SEH KOH SAN
Cho-Si (Ancestral Master) Seh Koh San
There are numerous accounts of the development of Shaolin Kung Fu over the last 1500 years this history will focus on one particular branch developed and led by the reverend Seh Koh San. A famous Shaolin Monk attributed to be the father of traditional Shaolin Arts in South East Asia. Shi Gao Can (1886 - 1960) or widely known as Sek Koh Sam, was a Chinese monk who brought traditional Shaolin teachings from Mainland China to South East Asia. Shi Gao Can was born on the 27th of December 1886 his hometown was the Hailou Village, Lingtou Town, Huian County, Fujian Province.
At the age of 13, Seh Koh San left home to join a security guard who protected goods on the road his name was "Cho Pew" he was the first person to teach Seh Koh San Kung Fu. It was with Cho Pew that Seh Koh San learned the five Ancestors Fist (fifth Generation Fist). The fifth Generation Fist was another famous style developed from Shaolin. Cho Pew had 5 students; Seh Koh San was his top student. It was Cho Pew who named him "Lim Tian Pau", the "Flying Leopard". For 3 years 4 months, he studied Martial Arts with Cho Pew and it was during that time he mastered the Hing Kung (High Leaps) and the use of different types of Ying Ju (hidden weapons). Cho Pew taught Seh Koh San most of what he knew and from all accounts he was a most outstanding student.
In 1903 at the age of eighteen. He was taken in by the Chief Monk Hung Leong (Hui Ching) as a disciple. He had his hair shaved at the Wai Onn Ching Hing (Hui Ann Cheng Yim) Temple. He studied the Buddhist scripture at the Fu Tin Mui Fung Temple, and his teacher there was the Chief Abbot Mei Kar. The Mui Fung Temple was directly linked to the Fuzhou Yi Shan West Temple in the Fujian Province. He was to become one of the most outstanding monks of his Cha'an generation.
Seh Koh San had other teachers during this period another of whom was the senior monk Hung Leong he taught Seh Koh San Buddhist scriptures. His martial Art Skills was taught to him by Wei Jing Chief Abbot. Both Hung Leong and Wei Ching were highly respected monks of their time.
The Chief Abbot Wei Jing lived at Poh Jai Temple, in Jit Xiang (River) Nam Hai. He was the Shaolin 48th generation, and Poi Jai Temple 6th generation of the 2nd discipline. Chief Abbot Wei Jing had 3 students and only Monk Seh Koh San had fully mastered the Shaolin Kung Fu. Seh Koh San's sifu taught him most of the Shaolin Kung Fu, and it was Seh Koh San who became the only Monk to carry on the 48th generation Martial Arts in South East Asia. This Shaolin Kung Fu has been referred to as Hood Khar Pai, Fat Gar, Lohan or Nan Pai.
For many years, until 1919, Shi Gao Can trained the martial arts in the traditional South Shaolin tradition. Eventually he was going to represent the 48th generation. Besides Buddhism and the martial arts, he was also taught traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture. In the end he got superb medical skills and he tried to eliminate disease for everybody in the world and relieve people in need. Shi Gao Can was the only inner circle disciple of his master; which means that he was living with his master. Shi Gao Can took a sacred oath and promised never to disclose the art to the outside world.
In 1926 Shi Gao Can started travelling throughout Southeast Asia. He visited Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. In every place he visited he treated the sick and spread Buddhism, for which he eventually would gain his greatest fame. He stayed in Indonesia, then occupied by the Dutch and called Royal Dutch Indies, for 21 years and became the abbot of the Zhen Yuan Gong temple in Medan the capital city of North Sumatra province, Indonesia. When he was 56 years old, he felt that, he should teach martial arts to strengthen the physical conditions of his patients. He sends a letter to his Master asking him for permission to teach. Reverend Hui Jing's brother in Dharma replied to him and informed Gaocan that Shi Hui Jing passed away. He also granted the venerable master the permission to teach martial art and encourage him to train his successors.
When Master Gaocan gave his teaching on martial art, he ensured that all students took their vows before Buddha that they would never use the skill for any impure motive. From then on he started spreading his teachings all over Southeast Asia. The style would become famous under the name Buddhist Boxing. After the second world war, in 1948 Shi Gao Can travelled to Singapore to the Shuang Lin Temple. For six years the old master was the Director Abbot of the Temple. On May 6th, 1954, the Great Master was inaugurated as Abbot of the Temple; with thousands of monks, shouts of joy, firecrackers banging and music. He served as the Abbot of Shuang Lin for 13 years.
Unfortunately, on May the 16th 1960 Shi Gao Can passed away, aged 74.
His mortal remains were placed in the temple for a period of 7 days for his students, disciples and Buddhist monks to pay their last respect. His cremation took place on the 22nd May 1960 on the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery and was attended by more then 7.000 mourners.