Tai Chi Praying Mantis System
The Tai Chi Praying Mantis style of kung fu combines the quick claws, arms and upper body of the praying mantis insect with the agile footwork of the monkey. It also features the movements of tai chi - circular force-redirecting motions using quick and continuous hands and footwork - soft, yet powerful, in all defensive and offensive techniques.
Tai chi, an ancient Chinese martial art known for its gentle movements, teaches practitioners to defend themselves from physical attacks without using unnecessary physical force. Each posture in the forms flows into the next without pause. Like waves in the ocean, the whole body is in constant motion - yin and yang energy interact and flow in perfect balance.
Modern tai chi is effective in maintaining health and preventing illness, relieving stress, and establishing physical balance in the body. It is not like yoga, meditation, or Pilates. Traditional tai chi was originally practiced for self-defense, self-control and self-discipline with the goal of cultivating a strong body, mind and spirit. Shang De seeks to keep these goals alive in the teaching and practice of traditional tai chi martial arts.
Shang De Tai Chi Praying Mantis Association is structured and run much like a family. There is mutual commitment, respect and responsibility between students, disciples and sifus in the context of Chinese cultural traditions.
As sifu, we accept the responsibility and obligations above and beyond the teaching of fighting strategies and self-defense techniques of kung fu and tai chi - we support and guide all students in their life-long studies and commitment towards our virtues of xiào (obligation), yì (integrity), zhōng (loyalty), xìn (trust), jìng (respect), rén (benevolence), hé (peace) and píng (equality).
This commitment is a personal journey toward developing strong character within, as well as strong body, mind and soul. Likewise, the student accepts the sifu like a parent with the responsibility to respect and obey; to devote themselves to the study of the arts of kung fu and tai chi and to dedicate themselves to the school. The teaching style in Shang De also differs in that sifu will often teach more individually, according to each student's capabilities, commitment, discipline and inner qualities. As a student, learning in Shang De's traditional environment could require much more personal challenge, self-discipline and sincerity than other activities.
Sigung Chiu Chuk Kai (趙竹溪)
Sigung Chiu Chuk Kai of the Tai Chi Praying Mantis kung fu system was born in Shandong, China. He lived and trained Northern Shaolin kung fu before entering the Tai Chi Praying Mantis kung fu system under Sitaigung Chi Sow Jun (遲守進).
As one of the "Ten Tigers from the North", Sigung built his reputation as one of the best Chinese martial artists in those turbulent times of life and death combat. His students numbered in the tens of thousands from schools in Guangzhou, Macau, Vietnam and Hong Kong.
Sifu Tom Ng (吳大民)
Sifu Tom Ng was interested in the martial arts from an early age and learned various fighting styles in his hometown of Hong Kong, all the while hoping to meet a great master. His search ended when he met Sigung Chiu Chuk Kai. He lived with Sigung for three years and trained intensively day and night, focusing primarily on Tai Chi Praying Mantis fighting techniques and qigong. Sifu Tom became Chiu Chuk Kai's sixth graduate disciple and an 8th-generation disciple of the Tai Chi Praying Mantis kung fu system.
Sifu Tom moved to Canada in 1972 to teach as head instructor at the Canadian Ging Wu Kung-Fu Club in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He established the Shang De Tai Chi Praying Mantis Martial Arts Association in 1997 with two of his disciples: Sifu Benedict Ma and Sifu Bill Gee. Sifu Tom passed away on August 29, 2016.
Sifu Benedict Ma (馬立生)
Sifu Benedict (Ben) Ma began his traditional kung fu training in November, 1966 in Canada, studying Hung Gar under the wing of Sifu Stan Q. Lee, Sifu Mark Chan and Sifu Joe Mack with the Chinese Buinessmen's Association in Edmonton. In 1969 Sifu Stan Q. Lee opened the Canadian Ging Wu Kung-Fu Club and Sifu Ben became one of the instructors until 1972, when Ging Wu was forced to shut down due to family and work commitments. It reopened in 1993, and Sifu Ben was the Hung Gar sifu there until 1997.
Sifu Bill Gee (朱国賢)
Sifu Bill Gee started his martial arts training under Sifu Ben Ma at the Canadian Ging Wu Kung-Fu Club in the 1970s. There he learned the Tai Chi Praying Mantis system from Sifu Tom. In addition to his expertise in Tai Chi Mantis, Sifu Bill received his black sash in Seven Star Praying Mantis kung fu from Sifu Mike Purnell and Sifu Bolton (Kwing Fai) Kung in 1988.