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Liu He Ba Fa Jennifer Lee – Li Yu Hua lineage

For a very long time, I have wanted to learn Liu He Ba Fa (LHBF), or Six Harmony and Eight Methods Boxing or Water Style. Did I have this desire to learn LHBF before my quest to learn Tai Chi Chuan? I really can’t remember. I know that it was in the 1970s, because I got my cousin to get books on LHBF from Hong Kong for me. In those days, information was limited, there was no Google, no YouTube, and so knowledge was very hard to come by. My Chinese literacy is miniscule, but looking at the pictures, the forms of movements in the books looked very much like Tai Chi Chuan.

My cousin got me two books:

1.Wu Yi Hui ( WYH) {1887-1758} he was acknowledged as the modern father of LHBF and taught the LHBF form in the 1930s in Shanghai and Nanking. It is said he learned the art from three teachers: Yan Guoxing, Chen Guangdi and Chen Helu.

2.Chen Yi Ren {1909-1982}. He was from Guangdong and moved to Hong Kong. Chen Yi Ren was chosen by Wu yi Hui as his successor.

My claim to LHBF fame

I was born in Hong Kong. I can remember one incident when I was about 5 years old, where my left knee locked. I remember crying in pain and my father scooping me up and driving me to see the father of his school mate who was a Kung Fu master and Chinese doctor. I can still remember the gentleman looking into my eyes as he was gently unlocking my knee. I can also remember another occasion when my father brought something to this master and I remember going with him. It was an upstairs flat which was also the training club. It was much later on when I grew up that I realised from my father that the Master was Chen Yi Ren of LHBF. Can you believe that! That is my claim to LHBF fame.

Finding a LHBF teacher

Over the last few years, I have made efforts to research who was teaching LHBF in this country. With a busy lifestyle, it would be difficult to commit unless it was local or monthly workshops. There wasn’t much around that was practical for me. At the beginning of 2015, I made another effort and found that Master Jennifer Lee – Li Yu Hua was doing a workshop organised by Leigh Blyth in London. It seemed that Master Li who was based in Germany (via Singapore and China) did three monthly workshops in London. She also taught a Neigong system called Yi Jin Jing in the Ziwumen Tradition over the weekend as well. I knew nothing of Yi Jin Jing or Ziwumen, but just wanted to learn LHBF. Subsequently, I now understand the rich history of Ziwumen and its healing neigong systems and its martial arts; and it was definitely worth exploring.

Practising LHBF

Having practised Tai Chi Chuan for over twenty years with my teacher Dan Docherty, I was quite surprised to find how different LHBF is. Historically, LHBF is about 800 years older than Tai Chi. Its movements can be fast and slow, some movements are high others are low.....different! Jennifer’s Teacher is the famous Zhou Shu Sheng of Singapore who is renowned as the “Eagle Claw King”. Master Zhou’s influence in this version of LHBF is the incorporation of eagle claw techniques and a lot of Fa Jing (explosive power) in the form.

What is Liu He Ba Fa...........over to you Jennifer

Condensed from ‚‘Water Style’ – Liu He Ba Fa by Jennifer Lee

Liu He Ba fa, also called Water Style boxing is believed to be founded by Chen Tuan during the late Tang and Song dynasties. According to historical records, Emperor Song had granted him the title of Xi Yi. Chen Tuan retreated to Mount Hua (Hua Shan) Lotus Peak to practice 'sleeping meditation’. He was a Taoist who was noted for his clairvoyancy. An expert in Chinese divination, philosophy and healing methods, he was very much sought after for advice.

The principle of LHBF teaches the internal discipline of character as well as the external discipline of the body. The routine is long and intensively challenging, beautiful to watch, it brings profound self healing and well being when practised.

LHBF’s style not only embodies the completeness of internal martial arts system but also the tradition and heritage of thousands of years.

Its complete name : Xin Yi Liu He Ba Fa San Pan Shi Er Shi.

Xin : means heart. Yi : means intent or mind. Therefore Xinyi (heart and intent) is the core principle of this form. This means, one practises to bring the mind to a level of deep concentration (without tension) and to use the intent to direct the movements. In other words, it is the wise use of intent and not strength as movements can be stopped but the intent still flows.

Liu He : means 6 Harmonies. This is a theory from Taoist philosophy. When the entire body sinks into a dynamically relaxed state, the vital energy is able to fill every cell of the human body.

It is said that through the practice of the discipline and unified methods of LHBF, any goal can be brought into manifestation.

The 6 Harmonies are :

  • Body and Mind unify
  • Mind and Intent unify
  • Intent and Qi unify
  • Qi and Spirit unify
  • Spirit and movement unify
  • Movement and emptiness unify

Ba fa means 8 Methods. The 8 methods describes the character of LHBF.

