The Bushinkai Academy has a strong heritage and lineage in Okinawan, Japanese and Chinese martial arts and these cultures. In this second article we will look at our Chinese heritage. The purpose of these articles is to demonstrate the richness of our heritage in each tradition separately.
Bushinkai headteachers father and son David Keegan and Simon Keegan both have formal training in Chinese martial arts and have trained with Chinese masters.
David’s great great grandfather Herve Briant (b1837) was a member of Napolean III’s Royal Navy which was sent to China and Japan in around 1850 – and when the sailors returned they added Kung Fu skills to their repertoire of streetfighting.
In a speech in 1852, Napoleon III famously proclaimed that “The Empire means peace” (“L’Empire, c’est la paix”), but the French Navy in various foreign campaigns at that time. In 1866. Napoleon took the first steps to establishing a French colonial influence in Indo-china. In China, France took part in the Second Opium War along with Great Britain, and in 1860 French troops entered Beijing. The French Navy also had a mild presence in Japan in 1867-1868, around the actions of French Military Mission to Japan, and the subsequent Boshin war.
French sailors practiced a fighting art called Chausson that was like a kind of Kung Fu or Karate emphasising kicks. It is considered related to the art of Savate (meaning “old boot”) which was developed from a Parisian street fighting style used around the late 18th and early 19th century.
Chinese martial arts come to Britain
Liverpool’ China Town where David Keegan grew up frequenting is the oldest China Town in Europe and so many Chinese martial arts may have been taught in secret there. Japanese martial arts like Jujutsu, Judo and Kendo were more openly taught in the late 1800s. When David Keegan commenced his martial arts study in 1959 there was only one Karate class in the entire UK, no Kung Fu, maybe one Aikido class – all there was was Jujutsu. Although the chief instructor of his Jujutsu school back then Jim Blundell did claim to have been taught by a man named Kim from Singapore, so this could be said to be Kung Fu. Among the first Tai Chi practitioners in the country was Rose Li at the University of Durham, where Dave’s best friend John was on the Karate team.
The Chinese Classics
David Keegan studied and translated Chinese classics like the Tao Te Ching, I Ching and studied many forms of Chi development and meditation, then in the 1980s his work took him to China where he lived in Guangzhou and Hong Kong while setting up a business.
He therefore understood not only the ancient Chinese wisdom but also the modern Chinese points of view.
When Simon was a youngster in the 1980s, he was not only schooled in the martial arts but also taught to use the I Ching and the health benefits and cultural origins of different foods and herbs. And although Simon is more closely associated with Japanese/Okinawan martial arts, his first training suit was a Chinese Mandarin suit.
Formal training in the Chinese internal martial arts
From around 1997 to 2005 Dave and Simon trained in a Chinese internal martial arts which was run by two world champions and presided over by Li De Yin, the national living treasure in Bejing.
The main forms learnt were:
- Contemporary Yang style 24 form
- Contemporary Yang style 88 form
- Contemporary Yang style 32 sword form
- Combined style (Yang, Chen, Sun, Wu, Woo) 42 form
- Sun style 97 form
- Chi Kung and Zhan Zhuang
Other forms taught included:
- 42 step sword
- 56 step sword
- 5 Fists of Hsing-I
- 76 step Sun style
- Internal transmission Yang style 22 form (from Zhang Xiu Mu)
In 2005 the Keegans left this Academy and Bushinkai’s Metal Tiger Academy (David was born in the Chinese Year of the Metal Tiger) was established initially under IMAF then under the UKBF and now Shikon.
Since then the Metal Tiger Academy has added the 10 Form (8 step) to the repertoire, as well as Shaolin, Ba Duan Jin, Huo Tuo forms of Chi Kung.