Emails: Yang Family Fist and Hakka Gongfu (3.5.2017)


Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles

On Wed, May 3, 2017, at 18:48, W Lee wrote:

Dear Adrian,

Having thought about the Hakka Iron Ox style that they teach in Antwerp Chinatown – it may well be praying mantis after all, because I’ve never heard of a separate Iron Ox style that is not Hakka Mantis.

I’ve found another Hakka Iron Ox Mantis clip below.  This style is clearly reminiscent of the original northern mantis from Shandong Province, but but here are still sceptics who say  that Hakka Mantis is completely separate from northern mantis.  The similarities cannot be possibly be co-incidence.  In the first clip filmed in London in 1985, there some movements that are the same as in Tan Taui, a northern Muslim long fist style also from Shandong province.  It’s strange that in your earlier post that you say Master Xu’s style is quite possibly from Shandong also.

Kind regards,


Dear Waiman
Thank you for your email.
I am not sure if this ‘Xu’ is the same surname as Master Xu () of Sichuan featured in my previous translation? In our Longfist Forms, many of the Mantis movements shown in your video are definitely there – but expressed through a longer frame. Interestingly, Master Xu of Sichuan did not mention Praying Mantis as part of his Northern System – with Iron Ox Cultivates Land referring to body-conditioning. Of course, Southern Hakka Praying Mantis might well have a grounding in Iron Ox self-cultivation, and this insistence upon being as ‘strong as an ox’, might well be a common feature running through all Hakka styles. Certainly Southern Hakka Praying Mantis practitioners do not ‘move’ or ‘act’ like an ox – so the association is not in the techniques expressed, but rather lies elsewhere. From what I see, the Southern Mantis looks like longer movements that have been ‘shortened’ to fight off the back leg (perhaps due to a lack of living or training space). My theory is that genuinely ‘Northern’ Hakka martials arts were either lost or modified after the Hakka-Punti Clans wars, and the Taiping Rebellion of the middle 1800’s, which occurred in and aground Guangdong province. In our Ch’an Dao System there are a number of Northern Praying Mantis movements, but like Master Xu’s Sichuan style – they are part of a broad spectrum of techniques not limited to a single expression. This is what Master Xu text states:
Hakka Triple Unity Fist style is comprised of an integration of Shandong ‘Yang Family Fist’ (杨家拳 – Yang Jia Quan), Hubei ‘Flood Fist’ (洪拳 – Hong Quan), and Guangdong ‘Yue Family Sect’ (岳家教 – Yue Jia Jiao), as well as other styles.’
His Hakka style uses the Yang Family Fist system from Shandong – is this the same style as that contained in the gongfu manual you showed me?
Best Wishes

Northern Hakka Gongfu (Email 29.4.2017)


Email from WL – 24.4.2017

Dear Adrian,
The body conditioning clips led to footage on the 8 Step Praying Mantis, which is a northern style, but the form looked something like a version of Hakka mantis. I’ll try to find the clips and send the links to you.
Kind regards,

Email to WL – 29.4.2017:

Thanks Waiman! There’s probably alot of this type of stuff on Youku – I will check when I get the time. Of course, the other issue is that of ‘limited’ transmissions to the West – and some Westerners assuming that their incomplete knowledge is in fact ‘complete’. This is why the Western imagination has been fired by certain lineages of Hakka Southern Praying Mantis, simply because these are the styles that taught Westerners when teaching outsiders was frowned upon. Consequently, the broader reality of Hakka martial arts particularly, (and Chinese martial arts generally), was obscured (and continues to be ‘hidden’ in many ways from the Western view), leaving Western magazines and journals to print authoritative stories about this or that style being the ‘legitimate’ or the ‘superior’ version, and all others being ‘inferior’, or ‘made-up’. Of course, from the early 1950’s to the early 1980’s, the Western debate on Chinese martial arts evolved around the US colony of Taiwan, and the British colony of Hong Kong – a narrative that excluded Mainland China (with Eurocentric racist tales of deficiency and degeneration) and ignored one fifth of humanity. In reality, the Qing forces (aided and abetted by the Western Church and colonial powers) during the middle 19th century, destroyed much of the Northern Hakka martial culture in Guangdong province – and Chiang Kai-Shek’s invading forces of Taiwan in the late 1940’s, massacred tens of thousand the of resisting Hakka people and their Northern martial arts on the island (not to forget the indigenous Taiwanese victims).
Once, I sat with Master Chan’s widow, and she said that our Hakka ‘Banana Village’ in Sai Kung had been established for 9 generations – with Master Chan being the 10th generation. We think that our Hakka Chan clan migrated Southward with the retreating Ming Dynasty as it started to lose ground to the invading Jurchen (i.e. ‘Manchurians’), before settling on a remote coastal area a long way from Beijing. Whereas other Hakka started to grow sustainable forests for charcoal production in the area, the Chan clan took-up banana growing. These changes signified a shift from rice production to other forms of livelihood – and this is when the distinct ‘Iron Ox Cultivates Land’ came into being as an activity separate from everyday farming in the paddy fields (but premised upon it), as a distinctive aspect of Hakka gongfu practice. In the old days, working in the fields was so arduous that extra body-conditioning was not required for martial arts training. The agricultural effort produced a strong and yet relaxed body, with a mind that was both calm and alert. There was also the principle at work of being one with the ox (showing kindness to animals), and oneness with nature (the Daoist element of Hakka living). Incidently, there are rumours that Mao Zedong was a Hakka – and I once read a text he wrote calling upon peasant people not to ‘kill’ their oxen for the rich people to consume as ‘meat’. He said the ox was far more important to ordinary people as a living tractor that cultivated the land to grow rice and consequently feed millions. Although many Hakka people eat meat, I have always been aware of a kindness to animals that runs through the centre of the Hakka culture. On the other hand, many Hakka are devout Buddhists and do not eat meat. Master Xu’s Hakka Triple Unity Boxing has movements that are exactly the same as our ‘Ch’an Dao’ style and I note that parts of his system originated in Shandong province. When I wrote my Hakka martial arts article, I had communicated with a number of Mainland Hakka gongfu masters who all told me the same story – namely that their arts originated in Northern China. This is exactly what Master Chan had told me, and it seems to be a Western myth encouraged by ignorance of the subject matter, that suggests that Hakka martial arts originated in the South.
All Best Wishes

