Cho-Si (Ancestral Master) Seh Koh San
There are numerous accounts of the development of Shaolin Kung Fu over the last 1500 years this history will focus on one particular branch developed and led by the reverend Seh Koh San. A famous Shaolin Monk attributed to be the father of traditional Shaolin Arts in South East Asia. Shi Gao Can (1886 - 1960) or widely known as Sek Koh Sam, was a Chinese monk who brought traditional Shaolin teachings from Mainland China to South East Asia. Shi Gao Can was born on the 27th of December 1886 his hometown was the Hailou Village, Lingtou Town, Huian County, Fujian Province.
At the age of 13, Seh Koh San left home to join a security guard who protected goods on the road his name was "Cho Pew" he was the first person to teach Seh Koh San Kung Fu. It was with Cho Pew that Seh Koh San learned the five Ancestors Fist (fifth Generation Fist). The fifth Generation Fist was another famous style developed from Shaolin. Cho Pew had 5 students; Seh Koh San was his top student. It was Cho Pew who named him "Lim Tian Pau", the "Flying Leopard". For 3 years 4 months, he studied Martial Arts with Cho Pew and it was during that time he mastered the Hing Kung (High Leaps) and the use of different types of Ying Ju (hidden weapons). Cho Pew taught Seh Koh San most of what he knew and from all accounts he was a most outstanding student.
In 1903 at the age of eighteen. He was taken in by the Chief Monk Hung Leong (Hui Ching) as a disciple. He had his hair shaved at the Wai Onn Ching Hing (Hui Ann Cheng Yim) Temple. He studied the Buddhist scripture at the Fu Tin Mui Fung Temple, and his teacher there was the Chief Abbot Mei Kar. The Mui Fung Temple was directly linked to the Fuzhou Yi Shan West Temple in the Fujian Province. He was to become one of the most outstanding monks of his Cha'an generation.
Seh Koh San had other teachers during this period another of whom was the senior monk Hung Leong he taught Seh Koh San Buddhist scriptures. His martial Art Skills was taught to him by Wei Jing Chief Abbot. Both Hung Leong and Wei Ching were highly respected monks of their time.
The Chief Abbot Wei Jing lived at Poh Jai Temple, in Jit Xiang (River) Nam Hai. He was the Shaolin 48th generation, and Poi Jai Temple 6th generation of the 2nd discipline. Chief Abbot Wei Jing had 3 students and only Monk Seh Koh San had fully mastered the Shaolin Kung Fu. Seh Koh San's sifu taught him most of the Shaolin Kung Fu, and it was Seh Koh San who became the only Monk to carry on the 48th generation Martial Arts in South East Asia. This Shaolin Kung Fu has been referred to as Hood Khar Pai, Fat Gar, Lohan or Nan Pai.
For many years, until 1919, Shi Gao Can trained the martial arts in the traditional South Shaolin tradition. Eventually he was going to represent the 48th generation. Besides Buddhism and the martial arts, he was also taught traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture. In the end he got superb medical skills and he tried to eliminate disease for everybody in the world and relieve people in need. Shi Gao Can was the only inner circle disciple of his master; which means that he was living with his master. Shi Gao Can took a sacred oath and promised never to disclose the art to the outside world.
In 1926 Shi Gao Can started travelling throughout Southeast Asia. He visited Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. In every place he visited he treated the sick and spread Buddhism, for which he eventually would gain his greatest fame. He stayed in Indonesia, then occupied by the Dutch and called Royal Dutch Indies, for 21 years and became the abbot of the Zhen Yuan Gong temple in Medan the capital city of North Sumatra province, Indonesia. When he was 56 years old, he felt that, he should teach martial arts to strengthen the physical conditions of his patients. He sends a letter to his Master asking him for permission to teach. Reverend Hui Jing's brother in Dharma replied to him and informed Gaocan that Shi Hui Jing passed away. He also granted the venerable master the permission to teach martial art and encourage him to train his successors.
When Master Gaocan gave his teaching on martial art, he ensured that all students took their vows before Buddha that they would never use the skill for any impure motive. From then on he started spreading his teachings all over Southeast Asia. The style would become famous under the name Buddhist Boxing. After the second world war, in 1948 Shi Gao Can travelled to Singapore to the Shuang Lin Temple. For six years the old master was the Director Abbot of the Temple. On May 6th, 1954, the Great Master was inaugurated as Abbot of the Temple; with thousands of monks, shouts of joy, firecrackers banging and music. He served as the Abbot of Shuang Lin for 13 years.
