My Memory of Master Shi Degeng Lalking About ShaoLin Kung-fu

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    However, Dechan and Degeng, two masters of Shao Lin Temple, propped the temple up with their brilliant leechcrafts and exquisite gests. They were really boundless beneficence for keeping and saying kindling for today's Shao Lin. During those years, as a temporary arrangement, some wise person invited Master Degeng to teach in the Song and Dance Ensemble of Henan Province at that time for the sake of Shao Lin Kung-fu. Master Degeng choreograph ethical dance, which syncretizes the fist positions of Shao Lin and the swordsman-ship of Dharma. Anyhow, Master Degeng got a job and salary and managed continuing his life at last. Before long, Master Degeng was transferred back to the Gym Commitment of Denfeng county and responsible for teaching Shao Lin Kung-fu in primary and secondary school, keeping Shao Lin Kung-fu from encountering its drowning disaster. This farsighted leader actually did a lot for Shao Lin. It may be said that he did a peerless work being famous and important indeed in history.
   After the Cultural Revolution begun, following my teacher, I practiced Kung-fu with him all around the clock. I studied and reviewed the Buddhist scriptures at midnight in that period as well. The master was deeply impressed and touched by my sincerity and good faith, so that he taught me all the incomparable skills of the Shao Lin Kung-fu and heartily told me to keep those Kung-fu as the most precious treasure of Shao Lin forever~ Complied my teacher's wish, I kept practicing for tens of years never wasting any time or stopping the research of Kung-fu. I invested all my money, time and energy on training the new generation of Shao Lin, swearing handing down
Shao Lin Kung-fu to our offspring to repay my teacher. Recalling those years, although I was only a teenager quite young at that time, I was still being the senior among those apprentices in Shao Lin Temple. My Kung-fu was not bad, and I had already been a Kung-fu instructor of forty apprentices, as their eldest brother under the same instruction and the direct guidance of the teacher. At first sight, my teacher was quite common. He was thin, wearing coarse clothes and his appearance was ordinary too. I was confused, "This is master of Shao Lin?" Unbelievable! But I was shocked as soon as I saw the deft and flexible skills shown in his practice. Once when my teacher started moving and doing Shao Lin Kung-fu, I was terribly astonished at his moves of Wo Xin Zhang. He waved his arms and hands so quickly, moved his legs and feet so fast, looking like strong wind blowing hard. But his body and style changes look so light and various, looking like smoke running following the strong wind. I walked around teacher Degeng, wondering what kind of structure it was, when and where the legs would move on. I was failed to understand and imitate no matter how hard I tried.


    My teacher was absolutely still like being sitting on a chair when he was doing a horse style, "thwack" stamping his foot, his left foot was shoot out as fast as a flying arrow, straightly pressed on the ground. I was puzzled, "How can the foot move like that?" My teacher smiled when he saw my expression and told me that Pu Bu (a fall forward step) was not just a style but a Di Tan Tui (a kind of techinique called low shoot foot) of Shao Lin, a kind of usage that I should learn at the very beginning. I parted with my fraters loathly and concentrated on studying Kung-fu. Following my teacher's instruction, I was starting from the most basic Tan Tui (shoot foot).
    My teacher taught me the twenty-four Lu (round) Tan Tui that wasn't taught to others. He taught me the importance of the ways of using legs and asked me to practice them every day, until my skills of stretching feet were satisfied, and then he would talk about leaming something more advanced. Shao Lin Tan Tui is different from any other kinds of Tan Tui. It has the character of Shao Lin Quan, a required course of Shao Lin Kung-fu. Two sayings in the Kung-fu world are: "It is a sad sack who practice Kung-fu of fist without practicing kicking feet" or "Two hands should be moved like two panels of a firm door, and two feet will be striking hard and strongly"..Shao Lin Tan Tui consists of twenty-four groups of attack movements and the flip and kicking skills of feet. When kicking outwards, the foot should not be lower than knee; while moving back, the higher   position of the foot should be as high as chest. One kicking outwards   and one kicking back make a Lu (round). My teacher asked me to   practice each round for twenty times, low and high, go and back, so  there are forty movements, multiply twenty-four rounds, which makes  nine hundred and sixty movements. Plus the changes of hands movements, i.e. one hand hitting continuously and fast for three times, both hands hitting alternately, continuously and fast for three times, that' s nine hundred and sixty groups of movements. Then we have to do the Kung-fu of Chan Shou, Tan Tui, Er Lu Pan Zhou, i.e. Chong Quan Pan Zhou, Gai Da. It is a group of successional movements, flipping and kicking mixed, making each Lu of Tan Tui including each kicking mixed with hitting. It takes more than twenty minutes to finishing practicing the twenty-four Lu Tan Tui entirely, and it has to be with a certain physical strength. When finishing the practicing ten rounds Tan Tui, one is already sweltering profusely. Some even cried for not being able to finish the practice completely. Teaching Kungfu for nearly forty years, I have never seen a person who can finish practicing twenty rounds successfully in one breath except one of my Shidi (male formally apprenticed after another to a master worker to learn a skill). My Shidi was dripping with perspiration from practicing twenty rounds Kung-fu, all of his clothes was soaked with sweat.  Clothes off, his sweat was splashing down. We could imagine that   the demands of Shao Lin basic skills are so strict and the quantity of   Shao Lin movements is so big. Either drills or attack arts is impossible   without a good basic skills foundation.
     Though forty years passed, I still could move my hands and feet   agilely and smoothly. My strength is sent out as my wish, somewhat as whatever I am pleased to. I owned it to the hard practice of the Tan   Tui basic skills when I was a teenager.
     Nowadays, there are lots of people knowing only a little Kungfu, dare to proclaim themselves disciples of masters. Actually, in my   view, their Kung-fu is either a bare outline that's only good in looking   but useless, or stiff and anserine that's both ugly and useless. I   think they should put off their airs, learn and practice the basic skill of   Tan Tui in earnest, otherwise everything they imagine is the castle in   the air, and their results will be examples of a proverb of in the Kungfu field, "Practicing Kung-fu but without any real Kung-fu will be a   entire dream till he becomes an aged."

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