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Chapter 1 - The Emergence of Liu Shui

The story began at around the 14th & 15th year of Emperor Gwang Shui's reign in late Ching dynasty of China.

One fine afternoon, a crowd of tens of local residents gathered at the front of a red pillars house in the place called Guãn-Yin Gé of the Dõng Yang Xiãn province. These people were doing nothing in particular, simply stretching their necks and gazing at a young handsome and talented man, who was demonstrating the well-known 18 styles of martial arts to the students. The crowd broke into rapturous applause and excitement at the peak of the demonstration.

The Founder of Chow Gar Tong Long

This young man, whose name is Liu Shui, is no ordinary fellow but the 3rd generation disciple of founder of the much respected style of the Chinese Martial Art - Chow Gar Tong Long (Praying Mantis style), who had established a reputation in Hong Kong. Liu Shui was originally from Dõng Jiãng area of China. He was gifted with much talent in martial arts and had inherited the typical characteristics of the people from that area - hard working, endurance and persistence. He had already achieved a lot by the age of 14 and had mastered all sorts of fist styles as well as martial art weaponry within the period of 7 or 8 years which he learned from several well-known shifus.  At the age of 21, there was an incident one evening when he was on his way back from a visit to friend and got to the hill sides of the Hui Yang Province (known to be the habitat of many wild animals), he was attacked by a hungry wolf that suddenly dashed towards him along the grass foot-path and leapt at Liu Shui. Liu Shui reacted swiftly, as he was prepared for it, and by moving to the side avoided the wolf’s initial attack. Liu Shui was unbelievably calm and when the wolf turned round for another attack he struck back with a powerful side-kick right at the wolf’s belly. The wolf could not withstand the blow of Liu’, and simply fell down and rolled along the foot-path. Liu Shui saw that there was an opportunity and moved forward swiftly to add another heavy blow with his foot – the wolf did not stand a chance against Liu Shui.

Impact of the wild wolf incident

There were actually a few villagers near the scene when Liu Shui was being attacked by the wild wolf. These people were absolutely stunned by the fact that Liu Shui killed the wild animal so quickly with just two kicks (well, two powerful kicks to be precise)! This became a topic of idle gossip among the villagers. They were amazed that Liu Shui, although young fellow, was incredibly skilled in martial art and was of a sifu’s level. Because of Liu Shui’ skill, the villagers did not mind that Liu Shui was young and gathered in front of Liu Shui’s place, hoping to learn from Liu Shui. They all regarded it as an honor to be Liu Shui’s student. Because of this, each day when Liu Shui demonstrated his skills to his students they also attracted a large crowd as well. By doing this Liu Shui could not only demonstrate the skills and styles of his martial art but the students could also learn by observation. One day, while the crowd was acclaiming at another exciting demonstration, a Taoist priest, who did not appear to be from the local area, greeted Liu Shui with a loud voice. 

How dare a junior teach the public

According to this Taoist priest, he reckoned Liu Shui was simply a junior with shallow skill and how dare him teach the people in public! He said it was an insult to the villagers really, and not something a respectful shifu would do! Liu Shui was a little shocked to hear such a comment and stopped and looked at the Taoist priest carefully. As he gazed at him for a little while, he thought that the Taoist priest appeared to be a very ordinary thin Taoist priest. What gave him the right a judge on martial art masters’ business he thought! Other martial art practioners would have simply urged him to leave and not to cause any trouble but Liu Shui was puzzled by the Taoist priest’s act, and acted calmly. Amongst the great strengths that Liu Shui had been cultivated over the years were endurance, patience and respectfulness, so Liu Shui calmly stepped forward with a gentle smile on the face and enquired to the Taoist priest if he was into martial art specific practice as well, otherwise why he would give such comments openly to another practioner.  However, Liu Shui judged that by the look and build of the Taoist priest, he did not appear to be a martial art master at all. So, Liu Shui asked politely: “Mr. Priest, if you’re the master of any martial art stream, why would you dare give such a comment?” The Taoist priest replied: “If you’re discontent, why don’t you try me out?”  Liu Shui was indeed an open-minded martial art learner and wanted to know how skillful the Taoist priest was, so he agreed.

Liu Shui’s down on his knees

The Taoist priest told Liu Shui to strike first as he would fight a real enemy, i.e. at full power.  Liu Shui was an innocent minded person, so he thought “You asked for it!”, and he then took a breath and struck at the Taoist priest with the similar powerful fist skill. As Liu Shui was about to hit the Taoist priest, something unbelievable happened. As the pair was about to come into contact, the Taoist priest suddenly turned his shoulder a little bit and miraculously Liu Shui missed the target and fell to the floor, several a yards away - just like that!  Liu Shui was able to stand up shortly, but soon realized that the Taoist priest in front of him was no ordinary Taoist priest! He decided that this Taoist priest must be a super talented senior master. So, he stepped forward in front of the Taoist priest and got down on his knees, hoping to learn from the skilled master. However, the Taoist priest said he was an outsider, a traveler with no definite home, and not tempted by wealth and power. And finally, he said: “The last thing I want is to be the companion of those people who knows a little bit and pretend to be master!” He then left, leaving Liu Shui on his knees and contemplating his earlier behaviour!

 

 

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Translation : Brian Tsang
All names are in Mandarin Pin Yin form.
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