Denver Eagle Claw Kung Fu School
| Ying Zhao Fan Zi Men or "Eagle Claw" as
it is widely known, is a system of more than 800 years old. In fact it is a
combination of Yue Shi San Shou and Fan Zi.
Legend states that general Yue Fei (1103 - 1142 b.C.) of the Song dynasty, developed a a series of very effective fighting techniques to teach his soldiers, thus creating the "108 hands" and a system that was named Yue Shi San Shou, meaning "Yue Fei fighting techniques". After his sudden death, his faithful soldiers went all over China and taught his system. There isn't any reliable information about the historical continuity of the system, but years later, during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1664), in general's Qi Ji Guang book about war strategy and martial art, there mentioned the "Grab of the Eagle King". This mention in a way proves that the system was preserved and well known at that period of time. In this same book, Qi Ji Guang mentions Ba Shan Fan (another name for Fan Zi) as one of the most effective fighting systems of the Ming Dynasty.
There isn't any historical proof about when the combination of the two systems took place. It is highly probable that the monk Li Quan, a master of Fan Zi who lived during the ends of the Ming Dynasty, saw Yue Shi San Shou and was so impressed that he decided to work on both systems and combine them. Other sources mention that Li Quan lived many years before Ming Dynasty and was the one who taught general Yue Fei the nine basic techniques (3 up, 4 in the middle, and 2 down). Yue Fei then developed Yue Shi San Shou based on those nine techniques. However there is no written evidence for either of these theories.
A certain fact is the appearance of a very important figure , in the end of Qing's dynasty (1644-1711) Liu Shi Jun, who sets start on a new period. Since that time , the system is being taught in public, so today almost everything is known about its history.
Liu Shi Jun was taught the system from two monks, Gao Ji and Fa Cheng. In his turn he passed the system to his grandson, Liu Cheng You. Cheng You taught his third son, Liu Qi Wen and his nephew, Chen Zi Zheng. Chen Zi Zheng is known as the "Eagle King". Liu Cheng You also taught Zhang Zhan Wen who was the grand mater of this branch. There was an interesting story about our grandmaster Zhang Zhan Wen, which is recounted below.
In old Shanghai around 1930s, Zhang Zhan Wen applied for a job at Jing Wu Meng (fine martial art school) in Shanghai since Cheng Zi Zheng, who studied from the same master as his, was teaching at that school. Jing Wu Meng was the most famous martial art school in Chinese history and was known for fighting invading Japanese bravely. Zhang Zhan Wen demanded double pay, an act that surprised other teachers. Finally, the chief of the school, Huan Yuan Jia -- who occupied a long-lasting place in Chinese history as a national hero -- proclaimed "OK, we would pay you double pay if you can fight our two finest Kung Fu masters". Guess what? Zhang Zhan Wen took the challenge and threw two others masters in the the Huangpu river in front of Jing Wu Meng!
After the civil war broke in China, Zhang Zhan Wen went south to teach at the special army forces division. At that time, he was regarded as "one of the ten tigers who went south", referring to ten top Kung Fu masters.
Later, Zhang Zhan Ming became grandmaster Zhang Zhan Wen's close-door disciple. Zhang Zhan Ming went on to win many national and regional championships, and taught quite a few disciples, including Master Sing Chui who lives and teaches in Denver now. It is an honor to learn martial art from one of the genuine, legendary Kung Fu masters.