Training for Life
Column by Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong
INSIDE KUNG-FU MAGAZINE
January 2008 Issue
The Twin Metal Shields
The Twin Metal Shields are same as the Double Tiger Head Shields or Seung Fu Tau Pah in Cantonese. This pair of metal shields is one of the unique, traditional Chinese kung fu weapons. Each shield is worn on the arm for warding off attacking weapons and can be used for attacking as well. Each metal shield is about fourteen inches wide by twenty-five inches long. The top of the shield has a straight edge. The bottom of the shield is like the shape of a gWh, because it has two sharp, pointed tips at both sides of the bottom. Near the top of the shield on the back there is a big ring for the arm to go though. Near the bottom also on the back the shield has a horizontal bar for the hand to grasp. In the old days, the shields were made with copper. The front of the shield had a Chinese tiger face design, therefore the weapon was called the Tiger Head Shield. Because the martial artist wore the shields on both arms the weapon was even more unique.
Choy li fut kung fu was founded in 1836 in King Mui Village of Xinhui county of Guangdong Province. Today, Xinhui is but one district of Jiangmen city in China. Now choy li fut kung fu is one of the major traditional southern kung fu systems in the world. Chan Heung (1806-1875), the founder of the choy li fut system combined his experiences and training from three Shaolin kung fu teachers to create the kung fu system which has both northern and southern fighting techniques. Choy li fut also has both internal and external training forms. Chan Heung taught forty-one traditional weapons and these were handed down to his students with written scripts or gkuen poh so that there would be nothing lost for future generation of choy li fut practitioners. Each choy li fut kung fu form has been documented with all the movements and directions in hand written booklets by the founder and his immediate family members. The original Twin Metal Shields gkuen poh is still kept in the King Mui Village of Jiangmen by the fourth generation Chan Sun Chiu, great grandson of the founder Chan Heung. He is the present keeper of the King Mui lineage of choy li fut kung fu.
The original Twin Metal Shields fighting set is not a very long one. It has only 57 steps or movements and contains kicking and shoulder rolling techniques. The major techniques in the form are: Kwa (back hand strike), Kup (stamping), Jong (uppercut), Peet (downward cutting), Pood (fanning strike), Tsop (poking), Jit (downward blocking), poon (front blocking), Pek (hammer strike), Biu-jong (sideway strike), chuin-jong (long uppward strike), Wang-sow (horizontal swing). Double hand techniques are: Seung-fun (double left and right cutting down), Suit-fa-koi-ding (snow flakes over the head), Seung-jong (double uppercut) etc..
These days the shields are hardly ever taught not are they seen in public demonstrations due to three reasons. First, today we have firearms and it is not practical to use ancient weapons to fight anymore. Second, it is very difficult to find any place to make the shields. Third, only a few kung fu systems ever taught this weapon. However, I have two very good reasons to practice this weapon in our modern times. First, it is good to preserve the traditional arts as part of traditional Chinese culture. Second, the weight of the shields is good for building strength in the arm muscles and upper back muscles. Beside the Twin Metal Shields, in the choy li fut system we have another unique double shield form; the Twin Disc Rattan Shields. Both of these forms are interesting to learn and fun to practice for those who love martial arts.
Doc-Fai Wong writes a bi-monthly column for Inside Kung-Fu.
January 2008 Inside Kung-Fu