Bak Mei was introduced to the world by famous Pak Mei, one of the legendary figures associated with Shaolin Temple. This Kung fu system was formally declared as a martial art style in 1647. Nicknamed as White Eyebrow style, this form has been regarded as the forte of the Taoist monks. The name was given probably because Pak Mei had white hair on his eyebrows. Apart from the white eyebrows, the white head band sported by the master is said to be the reason of naming the style thus. Like other Kung fu styles like Bajiquan, Bak Mei is also known for powerful hand strikes which are showered on the opponent from a close range.
One of the movements in Bak Mei is known as ‘Extended Knuckle Strike’. This is also known as Phoenix eye fist. The execution of the strikes is indeed done in a remarkable manner. The fighter simply intercepts the strike of the opponents by jamming on their fist. It is as if two mortals are locked in deadly combat with one trying to oust the other. The style of Bak Mei closely follows four basic principles. They are known as Fou or Float, Tou or Spit, Tun or Swallow and Chum or Sink.
These principles are common among other martial art forms which have originated in southern China. Even the hugely popular karate is based on these basic principles. One can find the combination of 6 different powers in Bak Mei. They are chuk, biu or thrusting, tan or springing, tung, chum or sinking, and fa or neutralizing. Tiger claws are a famous move of Bak Mei. The strikes will be thrust upon the opponents through Fa Jin. Apart from the common techniques, traces of Chin Na have been noticed in Bak Mei. Influences of Dei Saat Kun have also been noted in this martial art form.
Bak Mei is one of the few martial art styles, which combine both Taoist and Shaolin practices. Along with the Taoist principles which emphasize on the use of breath or ‘chi, Bak Mei has managed to combine the essence of powerful combat. Chi is used not only to generate power during fight, but also to maintain good health. This form is also known to use ‘sacred power’ or ‘Ging’. With the help of this power, the fighter can suddenly change his movements to a powerful strike. Although it may look like applying brute force to an outsider, it is the sheer explosion of power caused by small, fast hand movements that might outbalance the opponent.
In Bak Mei, the horse stance is a common posture; the fighter will resemble a T shape. The body should be agile and stable as the posture requires a lot of power in legs. The hand movements will be extremely swift and they will act just like a whip. Before the power is released on the opponent, the hand will gather energy at one point and snap. It will move out in lightening speed before beginning a succession of strikes. The fighter always prefers close ranges as the strikes will increase in motion and speed and also in number rapidly. The fighter uses all his power to strike the vulnerable points of the body like eyes, underarms, throat, solar plexus, ears and groin. Kicks are infrequent and they never almost reach below the level of groin.
It is probably the abruptness of the attack which simply stupefies the opponent. Before striking, power is gathered from geng ‘jat ging’. All parts of the body will work closely to gather the essential power. The feet will be firmly planted on the ground and energy will rise up from the base traveling to hips, arms, legs and waist generating power and initializing the energy source. The energy travels through the body like a vortex and centers on the part which is ready to strike.
Body postures resemble the body movements of crane, snake, tiger, dragon, snake and panther. The dragon will recoil before striking. The snake is known to hunt down the weak spots and attack its enemy. The tiger will surprise with its powerful lashes and the panther more associated with quick reflexes will simply unnerve the opponent. As for the crane, it will utilize the pointed sharp beak for hurting the soft spots. Power is generated through the whole body in Bak Mei so it is essential that the fighter uses not only his muscles and bones, but also co-ordinate his movements with his mind. If the two can merge, it will come out as ‘jing ging’ or in other words as it is explained in English as ‘complete explosive power’.