movements and techniques are perfected. It's in the forms that the student unlocks the secrets of Eagle Claw. Every step and hand technique in the forms have a self-defense application. Practicing the forms also develops disclipine and focus in the student, advantages that become invaluable in everyday life.
Three of the forms are considered Master forms and contain the most intricate techniques of the Eagle Claw system. These forms are Lin Kuen (Connected Fist), Jui Lao Tong (Eagle Claw Drunken Set), and Fuk Fu Kuen (Control the Tiger Fist).
The Eagle Claw system can be traced back to the end of the Southern Sung dynasty, about 1250 AD, when it was called Ying Kuen. During this time, a Sung general named Ngok Feiwas involved in defending against an invasion of Mongolian warriors. Ngok Fei had learned a fighting system known as the "108 fighting techniques" from a Sil Lum (Shaolin) monk named Jow Tong. Ngok Fei taught these techniques to his soldiers who subsequently defeated the Mongolian invaders.
The 108 movements taught by Ngok Fei were primarily a system of hand techniques that incorporated grappling techniques and pressure-point strikes. Upon the death of Ngok Fei, his soldiers dispersed, but some continued to practice the 108 techniques during their wanderings throughout China. Eventually the art returned to the Shaolin monastary, where it remained until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). During the Ming period, the system was expanded by a monk named Lai Chin, who was already a master of the system known as Faan Tzi. Lai Chin worked to combine the two systems into one complete fighting system, and the result was Faan Tzi Ying Jow Pai- now known as Northern Eagle Claw.
Today no one can separate the two styles from each other. Late in the Ming dynasty, an educated young nobleman named Toa Gai was taught the Eagle Claw system as part of his education. While Toa Gai was still young, the Ching Dynasty began, and the resulting political upheaval forced Toa Gai to become a monk. It is recorded that Toa Gai passed the system directly to Far Shing, who taught near what is now Peking. Far Shing taught Lau Shu Chun and, after his time, Eagle Claw came to be a family system, taught only to members of the Lau family for many generations. But eventually Chan Tzi Ching wastaught the art, and he gained a reputation as an undefeated fighter and began teaching in Southern China.
Chan opened several schools and one of his instructors, Lau Fat Mon, began teaching in a school located in Hong Kong. Among the students there was Ng Wai Nung, who studied for a number of years with Sifu Lau. Eventually, Ng Wai Nung learned the deepest secrets of the system, including the three master forms: Hahng Kuen, Lin Kuen and Ngok Fei's Yat Ling Bat Sau Sou. Thus Lau Fat Mon became the inheritor of the Eagle Claw system. After World War II and the coming of Mao Tse Tung, he returned to Hong Kong, spreading the system throughout southern China. Lau Fat Mon died in 1964, but Ng Wai Nung continued to teach the art. Ng Wai Nung died in 1991.