Lei-tai, picture taken from http://healthandfitnesshistory.com/ancient-fitness-tools/chinese-lei-tai/

On the first day of the lei-tai combat, or combat without any rules on a raised platform, Pure Ball Gate where the lei tai was held, was full of people. Cantonese people came in groups, all of them were very angry.

The atmosphere was serious. Hundreds of Looi Hoong’s students, all in black kungfu uniform, were in front of the lei-tai. On the left side was erected a colorful tent. Seated in it were a martial official with tens of soldiers observing the crowd.

Suddenly thunderous drums sounded on the lei-tai. Looi Hoong, the Chief Instructor of the army, in black kungfu dress, eyes shinning and radiating an invincible force, walked to the front of the lei-tai and accounced.

“I act on the order of the general and set up this lei-tai to meet heroes of the world. Anyone with ability please come up the lei-tai to test me. If he can punch me once, he will be rewarded with a hundred pieces of gold. If he can kick me once, he will be rewarded with two hundred pieces of gold. If he fells me to the floor, not only he will be rewarded with five hundred pieces of gold, he will also be invited to become an instructor in the army.”

When Looi Hoong just completed his speech, a figure from the crowd flew up to the stage. Greeting Looi Hoong, he said.

“I am unable, and my name is Cheng Loon. I know a bit of fist and staff (i.e. kungfu). Today I present my limited kungfu, seek teaching from sifu. Regarding the rewards, they are not my intention.”

Looi Hoong returned the greeting and said, “There is no need for warrior to be modest. As you have come up the lei-tai, please do not hide your strong points. Let me also seek teaching from you.”

“Well said,” came the reply. “Let’s cross hands.”

Looi Hoong employed a poise pattern called “Hungry Tiger Embraces Head”, with his left tiger-claw at eye-level and his right tiger-claw in front of his chest.

Seeing the poise pattern, Cheng Loon said silently to himself, “Today’s match is unlike combat matches at ordinary times. In a lei-tai match, it is death or serious injury. I must be very careful. It is not easy to attack such a poise pattern. I’ll use 'stick' hand as a feign.” So Cheng Loon moved in with a 'stick' hand to meet the opponent’s front hand to confuse the opponent’s defence.

But Looi Hoong knew kungfu philosophy well. Seeing how his opponent moved in, he knew it was 'stick' hand as a feign move. To use 'stick' hand successfully, an exponent must be near to the opponent. The strong point of 'stick' hand is the edge of the sticking palm. As soon as their hands 'stick', the exponent will shoot, or thrust the palm forward. The exponent will change according to how the opponent responds.

The song-formula of 'stick' hand is as follows.

Stick hand is near the body,
If empty, enter the gate.
Courage is all over the body,
Marvelous techniques will win.

Looi Hoong was a kungfu expert. As the opponent moved in, he changed into a pattern called “Black Tiger Steals Heart”, changing his right tiger-claw into a fist, and striking the solar plexus of his opponent, fast and ferocious.

Cheng Loon retreated his stance sideways, and struck Looi Hoong’s elbow with a hanging fist, using a pattern called “Side Body Hang Fist”. As the opponent retreated his arm, Cheng Loon would move forward immediately with a cup fist to the opponent’s chin, using the pattern “Big Boss Offers Wine”.

But Looi Hoong’s eyes were sharp and his movements fast. He drops his elbow to avoid the hanging fist, changing his punch to a tiger-claw, gripping the opponent’s arm and pulling backward, while his front leg blocked the opponent’s front leg to trip the opponent.

Cheng Loon could not avoid this top-bottom attack. He fell forward onto the floor. He clasped his hands in greeting and said.

“Respect and concede defeat. Sifu Looi’s kungfu is extraordinary. Little brother here is no match.”

(“Sifu” means one’s kungfu teacher, but it is frequently used politely for someone whose kungfu is good. “Little brother” refers to the speaker, in this case Cheng Loon.)

Looi Hoong smile gently, returned the greeting and said.

“Warrior’s techniques are also extraordinary. Unfortunately the floor is slippery. It is not because your kungfu is inadequate.”

Wong Kiew Kit,
8th January 2018, Sungai Petani



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