Sang Te Pi a Weapon of Goh Cho Kun
Five Ancestors Fist has several weaponries that include staff, pole bladed weapons, lance, swords, mace, chain whip, and broad swords, shield with cutlass, twin weapons such as daggers, tiger hook, sang te kwai (tonfa), sang te pi (sai) etc. All these weapons are design for specific usage and purpose and one of the most versatile weapon of Five Ancestors Fist is the sang te pi 雙短鞭. There exist no accurate records as to who and when the Sang Te Pi was develop it is believed that the Sang Te Pi with the U hand guard early usage was in India and spread to South China and later to South East Asia. The Pi would later be widely used in Southern China most notably in Fujian province by the martial arts community of the southern Tai Cho martial art system, the Goh Cho Kun martial art system and later by Japanese karate. The sang te pi or twin short flog is made of solid iron it is cone shape the stem’s edges can be octagonal or rounded the stem narrows to the end and sharpens, the hand guard is S form that is also refer as yin yang a Taoist symbol this S shape hand guard is believed to have appeared sometime in the 1700’s in the Fujian province martial art’s community.
The S handguard when the two Pi put together resemble the Buddhist religious swastika was this the intent? no one knows it is however a very interesting coincidence this symbol relates to auspiciousness, peace, inclusiveness, and good luck the emblem is in clockwise position this Buddhist swastika emblem has been around for thousands of years that would later be copied by Nazi Germany in 1935 by inverting the directional angle to counter clockwise making it the swastika of the Nazi party of Germany. The swastika of Nazi Germany symbolised aggression, hatred, violence and racism because of this the Buddhist symbol sometimes get misunderstood and mistaken as that of the Nazi swastika but as we know it now they are not the same.
The combat purpose of the S shape hand guard is design in a way that the lower pointed guard protects the entire hand while the upper pointed guard is to protect the upper weapon hand it is also used to trap opponent’s weapon or wrist the tip of the S guard is sharpen for stabbing. The strong structure of the Sang Te Pi which is made of solid steel that is stiff and strong can measures approximately 1” or ¾” diameter from the base and slowly narrows sharpen like a spear head or pick at the end. The total length of the Pi measuring about 22” from the tip to the butt handle it is slim tapered and as mention it sharpen at the end tip the S guard tips are sharpen as well.
The pi aside from being use as a stabbing and striking weapon it is also design as a strong piercing weapon that can penetrate ancient body armours and chain mails. The butt handle has a hammer at the tip that is use in fighting as a small mace or hammering device. The solid stem is strong enough to stop or intercept bladed weapons such as swords or axes the hammer end also prevents slippage when holding the pi. Aside from the symbolism of the S shape hand guard it is also design as an anchor for the thumb use as a means in flipping, in reversing, swinging, and changing the position of the Pi from inside to outside position at different levels from thrusting, to whip strike to handle butt striking, to blocking, deflecting, to parrying, trapping weapons, and to forearm guard.
The slimness and size of the Pi allows it to be easily hidden concealed under clothing’s that give the Pi wielder the opportunity to get closed to its target without being notice. When holding the pi keep the fingers under the hand guard avoid sticking the thumb and index finger outside of the hand guard holding the pi inside of the hand guard is to avoid the finger and thumb from getting hit as the S guard is also use to trap weapons if one’s fingers are outside the S guard it will get in the way. The only time the thumb and index finger are in the outside of the hand guard is when it is about to be used in flipping or changing the position of the pi.
When in forearm guard position the Pi should be in the outside of the forearm to protect the forearm from cuts and getting hit and to successfully use the forearm with the Pi to block and parry against opposing weapon the only time it is inside the forearm is when the intention is to conceal the pi.
The Pi being a short weapon to be successful in its application the technique involves mostly side stepping left to right, dodging, ducking and keeping oneself a small target counter striking and slide forward taking away the space of the attacker and keeping your opponent off balance with closed range and successive attacks that prevent the attacker from setting up and from successfully counter attacking in Goh Cho this is refer to as bridging cut and destroy. One pi-hand is used to trap or deflect while the other pi-hand is use simultaneous to strike or thrust or use both pi-hands to trap attacker’s weapon. Striking accuracy aiming for vital points with speed, timing, aggressiveness, decisiveness, focus, and no fear factor is important to come out on top when wielding the sang te pi in combat. The technique in striking is with the use and developing the whipping quick snap by utilizing the five powers principle with emphasis in transferring final power on to the wrist to the weapon pi.
Some of the techniques in sang te pi are;
Overhand flip strikes out: this is executed by flipping the pi from inside down to vertical pendulum straight upwards like a vertical back fist strike the falling weight of the pi when it hit the target can have a very strong impact for helmet wearing warriors it can cause shock wave to lose concentration, disoriented and in some cases a few seconds of lost consciousness that would allow the pi wielder the chance to follow through with secondary and third attacks.