Hakka Gongfu: Iron Ox Cultivates Land (鉄牛耕地)


By Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (PhD)

Ch’an Dao Martial Arts Association

For hundreds of years, and probably longer, the ‘ox’ has been an important and central aspect of rural Hakka farming life. A good and strong ox was far more valuable as a ‘living’ agricultural machine, than as food, and would generally be very well looked after into old age. The Hakka men and women who guided the plough and the ox through the fields, had to innately understand the nature of the ox, and the strength and weaknesses it exhibited. This included learning how to hold and guide the plough, and develop from a young age, the strength and agility to perform this task correctly. Many Hakka farmers went bare-foot to grip the earth in a more efficient manner, often wearing trousers cut-off at the knee (exposing the lower legs). Moving with the plough as it broke-through, cut-up and turned the earth, required a good sense of balance, and ability to keep moving in a fluid manner, and to suddenly stop and start as required. The legs had to be strong, solid and yet supple and able to change direction and rhythm. The lower-back and pelvic-girdle had to be strong and supple, and able to move in all directions without causing injury to the spine or joints. This suppleness and strength had to also spread through the middle and upper spine, be present throughout the shoulder-girdle, and suitably expressed through the neck, arms and hands. When all this was accomplished, the head sat squarely upon the shoulders, tilting and moving as required to retain balance and direction. The hands had to develop an iron-like grip that both held the plough strongly, whilst being supple enough to guide and steer as required. Over-all, the mind and body of the Hakka farmer had to be as one with the ox and land being cultivated. Ploughing a field using an ox, required the Hakka farmer to be incredibly fit and strong, as well as intelligent, calm, and attentive to the job at hand. Furthermore, the Hakka farmer developed a respect for nature and for the animal that faced all the hard-labour.

This ox-inspired ability and strength of the Hakka farmer formed the basis of the mind and body conditioning of Hakka martial arts (of which there are many). When working on the fields, there was no need to carry-out extra body-conditioning training for martial arts practice – as the fitness and strength was already present and maintained through the agricultural life-style. However, as Hakka people migrated into areas where hard physical farming was replaced with other means of livelihood, the fitness and strength gained in the fields was codified into a set of martial-related exercises that logically conditioned the entire body from head to toe. This is how the qigong exercises known as ‘Iron Ox Cultivates the Land’ (Tie Niu Geng Di) came to be ‘separate’ from Hakka farming, and formed a distinct martial training regimen. Within the Hakka Ch’an Dao (禅道) System (also known as ‘Chan Gar’ [陳家]), this technique is more commonly referred to as ‘Iron Vest’ (鐵衫 – Tie Shan) training, which develops a tough and deflecting exterior (surrounding and protecting a relaxed and healthy interior). Just as the ox ‘touches’ the ground, so does the Hakka martial artist whilst performing various press-ups, sit-ups, back-raises and squat-kicks, etc. These movements build bone-density, as well as muscle strength, together with strong but flexible ligaments and tendons. Just as these various exercises ‘strengthen’, so do they ‘loosen’ the body.  The press-up, for example, signifies the ox placing its head low to summon the strength to pull the plough through the hard ground. The ox uses the stomach muscles to contract and relax as the plough moves, gets stuck, and is freed again. As the legs sink into the earth, the ox bends the knee and extracts the limb – this is the squat-kick, and as the broad back carries the plough and the farmer – this is the back-raise of the gongfu practitioner.  Finally, for many Hakka gongfu practitioners, standing in ‘Horse Stance’ (馬步 – Ma Bu) is actually holding the ‘Ox Stance’ (牛步 – Niu Bu).

Semyon Nomokonov (1900-1973) Evenk Soviet Sniper


His full Russian name was ‘Semyon Danilovich Nomokonov’ (Семён Дани́лович Номоко́нов), and was of the ‘Evenk-Hamnigan’ ethnicity prevalent within the Siberian area of Russia (this designation refers to Siberian Evenk people who have historically inter-mixed with people of the Mongolian ethnicity). He was born on August 12th, 1900 in Delyun village (now in Sretensky area of the Trans-Baikal Territory), and brought up as an indigenous hunter. The Evenk people are traditionally nomadic reindeer herders, and are thought to be genetically related to certain Korean and Chinese populations. (In my own Chinese-British family in the UK of Hakka (Hong Kong) ethnicity, a prominent Hakka female mDNA line has been traced to the Evenk population of Siberia. This means that certain Hakka clans – living in Southern China – are directly related to the Evenk people thousands of miles away in Siberia). As usual, the Western (English) Wikipedia page referring to this extraordinary Red Army Sniper, is deficient and incorrect, and at variance with Russian language sources. For instance, entirely omitted is Semyon Nomokonov’s military service during the Soviet-Japanese war (1938-1939), where he killed 8 soldiers (and officers) of the Japanese Kwantung Army.


