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Chapter 4/a

Some were crawling away like pigs and some simply couldn’t get up, lying around, moaning.  However, a short while later, the Huang’s came back again, of course with more help. Around three to four hundred people came with their own weapons in hand, running towards Liu Shui. Apparently, the large crowd gave the Huang’s more confidence.  It seemed like that whoever was in the way would be dead for sure. Liu Shui was not at all stunned by the crowd or the deafening noise it made. He was well prepared for this.

“You bullies! I will discipline you guys today!”

Wherever the staff hit, few had a chance to even defend against it. Those who were lucky enough to avoid the staff tip were too scared or shocked to even lift their weapons to fight back.  Moments later, the crowd had disappeared to nowhere.  Only the injured were lying all over the place.

Liu saw that all of them were scared and would like to end the fight right at the point.  However, on a second thought, he thought those bullies wouldn’t stop there.  They might be scared today or for a few days because of his presence, but after a while, they would come back. This is like how people forget about their pain when the wound has healed.

Having made up his mind, Liu proceeded into the Huang’s village. The gang members hiding in the village and on seeing Liu following them into the village thought he was there to kill them, so ran madly for their lives. Liu was not there for the kill.  He was looking for the seniors of the village, who had little idea of the bullying towards their neighbours. Liu met the seniors of the Huang village, explained what had happened to Liu family’s village and asked for a friendly relation between the two villages. The seniors were shocked at the news and scolded the Gang members. Besides making sincere apologies to the Liu Village, they agreed to develop and maintain a good relation between the two villages as they had in the good old days.  They dined and wined.

After this, the Liu’s family certainly thought even more highly of Liu Shui.  They collected money and planned to celebrate Liu’s birthday extravagantly.  However, Liu, as usual, declined to have such a big celebration, saying that whenever the family was in trouble the rich should contribute toward the finance, the strong should handle the labour work; and he just simply did what he should as a family member.

However, Liu did not see this as a long term fix.  As the Liu village did not have a team of guards to guard it, it was vulnerable to any attack. Having seen how powerful and effective the staff was against the gangs, he decided to teach the village folks how to use the staff. The village was full of joy on hearing the news!

Liu Shui mastered the Zhou Family Staff, which has four famous sets: Wu Xing (Five Elements), Viper (Poisonous Snake), Ox and Devil Horse catching Cicada. Each of which has its own training manual and distinctive ways to handle the staff. The Zhou Family staff is single-ended staff method, different from normal staffs used in martial arts. Further, a normal staff weighs only around 4 pounds, but the staff required for practice in the Zhou Family Staff should weigh a bit less than 9 pounds. The staff is also over 2 metres long.  It requires Qi control rather than simple muscular strength.  Therefore, unless you have mastered all 4 sets of the Zhou Family staff, it is not an easy thing to use this staff in a fight in your favour.  Among all of the sets, the Devil Horse is the most famous.

The way Liu used his staff became famous throughout the area after he had single-handedly tamed the Huang village gang with only a staff.  All the folks in the Liu village worshiped him and started to call the “Devil Horse catching Cicada Staff set” they had learned from Liu, the “Liu Shui Staff set”.  However, due to the students’ gift, Liu only taught them three sets of the Zhou Family Staff. Liu understood that martial arts was a double bladed sword – it could be a powerful weapon in the wrong hands. Liu had this rule of three ‘No’s’:  He did not teach those who are not gifted; did not teach those who didn’t have the right moral standard, nor would he teach anyone who did not respect their teacher or seniors. Due to the restrictions he placed on his students, the most famous Zhou Devil Horse staff set was probably not taught to anyone. There are still over 100,000 Zhou Family students in Hong Kong but none were taught the Devil Horse Staff.

As far as I (author) know, there are only two in Hong Kong who WERE taught.  One is the well known in Hong Kan (aka Hung Hum), the famous Master Ye Rui (aka Yip Shui) and the other Zhu Guan Hua (aka Chu Gwong Hua). Master Ye still keeps a staff used by Liu Shui. It is over 2 metres long and weighs a little under 9 pounds. I was lucky enough to be shown the Devil Horse Staff.  Unfortunately, as a layman to martial arts, I couldn’t make detailed notes of the way it was used in practice. From what I could see, at the beginning, Master Ye held the staff right at end, two hands at 70cm apart and lifted the staff so that it formed a 90 degree angle with his arm. Considering how heavy the staff is and the way he held it, this is not something that normal people can perform. During the whole set, the staff was used like a dragon swimming in the sea, smooth, quick and powerful. My eyes had a hard time trying to follow the staff movements. You can feel the strength it requires. At the end of the set, Master Ye hit the wall with five short but quick stabs. Immediately, five holes became visible with certain depth on the wall. 

It is as real as it was said.

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Translation by Ada Yang.
All names are in Mandarin Pin Yin form.
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