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History

Nau Hau Kuen

Angry Monkey Style

From the beginning of time, man has tried to copy the survival techniques of animals. Early man sought to mimic the movements of various animals, increasing the chance that their species would endure. As man developed, self defense and fighting skills were required to stay alive. In China, animal styles of self defense evolved over time.

Seeing how certain animals protected themselves, intrigued kung fu masters. The Tiger, Bear, Eagle etc., all of these animals have different techniques of protecting themselves. Chinese masters noticed monkeys to be shy and timid if left alone. However, monkeys were found to be savage once angered.

The first mention of "Monkey style" kung fu was in the Han dynasty (206 B.C. - 220 A.D.). During that time a martial artist named Tan, Chang-qing gave a demonstration of a monkey style while under the influence of alcohol. Also during this period a silk painting was found entitled "a bathing monkey calls", with pictures depicting a monkey style. Another type of monkey form was found in the period. This was created by a physician named Hua Ta. He healed the sick and the weak with breathing exercises and physical movements he called the 5 animal frolics. These 5 animals were the Tiger, Bear, Crane, Deer and the Monkey.

In the Song dynasty (960 A.D. - 1279 A.D.), Yan Ching added monkey techniques to his Mi Zhong Yi or Lost path style. The Great Emperor Tai Tsu created the Long Fist style (Northern Shaolin), and a monkey style. During the Yuan dynasty (1260 - 1380), Shaolin monk Bai, Yi-feng combined monkey style with 4 other arts to form what is still known today as Ng Chor Kuen or 5 Ancestors Fist.

In the Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), Chinese army general Chi, Ji-guang mentioned monkey as contemporary style in his "New Book of Discipline". Another martial artist, Wang, Shi-xing wrote in his book "Journey to Song Mountain" : When I descended the mountain and returned to my lodge, the priests performed various martial arts to entertain me. Among them was a monkey style exponent who leaped and turned as though he was a real monkey. In 1564 Governor Zheng, Ruo-zengs wrote a whole chapter on the "The 36 Tactics of the Monkey style" in his book "Posting as Governor South of the Yangtze River.

During the evolution of the monkey style, many other kung fu systems incorporated monkey techniques into their style. In the early 1700's Shaolin master Wang Lang added the agile footwork of the monkey to create his Praying Mantis style. Most all Shaolin systems have at least one monkey form. Tai Chi Chuan has monkey movements named "Step back and repulse the monkey" and "White ape presents the fruit".

While the evolution of this style affected many other arts, it has split into 3 separate categories of monkey flavor. The first flavor is that of the Opera monkey. Chinese opera is very popular and has been a part Chinese society for hundreds of years. This style uses gestures, sounds and movements for opera performance. This has very little martial value and is more just something to watch.

The second flavor is Wushu monkey. The style is more gymnastic with cartwheels and back flips for tournament performance. Although this style is more martial in nature, most of it's students are interested in competition. Over time this style has gained popularity in the tournament scene.

The third flavor is that of the pure monkey fighting style. This type of monkey has no back flips or cartwheels, but uses monkey tactics and relates them to human fighting situations. There are very few pure monkey fighting styles left because it is so savage and our societies tend to lean away from violence.

In the late 1800's a master of northern style kung fu, Lee, Shao Hau developed a style of monkey kung fu he named Nau Hau-zi Chuan (Angry Monkey Fist). He based his new style upon 6 theories of fighting from various monkey fighters of his day. These 6 theories known as the 6 key word formula form the basis of Nau Hau-zi Chuan. The fist key words are pa and nau, afraid and angry. Master Lee observed that monkeys are generally prone to run, rather than fight. It is only when they are cornered or protecting their young that they will turn and fight. Therefore, Lee felt that his students should develop this same type of attitude. A willingness to avoid fighting whenever possible, but to fight animalistic ferocity when there is no other option.