During the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945), Semyon Nomokonov is accredited with killing 360 Nazi German soldiers and officers (including one major-general), bringing his lifetime tally as a sniper to 368 (the English Wikipedia page states that his Soviet military tally was 367). The rifle he used throughout his military career was the 1891 Mosin–Nagant model infantry rifle, which used a five-shot, bolt-loading, internal magazine–fed weapon action, developed by the Imperial Russian Army between 1882 to 1891. Snipers often prefer a bolt-action rifle (even today), as the relay of the new round into the chamber does not include the ‘jump’ associated with many modern semi and full automatic weapons. When calmly sniping from a distance, the soldier remains in control of the entire process, without the rifle ‘moving’ unexpectedly and causing the shot to miss.


This was the rifle Semyon Nomokonov used during the Russo-Japanese War, and which he retained during the Great Patriotic War. Unlike other snipers in the Red Army, Semyon Nomokonov made all his ‘kills’ over long distance without the aid of a telescopic sight. This earned him the sharp-shooter name of ‘Hawk Eye’ (Глаз коршуна – Glaz korshuna). At the out-break of the Great Patriotic War, Semyon Nomokonov, (probably due to his age – he was 41 years old at the time), was a Medic in the Red Army. During that war, the Soviet Armed Forces (as well as the civilian population), suffered millions of causalities, and there were many wounded to tend to after each battle. According to Timur Lambaev’s 2007 book entitled ‘Storm of the Fascist Scum’ (Фашистской нечисти гроза), one day, Semyon Nomokonov was tending to the wounded (on the Kalinin Front) when he saw a Nazi German soldier deliberately targeting the Soviet wounded lying on the ground. Semyon Nomokonov instinctively raised his simple (and old) bolt-loading rifle and fired. Despite the long distance, the shot hit the Nazi German in the centre of the fore-head. This was remarkable considering that Semyon Nomokonov did not make use of a modern telescopic sight. When this incident was reported to the Soviet Authorities, Semyon Nomokonov was immediately transferred to an active-duty sniper platoon.


Those who observed Semyon Nomokonov in action, recorded that when confronting the enemy he became absolutely ‘still’ in both body and mind (as if ‘disappearing’ from obvious sight by becoming ‘one’ with nature). Typically, Semyon Nomokonov hit targets at around 300m to 500m, but on at least one occasion, he hit his target at a recorded 1000m. He wore indigenous hunting clothing of bits of rope and string hanging from his uniform (similar to the ‘gillie’ suit developed in Scotland to camouflage Game-Keepers when watching-out for poachers – now used universally by modern snipers). He wore horse-hair shoes that made very little noise, and reports suggest he made use of irregular-shaped shards of mirror to spy on the enemy without revealing his position. This is peculiar as modern snipers tend to avoid all reflective surfaces for exactly the reason that reflective light gives away even a well-hidden position. However, in the case of Semyon Nomokonov particular expertise, this habit never compromised his position and aided to his success. He used the reflective surface to lure the Nazi Germans to open-fire – and thereby reveal their positions (and usually be instantly killed in return fire). He also made ample use of placing a Red Army helmet on a stick – using it as a puppet to draw enemy fire. No one in his military Unit could equal his ability to conceal and camouflage. Soviet Military Records confirm that throughout his military career serving in the 221st Infantry Division, Semyon Nomokonov killed 638 enemies of Socialism. The Nazi Germans referred to him as ‘Taiga Shaman’ (Таёжный шаман) which appears to translate as something like ‘Spirit of the Tree-Line’. He was wounded eight times in active combat, and received two concussions. For his bravery, he received the following medals; Order of the Red Star (twice), Order of the Red Banner, and the Order of Lenin.


When he retired from the Red Army, he quietly returned to his village in Siberia to resume his simple life – but due to the continuous newspaper, magazine and filmed news articles about his sniping exploits, he became very famous throughout the Soviet Union and was always invited to various schools, colleges and universities to give talks, as well as to political activities. As he supported the October Revolution, he eventually relocated to a Collective Farm named after Lenin – and enjoyed the adulation he received. Not only did thousands of people write to him every week, but once he received a letter from a grieving German woman who asked whether he was the Soviet Sniper who smoked a pipe whilst on the front-line? She further stated that she thought her son – a Nazi German soldier named Gustav Ehrlich – may have been killed by Semyon Nomokonov. She asked whether he had any conscience regarding the hundreds of Germans he had killed? Semyon Nomokonov dictated a letter of reply via his son, and stated that he did indeed smoke a pipe whilst on active duty, and could well have killed her son- but added that if the lady in question had seen the devastation and atrocities committed by the Nazi German Army (particularly in Leningrad, for example), she would not be so quick to judge him, and would curse those who acted like this in her name. He died peacefully on July 15th, 1973.

©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2017.

English Language Reference: (Deficient)

Russian Language References: (Complete)Номоконов,_Семён_Данилович

Joe Lewis (1944-2012) – US Intelligence Operative?

