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Thread: Where are all the Complete Monkey Style systems?

  1. #1
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    Where are all the Complete Monkey Style systems?

    Thru out kung fu history we hear of many Monkey boxing performances, but very few complete Monkey boxing systems.

    I do not wish to discuss TSPK in this thread.

    Basically I want to discuss the different Monkey boxing systems and why they are very few modern ones. We hear of many kung fu systems or orginizations that teach 1 or 2 Monkey forms but not a whole system. Even Bak Sil Lum ( Gu Ru Zhang lineage) has several Monkey forms in it.

    I myself catorgorize Monkey into 3 divisions:

    Opera Monkey - Strickly for performance. Used in stage performances and shows. Very little martial value.

    Wushu Monkey - Competition or performace style. Very acrobatic and dynamic. More martial in nature but many of it's partricipants are only interested in tournament performance.

    Pure Fighting Monkey - Tactics of the Monkey are used and related to human fighting situations. More of a traditional fighting style. This is what I am only interested in discussing here.

    Also, in the Mantis system there is mention of Monkey footwork brought into the system by Wang Lang. I aslo heard this was more of an Ape / Gorilla style and not the smaller Monkey style? So what system was it? Does it still exist?

    So where did all these Monkey systems go? Or were they only techniques in many systems? Why don't we see more pure Monkeys around today?

    ginosifu

  2. #2
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    Here is a brief history of Monkey style in general:

    From the beginning of time, man has tried to copy the survival techniques of animals. Early man sought to mimic the movements of various animals, increasing the chance that their species would endure. As man developed, self defense and fighting skills were required to stay alive. In China, animal styles of self defense evolved over time.

    Seeing how certain animals protected themselves, intrigued kung fu masters. The Tiger, Bear, Eagle etc., all of these animals have different techniques of protecting themselves. Chinese masters noticed monkeys to be shy and timid if left alone. However, monkeys were found to be savage once angered.

    The first mention of "Monkey style" kung fu was in the Han dynasty (206 B.C. - 220 A.D.). During that time a martial artist named Tan, Chang-qing gave a demonstration of a monkey style while under the influence of alcohol. Also during this period a silk painting was found entitled "a bathing monkey calls", with pictures depicting a monkey style. Another type of monkey form was found in the period. This was created by a physician named Hua Ta. He healed the sick and the weak with breathing exercises and physical movements he called the 5 animal frolics. These 5 animals were the Tiger, Bear, Crane, Deer and the Monkey.

    In the Song dynasty (960 A.D. - 1279 A.D.), Yan Ching added monkey techniques to his Mi Zhong Yi or Lost path style. The Great Emperor Tai Tsu created the Long Fist style (Northern Shaolin), and a monkey style. During the Yuan dynasty (1260 - 1380), Shaolin monk Bai, Yi-feng combined monkey style with 4 other arts to form what is still known today as Ng Chor Kuen or 5 Ancestors Fist.

    In the Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), Chinese army general Chi, Ji-guang mentioned monkey as contemporary style in his "New Book of Discipline". Another martial artist, Wang, Shi-xing wrote in his book "Journey to Song Mountain" : When I descended the mountain and returned to my lodge, the priests performed various martial arts to entertain me. Among them was a monkey style exponent who leaped and turned as though he was a real monkey. In 1564 Governor Zheng, Ruo-zengs wrote a whole chapter on the "The 36 Tactics of the Monkey style" in his book "Posting as Governor South of the Yangtze River.

    During the evolution of the monkey style, many other kung fu systems incorporated monkey techniques into their style. In the early 1700's Shaolin master Wang Lang added the agile footwork of the monkey to create his Praying Mantis style. Most all Shaolin systems have at least one monkey form. Tai Chi Chuan has monkey movements named "Step back and repulse the monkey" and "White ape presents the fruit".


    They say the Mi Zhong Yi or Lost track style has Monkey in it. What Monkey style was it? Or were they just some Monkey techniques?

    Tai Tsu created a Monkey or just practiced a Monkey style? Was it a whole system or just a form?

    The 5 Ancestors Fist has Monkey in but again, is it just a form?, just some techniques? or a whole Monkey system?

    What are these 36 tactics of Monkey that Governor Zheng, Ruo-zeng wrote about? Does anyone know them?

    What ape style did Wang Lang add to his Mantis Fist?

    ginosifu

  3. #3
    I think the animal names, styles, are part of the culture like the old Chinese "legends" and storys. Not really meant to be believed as such. Maybe they match up human characteristics with some animal they like or has historical significance and they go with it.

    Think about it...there are many "pure" dragon styles but I cant begin to tell you how the last dragon I saw may fight.

    Pure tiger....such a huge beast with masive claws and teeth.....Not sure if a human could pull off a pure tiger style.

    Crane....well that is a stretch for you.

    Snake, well, without venom and only being able to wrap around the opponent...Im not sure that would be such a great "pure" style.

    Praying Mantis, chewing someones head off is an option but....

    Monkey would be the closest thing to what a human would do. But, other than their strenth I havnt seen them do many refined techniques on each other.

