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Feeding Crane - Gung Fu
by Liu Chang I

The city of Fuchow in Southern China was known for centuries as a center of the martial arts. Young men such as Kanryo Higaonna (Naha Te/Goju Ryu) Kanbun Uechi (Pangai Noon/Uechi Ryu) made the pilgrimage across the ocean, to return years later to their native land of Okinawa and establish martial traditions that are now spread across the face of the earth.

Political upheaval and oppression took a heavy toll on Chinese boxing and boxers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. By 1915 when Chojun Miyagi the founder of Goju Ryu visited the region he had great difficulty finding any martial arts teachers, let alone Ryu Ryu Ko, his instructors original teacher.

Given the difficult circumstances of the time, Chinese boxers who survived the Boxer Rebellion felt it prudent to get as far away from politics and politicians as possible. One such boxer accepted a commission from the Liu family to teach on the remote island province of Taiwan, which is where our story begins.

Founded by General Liu, the village of Liu Ling in southern Taiwan, (literally "Liu's army" after the troops he led there from the mainland), has been the home of his descendants for more than three hundred years. Three generations ago, the Liu family brought a teacher of the Feeding Crane school of the White Crane tradition to their village as a full time boxing teacher. In exchange for his full time tuition, he was supplied with all his worldly needs and a handsome salary. What resulted can be seen on this new video release from Tsunami Productions.

When we heard that Tsunami were making a video with a Chinese martial artist we were most surprised. Best known for their work in the film of classical Okinawan and Japanese arts, this was radical departure for them of which we had had no warning. We realized that the instructor in question had to be someone special, and we were right.
Liu Cang I's technique is very powerful, and very fast. He fights close in, and can deliver a lot of power at very close range. He uses no blocks as such, just parries and diversionary maneuvers. He diverts attacks, and as he does so, strikes back. A great deal of internal power is developed, and this can actually be heard as a dull, but very audible "thud" from Liu's body when the technique is delivered.

The video presents a detailed look at the style. It opens with the background and principles of Feeding Crane, and this section includes a good historical section with footage from Liu Ling village. Then the kata are performed, and with them a mass of very practical and interesting applications. In fact, even the applications have applications, so pay attention or you may miss something.

For me the most interesting things about this presentation were the hand techniques and the body movement. Because the hands are kept open when striking the tendency is, being used to seeing fists used as weapons, to think that the blows are weak. This is certainly not the case. They are very powerful, and the power penetrates the surface of the opponent very effectively. Watching the video I thought of Toshihiro Oshiro (Shorin Ryu-Yamanni Ryu) who told me that years ago in Okinawa if people heard that a fight had started in the street outside, they would ask if the combatants were using fists or open hands. If the reply was, "open hands" there would be a rush of spectators to watch. If, on the other hand, fists were being used, few would bother.

As always with Tsunami, the quality of content is high, the instructor first class, and the production value well above anything else on the market. Mr. Liu clearly has a sparkling career in front of him in the West, and apart from being an excellent martial artist he is a very fine Chinese medical practitioner as, I understand, a number of people at the Tsunami studio found out. In addition to these qualities, as if they were not enough, Liu Cang I is a gentleman in the true sense of the word, and this title, in my opinion, is the most valuable one that any man can be honored with.

A very beautiful video crammed with information and instructional material. 55 minutes. From Tsunami Productions Directed by Paul Moser and featuring Sifu Liu Chang I. Excellent value for money at $39.95.


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