Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Green Dragons: History and Discoveries

(This is the one year anniversary of my blog. Am I all Keehaned out yet? Almost. Long as I stick to the real research and avoid the bullshit I think I will be okay. I have another trip for an interview coming up real soon. fw)

I was made aware of a book on hand conditioning and there was a picture in it of a a heavyset caucasian with a Chinese name, Wu Shih T'ien Lung. In this picture he is breaking 5 bricks with an open palm or knife hand. This is purportedly the Grandmaster or "Shen Ta Shia(?)" of the Green Dragon Society in Chicago in 1970. His name may be Robert Nowokunski. My spellings are phonetic. I have heard him mentioned as Ta Shia, but never by name. He was not at the Black Cobra Hall on the night of April 25, 1970. I do not know anything about him, not even sure if he is still alive. I want to know more. That is why I am placing the picture here on my blog. Did he know Keehan? What was his reaction to the news of the war between his school and Keehan?

The information comes to me in bits and pieces. There is not a lot of information on the Green Dragons online. I have finally met a Green Dragon from the Chi Tao Chuan School on Fullerton, a student who was not there that night. I needed someone disconnected from the Dojo War to tell me about the school and system itself. That person came to me after the Reader article and I will not use his name yet. He feels a bit of stress over talking to me and there are, admittedly some fanatical elements that may violently oppose his granting me an interview. He was 14 when he began study at Black Cobra Hall. He gave me some clues that has allowed me to piece together a brief report of their origins, which like that of the Black Dragon Society is embedded deep in Asian culture and thought amd may bear some or absolutely no relationship to the present societies making use of the name.

I need this information to help me understand what conflicts and contradictions may have existed between the Black Dragon and Green Dragon schools.

I have only been able to turn up a brief history of the Green Dragons. Here we go. I start with the name itself:

The Green Dragon Society & Brotherhood is engaged in the teaching and practice of Chi Tao Ch'uan Gung Fu.

In 1692 the Jesuit Christian Missionaries who have trained and influenced Emperor Kang Hsi and bring about the "Sacred Edict" and the creation of the Green Dragon Society as a secret and sacred brotherhood. This was part of the master design of Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci (1552 -1610). Ricci found Confucianism consistent with Christianity and became the first to translate the Confucian classics into a western language, Latin.

Ricci befriended and debated a number of Buddhist and Taoist scholars, while consistently arguing against the acceptance of the syncretic "Three Religions" dogma. He concluded that if the Chinese would reject Buddhism and Daoism, and also reject polygamy and a few other relatively minor rites, they "could certainly become Christians, since the essence of their doctrine contains nothing contrary to the essence of the Catholic faith.

Ricci made his life's goal the conversion of the whole kingdom. When he died in 1610 his ideas lived on. The church he built remains the largest Catholic Church to survive the Cultural Revolution. Life magazine named Ricci one of the 100 most important people of the last millennium.

After the death of Ricci, his successors established themselves as official court astronomers and headed government and engineering bureaus in China. These positions were unaffected by the fall of the Ming Dynasty and the founding of the Qing Dynasty under the Manchu in 1644. The first Manchu emperor placed his son under the tutelage of the Jesuit fathers for training in both the physical and moral sciences. This son was to become the Emperor Kang Hsi, whom Europe's greatest philosopher, scientist, and statesman, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz referred to as a monarch "who almost exceeds human heights of greatness, being a god-like mortal, ruling by a nod of his head, who, however, is educated to virtue and wisdom ... thereby earning the right to rule."

In 1692, with Kang Hsi was established as "sage ruler", the Jesuits held all leading positions in the astronomy and engineering, the Emperor issued an edict granting all Christians the right to teach, preach, and convert throughout the empire, subject only to the Ricci policy that scholars—i.e., civil servants—must maintain moral allegiance to the Confucian principles and continue to perform the rites and ceremonies connected to their offices. [ref.]

Kang Hsi ordered drastic measures to be taken against the Buddhists and Taoists. Especially Taoist Societies, which he ordered to be treated as criminals. Specifically mentioned were the "White Lotus" and "Hung," two allied Mystic Networks.

These societies were transformed from a purely quasi-religious organization or Pure Thought Mystical School of Tao, into underground Secret Societies. Political and revolutionary ideas entered the Brotherhood, whose purpose became the overthrow of the Manchus while continuing to remain dedicated to the practice of Taoist Alchemy and Immortalist Techniques.

From 1692 onward the Society adopted numerous aliases or name changes. This was the beginning of the modern era of the Green Dragon Society.

Many of the Masters, Adepts and Disciples of the Chi Tao Ch'uan Gung-Fu Temple and Monastery System are generally not interested in self-glorification and personal promotion. The Art is what is important. The Art dates to antiquity and has continued to exist through the self-less efforts of a long chain of Teachers to Disciples

Now the question is how did Green Dragon Chi Tao come to Chicago. More mystery. I have heard tales of a Chinese master who came here from Canada and opened the schools. At one point there were at least 6 Green Dragon Schools in the Chicago area. This seems to have come about at a time when Chinese martial arts was a weekly television phenomenae. The exotic temple experience became the desire and popular rage among adolescent youth and young men seeking meaning in their lives.

Kids, for a moment, would be less interested in karate and more attracted to the Kung-fu of the Shaolin Temple. This is where John Keehan comes in. Keehan says his early exposure to martial arts included contact with James Yim Lee and T.Y. Wong in San Francisco, yet he did a large part of his study with Trias and helped advance the idea of karate over Chinese systems.

By 1968 Chinese internal systems are attracting attention and Bruce Lee has become a household name. John's star is on the wane, yet still bright enough to attract enough attention to get a Black Belt Magazine cover.

Students begin to leave karate schools to seek the temple experience. The Green Dragon Black Cobra Hall could dish it out with all the theatricality of prime time television. I have heard that John Keehan may have qualified and been granted the right to open a dragon school in Chicago. How and why is a mystery I may not be able to solve with so many mysteries in place.

It is 3:48 am and I need to get some sleep. I will continue this later this week. Am I getting somewhere with this???

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


This matches your picture.