Developed near the end of the
Qing dynasty (1644-1911) by a fighter named Kau Sze from a small village in
Northern China. Legend states that while serving a sentence in prison, he
observed a group of monkeys from his cell. As he studied their movements and
mannerisms, he found that they combined well with his own Tei Tong style.
While exact circumstances of Kau Sze's inspiration remain legend, upon his
release he developed his new style of fighting and dubbed it 'Tai Sheng Men'
(Great Saint Style) in honor of the Monkey King Sun Wukong in the Buddhist
tale Journey to the West.
There are six variations of monkey kung fu
developed as part of the Tai Sheng Men system, and still utilized in the
later Tai Sheng Pek Kwar system (although the Crafty monkey variation
described below may have been absorbed into the Lost monkey curriculum in
Tai Shing Pek Kwar and Bak Si Lum among others, hence there are only five
variations listed, in these systems):
Drunken Monkey uses a lot of throat, eye and
groin strikes as well as tumbling and falling techniques. It incorporates a
lot of false steps to give the appearance it is defenseless and uses a lot
of off balance strikes. The practitioner waddles, takes very faltering steps
and sometimes fall to the ground and lies prone while waiting for the
opponent to approach at which time a devastating attack is launched at the
knees or groin areas of the opponent. In drunken monkey you use more
internal energy than any other. It is one of the more difficult of the
monkey styles to master and also extremely effective against a standard,
attack-orientated enemy.countering this style involves shifting your body
around often to ensure that the Drunken Monkey user impacts more solid,
tougher areas of your body.
Stone Monkey is a "physical" style. The
practitioner trains up his body to exchange blows with the opponent - Stone
Monkey uses a kind of Iron body method. It will leave an area exposed on its
body for an opponent to attack, so it can attack a more vital spot on the
body. Its is important not to attack reflexively at open spots, and try to
hammer away at their weak spots until they give in.
Lost Monkey feigns a lot. Practitioners of Lost
Monkey give the appearance of being lost and confused to deceive the
opponent into underestimating his abilities, and he retaliates when it is
least expected. The hands and footwork change and flow from each other at
will. All monkeys are sociable animals and so they live in troops or family
groups. They are also very territorial by nature and so when they wander
into the territory of another troop there is normally a fight possibly
resulting in death to the trespassers. This technique incorporates the fear,
nervousness and mischief of a monkey who has wandered into a neighboring
territory, in that it attempts to pick and eat as many fruits and insects as
quickly as is possible while nervously looking around before scurrying back
to its own home range.
Standing Monkey or Tall Monkey is a relatively
conventional monkey that likes to keep an upright position and avoid
tumbling around. This style is more suited for tall people. Tall monkey
likes to climb body limbs to make attacks at pressure points. It is a long
Crafty monkey is very deceptive, it uses
different faked emotions to lure opponents into attacking. By pretending to
be scared for example it lulls the opponent into a false sense of security
and waits for the opponents guard to be down, then suddenly attacks when not
expected. This variation is not listed in the Tai Shing Pek Kwar system,
instead it appears to have been absorbed into the Lost Monkey curriculum.
Wooden Monkey mimics a serious, angry monkey
that attacks and defends with ferocity. The attitude of this monkey is more
serious, and its movements are noticeably less light than the other monkeys.
Wood monkey likes to grapple and bring its opponent to the ground.
Monkey boxers usually wear very bright yellow
colored uniforms most often with red trimmings or appliqués. The favorite
weapon for Monkey Boxing is the staff or stick and standing beside it, the
upper end of the staff is normally 'eye-height' for the practitioner. There
are also other weapons favored by Monkey Boxers e.g. the broadsword,
straight-sword and the spear as well as the iron ring. Monkey forms are not
normally performed fast paced from start to finish as in other techniques,
instead the practitioner will execute a very swift series of movements then
stop to 'play' (which means to fidget or scratch and it usually involves
nervously looking around, picking imaginary fruits or insects from off the
legs, arms, ears or head and even the groin area then very quickly eating
them or scooping water from an imaginary pond or stream then drinking it).
In the lost monkey technique, there is a lot of running, nervously looking
around, rolling, kicking and punching to the groin area of the opponent.
Running is done in a semi-squatting position and a clenched fist is not
used; instead the fingers are loosely held in a semi-closed fist sometimes
referred to as the monkey claw. With the exception of the Tall Monkey
technique, all monkey forms tend to be executed from the squatting and
stooping positions. When well executed, monkey forms are comical and
entertaining, so tend to attract the most attention at martial arts