HUNG NGUYEN MANH
It was an afternoon, I escaped from my mother by lying to her that I and my group of friends went to visit my teachers to go with him and the dog on the long rail. My early feeling was very strange and frightened. His right hand kept the sack, and my right hand gripped his left hand. Both of us walked on the rail roads and tried to keep a balance as two artists of circus on the ropes to cross the guard gates, poor houses from the rear, rubbish dump and toilet blocks – “one was on duty”. The road seemed endless. Then dogs barked as “dog takes advantage of being near home”. While the dog of the bottles boy was silent with its tail between its legs, as it knew that it was
in another domain! The bottles boy told me to walk in silence as in Arabian ancient tales “dog barking, the traveller starting on the journey.” (les chiens aboient caravances passent).
Go! Then go forever! Sometimes he had to stop to pick up something on the tracks. By late afternoon, he took me to go on dirt roads, soon now we went to a poor thatched house. There was a courtyard surrounded by the fence of hibiscus. This was the house of bright eyes, alert, small martial arts master.
Unexpectedly I looked at with concentration the rough but strong hands of the master when he did a head stand with ten fingers – as female ballet dancers standing with the tips of the feet. But his wrists, fists, when he performed martial arts by his own style, sometimes I thought his hands were breaking a burglar’s hands, sometimes as a mother’s hands to massage her newborn baby.
According to him human’s wrists can be used to block fists, kicks of any martial arts branches, and human’s fists as two punches (Picture 1). But when the punches are opened they look like palm-leaf raincoat of a kind mother who is nursing for the harmony of the yin and yang or caressing the human body as a herb doctor to find dangerous spot in human body!
But I did pay attention to the teacher’s invalid wrist bone. This bone looked like a new animal horns. I called it the wrist or the ankle (bone protruding) (Figure 2) to distinguish from ankle. (In 1979, I read Saigon martial arts newspaper which described of this bone). It is said that in the reign of Qianlong (China), Great master Ngu Mai, a nun at the White Crane Mountain practiced the martial arts techniques by this very bone. She called this bone is “the seal” of Pluto (ruler of the underworld), means Pluto seal. From this “seal” Pluto attacked to the dangerous points and the vein in
the human body that he had been painting on walls and numbered of acupuncture points (Figure 3).
Once or twice he sat and smoked pipe tobacco and blew tobacco smoke to the sky then sipped tea, he began to talk about internal martial arts method which he said that was a Shaolin martial arts exercise.
According to him, the internal martial arts were the methods of concentrating the power to exercise the strength and tendons and bones as we desired. But we had to practice the positions: sitting and standing.
He said: “Learning the right basic techniques before learning martial arts” which meant “bat quai chan quyen – as a child learned to walk with the basic techniques of eight trigrams in martial arts. Then he showed me the forms of staff, sword, scimitar…
As a monk chanting – or people reading story and poetry in the dim moonlight beside a stream – he sang eight martial arts poems. I grew up gradually with those romantic poems – not in hammock or in boat to enjoy – yet to practice the positions, snake stance, zen teacher technique, magic wand technique, yin and yang block, running horse technique, crane stance (single leg stance),… in nights of crescent moon, then full moon… as ready to welcome hostile influence coming from somewhere.
… continue …
◊ Looking for MY “VO COC” – Section 2
BAN TU THU