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The Origins of White Crane Kung Fu, as told by Sigong Kwong Poon-Fu, 4th Generation White Crane Grandmaster

White Crane Kung Fu originated in Tibet in the middle of the Ming Dynasty, around 450 years ago. The inventor of the style was Ordator, a high level monk who already knew a cruel fighting style in between wrestling and judo called Dean (make somebody fall down), Now (grab and catch) and Sat (technique or method) learned from the ancient Tap Lai. Ordator wanted to gain something by being silent (dajo – silent sitting or meditation) so he went into the mountains in Tibet.

He didn’t realize that the mountain had many white cranes and apes living on it. The apes wanted the cranes to leave the mountain and because of this they were always fighting. Both the white crane and the ape had a style of fighting similar to kung fu fighting.

Ordator observed a fight between the white crane and the ape. Although the ape appeared the stronger opponent he was easily defeated by the crane. Ordator realized that the white crane had a superior technique and decided to copy it. He invented a fighting style based on the white crane’s movements which encompassed eight basic punches, kicks, slaps, finger movements and grabs.

He called this style The Lion’s Roar. Ordator was thinking of the first Buddha who was born with one finger pointing to the sky, one finger to the ground. This first Buddha would shout like a lion’s roar. After inventing the technique, Ordator came down from the mountain and began using it.

Because the system was named The Lion’s Roar, others constantly came from China to challenge Ordator. He always won and in the process hurt people very badly. Ordator was not afraid to fight but he didn’t want to hurt people. Thinking that the name Lion’s Roar encouraged challengers, he changed it to Pak Hok Cheung (formal name), Pak Hok Pai (slang), or White Crane.

Ordator was often asked how a style could be so powerful with only eight basics. He replied, “Music has only eight tones, there are only seven colours, yet composers and artists can create beautiful works of art.”

Sharon MacGougan, written from interviews in 1996.

Note: Sigong Kwong Poon-Fu died May 15, 2006. He was 98 years old.

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