THE INVINCIBLE NG MUI
Li Siew Wan returned home. She thought she would be killed, and wondered why Miu Chooi Fa did not kill her.
Just then, she heard a familiar voice reciting a poem:
Hundreds of acres half grown with mosses;
Plum flowers end in extreme, vegetables blossom.
Where will be the Toaist who plants the plum?
In front of a pavilion I come with hope in bosom.
In walked an elderly man shining dark in complexion, with eyebrows that seemed to speak, eyes that shone like stars, and silvery white beard under his chin. He was Li Pa San, the most senior disciple of the kungfu genius, Pak Mei. Li Pa San was the First Patriarch of Li Ka Kungfu, or Kungfu of the Li Family.
(Another First Patriarch of Li Ka Kungfu was Li Pak Tat. There were different schools of Li Ka Kungfu. Li Pa San was one generation ahead of Li Pak Tat.)
“Papa!” Li Siew Wan called, then she cried like a baby.
After being asked what the matter was, Li Siew Wan explained what had happened.
“I must avenge the death of my son-in-law,” Li Pa San said.
Perhaps remembering the mercy shown by Miu Chooi Fa, Li Siew Wan said, “Papa, you have just arrived. Why not stay for a few days first? The lei-tai business can come later.”
“Alright. I shall give them ten days.” So Li Pak San wrote a challenge inviting Mui Chooi Fa to a lei-tai match in ten days’ time.
When Miu Chooi Fa received the challenge message, she was at a loss of what to do. She knew that Li Pa San’s kungfu was far ahead of hers. But to refuse a lei-tai challenge would be dishonorable. Meanwhile Fong Sai Yuk was slowly recovering from the injury.
While Miu Chooi Fa and the others were at a loss of what to do, Ng Mui suddenly appeared. Ng Mui was the most senior of the Five Shaolin Elders, the others were Pak Mei, Chee Seen, Fong Tou Tuck and Mui Hin in the order of seniority and also of kungfu excellence.
Ng Mui, who was a Shaolin nun, asked the group what the matter was. They explained thoroughly to her.
“There is no problem. I shall take the place of Mui Chooi Fa in the lei-tai challlenge,” she declared. “I shall also take Sai Yuk back to my nunnery so that I can nourish him to good health, and perhaps teach him some kungfu.”
Mui Chooi Fa and Fong Tuck were very happy. But Mui Chooi Fa protested, “Li Pa San challenged me. How could Sipak take my place?”
(“Sipak” means the elder of one’s teacher in a kungfu family. Although Ng Mui was a woman, in kungfu tradition she was regarded as male and addressed as “Sipak” instead of “Siguma”. The wife of the elder of one’s teacher in a kungfu family would be addressed as “Siguma”.)
“Chooi Fa, you were right to spare Li Siew Wan’s life. Let mercy runs from our hands. If revenge follows revenge, there will be no end. I shall reason to Li Pa San on the lei-tai day, and I hope he will listen.”
So on the day of the challenge, Ng Mui led Mui Chooi Fa, Fong Tuck, Chan Yuk Shi and other important members of Guangdong Association to meet Li Pa San and his daughter, Li Siew Wan, at the lei-tai. Li Pa San was surprised to see Ng Mui.
He knelt before Ng Mui and said, “Sipak, I never knew you were here. Otherwise I would have come a long way to welcome you.”
Ng Mui helped Li Pa San to stand up.
“Pa San,” Ng Mui said, “I’m here as a peace-maker. Miu Chooi Fa told me that she would be no match against you.”
“It started because Fong Sai Yuk killed my son-in-law,” Li Pa San protested.
“That was not how it started. It started because your son-in-law, Looi Hoong, set up a lei-tai and announced that his one punch would strike the whole of Guangdong, and his one leg would kick the districts of Suzhou and Hangzhou. This was a great insult to many people. Many masters who wanted to defend Guangdong, Suzhou and Hangzhou against the insult were killed by your son-in-law.“
Li Pa San did not know what to say after hearing Ng Mui’s explanation. But he managed to mumble “But today I want to challenge Mui Chooi Fa who defeated my daughter.”
“Do you know who Mui Chooi Fa is?” asked Ng Mui.
“No, I don’t.”
“She is the only daughter of Miu Hein, whom people call the Plucking-Star Lohan. According to kungfu hierarchy, she is of your same level, and one level above that of Siew Wan.”
“No wonder her kungfu was so good. She defeated my daughter, Siew Wan.”
“She conceded that she was no match for you. She also did the right thing. As you know very well, she spared Siew Wan’s life, otherwise Siew Wan would not be here with you.”
After a short while, Ng Mui continued, “But if you insist on the lei-tai match, I would take the place of Chooi Fa to fight you.”
“Sipak, I am no match for you. Even my sifu (i.e. kungfu teacher) is no match for you.”
“Then, that is easy. We shall make peace. There is no end if duels and duels go on.”
Ng Mui smiled and led away the group that came with her.
It is interesting to mention the following which some readers may have missed.
Looi Hoong defeated many kungfu masters, but he was defeated by Fong Sai Yuk, a boy of 15 at the time. It showed that age and size were not an important consideration in kungfu combat.
Fong Sai Yuk was defeated by Li Siew Wan, a young woman around 30. This showed that gender was not an important consideration. Li Siew Wan was defeated by Miu Chooi Fa, who was about 40, indicating that age was not an important consideration.
Miu Chooi Fa knew that she would be no match against Li Pa San, who was about 50-60 at the time, indicating again that age was not important. Li Pa San was no match against Ng Mui, who was about 60-70, indicating that age and gender were not important.
In Western society where a young man of 30 is normally more combat efficient than a boy of 15, or a woman of 60-70, indicating that age, size and gender are important factors in combat, but it is not so in kungfu where, because of internal force and fighting experience, an exponent is usually better in combat when he or she grows older.
Wong Kiew Kit,
9th January 2018, Sungai Petani