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Reconciling Five Ancestors Fist History

The Origin of Five Ancestors Fist started after the fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644 after being conquered by the Manchu that would become the Qing dynasty. Resistance against the Qing will continue and will be intense especially in Southern China headed by secret societies such as the Tien De Hui 天地会. The dominant martial art system practice especially in Fujian province was the Tai Cho Kun 太祖拳 “Grand Ancestors Fist”. The Tai Cho Kun was first created by the first Song emperor Zhao Kuangyin (趙匡胤 960 -1279 AD) and later expanded by the first Ming emperor Zhu Yuanzhang (Chu Yuan-chang 朱元璋 1369 – 1644 AD).

The Song Tai Cho will be referred as Tai Cho Chang Quan 太祖长拳 or Long Fist, while the Ming Tai Cho will be referred as Hong Ming Tai Cho 洪拳太祖拳 this system is mostly short-range techniques emphasis in heavy striking conditioning and explosive techniques.

Tai Cho Kun is consider the dynasty’s martial art it represents the empire’s glory and prowess it is an amalgamation of all the known kung fu system that may include northern white crane, northern monkey fist, eagle, dragon, leopard, mantis, tiger, snake, and other kung fu systems that existed during that time of the Song and Ming dynasty, in todays’ standard it can be consider as the national martial art. During the Republic era in China 1915 to 1949 the nationalist government will introduce the term Kok Sut or Guo Su as the national uniform term referring to all kung fu systems that is why traditional old kung fu schools always refer to their schools and martial arts as “Kok Sut” 國術.

During the Ming dynasty a northern master name Bai Yu Feng 白玉峰 collaborated with some northern Shaolin martial art experts in the formulation of the Five Animal Fist or Five Forms 五形 it is also believe that an early version of Five Ancestors Fist was being develop that consisted of (1) Song Tai Cho kung fu (2) Northern White Crane (3) Northern Monkey Fist (4) Northern Lo Han Shaolin boxing and Da Mo qi gong breathing exercise and (5) Xuan Nu from a mystery female martial art master of the pressure point technique. It is believed that due to the civil turmoil, wars and eventually the fall of the Ming dynasty the Bai Yu Feng Five Ancestors development was interrupted with many followers migrated to Fujian province fleeing from the Manchu invasion. Eventually, descendants of Bai Yu Feng Five Ancestors Fist will integrate, adsorb, and morphed with the southern Tai Cho martial art that include absorbing the Fujian Yong Chun White Crane develop in the 1700’s, the southern monkey fist and southern Shaolin boxing system. The Bai Yu Feng system will be kept underground for centuries until in the 1960’s through the efforts of the late Grandmaster Chee Kim Thong from Malaysia their history will be revealed to the kung fu world.

Before the Bai Yu Feng, the original use of the Five Ancestors 五祖 was started by the secret societies in the 1700’s after the fall of the Ming dynasty it was about the veneration and worshiping of ancient China’s traditional religion that include the following:

  1. Tai Cho for emperor worshiping the Mandate from Heaven 天命 it is believed that emperors received blessings from the Heavenly gods to rule over earth.

  2. Taoism that include Guan Nim 觀音 the goddess of mercy that is also worship by Buddhism.

  3. Buddhism in China introduced by Da Mo 達尊

  4. Ancestor and mythological gods and saints worshipping that include Guan Gong, Lo Han 羅漢 immortal deities that safeguard earth and later embodies the warrior monks of Shaolin. Xuan Nu also known as Nine Heaven Mystery Lady 九天玄女 a female deity that possess the blessings of vitality, nourishment, and longevity or long life.

  5. Confucianism the philosophy of the way of life.

An altar of the Five Ancestors is usually found inside the traditional kung fu training halls.