The story begins long ago, about in 1981. I was a much younger Isshinryu Black Belt then, totally on my own with my Boys Club karate program. Realizing I need more I began training with many friends I had met.
One of them was Ernest Rothrock, who began teaching my Yang Tai Chi Chaun. After a while I began a series of other studies of various Chinese forms because I wanted to have some I idea how to judge Chinese competitors at the tournaments I went to compete and also judge at.
At that time we commenced a whole string of studies. Not to become a Chinese stylist but for knowledge. Time passed, I finished the initial learning of the Yang form, it took me 2 years. My other studies continued. From forms in Shaolin, Pai Lum, Northern Tai Mantis and more. I began traveling along with Ernest, to attend tournaments with separate Chinese divisions, along with karate divisions.
I knew he was going to New York City to study with Sheum Lueng in Faan Tzi Ying Jow Pai. But he was not teaching that to his students, instead was taking the long journey to learn the entire system, one that would occupy him for 25 years, and only then did he begin to teach it.
On that trip I innocently asked could I study an Eagle Claw form (not realizing he was not teaching that to his students). He thought for a while then told me he would have to ask his teacher.
Now I was never goint to be a great practitioner of that art. He did get permission and began to teach me the form Hong Kuen, Walking Form, as he called it. It was one of the 3 major forms of Eagle Claw, and contained all of the Eagle Claw locks (though not every variation of them). It consisted of 10 rows of techniques, and was closely based on Long Fist too.
I suspect he taught me to just learn what it was like to teach someone Eagle Claw. That took another year or so before I got the form. At least as what I could do.Then he soon moved to start another school in Pittsburgh and I eventually moved to New Hampshire.
Without others to practice kung fu alongside, eventually I had to make choices, and this form was one I chose to discontinue. For one thing I had learned too much with too many people, There was not enough time to do everything I had learned. And I made choices. But as Ernie told me, you never forget what you learn and that is the main thing.
There is a great, great deal I did not study. For one thing an important part of the study consists of about 75 empty hand forms, and another 75 weapons forms, and many other practices. Such as numerous 2 person forms, and unique Eagle Claw sparring practices. And of course there is more, It took him 25 years to gain competency in the entire system for a reason.
Eagle Claw Dai Hong Kuen (Big Hero's Fist)
Eagle Claw (Chinese: 鷹爪派; pinyin: yīng zhǎo pài) is a style of Chinese martial arts known for its gripping techniques, system of joint locks, takedowns, and pressure point strikes, which is representative of Chinese grappling known as Chin Na.
Xing Quan (行拳) is known as the "Walking Fist." This set consists of ten to twelve rows of techniques representative of what is today known as Shaolin Fanziquan.
And that was then, this is of course now and this has become a memory of when I attempted to soar with the eagles.