    You have a very valid question.

    I think people have been making systems up for thousands of years and it continues today. It would be hard to have "pure" anything.

    Maybe it just sounds a little cooler for them to say I teach "TIGER" style than I teach "Leroy Jenkins" style.

    Not meant to be a negative post at all and as I said before it is a legit question.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by mantid1 View Post
    I think the animal names, styles, are part of the culture like the old Chinese "legends" and storys. Not really meant to be believed as such. Maybe they match up human characteristics with some animal they like or has historical significance and they go with it.

    Think about it...there are many "pure" dragon styles but I cant begin to tell you how the last dragon I saw may fight.

    Pure tiger....such a huge beast with masive claws and teeth.....Not sure if a human could pull off a pure tiger style.

    Crane....well that is a stretch for you.

    Snake, well, without venom and only being able to wrap around the opponent...Im not sure that would be such a great "pure" style.

    Praying Mantis, chewing someones head off is an option but....

    Monkey would be the closest thing to what a human would do. But, other than their strenth I havnt seen them do many refined techniques on each other.

    You have a very valid question.

    I think people have been making systems up for thousands of years and it continues today. It would be hard to have "pure" anything.

    Maybe it just sounds a little cooler for them to say I teach "TIGER" style than I teach "Leroy Jenkins" style.

    Not meant to be a negative post at all and as I said before it is a legit question.
    Hak Fu Mun or Black Tiger is supposedly a "Pure" Tiger style. The same with The White Crane system. You can almost even say that the Ying Jow or Eagle Claw system is an all Eagle mimic style. There are many other "Pure" animal mimic styles that use only tactics that resemble their perspective animal.

    So why has Monkey fallen to just Forms or Techniques within other systems?

    ginosifu

  5. #5
    maybe the Monkey isnt as "special" or "revered" by the Chinese as an Eagle or Tiger would be so they didnt name a style after it just a few techniques?

    You know, I am glad you aksed this question. The more I think about it seems to be fairly obvious that the names may be more culturally signifiant than I thought and arnt really meant to mimic the animals.

    If we wanted to find the best way for a human to fight efficiently it would be much better to put together a "human" style. Right

    Very though provoking question!

  6. #6
    i would hope that anyone familiar with such things as the story "journey to the west" is capable of acknowledging the significance of monkeys in chinese culture (as compared to other animals)...and that CMA systems are just as (if not more) apt to honor monkeys (and the monkey king) with references throughout their techniques.

    houquan is something of a dichotomy; it is at once revered by traditional practitioners, and yet it is (as stated by gino) a difficult system to find.

    it has always been my understanding that despite its reputation as a strong self-defense system amongst CMA'ists, it just never really caught or became widely popular. mostly due to the fact that it requires greater flexibility than the average practitioner is able to develop, as well as extensive agility and tumbling abilities. additionally, one must acknowledge that a system that relies on tumbling to the extent that houquan does would be more geographically limited.

    as far as i'm concerned, it has always been the difficulty of houquan (and other pure monkey styles) that has served as a barrier to entry to the system. i hope i am not overstating the obvious here, but if houquan cannot be practiced by as large of a population as hung-gar, for example, then it's obviously going to be something that is more rare to find.

    ...also let's not forget that acting like a monkey has probably worked as a deterrent for many who take themselves too seriously to do so.
    Last edited by kristcaldwell; 09-13-2011 at 01:29 PM.

  7. #7
    I have read the books and now about monkeys.

    If monkey boxing involves so much tumbling techniques that the average person cannot do then it isnt a good system and maybe they should leave it to the monkeys.

    If you watch monkeys fight on discovery, national geo the biggest part of it is posturing with no tumbling involved after that they just beat and bite the crap out of each other.

    The insect praying Mantis resembles very little what the humans do in fighting but it is called mantis. Realistically your not going to learn much from fighting by watching a bug. I think they are just names....thats it.

    I think it all falls apart when people try to mimic the animal or insect. About 25 years ago I saw a form called "wounded Tiger" it was the funniest thing I had ever seen...guy was actually laying on his back acting like a wounded tiger...my sifu just laghed and said they should call it "tiger stuck in Tar pit"...thats what it looked like.

  8. #8
    i'm glad you now about monkeys.

  9. #9
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    Gino,
    Another monkey system was brought to the U.S. by Master John Wing Lok Ng. Master Ng resides in Kentucky. However, I have heard that he has retired from teaching.
    The sets are taught by our mutual friend Daniel Eckhart, formerly of Indiana, but now residing in Pennsylvania.

    Unfortunately, the public perception of Monkey boxing comes from lame Hong Kong movies and Wushu. As you know, our monkey boxing is very far removed from both of these.

    So, to clear up some common misconceptions of Monkey boxing:
    1. Monkey boxing does not require any greater flexibility than any other Northern Shaolin type system.
    2. Rolling on the ground is a very small part of Monkey boxing. Most techniques are done standing.
    3. Monkey boxing does not require "imitative" type movements. It is based on how monkeys fight strategically.
    4. TSPK has done a wonderful job marketing itself. They have had numerous articles in magazines, numerous clips on YouTube, and have done numerous demos at tournaments and public events. When peeps think of monkey, they think TSPK is the only game in town. This is far from true.

