A martial-arts master escapes from a prison camp in wartime China and flees to Malaya. His hopes for a quiet life are dashed when he saves a bus driver from a lynch mob. The master agrees to impart his secrets to five disciples. Although the organisation they found becomes internationally renowned, the arts are almost entirely lost as the initiates succumb to internal squabbling and greed.
New in Singapore, Chris Murray tracks down Chan See-meng, favourite disciple of the great Chee Kim Thong. Through dusty Malaysian villages and Shaolin Temple in China, the adventure that begins with gruelling practice on Chan’s rooftop leads Chris in the footsteps of the masters. As he becomes absorbed in the esoteric depths of Five Ancestors Fist, he investigates the journey of Zen martial-arts from ancient temples to modern gymnasia. Can these traditions survive in modernity?
An intimate memoir with historical scope, Crippled Immortals unites a cast of legendary heroes and slack-jawed monks, Indian yogi and Tibetan lamas, bluffers, gangsters, and champions who have been touched by Old Man Chee’s arts. The practitioner’s path to enlightenment is always arduous, often hilarious, and sometimes heart-breaking. True adepts talk with their fists, but the strength that endures lies in the bond between master and disciple.
This is a gritty, sweaty, intelligent, well-written pregnant book – swollen with martial-arts legends and wisdom handled judiciously.
– Sydney Morning Herald