White Crane Kung Fu (aka Fujian White Crane Kung Fu)

White Crane Kung Fu is a rare Chinese martial art which combines foot techniques, hand techniques, chin na (seizing and controlling) and weapons training. White Crane kung fu classes are offered in our Laval, Montreal and Poughkeepsie (New York) academies. White Crane Kung Fu is a complete self-defense system that uses hands, feet, knees, elbows, shoulders and hips in its arsenal of striking techniques. The style is renowned, however, for its rapid hand techniques, its strikes executed in conjunction with grabs and its devastatingly effective pressure point attacks. This rare art is particularily effective as it is an ancient family kung system that has remained true to it’s original purpose.

White Crane Kung Fu combines defense and attack and uses both soft and hard power. It also emphasizes firm yet evasive footwork. It is a direct, linear and deceptive martial art. This particular system is called Fei He or Flying Crane. Flying Crane makes use of both high and low kicks yet has a marked preference for rapid hand techniques. It stresses empty-hand as well as weapons training, two-person sets, self-defense drills and free-sparring. The style's fierce pressure point attacks combined with rapid footwork and a no-nonsense approach make it a particularly effective, complete, and beautiful martial art.

Since many traditional family systems have remained largely unaffected by trends and fashions in the martial arts, the art remains unaltered. It should be emphasized however, that learning such system’s is more than simply learning how to fight. Rather, apprenticeship can become a means to develop amazing physical skills and internal power, greater self-confidence, a sense of camaraderie and to gain insight into a very ancient culture. In the end, it is ultimately about developing a kind and forgiving heart.

For practitioners of Fukien style White Crane Kung Fu, the life of Grand master Lee Kiang-Ke (1903-1992) represents both a link to the past and window toward the future. Grand Master Lee was a real old school kung fu master so when he chose to move to Malaysia in 1940, he brought with him a rare and precious art. He taught there for several decades and enjoyed much success. In 1978 he retired, leaving his son Lee Joo-Chian the helm of the art. The latter taught many people including Lorne Bernard who eventually became his most senior disciple and an official closed door inheritor of the art.

This martial art is geared to individuals interested in learning an effective and complete traditional kung fu system. Although White Crane is definitely a physical system, it has so many techniques, methods and routines as to make it accessible to people of all ages. This is compounded by the fact that as skill progresses, so too should one’s ability to nullify force with softness and skill.

Lorne Bernard started studying white crane kung fu in 1983. He regularly travels to the Orient to visit his master and has sponsored visits of the latter to Canada on several occasions. Master Bernard has also studied several other Chinese martial arts system including Wing chun, Cha style and Buk Sing Choy lay fut. He was president of the Eastern Canada Chinese martial arts federation between 1994 and 2014. He has authored 3 books on white crane kung fu and a dvd series. As such he is a world renowned expert on traditional kung fu and the white crane style in particular.

Shifu Bernard has certified a select few instructors as he keeps the standards high. Today the Flying Crane style is taught in 3 locations in The Montreal area, Poughkeepsie New York and Sibu, Malaysia.

 
 

Forms and set-fightings

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A unique feature of the White Crane system is the manner in which the many empty-hand and weapon forms are designed. A form is a series of movements designed to teach both techniques and how to move the body and feet. Forms are in essence the soul and encyclopedia of a martial art.

In the Flying Crane system, forms are comparatively short, and many of them are designed to be done as fighting sets with a partner. That is to say, the various blocks, counter-strikes, and joint locks in the second half of a given form make up the correct response to the various moves of the first half. Thus, one can familiarize oneself with the movements in solitary practice, and then test their understanding in a controlled environment with a partner. This system ensures an organized approach to mastery of not only the individual movements, but also the fighting theory and real-world application of the form. There are over 100 empty hand and weapons forms in the Flying Crane style but of course one does not need to learn the entire curriculum to master the art.

 
 

Weapons

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Although empty hand work is initially emphasized, students are eventually introduced to training with weapons. After all, training with classical weapons is an integral part of traditional kung fu. Furthermore this training develops our strength, coordination and general martial abilities. Eventually, a skilled White Crane practitioner can wield any object as a weapon.