Unfortunately, on May the 16th 1960 Shi Gao Can passed away, aged 74.
His mortal remains were placed in the temple for a period of 7 days for his students, disciples and Buddhist monks to pay their last respect. His cremation took place on the 22nd May 1960 on the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery and was attended by more then 7.000 mourners.
Daisigung (Great Grandmaster) Quek Heng Choon
Master Quek Heng Choon was born in 1926 in Huian county, Fujian province, China. When he was 13 years old he met a wandering medicine seller named Liu Pingshan who was a master of the Taizu style. He became his student for 3 years. After this he started to train for himself. In 1942, when he was 16 years old, his uncle asked him to join the army. He refused and left home to go and live in the Quanzhou Kaiyuan Temple. There he studied martial arts under Monk Maoyue for 15 months. He studied Wuzu Quan Sanzhan Simen Quan 18 step Saozhuan Quan.
He didn't want to return home after his time in the Quanzhou Kaiyuan Temple so he went to Xiamen to work in a teahouse. But somebody told him that there was no future working in a teahouse and asked him if he wanted to work in Singapore. He liked the idea and his aunt, who had lived in Singapore, took him there 2 years later. He went to Singapore in 1947, at the age of 21. A year later a friend suggested to him to study martial arts in the Singapore Shuang Lin Temple where Shi Gao Can was the abbot at the time. Because of his interest in martial arts, he immediately went to the temple. Abbot Shi Gao Can became his teacher.
Shi Gao Can was very strict with his students. Master Quek had to stay inside the temple walls to study martial arts for at least 3 years, during which time he wasn't allowed "even half a step outside the temple gates." Training took place three times a day, every day; the first training at five in the morning, the second at noon, and the last at seven in the evening.
After about 6 or 7 years of hard work, Shi Gao Can said: "Your study of the arts has been successful, now you 'can come down from the mountain' (leave the temple)." In 1954, he left the temple together with a classmate and they started the Singapore Sao Hua San Athletic Association. For their 2 year anniversary, they held a demonstration in Singapore's "Big World Stadium."
In 1956 he left for Penang where he founded the Penang Sao Lim Athletic Association for Shi Gao Can. He led the school for 2 years and he brought in students for his teacher. At one time there were more than 300 people studying in the school of Shi Gao Can. The school is now run by Master P'ng Chye Khim.
In 1958 he founded Penang Sao Wah San Athletic Association and was the head instructor there. Later he was asked to be an instructor in another school located in Penang. The next year he went to Kuala Lumpur to work in the harbour and taught martial arts in a new village near the harbour, three times a day.
On May the 16th 1960 Shi Gao Can passed away.
For the first time Quek Heng Choon started to teach students on his own (instead of assisting Shi Gao Can in his schools) in order to popularise the martial arts. In 1963 he was asked to become the Chief Instructor of a school in Kuala Lumpur. In 1967 he demonstrated Ying Qigong (Hard Chikung) by breaking marble table tops on his back in Singapore. He even received praise from the prime minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew (Li Guangyao). The next year he demonstrated Ying Qigong by breaking marble table tops with his hand in Kuala Lumpur and caused a sensation by doing so.
In 1971 he started his first formal school, Quek Heng Choon Martial Arts Sport School, and attracted students from Singapore and Malaysia. The next year he was to be the permanent Chief Instructor of Penang Shao Ci Shan Athletic Association. He represents the original 50th generation of Shaolin and his students come from Malaysia, Singapore, and China. To further the martial arts, they always participate in competitions and demonstrations when invited. In 1973 his students joined the first South East Asia Competition and were very successful. He was also advisor and judge for the competition. In the same year, a Hollywood movie company shot the movie "Paper Tiger" in Malaysia and asked Master Quek to create some of the fight scenes along with Master Leow and Sifu Lai. Some of his students also acted in the movie.
In 1974 he went back to China to visit his family and also visited the Quanzhou Kaiyuan Temple, where he had studied martial arts 30 years before. In 1977 he initiated the Kuala Lumpur Song Shan Shaolin Wushu Association. Master Quek is the permanent Chief Instructor of this school.