It seems peculiar that a White American would appear to excel in a combat sport, who possessed a name that sounded very similar to that of the ‘Brown Bomber (and World Heavyweight Boxing Champion) Joseph Louis Barrow (1914-1981) – otherwise known to boxing fans as ‘Joe Louis’.  This Joe Louis was treated with a racist disdain by the US System, but despite this he agreed to marshal African-American support for the ‘White’ US war against imperial Japan, despite the fact that American-Japanese citizens (who were imprisoned in Concentration Camps within the US for the duration of the Pacific War – 1941-45) were treated with an equal racist disdain by the American White establishment.  What was Joe Louis’s reward for this loyalty to the US government? He was landed with a huge tax bill after WWII that virtually bankrupted him and plunged him into a state of permanent poverty.  The other ‘Joe Lewis’ became famous primarily throughout the White communities of the USA, as he ticked all the Eurocentrically significant boxes; he was ‘White’, of course, and presented an image of ‘clean’ living.  He was also viewed as a ‘patriot’ having joined the US Marine Corp when still in his teens.  In the light of the destructive actions of the US military around the globe since 1945 (often aided and abated by the CIA), perhaps the pseudonym the ‘White Bomber’ might have been apt for this individual, but his ‘bombs’ were of the ideological kind.  This ‘warrior-monk’ persona served him well amongst the pockets of religious fundamentalism that were spread throughout the US heartland, and endeared him to millions of White Americans in the process.  As at one time he moved into acting, his Hollywood persona fitted-in quite nicely with that of John Wayne – and generally the Republican image of what a true ‘American’ should be.  As such, he was an ideal candidate for the US Cold War policy of re-invigorating post-war Japan, and allowing a resurgence of Japanese racism and nationalism, as a means to confront the perceived threat of Communist China in Asia.  Immediately following Japan’s defeat by the US, the US occupying forces immediately banned all military and martial activities throughout Japanese society.  However, it was soon realised that the very fascistic Japanese nationalism that had once been so ruthlessly aimed at US Servicemen, could be re-activated (by the US) and used as an anti-dote to the threat of Chinese Communism.  This was when Japanese martial practice was re-introduced to the country, and US Services stationed in Japan and on the island of Okinawa, encouraged to take-up its practice – ostensibly in their spare-time – but in reality as part of their active service.  This explains why these so-called ‘leisure’ activities were so well filmed and photographed.  The US government had to rapidly build cultural bridges between the Eurocentric, Christian country of America, with that of its brutal former enemy (which the US had dropped two atomic bombs on), and a key area of interaction was chosen through the Japanese martial arts.  Japanese (and Okinawan) martial arts, which had originated in China hundreds or thousands of years ago on the feudalistic battlefield, and which were intimately entwined with Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism, had to be made relevant to a Eurocentric audience of Christian origination, who only really understood modern boxing in a ring.  I suspect that the name ‘Joe Lewis’ is either made-up, because it sounds like ‘Joe Louis’ – the famous boxing champion –  or chosen because of this similarity.  Whatever the case, Joe Lewis was extensively photographed during his training in Shorin Ryu karate on the island of Okinawa (with the teachers of this style apparently being filmed).  As any military personnel knows, personal security both on and off duty is of paramount importance for safety – which usually means no unnecessary photographing and filming – and yet the US Marine Joe Lewis has an extensive photographic record of his karate training experience, of some considerable quality.  This may be compared to other Westerners who trained in or around Japan, whose only momento is a grainy photograph of poor quality, and perhaps a signed statement from a teacher, etc.  As a consequence, Joe Lewis’s life read like a Hollywood script, down to the trumpeting that he achieved his Blackbelt in seven months, when the average time is three years – as if ‘quicker’ is ‘better’ (there is no evidence that it takes three years to earn a Blackbelt, as those willing to ‘pay’ the more commercially minded teachers can acquire one in a matter of months, or even immediately today, through the internet, etc).  This ‘seven month’ timespan fits-in nicely with the fact that he spent only sixteen months stationed in Okinawa between May 21st, 1964 and November 29th, 1965.  When he returned to the US, Joe Lewis set-about converting the traditional karate art (with its bare hand and foot strikes), into a form of Western boxing in a ring, simultaneously ‘purging’ Japanese karate of its most ‘Japanese’ aspects, and making it familiar and accessible to a Western audience.  As a result, Japanese martial culture was historically ‘disconnected’ from its fascistic and militaristic past, and presented in a manner that ‘distanced’ Japan in the Western mind, and ‘mystified’ its culture to an absurd degree.  A ‘blackbelt’ was given an almost ‘god-like’ status, as if the holder possessed all kinds of weird and wonderful destructive powers, when in fact modern combative arts, unwedded as they are to this dogmatic thinking, have demonstrated time and again that a piece of coloured material worn around the waist has no deciding power whatsoever in a martial encounter.  Traditional Chinese martial arts, of course, the precursors of all karate in Japan and Okinawa, do not possess a coloured belt grading system, as do the Japanese systems, which arose from the practice of modern Judo in Japan, and which was ‘forced’ onto Okinawan karate by the Japanese government. This move was deliberately designed to ‘distance’ the Japanese interpretation of Chinese martial arts, from the Chinese martial arts themselves.  The US Intelligence services sought also to ‘distance’ the average Western mind from its general admiration for Chinese culture, to one of ignoring and denigrating ‘Chineseness’ in favour of Japanese culture. The importation of Japanese karate to the West was a confidence trick enacted by the US government as an attack on Communist China, and people like Joe Lewis were prime operators in this deception. It could well be the case that the US Marine known as ‘Joe Lewis’, was sent on a mission by the US government – tasked with acquainting himself with a style of Okinawan karate.  This is the implementation of US covert activity against China, carried-out in plain sight. The reality is that traditional Okinawan karate has nothing whatsoever to do with fighting in a modern boxing ring, wearing pads on the hands and feet – and yet it is exactly how ‘Joe Lewis’ conveyed his interpretation to the West.  Why did he not emphasis hard body-conditioning, detailed kata practice and application, and sparing with bare-hands and feet?  Why did he ignore the Okinawan spirituality that imbues all that island’s (Chinese originated) martial arts?  He did none of these things because his intelligence mission was to transform this feudalistic martial art into a ‘modern’ US-approved Cold War sport, very much in the vein of base-ball.  Even after initiating these changes in the US (giving the false impression that ‘kick-boxing’ originated in Japan), there were many fighters better than Joe Lewis in the West (including many African-Americans such as Tom Ward), and yet the White American community had already ascribed a ‘mythic’ homogeneity to Joe Lewis that was based just as much upon ‘denial’ than it was on upon ‘ethnic’ solidarity.  The ‘White’ US system decided that one of its Marines would become a cultural hero in the US – and the rest is history.  Due to this US anti-Chinese policy, Japanese militaristic martial arts spread throughout the Western world as if this phenomenon was ‘normal’ and to be ‘expected’.  Logic dictates that there is no historical reason why the martial arts of a militarily defeated country (Japan) should so readily spread through the country that had defeated it (USA).  This is as unlikely as a camera being available to take karate-practice photographs of Joe Lewis in Okinawa that look ‘staged’ for publicity reasons. . Finally, there is no objective evidence that Bruce Lee ever referred to Joe Lewis as an ‘excellent fighter’, outside of Joe Lewis’s own opinion. I doubt Bruce Lee would have ever said this about a man whose movements were very and obviously ‘wooden’, and whose technical ability was limited.  Joe Lewis made a career out of replacing martial technical skill with high levels of physical fitness (a habit he probably acquired from the US Marine Corp, rather than the Okinawan dojo).  It would not be surprising if it was eventually revealed that Joe Lewis never properly trained with Bruce Lee – particularly as Lewis readily admitted that he had a falling-out with Bruce Lee.