    BTW, why is this in the NPM forum? Perhaps Gene, or a mod should move this to the Kung Fu Forum.
    Last edited by mooyingmantis; 09-13-2011 at 02:07 PM.
    Richard A. Tolson
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  10. #10

    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by mooyingmantis View Post
    BTW, why is this in the NPM forum? Perhaps Gene, or a mod should move this to the Kung Fu Forum.
    Well - in his original post, he mentioned how Mantis specifically mentions monkey and then the white ape series... besides, it'd just get lost in that cesspool and I think it's actually been an interesting topic. Good posts guys.

  11. #11

    for Mooying

    so what would you consider this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKEUD...B6B062&index=4

    it's obviously not TSPK. it sure doesn't look like modern wushu houquan, but it does have a lot of traditional techniques in it.

    does it not require above average agility and does it not have a fair amount of tumbling?

    i'm not being sarcastic. i've seen plenty of traditional houquan in my day - and this routine seems to fit the bill. i'm quite sure that you and i are just commenting on our observations of what monkey boxing is (we've just happened to observe different styles of monkey boxing).
    Last edited by kristcaldwell; 09-13-2011 at 04:44 PM.

  12. #12
    Thanks for posting the vid!

    It makes me realize why Monkey fist isnt more popular. Most of that was a man trying to act like a monkey some kicks and rolls in it.

    In most animal styles you never see a human trying to look like a tiger, dragon, Eagle or praying mantis.

    I dont think Brendan Lai tried to look like a praying mantis as he performed a form.

    Who knows maybe the dudes who put mantis together with all of the other styles were the first one to come up with the Western style guard and someone said "hey, that looks like the way a praying mantis hold its claws"....A new style was born!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mantid1 View Post
    The insect praying Mantis resembles very little what the humans do in fighting but it is called mantis. Realistically your not going to learn much from fighting by watching a bug. I think they are just names....thats it.
    When our students get caught up in the poetic names of techniques, we tell them, "Y'know that's just the cultural frame of reference in the old days. If that were invented now, it would be called left right beyotch slap grab and beat the sh#7 out of him." "300 years from now, people would be debating the meaning of beyotch slap and pimp slap."

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by kristcaldwell View Post
    so what would you consider this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKEUD...B6B062&index=4

    it's obviously not TSPK. it sure doesn't look like modern wushu houquan, but it does have a lot of traditional techniques in it.

    does it not require above average agility and does it not have a fair amount of tumbling?

    i'm not being sarcastic. i've seen plenty of traditional houquan in my day - and this routine seems to fit the bill. i'm quite sure that you and i are just commenting on our observations of what monkey boxing is (we've just happened to observe different styles of monkey boxing).
    The link you posted is a demonstration by Chen Zhaoming laoshi. It is a beautiful form. Yes, it has a few fighting techniques in it. However, it is predominantly for show and due to the excessive mimicking, I would say it has been heavily influenced by Wushu.

    I don't really see the point of your post. The guidelines I gave were a general way of assessing what a typical traditional monkey style is like. My point was that it is no more difficult to learn than any other Northern system.

    No, the video in the link you provided doesn't require above average agility. Any Northern Shaolin practitioner could probably learn this form in about a week.

    As for the tumbling, it contains 5 shoulder rolls, 1 backward roll and 3 "black dragon wraps the pillar" movements. Again, simple Northern Shaolin movements.

    This is the typical type of form demonstrated for audiences. Perhaps it was a traditional form "jazzed up" for public demonstration. I also perform the first form of our system 怒 猴 出 洞 - n hu chū dng in a modified, "jazzed up" version for public demonstrations. I just don't waste time with a lot of mimicking during demonstrations.

    My opinions are based on 33 years of training in and teaching Houquan. During that time I have seen the traditional monkey boxing methods of a few systems which also fit the descriptions I gave. I have also seen many examples of modern monkey forms from the Mainland that have been tainted by Wushu.

    Mantid1,
    I agree with your assessment of the form in the link. If that was typical of traditional monkey boxing, I wouldn't have wasted my time with it. Fortunately, some systems have more meat and potatoes than just pudding.
    Last edited by mooyingmantis; 09-13-2011 at 06:41 PM.
    Richard A. Tolson
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by MightyB View Post
    Well - in his original post, he mentioned how Mantis specifically mentions monkey and then the white ape series... besides, it'd just get lost in that cesspool and I think it's actually been an interesting topic. Good posts guys.
    I was hoping to get a bit more intellegent responses in this forum. Although there are many other ppes that have info on Monkey style, mightyb has it right.... too many meatheads up there. Also was looking to see any relationship with the Mantis Monkey and it's Monkey backround.

    It's getting late for me now... gotta put the kids to bed and I will add more tommorrow. Good posts guys thx

    ginosifu

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