Written in 1907, the book known as Chinese Gentle Art Complete was published by Yu Chiok Sam, alias Yu Hong Piao, in 1917. Yu was one of the “Ngo Cho Ten Tigers,” the top 10 disciples of Chua Giok beng, the founder of Ngo Cho Kun or Five Ancestor Fist Kung-Fu. Yu intended his book to be used as an instructional manual for school students in China. Yu authored two more books, one intended for instructors, and another one for use in the field of medicine.
Unfortunately, the printing press handling the publication of these works was bombed and burned during the Sino-Japanese War. Only the first volume was printed, with limited copies in circulation and highly treasured by Ngo Cho Kun instructors. The intention of Yu in writing these books on Ngo Cho Kun was principally to clear the confusion among the art’s instructors. The confusion was generally created because of the founder’s teaching method, which was based on the individual student’s physical attributes and physique. Chua Giok Beng also taught slight variations of the Ngo Cho Kun forms in different localities. There seemed to be no standard, and so Chinese Gentle Art Complete became the authority to define the essence of the Ngo Cho Kun system.
The few who were able to get copies of this book viewed them as sacred property, keeping its contents to themselves. The book was so secretive that only favored disciples were able to access it, through the trust and confidence of the masters. Many considered and referred to it as the Ngo Cho Bible. During the process of writing this book, my sigong, Tan Kiong Beng, was invited by the founder himself, Chua Giok Beng, to the home of Yu Chiok Sam. It was in Yu’s home that Tan and Chua reviewed a copy of the draft manuscript. Tan Kiong Beng is also one of the “Ngo Cho TenTigers” and at this time was given a copy of the contents of the book. My Sifu, Tan Ka Hong (Tan Kiong Beng’s son), further expanded the book and re-titled it, Ngo Cho Kun Complete. Yu’s original book had no listing of the two-man forms or remainder of the 44 solo forms. I was one of the fortunate few allowed to read Tan’s book, which was kept from the student group and only shared among in-door disciples. This book remains secretive to this day.
In the early 1980s, my sihing, Alfonzo Ang Hua Kun, went to China and was able to get a photocopy of the original Chinese Gentle Art Complete. He gave me a copy and made me swear to its secrecy. My sihing has long since passed away and I have forever treasured this book. In 1998, I entrusted my student Mark V. Wiley with a rough English translation of this original book and helped him form the International Beng Hong Athletic Association. A dacade later, in 2009, in recognition of his discipline and earnest efforts to promote the Ngo Cho style, and my trust in him, I gave Mark a copy of my personal, original copy.
In 2008, Lions’ Press of Taiwan reprinted Chinese Gentle Art Complete (in Chinese) for mass distribution, but the book has little use for non practitioners, and likewise for Ngo Cho Kun practitioners who have little knowledge of the true essence of the art. The book consists only of names and postures with no photos or visuals, making it hard to understand both by practitioners and non-practitioners alike.
Dr. Mark Wiley and his top student, Russ Smith, have collaborated to improve on my rough English translations and they asked me have the final check on all postures and pictures, so the contents of this book can easily be understood and interpreted by both practitioners and non-practitioners. Although it is impossible to pose for everything written on the book, we have decided to show the basic postures amd techniques, some preparatory exercises and solo forms. In the future, we will come out with a separate volume with full illustrations of the 38 forms contained here.
I can honestly say as a martial artist and with my wide exposure in the field of martial arts, that this book is by far the best in terms of authenticity when it comes to the Ngo Cho Kun style of kung-fu. If we can entice martial arts practitioners to get into this style, given its true essence, then our efforts for publishing this book shall not be in vain.
–Alexander Lim Co, December 15, 2013, Philippine Beng Kiam Athletic Club