Sifu Jurgens Lamprecht
With my many visits to China in my quest to further
my kung fu knowledge two things have become clear to me. Firstly,
I will never get used to the way the Chinese drive in the
street, and secondly there are certain key wushu historical
facts that will never be agreed upon.
Wushu styles always try and claim the oldest lineages and
family trees for themselves. First means best, right? I wonder
sometimes. Personally I’m more interested in the truth
and a firm believer in rating the practitioner rather than
the art. His/ her character and maturity would add to his/
her overall skill. Having said this I can’t ignore that
certain styles and disciplines have been tested more than
others. The old saying – stop telling and start showing
has always been a good guideline to rate practitioners.
For me it has always been the balance of both. I truly believe
that certain disciplines are bottled for certain environments
eg. Kung-fu weapons’ training has lost almost all its
martial applications, for today, it is predominately used
in form competitions and for fitness and coordination training.
In today’s times one could argue that the need for traditional
weapons and their uses has almost vanished. Same goes for
Tai Ji training. It has become “cool” to do Tai
Ji on the beach and to impress one’s company with lengthy
chats about how well one understands this art form or how
many books one has read or written. Meditation this and “cool”
moves that. Yet it’s impossible for most to bring everything
together and connect the martial, philosophy, chi management
You see, it’s about how the art is bottled for each
practitioner and his environment.
In 1998 I had the privilege of being ordained as a 35th generation
Shaolin Layman Disciple under the very credible charismatic
34th generation Shaolin Warrior Monk, Grandmaster Shi Yan
My disciple name, Shi Heng Tong - meaning to travel the world
for knowledge - was given to me after a very intense and interesting
ceremony when Grandmaster Yan Ming visited South Africa. It
was at that stage the most humbling yet proudest moment in
my martial arts’ career.
Since then I have continued my training in New York at the
Shaolin Temple USA under my Shaolin Sifu. Many Shaolin forms,
weapons and Qi Gung sets as well as Ch’an Buddhism were
covered over many years. Many of my senior students joined
me for training in the USA with huge enthusiasm and great
Because Grandmaster Shi Yan Ming is such a strong Sanda (fighting)
practitioner I have learnt a lot on that front and enjoyed
some professional and amateur tournament successes over the
years. I’ve always had such a profound respect for martial
artists that understand the importance of the martial ability
in their art.
As I got older I started to lean closer to the softer arts.
With Grandmaster Shi Yan Ming I learned the Shaolin Chen Tai
Ji form with its applications and the Shaolin Chi Gung sets,
which also assisted me with my hard chi gung demonstrations.
In 2003 while visiting and training in Deng Feng City in China
I had the privilege of meeting a Wudang priest. Even though
I had heard and even seen some Wudang forms performed in competitions
my knowledge on the style was extremely limited.
True Wudang masters are few and far between and even those
forms seen in competitions are often cheap knock-offs of the
real deal. I was fascinated by the way this man carried himself.
His philosophy on life was all encompassing practicing Traditional
Chinese medicine, wushu and Taoism. It would only be years
later after some serious Wudang training that I would come
to understand what the priest was trying to explain to me
with such patience that day. Without getting into too much
detail it had a lot to do with choosing my Dao (path). Since
then I’ve had the opportunity to be taken in as a student
of Grandmaster You Xuande. My disciple ceremony took place
in China at Grandmaster You Xuande’s temple in Yin Shan
On a winter’s day in December with snow and freezing
temperatures my Wudang generation name You Li Fei was bestowed
upon me. Some of my senior students who accompanied me to
China for training were witness to one of the oldest and sacred
agreements between Sifu (master) and Tho Di (disciple). This
14th generation Wudang Grandmaster has brought up many Wudang
masters. Some of his students head up Taoist Temples in the
majestic Wudang Shan (mountains) and others stay with him
as he passes his valued knowledge on to them. Grandmaster
You is very selective with who he teaches and training with
either him or any of his senior students has always been awe-inspiring.
It is with this training in China (sometimes 3 trips a year)
over the past few years that a more in depth understanding
for the softer styles (Tai Ji, Hsing I, Bha Gua Chang) was
instilled in me.
My Dao has been interesting and fulfilling. I believe I am
training with the best kung-fu masters in the world in the
form of Shaolin Grandmaster Shi Yan Ming and Wudang Grandmaster
You Xuande. I’m often asked whether both styles can
be studied together. Of course! They compliment each other
in their differences by way of their strengths and weaknesses.
I’m a much better martial artist and person because
of both styles.
In my opinion both Shaolin and Wudang are complete systems
on their own but conveniently some overall basic wushu training
techniques are shared by both. It is a well known fact that
the Shaolin in the north of China is the external (yang) style
where the Wudang in the South is the internal (yin) style
of wushu. Both of which have influenced hundreds, if not thousands,
of martial art styles all over the world. The truth is that
the yin/yang relationship is present in both styles. They
are, however, approached and expressed differently.
I believe we all have different needs and choosing one’s
Dao is a very private and personal affair. What I can tell
you is that the oldest most credible system is worthless in
the hands of those who don’t understand it just as the
best talent is wasted on a meaningless untested system. Identify
your needs first then proceed in finding the art suited best
to serve those needs. Sounds selfish yet one cannot invest
successfully and knowingly into something that’s out
of one’s character.