Written By PengCheng Chen, Edited by Heather McLean
In Yong Tai County, the birth place of Chinese Southern Tiger Boxing, one will often hear a popular folk story.
About two centuries ago, Tiger boxing prospered in Yong Tai County. The founder of Tiger Boxing, Grandmaster YuanZhu Li, taught two favorite disciples in his later years. These two prominent figures were later known as Grandmaster DengGuang Zheng and Grandmaster ZhaoBei Li. Grandmaster DengGuang Zheng was noted for his excellent leg techniques, while Grandmaster ZhaoBei Li made a name for himself with his claw techniques.
The legend goes that on the day that these two disciples finished their apprenticeship under Grandmaster YuanZhu Li, they were asked to do some demonstrations. Grandmaster DengGuang Zheng raised his leg and kicked a wooden post, or colonnade, that was one of many supporting the roof of the hall. Under this colonnade was a cornerstone, which Grandmaster DengGuang Zheng kicked towards. Grandmaster DengGuang Zheng’s heavy kick led to the dislocation of the cornerstone. It moved two centimeters to the right.
Having seen this, Grandmaster DengGuang Zheng’s kungfu brother, Grandmaster ZhaoBei Li, held his hand in a tiger claw and attacked the same wooden colonnade. He gouged five one-centimeter deep pits on the wooden colonnade.
Though these two celebrated masters have now left this world, the house they learned their art in survives and stands silently in a remote mountainous village, witnessing the changes of worldly affairs. Both the cornerstone and the five pits are well preserved and can be seen clearly today.
On 24 December 2005, PengCheng Chen and Tiger Master Zhang Ying Lin, visited the former home of Grandmaster DengGuang Zheng. It is located in a remote mountainous village called HuKou, about 140 kilometers and four hours’ journey from Fuzhou City.
A blue tin board attached onto the entrance of the old house shows its address as Number 78, HuKou Village. The old house stands conspicuously amongst many modern buildings. Though in poor condition, the building style and design reflect the glory of its owner in the past.
Currently, only two elderly people live there, a woman and man. A wooden board is hung on the entrance of the old house, showing the family tree of the Tiger Boxing. On the white wall of the hall, some remarks in Chinese characters can be seen, telling stories of past visits by those from the outside world, including those from Japan and Great Britain.