The event was intended as a small ‘Open House’ event, to invite friends and family to witness and try the traditional training tools, which were around long before bodybuilding and weight lifting was invented. We hoped that the event will raise awareness and lift the misconceptions the public have of Kung Fu.
The festival is actually called a few names in China, from 龙抬头 (Dragon Raising Head)，中和节 (Zhonghe Festival) and 青龙节 (Green Dragon Festival). This festival marks the beginning of spring, when insects will wake up from hibernation. People would pray for a year of plentiful spring rain, so they can have good crop harvest at the end of the year.
Coincidentally for Singapore in 2014, we were also wishing for spring rain as we were affected by a 3 month long dry period when it only rained on less than 5 days. During this period, humidity decreased by roughly 20%. It was clear the dragon had delayed its return to Singapore!
Apart from the rain, we also wished for more success in raising awareness for Kung Fu this year. We want to build a Singapore where our collective roots and heritage is well preserved. In particular, we want to preserve our short but significant Kung Fu culture.
One of the things we wished to bring back is the one-of-a-kind traditional Kung Fu training equipment that can make our students and instructors stronger. These equipment are an asset to any martial arts practitioner who want to have them at home for regular weekly or even daily workout sessions. This makes sure that they really have strength and toughness to execute the real Kung Fu.
Famous Shaolin master said, ‘However many advanced and complicated forms and weapons a Kung Fu man learns, there is no Kung Fu in them. Kung Fu comes from training the basics and conditioning, because Kung Fu is what gives a martial artist capacity to carry out their forms and weapons.’ This is great wisdom. We want to be truly good practitioners. We do not want to merely borrow the name of a popular martial art and not personally be worthy of its claims.
How do we use the Tiger Brick? We hold it with our Hung Gar tiger claws and do tiger claw techniques with it. Techniques such as 猫儿洗脸 (Cat Washes its Face) & 带马归槽 (Returning the Horse to the Stable) can be done with the Tiger Bricks. This adds weight and sharpness to the claws of the practitioner after months of training.
We highlight the Tiger Brick because it is a very rare training equipment which is found is our lineage of Singapore’s Hung Gar Kung Fu. In other lineages outside Singapore, the practice of Tiger Bricks is either lost or kept a tight secret, we do not know for sure. For us in Singapore, 2 or 3 generations back our Hung Gar warriors have already been training with it, except that their tiger bricks are twice or three times the size of ours. We really have to give it to the old uncles who are really so strong. We let bodybuilders try the Tiger Brick, but even they have problem maintaining the simple movements. This is because gym equipment hardly work out the wrists and fingers.
Kung Fu’s primary purpose is not to give you a beefy and defined figure, but the training builds finger and wrist strength. This is because Kung Fu fighters have to interact with and grab their opponents with the fingers and hand positions; what they are using is their wrist and finger strength. Good finger and wrist strength also contributes to the efficiency in using weapons.
While everyone are working out their neglected muscles, they also enjoyed delicious kampong style home cooked food. Fried noodles with veggies, dumplings and spring rolls was the lunch for the day. After that, the authentic Cheng Teng (Sweet Cooling Soup) kept us cool throughout the rest of the training session.
All the food were not catered from outside vendors, it was prepared by Sifu Leroy’s mother and brought to the park. One of the specialties that day was the Hainanese rice cake called Yee Buah. It is a steamed rice cake wrapped by coconut leaves, with sweet coconut fillings inside. The sweetness of the coconut sugar will lightly spread to the springy starchy exterior. This is rarely found in our food culture nowadays and as one Hainanese attendee remarked, is one of our endangered local dishes!
Why do we hold events like Green Dragon festival?
Because we have to be pro-active in preserving Chinese Kung Fu culture. If we passively wait in our clubs and homes hoping that keen learners will make their own way to our doorsteps, Kung Fu culture will surely erode as the years pass by. The culture must be propagated to the masses.
Our members do not simply learn and practice Kung Fu for their own benefits. They are playing an important part in preserving its traditions and taking pride in its power and resilience over the centuries. The Green Dragon festival is only the start of the many annual events we will host in the future. Let us see a more happening Green Dragon festival next year!