Five Ancestors

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This article is about the martial art. For the folklore figures written with the same Chinese characters, see Five Elders.
Five Ancestors Fist
Pinyin: wǔ zǔ quán
Minnan: ngó chó kûn
Five Ancestors

Five Ancestors Fist (Wuzuquan or Ngo-cho Kun) is a Southern Chinese martial art that consists of techniques from five styles:

The combination of these five styles and their characteristic techniques were during the creation of the Five Ancestor System, consolidated by a sixth influence; Xuan Nu also known as Hian Loo(玄女拳).[6] 'The Lady in the Green Dress,' who introduced the most deadly of its techniques Dim Mak lethal strikes to the pressure points of the body.

There are two versions of Wuzuquan’s history, with some putting the founding of the art around 1300 AD, while others put it as late as the 19th century. Five Ancestors has been attributed variously to Chua Giok Beng (蔡玉明 -or- 蔡玉鳴) (pinyin: Cài Yùmíng) of Jinjiang near Quanzhou in Fujian in the second half of the 19th century or to Bái Yùfeng,[7] a famous 13th century monk from the original Henan Shaolin Temple in the North of China to whom Five Animals style and Hóngquán (洪拳) have also been attributed. The Bai branch has most of the history, principles and execution very differently than the other branches who are more familiar to each other. One couldn't stop wonder if the Malaysian Bai branch should be an independent style, not under Wuzuquan

The Cai (Chua) branch also calls themselves He Yang Pai (鹤阳派), a tribute to Cai's teacher. Some practitioners also credit the influence of the Xuan Nu (玄女拳) system, with its emphasis on flowing movements and humility, for refining the art of Five Ancestors.[8]

One of the primary characteristics of Five Ancestors is its reliance on the Sam Chien (literally "three battles":三戦) stance and the corresponding hand form of the same name, which it obtained from Fujian White Crane. The "three battles" refer primarily to the three stages of Wuzu practitioners can achieve: combat preparation, combat tactic and combat strategy; all of which must be mastered in order to attained a good level. "Three Battles" has multi-faceted meaning: conceptual, physical, and spiritual.

Sam Chien can also be said to allow development of the eight Five Ancestor principles and so, is considered the most important form in the style. Indeed, it is said that this form contains all the principles of the Five Ancestors system. Thus it is the first form taught to junior students, so that they may explore the essential points of Five Ancestors from the start of their training.

Although the exact method depends on the school, Five Ancestors is known for its large variety of power generational methods. Due to the distinct character of each ancestor, these methods change depending on the power required. Some schools teach tension forms that develop power, of which there are about ten, and fist forms that train technique, of which there are dozens. Others stress a relaxed body, instead seeking maximum transmission of the relevant jin. For the He Yang (何阳)branch/School, these 2 extremes are represented by the Lu Wanding/Lo Ban Teng (盧萬定) lineages representing the earlier. The teaching of Lu style is mostly in Indonesia (in the city of Jakarta and Surakarta/Solo). The latter is represented by the latter teaching of Shen Yangde/Sim Yang Tek (沈扬徳) whose style evolved from more direct in the earlier teaching In Xiamen to the "seeking maximum transmission of the relevant jin"when he had moved to Singapore. The Surakarta/Solo branch has a unique execution as it integrates the Lu and the earlier Shen's teaching. The style was popularized in solo by Lin Shui Gang/Liem Tjoei Kang (林粹刚) who was the nephew of Lu as well as an adopted son of Shen. In the surface, it seems to be counter-intuitive to integrate two opposite spectrum of teaching. However, the underlying principle of He Yang lineages are the same and the integration follows the principles taught by Coshu He Yang and proven as effective as the other lineages.

On top of this are miscellaneous hand forms, two-man forms (also known as form-drill) that may or may not include sticking hands, and forms for a comprehensive arsenal of weapons including rice bowl and chopsticks, umbrellas, even opium pipes.

Over the decades masters have added to this list introducing material they considered relevant to the time.

Five Ancestors is now taught in China, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Sweden, the United States, Switzerland, Canada, Denmark and Spain.


The peak international body for Wuzuquan is the International South Shaolin Wuzuquan Federation, which was established in 1989. The twelfth and current President of the Federation is James Chee of Australia, who took over from John Graham of the United States in November 2011.[9] The Federation convenes annually in Quanzhou, China with discussions held regarding the preservation of the art.

Ranking system[edit]

An internationally recognized ranking system for Wuzuquan practitioners was established at the 2010 International Shaolin Wuzuquan Federation conference, in Quanzhou China. A ten level (duan) system was agreed upon for the most senior grades, and mirrors the equivalent systems used in karate (dan) and taekwondo. The 10th duan is recognised as the highest level, whilst the 1st duan is the lowest.

The first group of honorary 10th duan Wuzuquan practitioners to be formally recognized includes both living and deceased masters. These masters are awarded the duan for their involvement in the promotion of Wuzuquan. These 10th duan practitioners include Chee Kim Thong (Malaysia), Yap Ching Hai (Malaysia), Kim Han (United Kingdom), James Chee (Australia), Lu Qing Hui (Philippines), Hsu Nai Jing (Singapore), Chen Hung (Philippines), Su Zai Fu (Quanzhou), Zhi Yuan Li (Philippines), Shan Fa (Taiwan), Huang Qing Jiang (Quanzhou), Lu Si Ming (Philippines), Hong Dun Geng (Hong Kong). [10]

John Graham of the United States was awarded the rank of 10th duan at the 2011 International Shaolin Wuzuquan Federation conference.[11]


  1. ^ Han Jin Yuan: Fundamentals of Nan Shaolin Wuzuquan, Vol. 1, page 28, 2002.
  2. ^ Han Jin Yuan: Fundamentals of Nan Shaolin Wuzuquan, Vol. 1, page 29, 2002.
  3. ^ Han Jin Yuan: Fundamentals of Nan Shaolin Wuzuquan, Vol. 1, page 30, 2002.
  4. ^ Han Jin Yuan: Fundamentals of Nan Shaolin Wuzuquan, Vol. 1, page 31, 2002.
  5. ^ Han Jin Yuan: Fundamentals of Nan Shaolin Wuzuquan, Vol. 1, page 32, 2002.
  6. ^ Hian Loo (The Lady in the Green Dress)
  7. ^ The Creation of the Wuzuquan System
  8. ^ Han Jin Yuan: Fundamentals of Nan Shaolin Wuzuquan, Vol. 1, page 33, 2002.
  9. ^ James Chee's appointment as twelfth Chairman
  10. ^ List of 10th Duan Wuzuquan Masters
  11. ^ John Graham 10th Duan

External links[edit]