Originally known as “Poon Kuen” or “Encircling Fist”, Lai Tung Pai (sometimes spelled Lai Tong Pai, also known as Panquan), is a martial art of 17th century Chinese origin, coming from the Sil Lum (Mandarin Shaolin) tradition in the Guangdong providence of China. The art was developed, it is thought, by a monk named Chi Sen at the Kwangtung Temple and then was moved to the Hoi Tung Temple when the former was burned down during the Ching Dynasty.
Chi Sen in turn trained four monks: Yuen Cheuk, Yuen Kok, Yuen Sing, and Yuen Mau. Yuen Mau is the only monk we have any history of, the rest were lost during the time the temple was burned down.
Yuen Mau traveled south to Canton and, while anonymously hiding in a monastery of a small town called Lai Tung, he got into a skirmish with a small regiment of soldiers. With the help of the villagers, they defeated the soldiers and brought peace back to the town. It is likely that the troops were either deserters or a group of bandits, as the army would have surely not taken an attack like this lightly. The other scenario is that the monks killed the troops and, being a small force, the army never went looking for them. As with all legends, there is always an element of truth to them. Yuen Mau then called the art Lai Tung Pai or “family of Lai Tung Village” after the town he helped defend.
Although Lai Tung Pai includes many long armed techniques, it is considered a southern art and is sometimes compared to Wing Chun because of its use of close combat techniques, particularly the one and three inch punch. Both external and internal in nature, Lai Tung Pai has several forms that are to be done with external and/or internal power. Forms are commonly short, 24 to 36 moves, with the exception of the Keun Jong form, which consists of over 400 moves. Lai Tung Pai also has its own Tai Chi form called ‘5 Element Tai Chi’. The style also uses the traditional Sil Lum weapons such as the staff, broadsword, butterfly knives, with the most famous being the two-section spear.
It also utilizes Muk Yan Jong, “Eight Different Wooden Men”. This training aid better know as a wooden dummy is commonly used in Wing Chun.
Qi Gong Chinese medicine theory and traditional Lion and Dragon dancing are also incorporated into the system.
The Way of the Warrior: Martial Arts and Fighting Styles from Around the World 15 Sept 2008
by Chris Crudelli