Chinese Syncretism & Hakka Taiping Uprising (Email)


Email to ‘AS’ on the 3.9.2016

Dear Venerable
Thank you for your interesting email.
Through the historical habit of ‘syncretism’ in China, radically different and representative spiritual or material elements can be ‘aligned’ (either temporarily or permanently), so that an ‘intersection’ between different philosophical schools can be achieved.  The point of this was to remove the the potential for violence between competing socio-spiritual entities.  This policy sometimes when individual emperors launched pogroms either against Buddhism or Daoism (depending on which they supported, or opposed).  In the 19th century, the Hakka people rose-up against the Qing Dynasty (Taiping Uprising), combining Missionary Christianity, with Chinese Cosmology – with a ‘new’ Chinese ‘Son of God’.  Of course, the Western churches took exception to this and provided the non-Christian Qing Dynasty with the modern weapons to defeat the formerly victorious Hakka Armies.  Shen () corresponds to the realisation of expansive and all-embracing space (as described in both Daoist and Buddhist teachings).  Interestingly, the Daoist concepts of qi () and jing (), are quite often represented by the single Chinese ideogram ‘炁’ (qi) which suggests an integration of ‘breath’ (氣 – Qi) and ‘essential nature’ (精 – Jing) achieved during successful self-cultivation.  ‘炁’ (qi) is used as a transliteration of the Sanskrit ‘prana’.  I am referring here, of course, to the ‘Three Treasures’ (San Bao – 三寶) of which shen is a part.  Now, if the three Daoist gods of the three purities can be related to the three treasures, and the three treasures linked to the three bodies of the Buddha (Trikaya), then there is a trail of evidence!
With Metta

Post-Modern Hakka (Letter 21.6.2016)

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Letter (email) to WL 21.6.2016

I suppose that ‘change’ has always been a part of the formulation of Hakka identity, with various stages of cultural adaptation being chosen (by habit) as being representative of Hakka culture.  I suspect that this is why Hakka people have often been very revolutionary or innovative, and at the fore-front of many historical events (including China’s Revolutions) of the last 500 years or so.  In the post-modern world, Hakka culture is changing again (as is all culture).  However, of course, distinct ‘Hakka’ cultural traits (developed in the distant past), will survive and bubble to the surface of multicultural societies, and probably ‘strengthen’ rather than ‘weaken’ Hakka identity, although changes will occur without question.  I find it interesting how traditionally minded Hakka people (as well as Chinese people in general), come to terms with modernity and post-modernity.  This is to say, how an inherently ‘conservative’ and ‘insular’ culture comes to terms with the requirement to be both permanently ‘liberal’ and ‘open’.  Of course, as it is happening all around us, we know that it is inevitable.  Interestingly, when we visited the ancestral village in 1999 (Sai Kung), its traditional life was more or less over, or at least beating a hasty retreat!  Many of the houses on the sides of the hill had been abandoned and the six people still left had moved into a ‘modern’ house on the top of the hill, which was of contemporary design with running water and an indoor toilet (which the villagers were very proud of).  The Head of the Clan was then an old woman of 80 years old.  the modern house had shrines at floor level for the god of the earth, and the Chan Name Temple was kept pristinely ‘clean’, but all else was slowly falling apart, or being consumed by vegetation, etc.  I noticed then that even the traditional Hakka clothing was nolonger worn, and the language spoken was a mixture of Hakka and Cantonese (with the occasional English word).  Those who have left this village have spread all-over the world and changed in the new environments they have encountered, and yet there is something distinctly ‘Hakka’ that holds it all together!