In 1990 he started the Shaolin Gao Can Mun in Singapore of Heroufo State and became the Chief Instructor. In 1993 he went back to China (Fujian Quanzhou) and started a school to teach Shaolin Wushu and Yijining. After 5 years, in 1998, he went back to Malaysia where he found students and taught Shaolin once again, which he did until his demise. He taught Yangshen Shu and long and short weapons and Yijinjing, Luohan Yangshen gong, Shenxinfa, Quantao: Yizhimei, Yizhichun and much, much more.
Master Quek is considered to be Shi Gao Can's most important and influential student from the Singapore/Malaysia era. During a training visit to London in 2009 Master Quek named Christopher Lai Khee Choong who is head of Nam Pai Chuan worldwide as his successor and asked that the school be renamed as "Shaolin Gao Can Mun Nam Pai Chuan". Unfortunately during a visit to China in February 2010 Master Quek succumbed to illness and passed away. He was aged 85. Sifu Lai and his students worldwide will continue to teach the art that was passed to them from Master Quek.
Sigung (Grand Master) Christopher Lai
Master Lai, 2nd chamber 50th generation of Shaolin has studied Martial Arts since 1959 and in particular Shaolin Kung Fu from 1967. In those years, training was intense in the traditional manner and was undertaken on a daily basis, often twice a day. In addition to Shaolin Kung Fu, Master Lai also trained, in the 1970ís with Master Leow Cheng Koon, who was the head of the Taekwondo Federation, (WTF). Master Lai decided to emigrate to United Kingdom (UK), where he had undertaken his legal education. Since Martial Arts was part of his life, he felt the need to bring his school with him. Prior to his departure, Grandmaster Quek gave his permission for Master Lai to teach the Shaolin System Nam Pai Chuan when he came to the UK.
The first ever Martial Arts of this form to be taught in Europe was taught in Swiss Cottage, London. Shaolin Nam Pai Chuan became a member of the British Council for Chinese Martial Arts (BCCMA), the national governing body for Chinese Martial Arts in UK.
Shaolin Nam Pai Chuan has grown and progressed smoothly with classes in many cities in UK and abroad. On the 20th July 2009, Grandmaster Quek made Master Lai his system successor. In honour of his teachers request, Master Lai renamed his school to "Shaolin Gao Can Mun Nam Pai Chuan". Today Shaolin Gao Can Mun Nam Pai Chuan has finally become of age and is being taught in the sincere and dedicated manner as seen by Master Lai and his predecessors.
Sifu Shahrokh Nael
Sifu Nael started his training in Chinese and Korean martial arts at the age of 13 in Iran till his departure in 1984.
In 1985 Sifu Nael arrived in UK and began his UK Nam Pai Chuan training under the instruction of Master Lai, Poorang Shahabi and a network of senior instructors. He graduated to 1st degree black belt level in 1989 and on Master Lai's request, began teaching in Manchester. At first the teaching was limited to only a few but in 1990 the doors of the club were opened to the general public.
At present Sifu Nael teaches twice a week at the Northern Lawn Tennis Club in Didsbury, as well as teaching privately to a network of personal students.
Gowlian (Instructor) Paul Plant
Paul began his martial arts training aged ten when he joined a Judo club in Benllech on Anglesey. After completing his education in Liverpool, Paul returned to Wales at the age of twenty and joined a Shotokan Karate club in Llangefni where he progressed quickly within the system. Two years later Paul relocated to Manchester and tried out various martial arts clubs before discovering a local Nam Pai Chuan club taught by Sifu Nael. Paul has been studying Nam Pai Chuan since 1999 and recently attained his 2nd degree black belt from Sigung Lai in London. To enrich his martial arts knowledge, Paul has also gained experience from Kick Boxing, Taekwando, Aikido, Ju Jitsu and MMA. He also maintains personal training schedules to develop his conditioning and uses a gym to experiment with different training concepts and methods. In 2004, at the request of Sifu Nael, Paul opened a new Nam Pai Chuan club in Altrincham where he began instructing his own students. In October 2009, again with Sifu Naelís support, Paul opened a new club in Fallowfield.
Today Paul continues to study under the tutelage of Sifu Naíel, Sigung Lai and a network of senior instructors, and he continues to instruct at his club in Fallowfield - to register your interest for his classes please refer to the contact