Eagle Claw Kung Fu (Ying Zhao Fan Zi)
Ying Zhao Fan Zi, commonly known as Eagle Claw Kung Fu, is a famous and powerful Northern Chinese martial art method whose origins are credited to General Yue Fei of the Southern Song Dynasty (AD 1128 - 1180).
General Yue Fei was a brilliant fighter, superior strategist, and a great hero in the annals of Chinese history. Popular legend tells us that he taught his soldiers 108 techniques, which became known as 108 Eagle Claw Locking Hands (Yi Bai Ling Ba Qin Na). With these techniques, Yue Fei's army was able to defeat the Mongolian horde on many occasions. However, Yue Fei was betrayed and put to death. Afterwards, many of his soldiers dispersed, taking the 108 Eagle Claw techniques with them.
A monk named Li Quan was a great master of Fan Zi Quan (literally, Tumbling or Overturning Fist). He learned Eagle Claw and incorporated the jumping, kicking, and tumbling of Fan Zi Quan with the powerful locking techniques of Eagle Claw, thus creating a more powerful and complete fighting system known as Ying Zhao Fan Zi (also written as Fan Tzi Ying Jow Pai and Ying Jow Fan Zi Men).
The Eagle Claw system was very popular in Baoding City but remained relatively restricted to the Xiong County area of Hebei Province. It was not until the famed Chen Zizheng (Chan Tzi Ching in Cantonese) was invited to teach at the Chin Wu Association in Shanghai that Ying Zhao Fan Zi received widespread recognition and later spread to south to Hong Kong and other parts of Southeast China.
Liu Fa Meng (Lau Fat Mang) is largely credited for first propagating Eagle Claw Kung Fu in Hong Kong and Malaysia through the Chin Wu branches that were established there.
This style of Kung Fu is famous for its joint locking and pressure point attacking skills. Throwing, tripping, and sweeping techniques, as well as kicking and tumbling, make this a formidable fighting art at close range, although it also contains a wide variety of long-range fighting techniques.
Our Eagle Claw Kung Fu lineage is from Grandmaster Leung Shum who learned the system from Wu Hui Nong (Ng Wai Nung), whose school is known as Ying Jow Pai. The system consists of numerous empty hand and weapon routines as well as partner forms both with and without weapons. The core of the art is based on the 108 Locking Hands, Xing Quan (Walking Fist or Moving Fist), which consists of ten rows of techniques that can be considered short forms, and Lien Quan (Continuous Fist), which consists of 50 rows of techniques that are repeated on both sides, and it is considered the “mother” of Eagle Claw forms. Grandmaster Shum also gives special significance to Fu Hu Quan (Taming the Tiger Fist). This form emphasizes the coordination between breathing and movements and is excellent for developing concentration, power, and breath control.
Both forms, Xing Quan and Lien Quan are believed to have been compiled by Zhen Zizheng. The set “Fu Hu Quan” was most likely picket-up by Chen Zizheng during his teaching tenure at Chin Wu since variations of the form are often found among practitioners of various Chin Wu branches throughout Southeast Asia.
Eagle Claw Kung Fu fighting strategy is built on and refined through the Five Methods, the Seven Fighting Principles (which are a combination of Two Key Words), and the 1-2-3- Fighting Concept.
The Five Methods
- The Eyes – The eyes should be sharp and piercing
- The Mind – The mind should be calm and alert
- The Hands – The hands should be supple and fast changing
- The Footwork – The footwork should be agile and quick
- The Bodywork – The bodywork should be flexible and coordinated
The Seven Fighting Principles
- Zhua Da – Qin Na (Grab and strike – Seize and control)
- Fen Jin – Zuo Gu (Separate the tendons – Break the bones)
- Dien Bi – Qi Shue (Seal the veins – Stop the air and blood flow)
- Zhao Nie – Shiao Fung (Claw and press – Block and redirect)
- Shan Zhuan – Tong Nuo (Evade by turning – Jump away to avoid)
- Diao Cau – Reng Luo (Attack by pressing – Brush off and push)
- Nei Shou – Zung Die (Yield the hand – Fall away smoothly)
The 1-2-3 fighting concept
The 1-2-3- fighting concept is an advanced aspect of Eagle Claw combative strategy and is based on the following points:
- Test the opponent’s skill
- Set up the opponent
- Quickly win the fight
Long Weapons: The long weapons include the staff, the spear, the double headed spear and the Quan Dao. Eagle Claw is famous for its spear techniques and the double headed spear work.
Short Weapons: The short weapons include the stick, the saber and the straight sword. The fan, although not usually categorized as a short weapon, is also taught.
Double Weapons: The double weapons include the double sabers, the double hooks, the double straight swords and the double daggers.
Flexible Weapons: The flexible weapons include the chain whip and the three-sectional staff.
The Ying Zhao Fan Zi system also incorporates specialized training methods to strengthen and develop its main anatomical weapon, which is the “Eagle Claw.” Nei Gong (Internal Training), which entails various breathing exercises, is also an essential aspect of the art.