  • 1. Qi – use intention to move Qi
  • 2. Gu – use skeletal structure for support
  • 3. Xing – use posture to focus on intent
  • 4. Sui – follow, stay close, react and adapt according to situation
  • 5. Ti – lift, press the crown of head up and open the spine
  • 6. Huan – return, create an even balance in body motion
  • 7. Le – retain, move naturally with calmness and clarity
  • 8. Fu – conceal, use refinement o conceal the intent during combat

The 6 Harmonies are the core principles and the 8 methods are the techniques. The breathing techniques is the key to LHBF refinement and mastery. If one acquires this method, one can respond to any change. Practicing LHBF requires not only agility but the interchange between relaxation and tension, 'empty awareness’ and lively intelligence. The head is supported as if suspended from the crown of the head, the pace comes and goes without trace. Strength is executed at the right time, execution is precise. The state of being is calm, without fear or agitation. Seize the opportunity to control the situation and lead the opponent to fall into a void.

Expressions are sudden, concealments are sudden, they are always varied, giving the opponent difficulty in predicting your intention.

Effectively practising LHBF requires an irregular pattern and interchange of open and close, rise and fall, circularly revolving spirals while excuting. Use the mind instead of strength, strength should never be shown and never leaves a trace. Subdue strength like the continuously sea waves flow. Either in movement or stillness, listen and follow the opponent's desires.

LHBF is a magnificent internal art whereby the inner spirit brings out the outer shape. Use the movement to obtain stillness. The body may be in movement but the inner mind is still.

Lineage and Politics

LHBF has recently obtained recognition from the state and honoured National Intangible Cultural heritage. The Chinese seems to want to systemise, centralise and “Wushu” everything. Is that good?

Old dinosaurs like me just love the history and heritage of the old traditional systems and more importantly the code of conduct it imparts to us.

I am grateful for the teachers and that has guided and supported me on my life’s journey.

What follows is an account of the lineage of LHBF written by Jennifer:

Great grandmaster Pan Yan Liu had many students but 7 closest disciples, not all active with LHBF directly. My teacher Grand Master Zhou is one of the 7. As GGM Pan turned 80, they had a big gathering and all the 7 were present and each demonstrated their favourite part of LHBF. It was noticeable how from the same teacher, over more than 40 years, all 7 projected LHBF differently.

GGM Pan also demonstrated his part; I must search my archives and show you sometime, he was led to the middle of the hall, with a walking stick too. And then walking stick removed and he did his piece. Amazing although not much to be seen as his movements have become small.

Lineage is as such :

Chen Tuan -Legendary founder

1st generation - Wu Yi Hui
2nd generation - Liang Zhi Peng
3rd generation - Huang Bai Yang
4th generation - Pan Yan Liu
5th generation - Zhou Shu Sheng
6th generation - Li Yu Hua Jennifer

In the last 8-10 years, Wu Ying Hua, son of Wu Yi Hui, started to work on gathering all LHBF teachers and practitioners and wanting to consolidate and formalise an 'official' form. He mentioned that it was his father's unfulfilled dream and he hopes to complete this work in his lifetime.

It is Wu Ying Hua's wish that all teachers include the basic 16 movements in all our LHBF teachings. He is a kind man and ask for all teachers to co operate and thus will bring LHBF some kind of standard form. There are not many teachers worldwide. Well, many have obliged. Most have learnt it from the video presented by this son in law, others like myself, have learnt it first hand from him. …..since my teacher also obliged and agreed to help Wu Ying Hua with his mission.

So as far as GM Zhou is concerned, it is only important to remember GGM Pan Yan Liu and down, the rest up there can make their own claims as to what is real or original, it is not important anymore. So anyway, suddenly with the attachment of WYH, my teacher becomes now 5th generation and me 6th.

I guess the association and WYH will command respect more so now because they have recently obtained recognition from the state and honoured National Intangible Cultural heritage.

The state has also included LHBF in their syllabus but have modified it and it looks very much like Wushu, beautiful and for anyone above age 40, or even above 35 these days, impossible to perform!

LHBF has very strong Qinna technique. These expressions have been diluted in the 2nd and 3rd version I learnt, it is to make it easier for people to learn, and at that time, my teacher also had a phase whereby he wanted to make the circles smaller and so it helps to cover up the intention and its techniques.
Eagle Claw comprises of 72 Qinna techniques and his LHBF first version had a strong and distinct flavour of his experience in Eagle Claw. I had also learnt Eagle Claw from him and I found the Qinna techniques match those in LHBF . I was in fact teaching 2 versions then but after a few years, I dropped them both as I had to decide for myself. To be good and effective and to understand it deeply, I need to concentrate on one. This is the one that I am teaching today and have been for 20 years now. (Full-time)






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