Behind the Scenes – 18 Buddha Hands
A look behind the scenes of the new hardcover book,
|L-R) Louie Jack Man Sifu, RDH, and Jesse Eng Sibok
Philly Chinatown, circa 1996
It seems like I have been working on this book since 1976, when I first met Louie Sifu. I think we all, the Mantis Pai, always knew I’d write this book eventually. In fact, the very idea that I might one day write a book has sometimes been a hindrance to my mentors opening up their hearts, I believe. It takes a long time to earn the trust of old fashioned Mantis men.
Speaking of old fashioned Mantis Men, someone recently said to me, “no one in the world has met more Hakka Mantis Sifu than you, RDH.” Well I guess that may be true and among them all, I can say that the loyalty and genuine sense of brother-friendship among Lam Sang’s personal disciples seems to me the strongest bond. Particularly, his first generation of disciples. They took their oaths and obligations to Lam Sang and each other very seriously. Even today there remains that feeling of kinship.
|L-R) Louie Sifu, RDH, Harry Sun Sibok, circa 1994 at
Siboks’ New Jersey home
One such promise they made was that if any of the group forgot any part of the training, the others would be obliged to teach and share the training again at any time. Even so, this obligation may not be as freely kept as some others! Even among brother-friends when it comes to Mantis, some can be a bit stingy!
But, still there was a strong sense of hierarchy, of real “Pai” or clan organization with everyone knowing their place. And at the top of the first generation disciples is Wong Baklim, the first inner gate disciple of Lam Sang.
Not the first student, that would be Wong Pak On. Pak On Sibok (Uncle), sometimes called, “On Jye”, was Lam Sang’s first student and also became a personal disciple, but Baklim Sibok was the first inner gate disciple Lam accepted. Pak On still resides in Philly and still keeps his Mantis up today!
|Left: RDH, Bak Lim Sibok seated; Dai Sihing – Big Brother;
and Jesse Sibok / Right: RDH, Baklim Sibok, and Harry Sibok
circa 1993 New York Chinatown
If the names are confusing you, then just keep in mind the point is brother-friendship. Lam Sang’s disciples sincerely felt and observed the structure of a kungfu Pai as you might expect in the “old days” or as you might see in a kungfu movie with big brother at the head of the table and younger brothers in their order down the line, senior to junior.
Can you notice my place as a “junior” in the pictures opposite. Of course, big brother is seated and the senior brother is always to his left. That leaves me in the junior position on big brother’s right. I am grateful always to be counted among them.
In traditional Asian culture, the senior position is left of center, not right. Left is considered the weakest gate and the senior student sits or stands to his master’s weakest side, the left, in order to protect or defend for him. This is often seen in kungfu clan pictures.
|RDH – Sibok Jesse Eng circa 1997 Brentwood, Tennessee|
|RDH – Sibok Harry Sun circa 1995 New Jersey|
|A Mantis family gathering! RDH, Big Brother Baklim, Harry
and Jesse Siboks – New York Chinatown, circa 1993
|RDH- Dai Sihing Baklim
Circa 1993 NYC Chinatown
|RDH Bamboo Temple Assocation School #2, Alabama
Louie Sifu Seated, circa 1997
|RDH Bamboo Temple Association School #1, Alabama
Harry Sun Sibok seated Left, RDH right circa 1996
|RDH Bamboo Temple Association School #1, Alabama
Jesse Eng Sibok seated right, RDH left circa 1996
|The original manuscript circa 1994 for the
Eighteen Buddha Hands Book
You might be wondering what does all that have to do with the making of the Eighteen Buddha Hands book? Well, I’m coming to that. You see the original manuscript above, from the early 90s, included pretty much everything that is contained in the book just released. And I can’t tell you why it was never published, except that it just wasn’t meant to be.
Louie Sifu came down to my School circa 1997, taught my students, and we again made pictures for the book a third time. It just never got published. Harry Sibok’s picture on the back cover of the original manuscript with Louie Sifu, I thought fit just right. Sun Sibok encouraged me to not publish all in one book, but make it into installments so that people might better be able to train and follow step by step. Alas, they are both gone now and never saw the book completed.
Now Available in Full Color, Hardcover Book!
|Available on Amazon and fine booksellers now!|
Click here for a complete book description.
It was about a 2,000 mile round trip journey by car from NYC or Philadelphia Chinatown and we all made the trip several times down to my School. Once, Jesse Eng Sibok and I were detained for a traffic stop about 2am on the Interstate highway in Virginia going south. The state trooper said you were weaving and I explained that I was a bit sleepy and for the last two states there were no vacancies anywhere for a hotel room. The trooper said come back to my car and we sat for about 15 minutes while he called dispatch to find us a hotel room! In the next state over he secured a room for us and even escorted us to the state line. He was very courteous. But he still wrote me a ticket for speeding which I had to pay by Federal Express or show up in a Virginia court room a month later! All the while, Jesse Sibok was snoozing!
Another time, Harry Sibok had been down south visiting and my good student, Wes Anderson and I were driving Harry back home to New Jersey. It was late night again and we were almost back to Harry’s home when he perked up from his rest and asked loudly of Wes and me, “What kind of Kungfu do you think I am practicing now?” Thinking he might be about to say Internal Work or Qigong meditation, I asked him to tell us without delay! He said, “I’m practicing ‘Iron Ass’ technique!” He had been sitting for some 10 hours as we drove through the night. We all had a big laugh!
I regret that now I have published this Eighteen Buddha Hands book, it is too late for Louie Sifu and Harry Sibok to see it. The have both passed and are waiting for us under the heavenly peach tree of brother-friendship.
There is a saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
Well, in Mantis, I believe it takes a “Pai” to make a book!
And that is my point.
And now you know the rest of the story…RDH
Get yourself a copy of Eighteen Buddha Hands and you will find it both interesting and a valuable reference book – an instructional treatise of Hakka Mantis boxing. If not, I’ll return your tuition / payment on the same day you ask!
And join our Pai – check the websites and locate a School or study group near you.
Or begin step by step DVD training today! Use the links right.
Click here and order Eighteen Buddha Hands on Amazon. I believe they have a free shipping offer.