Whip-hook swing strike: the pi travels in a half circular motion with the shoulder guiding the arm and the wrist and weapon hand firmly holding the pi flawlessly in lighting force and speed strike towards its target while the opposite shoulder counter pull to give the strike more speed and force with whipping power or pulling the attacker’s weapon inwards to allow the striking pi-hand better range and impact.
Inside swing strike: a short range striking technique targeting the attacker at closed range with the pi-hand striking outwards while on guard position or while deflecting an attacker’s weapon using the same pi-hand counter strike with a quick snap after deflecting or redirecting the attacker’s incoming weapon away from your body like a quick jab snap the pi-hand whips outwards without bringing the pi-hand in or chambering it.
Straight thrust: holding the pi closed to your body in a straight angle ready to execute full thrust out or quick stab in full push forward. The full straight thrust is executed in a spiral motion with two hands or one hand or in overhand to have better penetration especially in penetrating wicker shield, rattan shield or ancient body armour.
Underneath straight spike thrust: this technique is applied by staying low ducked down in one or two knees on the ground and thrust your weapon pi upwards underneath the attacker’s two legs while using the other pi-hand to hold or deflect the attacker’s weapon or strike the weapon hand or the ankle or knees of your attacker
Reverse hand thrusts: a quick inside thrust with the weapon hand facing flat upwards position and the pi pointed outwards in a quick snap stab outward after stepping sideways either to the right or left side of your attacker and using you other pi-weapon-hand to trap or push your attacker’s weapon away.
Twelve O clock strikes down: is a strike coming straight down overhead after executing a high or inside block follow through with a straight strike down aiming at the forehead or the shoulder bone of your opponent the solid structure of the pi stem plus the technique of the strike will cause serious trauma, shock, and bone fracture.
Hand-handle butt straight punch: with the butt handle punch forward.
Hand-handle butt hook punch: using the butt handle to execute a hook strike.
Hand-handle butt upper cut strike punch straight upwards.
Forearm-elbow horizontal strike: with the weapon-pi flips and position on the forearm, swing horizontally to strike with the stem of the pi or to slash with the tip of the pi.
Forearm-vertical strike: the pi flipped in the forearm swing the elbow vertically to hit target with the pi main stem or the sharp tip of the pi to cut and slash.
Forearm snap stab: with the tip of the pi flip at the forearm using the elbow with the pi sharp tip sticking out strike outwards, or stab backwards.
The versatility and structure of the sang te pi has made it an ideal urban weapon of choice and for urban policing especially in crowded and tight city street alleyways. One famous Goh Cho Kun 五祖拳 grandmaster was Lo Yn Chiu 盧言秋 of Quanzhou Fujian China his weapon of choice was the sang te pi and the nine-sectional steel whip. It is recorded in Kong Han Ngo Cho Kun book that in one fighting incident against Qing soldiers in the dying years of the Qing dynasty in 1910 Lo Yan Chiu led a group of fighters in a skirmish to rescue one of their martial art compatriots who was about to be executed. Lo Yan Chiu’s expertise in the sang te pi combining with his ferocity, and the ideal condition with the tight alley streets was an ideal environment for his weapon the sang te pi in succeeding in freeing their compatriot defeating the Qing soldiers and escaping from Qing reinforcements. Later after the fall of the Qing dynasty Lo Yan Chiu in 1937 will migrate and settle in Manila Philippines there he started what is to become Kong Han Goh Cho Kun kung fu 光漢五祖拳 with the establishment of a school called Philippine Kong Han Martial Arts Club 菲律賓光漢國術館.
Today the sang te pi has become a legendary and historical weapon that is no longer used in modern battlefield it is preserved in cultural and martial art museums and used by mostly southern China’s kung fu schools and association practiced by kung fu athletes as part of the several weapons of ancient Chinese martial arts most notably in Fujian province by the southern Tai Cho Fist, the Five Ancestors Fist kung fu groups and Japanese martial artist that travelled to Fujian China back in the Ming dynasty in the 1600’s to learn Chinese martial arts and continued on up to the early 1900’s those Japanese martial artist would return to Japan and re-introduced the sang te pi weapon as part of their major martial art weaponries they will term the sang te pi as sai.
The continue preservation of the sang te pi through continue training of the weapon has allowed its rich history to be preserved and shared to today’s generation never be forgotten as a weapon that was once used for peace and or war. The continue training of the sang te pi is not only for preserving its martial history but also used as a modern instrument an apparatus in aiding to develop total physical well-being, conditioning, improving body coordination with the movement of hands with the sang te pi as an aid equipment artistically flipping the pi in different direction in coordination with the lower body, midsection, upper body, the eyes and mind with good balance, focus and concentration through the execution and performing the sang te pi form all these helps a sang te pi practitioner or athlete achieved a well balance exercise to stay fit and healthy in today's’ modern life style.
Therefore, the training in the sang te pi is a 3-1 benefit
(1) Experiencing and preserving the rich history of the sang te pi weapon
(2) For physical fitness
(3) Developing self-defence techniques.