The Nam Pai Chuan Style
The name Nam Pai Chuan was devised by Sifu Lai and means ‘Northern Southern Fist’, in recognition of the fact that the style incorporates attributes of both Northern and Southern Chinese martial arts.
The technical aspects of Nam Pai Chuan were devised by Master Leow Cheng Khoon and Sifu Christopher Lai Khee Choong, with the combat and set-piece sparring sequences largely devised by Master Leow. The traditional forms, sequences and weapons techniques were devised by Sifu Lai.
Formulation of the System was completed in 1978. Sifu Lai came to London in July 1979 and began teaching at two centres in London, at Muswell Hill and Golders Green.
The System now has a large number of registered blackbelts training at centres throughout England and Wales, as well as some in other European and Oceanic countries.
Sifu Quek Heng Choon
Sifu Quek was a traditional Shaolin Master of the Shi Gaocan (She Koh San) tradition, being a direct and personal student of Shi Gaocan. Shi Gaocan was the chief abbot of the Shaolin Temple in Singapore until his death in the early 1960s.
He is a famous and well-respected martial arts figure, most renowned for the Lohan forms that he devised. Detailed historical information exists about him elsewhere and books have been written by many of his famous students, such as Master Phng of Penang, and the late Don Drager.
Sifu Quek Heng Choon came to Singapore as a child and, orphaned at an early age, was brought up in a Buddhist Temple in Singapore. He initially studied the Hung Gar style of Shaolin Chinese martial arts and then later went on to study under Shi Gaocan at the Temple in Toa Payoh.
The exact date he commenced his studies with Shi Gaocan is uncertain, but from photographs it is clear that he was in his early teens.
Sifu Quek later moved up the Malaysian peninsula to Penang and Kuala Lumpur, where he opened his Shaolin schools. He is widely known in Singapore and Malaysia as the Iron Palm of Shaolin and is famous for his demonstrations, which include shattering a traditional Straits Chinese Marble tabletop with one strike of his palm and smashing green coconuts with his fingers.
Sifu Christopher Lai Khee Choong
Sifu Lai began his martial arts studies when he was 12 years old. He studied Kodokan Judo at the Selangor Judo Club in Jalan Stonor for two years.
In 1962 Sifu Lai went to London to study and whilst there he trained in Wado Ryu Karate under Sensei Tatsuo Suzuki, the 7th degree European chief instructor of the Wado Ryu system (the Zen Nippon Karate Renmei). Karate is based on Chinese Kung Fu and looks to Bodhidharma as its founder (as does Shaolin Kung Fu). Sifu Lai studied Karate in London for three years.
Upon his return to Malaysia in 1968, Sifu Lai began studying Shaolin Kung Fu with Sifu Quek Heng Choon. Initially this took place at private classes held at a friend's house in Lorong Hicks.
Subsequently the classes moved to the Associations Gym at Jalan Chow Kit, then to private classes at his own home, and finally to the association’s new training premises at Jalan Tong Shin.
He studied Shaolin Kung Fu intensively from 1968 until his departure from Malaysia in 1979.
During his tenure at Sifu Quek's school, Sifu Lai was responsible for formulating the first formal syllabus and the grading methods for the System, to enable the school to comply with the new regulatory requirements for martial arts. Sifu Lai was authorised to begin teaching Shaolin Kung Fu in 1972, and on his departure from Malaysia in 1979 he held the 6th degree Black Sash.
In 1974 Sifu Lai met Master Leow while participating in the shooting of the film Paper Tiger. A strong friendship developed, and Sifu Lai went on to study with Master Leow and helped him to set up the Malaysian Taekwondo Association.
Sifu Lai was the first secretary general of the association from 1976 to 1979. He was graded to a 2nd degree Taekwondo blackbelt and taught in the main centre at Peel Road as well as at his own centres. Sifu Lai also taught staff techniques to the Malaysian Army Taekwondo group (ATM) and the Malaysian Taekwondo black belts.
In the course of his involvement with Taekwondo, Sifu Lai hosted many training sessions involving highly qualified Shaolin Kung Fu stylists and Taekwondo practitioners, and was able to obtain a unique insight into the advantages and strengths of each discipline.
During this period he was also involved in numerous discussions with Master Leow and the chief instructors of four other states about the development of martial arts.
As a result of these discussions it was decided to develop a new form of martial art, based on traditional Shaolin Kung Fu but incorporating some of the teaching techniques found in Taekwondo.
Master Leow Cheng Khoon
Master Leow Cheng Koon is an 8th degree black-belt Master of Taekwondo and Hap-Ki-Do, Korean martial arts systems derived from classical Chinese martial arts.
Taekwondo is a modern derivative of the classical Korean art of Tae-kyon, which in turn is based on the explosive leg movements of Northern Shaolin Kung Fu. The famous Chinese leg-kicking form of “Tam-Tui" is a Northern Shaolin Form and Taekwondo contains movements remarkably similar to those in this form.
Hap-Ki-Do is a traditional Korean martial art which opted not to join the Federation of Korean Arts that went on to form the Korean Taekwondo Association. The style uses weapons and seizing and locking techniques, and is based upon the Chi-Na techniques of Shaolin Kung Fu.
Master Leow studied Taekwondo under the tutelage of the founder of Taekwondo (the modern System), General Choi Hong Hii, who acted as Korean Ambassador to Malaysia in the early 1960s. He also taught under the last Korean instructor to leave Malaysia , Master Lee Byong Moo. Upon Mr Lee's departure, Master Leow (then a 3rd degree blackbelt) was made chief instructor of the Selangor Taekwondo Association.
In 1974 Master Leow went on to become the chief instructor of a federation of eleven Taekwondo state associations (including the Army Taekwondo group) who joined forces to form the Malaysian Taekwondo Association.