Blond Hakka?

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(This is a speculative research email to WL dated 29.4.2016 – about the possible origins, and cultural traits of the Hakka-Chinese people.  This deals with possible ‘European’ and/or ‘Caucasian’ DNA influences or cultural links.  This is part of a general investigation into Hakka origins that will also be developed to consider possible African influences in early China.  Of course, I fully acknowledge that those mummies in Takla Makan that look Western might well be ‘Middle Eastern’ in origin.)  ACW 28.4.2016

When I was in Turkey (in the late 1990’s) – I met Chinese Uighar people.  My Hakka friend (from Hong Kong) immediately said that they did not look ‘Chinese’ (at this point I was also a little confused, as we had been told that there was a ‘Chinese restaurant’ in the area), The Uighar people explained that they were ‘Chinese’, but from a different area (Xinjiang) and that their Chinese restaurant served ‘Uighar’ food.  These Uighar people (if memory serves me right) had dark complexions (that reminded me of many of my ‘Tamil’ friends in the UK), and had features that looked ‘East Indian’.  It is interesting to consider that many East Indians share a common Y-DNA with many Europeans (R1A1) – despite the rather obvious historical, cultural, linguistic, and religious differences.  This association did not arise with the Western colonial presence in India (although there was most definitely ‘mixing’ and ‘off-spring’ despite the official Western policy of ‘racism’, and control through division), but is a common Y-DNA connection dating much further back in evolutionary history.  In other words, Western Y-DNA in India does not imply that Europeans founded Indian culture, or were responsible for its development – despite the distant Y-DNA connection.  In fact, as you already know, Western civilisation, when compared to the Sumerian, Egyptian, Indian and Chinese, developed quite late, if its origins are taken from Ancient and Classical Greece.  The Buddha ‘reformed’ Brahmanism in India (introducing ‘logic’ and ‘reason’ to the world) BEFORE Socrates was born!  If anything, I suspect ‘Indian’ culture and thinking more than likely was the creative ‘spark’ that led to the great achievements of the Greek philosophers that we so much admire!

With regard to the Takla Makan mummies – the pictures look stunningly ‘European’.  However, China has never released any DNA studies about them (as far as I know), but I once saw a Western documentary that suggested a group of Northern Europeans arrived in China around 2000 years ago.  This narrative suggested that they mixed with local Chinese, and that their DNA and physical shape altered over-time, until their descendants looked completely ‘Chinese’ (probably over a 500 year period).  This documentary then revealed that certain Western academics took (stole?) small hair samples from some of the mummies – and that consequently DNA tests were carried-out in Italy.  The documentary was expecting a Northern European result – but this was not the case.  It turned-out that the DNA (probably both ‘male’ and ‘female’) was from Central Asia and had no ‘Northern European’ connection.  I think that the mummification process may well have ‘lightened’ the complexion of people (through desiccation) who probably looked more ‘Indian’ when alive.  However, although there was no ‘direct’ connection with Europe, many of the Takla Makan mummies do possess what I would call ‘Caucasian’ features (as do many Indians). I would qualify this by stating that this casual observation has no suggestion of ‘Europeans’ or ‘European culture’ in early China – but only a phenotypal connection.  These non-Chinese people did exist in China, and did ‘integrate’ into Chinese culture.  It is not beyond the realms of possibility that these people may have been an ingredient in early Hakka cultural development.

