History of Wing Chun

Wing Chun

The arts of Chinese boxing are generally hidden behind a veil of secrecy. Penetrating this veil is difficult even for native Taiwanese. “Foreign devils” such as Americans face even greater reticence. Taking lessons from an expert is one thing, but receiving instruction beyond the superficial level is something else entirely. Mr. Casey somehow pierced the veil and was accepted into the innermost circles of Chinese boxing.

How did he accomplish such a feat? He had wealth and political connections. He had a keen intellect and enormous talent. But most importantly, he impressed the masters with his passion for learning and his fierce dedication to the arts. Mr. Casey’s first teacher in Taiwan was Wang Shu-chin, one of the greatest legends in the art of Pa-Kua Chang. Wang taught Casey Hsing-I Chuan in addition to Pa-Kua, but focused on the latter. Casey studied with Wang until the master’s death, but eventually branched out to learn other arts from other teachers.

Casey’s primary Tai Chi teacher was Master Tao Ping-siang, although he also studied Tai Chi under several other instructors. Tao was for more than 30 years a student of the famed Cheng Man-ching, founder of the Yang short form. Master Shen Muo-hui became Casey’s primary Hsing-I teacher and secondary Pa-Kua and Tai Chi teacher. Shen, a fellow eclectic, also taught Casey Black Shantung Tiger, Lohan, Grand Chaining, Shuai Chaio, and Ching Bao Gong Ka.

The Pa-Kua short form found in our Chinese Boxing Synthesis curriculum comes from Master Wang. Wang’s long Pa-Kua form, known as the Celestial Circling Dragon, is taught in our Pa-Kua Chang curriculum. Shen’s PaKua is offered as supplementary training for advanced students of that curriculum.

The Tai Chi short form found in our integrated curriculum is basically Cheng Man-ching’s short form with a few modifications introduced by Mr. Casey. In particular, Casey incorporated certain speed and power characteristics of Chen style Tai Chi. We thus refer to the form as the Kai Sai (or Casey) Chen-Yang Synthesis Tai Chi short form. This form is also the focal point of our Tai Chi Chuan curriculum, although advanced Tai Chi students are taught the long Yang form (which Casey learned from Master Shen).

Mr. Casey learned Wing Chun from Master Lo Man Kam. Lo is the nephew of the famed Yip Man, with whom he lived and studied while growing up on mainland China prior to the communist revolution.
Master Lo is the only teacher I know of who presents Wing Chun as energy boxing. In fact, Lo calls his art “Yim Wing Chun” to accent its softness and distinguish it from the much more common hard style. The soft style of Wing Chun was taught by Yip Man to Lo and other disciples in China’s Kwangtung province. Following the revolution, Yip immigrated to Hong Kong. He taught hard style Wing Chun on a commercial basis to at least the majority of his students there.

Mr. Casey studied the Stone Killer Monkey boxing style under its founder, China’s legendary “monkey king,” the great Liao Wu-chang. Masters S.Y. Chen and P.C. Hsieh taught Casey Fukien White Crane. In the course of his studies under all these teachers, Casey acquired a comprehensive knowledge of chin na, the science of seizing and holding an adversary. Chin na is not a style of boxing, but is embedded in most major styles. This truly became one of his specialties. In fact, Mr. Casey formulated an entire curriculum exclusively for chin na, although chin na is also taught within each of our other curriculums.

Of course, as discussed in part one of this book, Mr. Casey did much more than master an assortment of individual arts. With his gifts of insight and analysis, he formulated a comprehensive theory that clearly defined the basic pillars of Chinese boxing. In recognition of his achievements, Taiwan’s boxing masters gave Mr. Casey the name Kai Sai, which means “victorious in every encounter.”

Kai Sai was the only Caucasian to be granted full membership in the Hong Mein Huey Society, the secret historical society heavily responsible for the preservation of Chinese boxing into the 20th century. Additionally, Kai Sai served for over ten years as the United States chief liaison officer of the Kuoshu Federation of the Republic of China, the branch of Taiwanese government responsible for the promotion of the Chinese martial arts. He was given free rein to promote the Chinese martial arts in the U.S. in any way he saw fit. (During the last three of these years, his responsibilities were extended to Europe.)

As head of the U.S. Kuoshu Mission, Mr. Casey marketed films of many of Taiwan’s masters demonstrating their arts. Eventually, the Kuoshu Mission began offering correspondence courses in the general Shaolin arts. Camps were later orchestrated to bring together those who seriously aspired to learn the Chinese martial arts.

Later in his career, Kai Sai mastered the obscure style of Wa Lu. A private family art, Wa Lu is completely unknown to the world at large. Kai Sai told us he learned it from a man in Macao named Pa Ka, and that is all we know about the style’s background except that it has a close complementation to shuai chaio (Chinese wrestling). We feel Wa Lu should be judged on its own merits, not dismissed for apparent lack of lineage.

In the United States, Kai Sai studied Jun Fan Gung Fu, the eclectic fighting system devised by Bruce Lee. (Jun Fan is commonly referred to as Jeet Kune Do. However, this term actually denotes a set of principles manifested in the system, rather than the system itself.) He was the senior student of Taky Kimura, who was in turn the senior student of Bruce Lee. In 1981, Mr. Casey authored the book In Pursuit Of Jeet Kune Do: A Source Book On Jan Fan Gung Fu. This book was presented to the Kuoshu Federation on behalf of the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute on the occasion of the induction of Jun Fan Gung Fu into the Kuoshu Federation’s pantheon of Chinese martial arts.

Mr. Casey also authored two other books, which were published on a limited basis—Kuoshu: Chinese Ultimate Mind And Body Discipline, and Mind-Hit Boxing: Secrets Of Kai Sai Kung Fu.

Tragically, Mr. Casey passed away in 1986. He was surely one of the greatest martial artists, and he has left us a rich legacy.

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