Weapons play is only introduced once students have a good mastery of the basics. We commence with our famous 7 star staff. Thereafter, a host of other weapons may be taught depending on student’s interest and abilities. Amongst these, we have:  Spear, sabre, double sabres, sword, double swords, daggers, halberd, horse cutter sword, short swords, double iron rods, 3 section staff, whip chain, axes, tiger fork, etc. Other more improvised weapons are also quite popular and include the fan, cane and umbrella.

 
 

Push-Hands

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Authentic Chinese traditional systems emphasize practical applications (Yong Fa). To do this, they must study a wide range of elements related to combat. Among these, the "push hands" plays a vital role, in the sense that it develops skill in close combat.

Various exercises developing reflexes are practiced. For example, two students each extend their arms until they touch each other. From this position, they practice attacks, counterattacks, dodges, grabs, locks, etc. Regular practice of "listening with the hands" allows students to sense the intentions of an adversary and act accordingly. It also gives them a forum where they can practice their techniques in a realistic and safe way. Push-Hands exercises are an important method for developing our fighting skills but are not quite the same as fighting as they focus only on the close range of a fight.

Sparring

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In the White Crane Kung fu Academies, new students learn a variety of techniques, situations, two-person exercises, etc. Eventually, each student is introduced to sparring. This introduction is made in a safe, progressive and methodical way. All sparring is done seriously with well-established security rules, always under the tutelage of experienced instructors. Several types of sparring are practiced. The main emphasis is on self-defense, being mindful of blows to important targets (i.e.: the genitals, eyes, throat, etc.), while purposely avoiding to directly strike those targets during practice. Thus we can practice real self-defense without injury.

There is also a sports version of kung fu called "Lei Tai". It is a form of full contact or kickboxing with kung fu techniques. Needless to say, this sport does not allow for attacks on the joints or deadly blows and instead focuses on fitness and strength. Our academies have trained several champions in this discipline. That said, it is necessary to acquire a little experience before embarking on this sporting journey.

Ancient or traditional martial arts were created to be devastating self-defense systems. As society has changed, many martial arts systems have changed their basic nature and changed their training regime. We can quite easily distinguish the arts that have remained true to their tradition of uncompromising self-defense from those who have become martial sports. Both have something to offer the public. On the other hand, there are big differences of approach and methodology between them.

 
 

Applications

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Traditional systems emphasize applications (Yong Fa). To do so effectively, they must study a wide spectrum of subjects related to combat. Consequently, most traditional Chinese martial arts focus upon forms, two-person forms, weapons, two-person weapon sets, body conditioning, situational drills, striking training aids, internal exercises and free fighting. This is especially true for family systems such as the Lee family Flying Crane. In matters of personal security, it is unwise to settle for inexperienced teachers. Beware of pretenders and place your trusts in real experts.

 As in any serious endeavor, a great deal of emphasis is placed upon mastering the basics of our art as self defense skills will result from a good mastery of the basics. In addition, students will train to develop a warriors spirit and learn to avoid conflict and when and how to engage in combat. It must be emphasized that white crane is not a sport but rather highly evolved no holds bar self-defence method with strikes to the throat , eyes, groin, knees etc. Our instructors will share with you their experience and knowledge of real old school kung fu you can rest assured.

 
 

Conditioning

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Traditional kung fu has been practiced for millennia and its health benefits are legendary. Many White Crane Practitioners have remained in great shape well into their eighties! They are living proof that the practice of a complete martial art is beneficial for our health.

White Crane is a dynamic martial art whose movements are rapid and sudden. As such, the system, by its very nature, develops strength, explosiveness, endurance and flexibility. Many people lose weight and strengthen their bodies thereby improving their quality of life.

We teach many classical exercises that condition and strengthen the body including lifting heavy jars (for developing gripping strength), as well as many specific exercises for developing speed, flexibility and strength. Of course, striking various types of punching bags is also a great conditioning method.

In addition, we also have special body toughening methods. Of course, any skill developed would be done under the strict supervision of a qualified instructor. All methods are time tested and proven to be safe and functional.

Finally, we have several instructors who are skilled in personal fitness and or have degrees in kinesiology, Yoga, personal training, kettlebells, acupuncture etc.…They are happy to lend assistance and advice for students.