A point I must clarify at this juncture, is that Europe had cultures before the rise of the Greco-Roman monolith (as you know) that now defines ‘Europe’.  These indigenous entities (that constructed the many ancient stone circles and other structures throughout Europe) were collectively (and derogatorily) termed ‘Keltos’ (i.e. ‘non-Greek’) by the Greeks (and ‘Gaelic’ by the later Romans).  This blanket term does not convey the apparent diversity, or ingenuity of these European peoples who probably existed as distinct but related ‘tribes’.  I think that given the right circumstances, any group of human-beings can migrate anywhere if they need or have to do it.  After-all, a small group of homo sapiens left Africa around 140,000 years ago, and eventually populated the entire planet!  I mention this because there are three issues of Hakka identity that are curious to me, 1) recurrence of blond hair throughout Hakka-Chinese populations, 2) Hakka women are equal to Hakka men, 3) Hakka women never had ‘bound’ feet.  Of course, all of this might have developed through purely local conditions within China – and I once read an old Western book that speculated (for reasons not entirely defined) that thousands of years ago, Chinese people may have possessed blond hair!  Obviously, from a strictly ‘evolutionary’ perspective, all current physical characteristics have evolved from ‘different’ characteristics in the past, and that there is no reason to think that current manifestations will be the same in a thousand or ten thousand years’ time.  As it stands, blond hair exists in Northern Europe and is believed to be an adaptation to a cold climate.  There are cold areas in Northern China, and in the past (thousands of years ago) the climate was very different to today.  The last ice-age did not end until around 10,000 years ago – and perhaps many people around the globe developed the adaptation of blond hair, or at least ‘light’ coloured hair.  The question is how many non-Hakka people in China possess ‘gold’ hair?  I would say that most of my Hakka-Chinese relatives possess blond hair to varying degrees – with one man whose hair has been ‘grey’ since young.  If this adaptation did not develop in China, then where did it come from? If it did develop in China, then that is a ‘local’ explanation that excludes ‘blond’ foreigners coming into China.  A point to consider is that most Europeans are not ‘blond’ and the nearer to China the European populations are, generally speaking the darker the hair.  I have also found it interesting that within Celtic culture men and women were considered equal.  It is interesting how it is that the Hakka retained this tradition (from whatever source) within a strictly patriarchal society.  Of cause, Viking explorers possessed the blond hair (I think) but not the cultural traits of equality between men and women.  Having said all this, I did read a very good book that stated that thousands of years ago (probably during the Shang Dynasty period) women may well have been dominant within Chinese society and that this changed to its exact opposite over-time.  Again, this might mean that the Hakka are not ‘foreign’ at all, but simply retain a very old Chinese culture that they refused to change.  Another issue that might need exploring is that many Chinese and African people share very similar phenotypal traits.  As the statues of the Olmec culture are ‘African’ in nature, and considering some think these to be Shang Chinese in origin, has there been an early Africa-China connection?  Did Ancient Africans sail around the globe?

Hakka DNA – Part I

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(The following is a research email I wrote to a very dear friend – and fellow Hakka researcher – WL- on the 28.4.2016.  One lineage of Hakka women now living in the UK – but who are originally from Sai Kung in the New Territories area of Hong Kong, share what Oxford Ancestors define as ‘Chie’ maternal [mitochondrial) DNA that is found in Siberia amongst the Evenki people toda.).  ACW 28.4.2016

Email Extract 1.

When I get time, I intend to examine the academic definition of ‘Han’ DNA in both its ‘Southern’ and ‘Northern’ designations, as I suspect that both are geographically derived, and do not, in and of themselves, represent ‘singular’ DNA-types.  I know that Southern Han is an admixture of a number of DNA lines – some deriving from South-east Asia – as well as ‘Han’ (Tang?), and I suspect that considering the genetic diversity associated with the Euro-Asian Steppe, I suspect that the Northern Han is also diverse.  However, in all this ‘difference’, there must be some type of genetic ‘commonality’ that Chinese science uses to ‘define’ Chinese-ness – although of course, this is the over-lay of science upon the practice of culture.  In the UK, for instance, there is a common European designation (amongst others) but this is common throughout the many cultures of Europe – and in and of itself, tells us nothing about the culture of the different European peoples.  Although genetic designations routinely change in emphasis and refinement (due to improved scientific understanding), from what I remember the European DNA-marker is R1A1 – but around 70% of Indian men also share this exact marker (so in and of itself, it tells us nothing about culture, language and religion)!  Again, culture cannot necessarily be derived from DNA – but I notice that assessment of teeth gives clues of geographical origination.  Many early Christian monastics in the UK, for instance, came from France, (I think traces of ‘lead’ can be discerned in the teeth enamel).  What seems to be the case in China, is that the Chinese culture has become associated with certain genetic-markers – as if ‘genes’ define ‘culture’ – rather than the peculiarities and necessities of the outer environment (i.e. that which drives adaptation and evolution through natural selection).  Just pondering from the hip, so to speak, it would seem that ‘Han’ is a cultural definition used within Chinese science to denote otherwise diverse genetic-markers, giving the (unintended) impression (to those ‘looking in’ at progressive Chinese science) that Chinese DNA is of a single type, and is ‘pure’, etc.  Of course, I am hesitant to state this fully, just in case there is information I do not yet know or understand – but it certainly looks this way to me at the moment.  If correct, this would mean that there is not actually a ‘Han’ DNA (just as there is not an ‘English’ DNA), but rather two, broad Chinese cultural designations (North and South) that are in-effect ‘catch-alls’ for two extensive (and diverse) geo-cultural-DNA areas.  This would logically mean that ‘Northern Han’ and ‘Southern Han’ (both associated with Hakka DNA identity) could mean virtually anything!  I suspect (but cannot yet prove) that there ‘IS’ European (i.e. ‘Caucasian’) DNA within the ‘Northern Han’ designation, but that it is a small and probably insignificant amount when compared to all the other DNA lineages present.  However, again I am of the (as of yet unverified) opinion that a ‘high’ percentage of this small amount of European DNA probably occurs in an unusually ‘high’ amount amongst Hakka populations.  This is all speculation on my part, and more research is required.

(This edited extract is from a research email regarding Hakka Chinese DNA research in the UK to ‘DS’ – written on the 8.3.2009).  ACW 28.4.2016

Email Extract 2.

My daughters, (their mother) and about 30 female relatives from China, have the mDNA of Haplogroup C. This is rare in China, about 2%, so is not the norm for Chinese women. Both the Chan and Yin clan females have this marker.  Interestingly, a direct match for these women has been found amongst the Evenki nomads of Siberia, who look very Chinese, but speak a Siberian, Russian like language. This does fit with the Hakka stories of northern origination, and subsequent migration southward. My daughters have exactly the same mDNA as certain lineages of Evenki women living today.