The second key words fa and jing describe the use of explosive energy. Fa jing is an energy   that lies boiling under the surface of a calm demeanor ready to explode.  Monkeys are full energy of and put themselves fully into everything they do. They seemingly rush from one activity to another, moving in short bursts of energy. The monkey fighter attempts to emulate this same type of energy in his attacks. His movements are a blur of activity with attacks coming at several targets from a multitude of angles. Thereby, keeping his opponent confused and unable to defend an overwhelming never, of attacks.

The third key words, ching and ling, refer to the much lauded footwork of the monkey styles. The monkey fighters quick footwork seemingly takes him here, there and everywhere all at once. Never static in stances, he moves from a low horse stance or crossed leg stance as nimbly as a ballerina performs her leaps and turns. The forth key words are sei and sao (4 hands). This refers to the fact that monkeys actually have 4 hands, rather than 2 hands and 2 feet. This is due to the presence of thumbs where big toes would be located. Therefore, monkeys have the ability to grasp and hold with their lower limbs in much same way as their upper limbs. The monkey practitioner attempts to mirror this advantage through extensive training in foot hooking, leg sweeping, leg entangling and kicking methods not found in other styles of kung fu and coupled with fast northern Shaolin hand techniques.

The fifth key words sai and go (small and tall), refer to the practitioners ability to hide his true reach. He stands or crouches coiled in a small ball until the right moment then extends his limbs well into the opponents fighting range. This type of trickery can lure an opponent in to close, then there is no escape from the monkey fighters blitz of techniques.

The last key words of the Nau Hau-zi Chuan are tin and dei, which translate as heaven and earth. This term refers to 2 concepts. The first is the strategy of faking high, then attacking low or vice versa. The second concept deals with training each student to fight efficiently at every level. Whether leaping, standing or rolling across the ground. Every punch, kick and locking technique must be learned from all 3 levels.

These 6 verbal formulas form the nucleus of the Shanxi Nau Hau-zi Chuan style of monkey kung fu. As well as the 6 key word formula the student is taught to fight with his body as a whole unit, rather than singular punches and kicks which can be easily blocked. In practice this translates into fighting blitzes containing at least 5 different attacking methods incorporating grabbing, striking, kicking or tripping, locking and throwing the opponent. The last part taught to the Nau Hau-zi Chuan monkey stylist is that when in a confrontation, if you must fight: "#1 Attack Suddenly, #2 Attack Violently, #3 Attack Without End Until Opponent Submits or Withdraws.

During the late 1800's China was thrown disarray and upheaval. Foreigners from Britain, Japan, United States, France etc. had forced treaties upon China and sought to replace Chinese religion and culture with western ideas. In response many Chinese people joined secret societies such as: The White Lotus Society, Triads, Heaven and Earth Society, The Righteous and Harmonious Fists, The Yin and Yang Gang and The Big Sword Society. These groups banded together to overthrow the foreigners.

In 1899 the secret societies, or Tongs as they are known in China, began razing foreign built hospitals and schools, burning down churches and killing foreign missionaries and their Chinese coverts. One such covert was a young woman named Chingling who lived in Shanxi (a northern China province). She, her family and other local Chinese converts were fleeing Shanxi to avoid the coming persecution when their party was ambushed by several members of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists gang. They would have perished had it not been for the famous monkey kung fu stylist, Lee Shao-hau, who was traveling with them. Lee quickly dispatched the attackers with his famous whirling daggers technique.

In appreciation for Lee's heroism Chingling was given to Lee to be his Bride. Chingling's family provided finances for the couple to relocate to the United States in order that they might escape enhanced religious persecution from the Righteous and Harmonious gang. Thus in 1899 marks the advent of the Angry Monkey style in the US.

Lineage of Teachers

Nau Hau Kuen

Angry Monkey Style

Lee Shao Hau

Lee Shao Hau

Lee Y. C.

Lee Y. C.

Leroy Johnson

Leroy Johnson

Richard Tolson

Richard Tolson

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