Fukien White Crane:
Intellectual Boxing

By Yun Chung Chiang, Ph.D.

Ru He Chuan is a form of martial arts which emulates the movements and characteristics of the crane (he). It is different from other forms of crane style martial arts in that, together with developing martial prowess, it emphasizes the cultivation of high martial arts morality and spirit. Students must possess high values and a good will toward life before the master can hand down to them the tradition of Ru He Chuan.

The word Ru encompasses the traditions and teaching of 5,000 years of Chinese history. Literally, Ru refers to the traditional school of Confucious. However, when we use the term, it most often signifies the attainment of a refined, elegant and scholarly character, which itself is the goal of the Confucian tradition.

The practice of Ru He Chuan is a part of this tradition, for it is essential that one is of the good-willed and respectful disposition that the Ru school promotes. This is in order for them to achieve the utmost harmony, strength and agility with which the Ru He Chuan is performed. The teachings of Ru stress the training of mind and body and emphasize the importance of respect, both for the teacher and for oneself.

The Ru He form and function come from the movements of the crane; in particular, flight, voice, rest, and feeding. Ru He Chuan consists of a unity of both internal and external training. In order to practice the internal portion of this form, one must concentrate on uniting one's spirit, qi, and mind.

When practicing Ru He Chuan the student must be calm, humble, decent, and hold no malice towards others, in order to reach the stage of serenity in which they are able to develop the soft and gentle movements that comprise the Yin aspect of Ru He Chuan. Soft and gentle movements belong to the Yin while tough and strong movements belong to the Yang.

In Ru He Chuan the balance of the Yin and the Yang produces harmony, which generates the beings of all that exists. The soft and gentle form movements in Ru He Chuan generate body strength and steadiness of mind which allows the practitioners to concentrate their energy.

To practice Ru He Chuan the student must learn to combine the body with the mind, the mind with the qi, and the qi with the spirit. He must also learn to consolidate his energy internally without showing it externally. The extension and retraction of the movements must match with the inhaling and exhaling of breath.

The systematic inhaling and exhaling of breath helps focus and direct qi from the Dan Tien (located in the lower part of the abdomen, about one and a half to three inches below the navel) through different joints of the body, and ultimately out through the fingertips.

By achieving the combination of both strength and qi, the Ru He Chuan practitioner can move through a realm of unlimited power, continuously keeping the body as light as if there were nothing inside, yet as soft as steel which has been treated 100 times, until it is both strong and malleable enough to be wrapped around the fingers.
Practice is done with great flexibility, such as being able to bend over, touching one's shoulders to the knee caps with a straight lumbar section and a steady head position, and with gossamer footsteps which fly as though a crane were dancing. Qi should travel through each body joint and arrive at each finger tip during every extending movement, just like the claws of a crane as it reaches out for something.

The mastery of Ru He Chuan and the most complete understanding of the meaning of the Ru tradition come when the martial artist has attained great ability in fighting, rather than a tendency to engage in brawls. But even then, the master of Ru He Chuan would use his abilities only when it is truly needed.

The emulation of the movements and characteristics of the crane - its rest, feeding, flight and voice - in combination with the transformation of the extending and retracting movements; the practice of external and internal, together with the study of the physical body and martial arts morality and spirit; all of these are the meaning of Ru He.

Fukien White Crane History
During the period between emperors Yung Chen and Chuan Lung in the Ching dynasty, which is more than 200 years ago, Ru He Chuan was originated in Yong Chun county, Fu Chien, China, by master Fang Chi-Niang. Her father was a famous scholar and was murdered by people who were jealous of his outstanding work in literature. The killing was brutal and senseless.

In order to avenge the savage murder of her father, she started to practice martial arts diligently day and night, to reach the state of superb excellence. One day the god of white crane came down from heaven and taught her all the internal and external secrets of Ru He Chuan. Ru means scholar, and He means white Crane. The style is very suitable for scholars to practice.

After the revenge, she went to cultivate virtues in a monastery. Her brother-in-law Zeng Se-Su was afraid that the art of Ru He Chuan may be lost if master Fang did not teach anyone. So, he asked master Fang to teach him. After teaching Zeng Se-Su the complete Ru He Chuan, master Fang moved to Nan Ching Fong Yang City where she also taught Ru He Chuan.

In Fu Chien, master Zeng taught 28 students, known as the 28 heroes. Ru He Chuan was later passed down by the first hero, master Lin Se-Han, a native of Yong Chun county.

Fourth Generation: Master Lin Si-Ti, a native of Fu Chow South Gate, Kung Sa village, Fu Chien.

Fifth Generation: Master Chen Yi-Sing, a native of Fu Chow, Yin Duen Pu, Fu Chien.

Sixth Generation: Master Ban Chuang-Nien, a native of Fu Chow Tung Suay Pu, San Village, Fu Chien.

Seventh Generation: Master Chen Kai-Shan, a native of Lin Shen county, South Port, Fu Chien. And Master Kuo Chung-Kai

Eighth Generation: Master Chiang Yun-Chung, a native of Da Ming City, He Pei province, People's Republic of China.

Click here for Feature Articles from this issue and others published in 1993 .

Written by Yun Chung Chiang, Ph.D. for KUNGFUMAGAZINE.COM

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