Interestingly, Haplogroup C is also one of the main groupings of Native American women – across tribes, but mainly in the Sioux, Apache and Blackfoot tribes. As there has always been a link between the East, and the Native Americans.  My male line is E3B – which is around 4% of the UK, and bout 2% around the world, with a large percentage in East Africa. My haplogroup corresponds to Japan, and the Qiang of China, particularly the Pume subgroup.  This is the Wyles side. Brian Sykes of Oxford University (who did the analysis), thinks this group arrived about 4000 years ago in Britain, but research is ongoing.



Hakka Farming: Natural Pest Control and Fertilisation of the Land


Original Chinese Language Article By:

(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)

After the autumn harvest, the rural Hakka farming people allow the irrigated fields to be exposed to the autumn sunshine.  This serves two distinct purposes 1) the sun scorches the dead roots of the rice plants, and in so doing, clears the area of vermin and pests, and 2) as the earth is dried by the sun, it cracks and loosens.   The Hakka farmers then wait until the passing of autumn and the arrival of early winter, when the fields become exposed to frost.  At this time, the Hakka farmers irrigate the fields with a relatively small volume of water, so that the top soil is moistened.  This is preparation for the old Hakka farming methods of ploughing the frosty fields and then burning specially constructed grass-kilns across the land.

At this time, the Hakka farmers use the oxen to plough the field and turn the top soil.  This is called ‘ploughing the frosty field’, but it is not a haphazard affair, but rather the application of a specific ploughing technique.  This ploughing process begins two meters in from the edge of the field (to create walkways), and a furrow is made (travelling in the same direction) following the line of the edge of the field.  As the earth is churned-up and turned inside out, the furrow resembles the shape of the Chinese ideogram ‘八’ (Ba), or ‘eight’.  This is why this process is referred to as ‘opening the eight ideogram’ (开八字 – Kai Ba Zi).  When the end of the field is reached, the plough and oxen are turned around and are headed back in the opposite direction, opening a new furrow.  This process continues until all the field is ploughed, despite the fact that the oxen become very tired through the exertion needed for this labour-intensive process.  The ground is hard and difficult to plough the required ‘eight ideogram’ shaped furrows, as the oxen have to first ‘break’ the ground, and then ‘turn’ the ground properly.  This means that each furrow may well have to be ploughed more than once, until the entire field is fully cultivated (and all the footprints of the oxen and human are covered over).

Ploughing frost-covered fields is a great undertaking because the ground is hard and uneven.  This requires great mastery on behalf of the Hakka farmer who intuitively knows how to lead and guide the oxen through this difficult task, as it is important to understand that the oxen cannot be ‘forced’ in anyway.  Using unwarranted force would waste the available energy for this difficult task of both human and ox.  This means that the entire human – ox interaction, and the ploughing process itself, must be of a ‘naturally’ relaxed and co-ordinated manner.  The oxen will walk in a straight line just as long as the Hakka farmer keeps his hands on the plough-handles (as this reassures and guides the ox).  When uneven mounds of earth are encountered, the Hakka farmer assists the ox by pushing the plough (with the hands and occasionally with a foot) into the contours of the land.  As the ox understands this process, it is willing to pull the plough up and down the field until all the uneven mounds are fully ‘turned’.  At the end of one furrow, the Hakka farmer lifts-up (and carries) the plough while the ox turns around, and only lowers it back on the ground once the ox is in place.  This helps the ox conserve valuable energy.

Ploughing frost covered fields is known in rural China as ‘fighting with the earth’.  It is also referred to as using a ‘double surface of frost’ for eradicating harmful insects from attacking any future crops.  This is achieved by turning the frozen top-soil so that it is driven into the lower levels of the earth (effectively creating ‘two’ levels of frosted earth – that which is still exposed to the sky – and that which is now hidden under the surface) – where insects lay their eggs.  The presence of frost under the ground kills-off these eggs and limits or prevents the danger of any future infestation.  It also allows for the earth to become loosened.  For these reasons, there is a rural saying in China which states ‘By fighting the earth and turning the frost, a full warehouse of grain is guaranteed next year!’

After ploughing the frost-covered fields, the land is left to be exposed to sunlight.  This process dries-out the area, making it unattractive to pests and vermin.  After this, people gather and dry bundles of grass from the mountains.  These are used to build kiln-like structures placed regularly across the open field.  Often they are filled with all kinds of organic (dried) material.  The dried grass is spread all over the field with the use of a five-prong, iron rake.  This also mixes the grass with the top-soil.  However, a large mound of grass is also maintained about every two meters around the field – which serve as rudimentary field kilns.

The kilns are arranged in rows across the field, and in the evening they are lit and continue to burn (from the inside out) throughout the night and into the next day (eventually burning all the grass across the entire top-soil).  The following morning, smoke can still be seen all over the field.  The objectives of this method are as follows:

1) The burnt grass serves as an organic fertiliser.

2) The burning process ‘loosens’ the soil.

3) The burning process eradicates any pests that may have survived the ploughing of the frosted-field.

These methods are preserved within traditional Hakka farming methods that can still be seen in some remote, and mountainous areas of rural China today, despite the fact that many farmers now make use of modern technology.  Without a doubt these techniques described above, may be rightly considered natural methods for pest control and eradication, and for fertilising the soil to ensure good crop yield.

©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2016.

Original Chinese Language Source Article:








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