History


Synopsis: I Liq Chuan is a Hakka Chinese Martial Art. Most Hakka systems in China are still closed to Westerners. I Liq Chuan was founded in 1976 by Grandmaster Chin Lik Keong and derived from several Martial Arts he mastered in Malaysia. The I Liq Chuan System has been continued and expanded by his son Master Sam F.S. Chin who is the current Gatekeeper and First Generation Lineage Holder.

 

I Liq Chuan was founded by Chin Lik Keong (曾力強). He studied martial arts from several masters including Sifu Lee Sum training Lee Style, Sifu Len training Phoenix Eye (the striking of meridian points), and his last Sifu was Lee Kam Chow training Feng Yang Lu Yi, Hsing-I Bagua, or Liew Mun Pai.

Chin Lik Keong was a gifted martial artist, and was known for his unique skill. In 1968, another student of Lee Kam Chow, Kong Siew San, asked Chin Lik Keong to start teaching at his house. Kong Siew San invited a few more people, and the first group was formed. By the early 1970s, Chin Lik Keong’s ability to blend and distill martial techniques from different styles into fundamental principles earned him the respect of his peers and recognition as their Sifu.

When demonstrating skill, he would show how to handle the opponent’s energy or force rather than train a technique. Master Chin Lik Keong’s teaching became known as the “Masters’ Art” because of his ability to guide expert martial artists to higher levels of skill through his touch. Through the years of training and contemplation, Master Chin Lik Keong realized and dissolved his skill into the fundamentals of movement according to the nature of the human body. He had developed and evolved beyond style. Realizing an essence that was simultaneously all styles while being no style; thus something new. A new approach of refined movement based on sensitivity, attention, and the fundamentals of natural balanced coordination. He never meant to become the founder of a new system, but through his insight into the power of attention and knowing, and by making these fundamental principles the central idea of his teaching, his process inevitably developed into a new method, with its own unique set of principles, strategies, and tactics. “Don’t look at the move.” He would say, “Look for the principle behind the move.”

By 1973, what started in 1968 as a training group evolved into a small martial art school run out of Kong Siew San’s house and taught by, now Sifu, Chin Lik Keong. Around that time Kong Siew San brought Wong Choon Ching into the class, who quickly became a dedicated student and supporter of Sifu Chin Lik Keong. Wong Choon Ching was a headmaster of a local high school in Kuala Lumpur. He helped arrange to move the classes from Kong Siew San’s home to his school’s gym. Wong Choon Ching understood the importance of formalizing the name of Chin Lik Keong’s teaching in order to clearly differentiate it from other styles that initially influenced Chin Lik Keong. Chin Lik Keong’s path to mastery was original, innovative, and his own. His students understood and appreciated this thus they supported their Sifu in transitioning to a formalization. In order to capture the essence of Grandmaster Chin’s teaching, Wong Choon Ching proposed the name I Liq Chuan to represent Sifu Chin Lik Keong’s central idea that related Consciousness (I) and Power (Liq). In the following years, various newspaper articles were published about Chin Lik Keong and I Liq Chuan, and several of his students competed in martial arts tournaments representing I Liq Chuan to further establish the new art.

In 1976, the I Liq Chuan Association of Malaysia was formed in order to further formalize the school and to accommodate the strict public assembly laws of the time.

Later, Master Chin Lik Keong began to teach publicly, and continued to hold a morning class in the park throughout his life.

In 1991, his eldest son, Sam F.S. Chin, moved to the United States and began to teach I Liq Chuan at the Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, New York. Grandmaster Chin Lik Keong visited the Monastery several times. During this time he collaborated with his son on developing The 21 Form, The Butterfly Form, and the foundation exercises. After Sam F.S. Chin developed and formalized the I Liq Chuan curriculum, the art began to grow in popularity in the US and also reached several European and Eastern European countries. It was now Chin Lik Keong’s son who’s legendary skill was attracting students from every corner of the Earth. Allowing students all over the world to appreciate and pay respect to the founder Grandmaster Chin Lik Keong.

In 2009, Grandmaster Chin Lik Keong decided to pass down the lineage gatekeeping responsibility to his eldest son, but he did not stop teaching. His simple unassuming manner made people feel welcome at his home, and regular weekly classes were conducted in his living room as well as daily morning classes in the park. Grandmaster Chin Lik Keong’s near mystical skill continued to inspire martial artists of all levels and styles to his very last day.

