Breaking the Chains

Page 30

Next Page >>

The most common reaction to a first demonstration of quality Ving Tsun is amazement. In 1959 Taky Kimura and others were amazed when they first encountered Ving Tsun being demonstrated by Bruce Lee. Taky and other early followers of Bruce would have been just as amazed by the fighting abilities of other Yip Man students. Ving Tsun definitely helped to make Bruce Lee successful. Bruce definitely helped to make Ving Tsun popular. Today Ving Tsun is taught all over the world. It is noted for its economy of movement and sensitivity. When this system has been pitted against other systems it has been successful. In the 19th century Leung Jan won contests against many other systems, and in the 20th century Wong Shun Leung won many contests against other systems in Hong Kong. That Ving Tsun is an effective fighting system is a matter of fact. It is the only Chinese Kung Fu system developed by women.

Ving Tsun Kung Fu made its first appearance during the reign of the K'ang-hsi emperor (1661-1722). K'ang-hsi translates to 'Peaceful Harmony'. It was the reign name of Hsuan-yeh, the third son of Fu-Lin, the first emperor of the Ch'ing dynasty, who ruled (1644 - 1661) under the name Shun-chih. Hsuan-yeh became emperor when he was six years old. To begin with his government was run by four Manchu courtiers: Oboi, Ebilun, Suksaha, and Sonin. After the death of Sonin, Oboi took greater control and authority for himself. He had Suksaha put to death and made Ebilun submit to his will. In 1669, at the age of fifteen, K'ang-hsi removed Ebilun and Oboi - martial artists (wrestlers) were used to arrest Oboi.

K'ang-hsi became a skilled military leader with great strength and energy. The empire contained nothing too small to merit his attention. A particular project that got the emperor's attention was repairing the Huang Ho River (Yellow River) and the Grand Canal to allow a smooth flow of rice from the granaries down south. Between 1684 and 1707 K'ang-hsi travelled along the Huang Ho and the Grand Canal to the lower reaches of the Yangtze six times in order to inspect the work and to get to know the leaders of the rich south. K'ang-hsi paid for these trips out of his own pocket. He was not a burden on the public purse - the emperor was in fact so thrifty that he never once increased taxes.

The emperor was committed to education and reading. In 1667 he opened the Nan shufang, a small study hall in the Forbidden City, where he debated with many scholars. Perhaps the most influential scholars in China at that time belonged to the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Various tutors, including Ferdinand Verbiest, who taught the emperor geometry, Jean-Francois Gerbillon and Joachim Bouvet, who taught the emperor mathematics, had contributed to the education of K'ang-hsi. It was the K'ang-hsi emperor who required Pierre Jartoux and Jean-Baptiste to compile an atlas of his empire. They started their labour in 1708 and finished it in 1717. The French version of this atlas has the title 'Nouvel Atlas de la Chine, de la Tatarie chinoise et du Huang yu ch'uan lan t'u'.

Matteo Ricci, the Jesuit priest who founded the Christian church in China, arrived in Macau in August 1582. The next year he and his companion, Michele Ruggieri, obtained permission to settle in the capital (Chao-ch'ing) of Kwangtung Province. In 1588 Ruggieri returned to Rome, and in 1589 Ricci left Chao-ch'ing to live in Shao-chou. There, Ricci became acquainted with Ch'u T'ai-su, the Confucian scholar. Ricci taught Ch'u basic mathematics, and in return Ch'u introduced Ricci to several important Chinese civil and military officials. After entering China, Ricci dressed like a Buddhist monk. Ch'u suggested that the garb of a Chinese scholar would be more appropriate. From then Ricci adopted the dress of a Chinese scholar. In 1595 Ricci tried unsuccessfully to enter Peking. He removed to Nan-ch'ang, where he befriended two princes of royal blood. He stayed in Nan-ch'ang until 1598. In 1599 Ricci moved to Nanking and in 1601 he and another Jesuit, Diego Pantoja, successfully entered Peking. Ricci spent the rest of his life in Peking. He died on 11 May 1610. Matteo Ricci's Chinese name is Li Ma-Tou.

Next Page >>