Grandmaster Chin Lik Keong peacefully passed away at the age of 84, on the exact day of his birth, July 7, 2014. Every summer, I Liq Chuan students from all over the world came to Malaysia to visit their Grandmaster and train at his home. In 2014, they came to pay respects and say goodbye to the founder of their art. In his lifetime, he saw his art grow from a small group of four people to a flourishing international network of students dedicated to achieving the highest skill and passing down his art to future generations.

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Grandmaster Chin Lik-Keong
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Grandmaster Sam F.S. Chin

Master Sam F.S. Chin (曾帆祥) is the eldest son of the late I Liq Chuan founder, Grandmaster Chin Lik Keong. Born into a traditional Chinese-Malaysian martial art family, Master Sam Chin has dedicated his life to receiving the full transmission of the art.

Early on, young Sam Chin demonstrated the art’s effectiveness in a Selangor (Malaysia) full contact competition in 1978. In order to avoid competing against one of his father’s students, he chose to go up a weight category and nevertheless won the Super Heavyweight title fight while being much lighter than his opponent.

After introducing his father’s art in Australia, Sam Chin immigrated to the United States. He then spent the next ten years working and teaching martial arts at the famous Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, New York. There, he was immersed in a monastic environment. Having direct access to and building friendships with Dharma masters and scholars facilitated the process of Master Sam Chin integrating his martial skill through the study of the Buddhist tradition. At the Chuang Yen Monastery, Master Sam Chin was profoundly influenced by many individuals including Ven. Ji Ru, Ven. Shen-Ming, Ven. Achan Tong, and Ruey Teng Chen. A breakthrough occurred during Master Sam Chin’s attendance at a dynamic mindfulness and awareness retreat taught by a Thailand monk – Ven. Achan Tong. Master Sam Chin developed the ability to observe the vicissitudes of the mind and physical body, realizing back to simplicity and the base of origin. This started his inquiry into the neutral path, which later became The Path of I Liq Chuan, and eventually lead to the founding of Zhong Xin Dao in 2016. With this penetrating clarity, he introduced Zen philosophy into his family art. Master Sam F.S. Chin began to distill unifying principles, further clarifying the essential body mechanics and sensory experiences, and their relationship to mental awareness.

During this period he collaborated with his father to further deepen his understanding. Together they refined underlying principles, formalized the training process, and created both The 21 Form, The Butterfly Form, and the foundation exercises. These collaborations earned Sam Chin the acknowledgement of the full transmission of the art by his father, as well as the title of Master and co-founder of I Liq Chuan, all at the age of 42.

While some previous students of Grandmaster Chin Lik Keong continued to practice the earlier version of I Liq Chuan, father and son continued to develop and perfect their family art, now with Master Sam F.S. Chin leading the way.

In August of 2009, at the age of 55, Master Sam Chin was officially named the Gatekeeper / Lineage Holder of the art by his father. Since his time at the Chuang Yen Monastery, Master Sam Chin has integrated mindfulness cultivation practice into the I Liq Chuan curriculum. As the cultivation aspect has gained a prominent role, it eventually transitioned from cultivation as a tool for martial arts to martial arts as a tool for cultivation. Now, in 2016, it has become apparent that his method of cultivation through martial practice has developed into a complete discipline unto itself, which has lead him to found, name, and define his process of Zhong Xin Dao.

Zhong Xin Dao defines and names the idea most central to Master Sam Chin’s approach. His approach to learning and cultivation, as well as his understanding of the underlying principles of movement and nature. The Chinese word Zhong stands for CENTER / MIDDLE, Xin – for HEART / UNDERSTANDING, and Dao – for PATH. Master Sam Chin has often talked about the “Path” in learning the deeper aspects of his family’s art. His main concern has always been making sure that his students and his student’s students for all the generations to follow would be able to reach the “highest skill.” It is this passion that lead him to founding Zhong Xin Dao to emphasize the path itself.

Today, Master Sam F.S. Chin continues his teaching via workshops worldwide and resides in Pleasant Valley, New York with his wife.