Our Research

Our research has been ongoing since 1987. Our work should be considered a "living" work and is not written in concrete. We are discovering things all the time and when we think a particular section of our research is closed, we no doubt find something else even more spectacular to add. All our historical research has been centered around manuscripts and primary sources, or as close as we can get to such documents.

In some cases we will not disclose our source material. For obvious reasons, we will keep the source private until publication of a book or paper. We will, however, disclose enough to gain credibility with you, the reader, we hope!

Although we have taken an academic approach in our research it is important to note that all of our research, bar none, must end up improving our actual, real world martial arts. That is the difference between our work and others.

Unless we practice traditional Chinese Martial Arts in the manner they were originally intended, with the tools and weapons of the time, they cannot work or be effective when called upon. They will remain a pastime or a simple form of exercise only. We must return to the original concept and environment from which these amazing Arts were created in order to understand and feel what the Masters of old meant for us. Only then, can we find the true way - the original way - of our warrior arts. This can only be achieved through specialized research of the historical record, combined with the correct knowledge of a living tradition!

- Les Conn

Source Material

  1. Our inherited lineage documents to which the oldest surviving document dates back to circa 1820.
  2. Old martial arts manuscripts: our own private collection containing many documents rescued from the destruction of the cultural revolution. It is possibly the largest private collection of such material in the world today. Much of the collection has been put in digital format for long term preservation. (This remains for our personal use only)
  3. Military manuals: We have copies of all the classic Chinese military manuals and we have access to most originals in one way or another. We also have an in-house computer program for searching and referencing within the classics.
  4. Ancient Books: We use many historical books written on various subjects not related to martial arts. These have proved a surprising source of information.
  5. Museums: We use museums for weapons, weights, info on armour etc. This type of information needs intelligent reconstruction and testing to be of use.
  6. Hermits: We have spent many years gathering information and indeed studying with the hermits and recluse community of China and South East Asia. Their knowledge and customs are a surprising source of information.
  7. Fellow researchers: in China, Japan, Mongolia, Korea and Malaysia have been an amazing help to us. The Mongolians have been especially helpful with surprising information.
  8. Masters in Japan: During the period 1992 to 2005 we interviewed many credible Japanese Masters (those considered credible by the Japanese government) on their art, origins and surviving documents.
  9. Anecdotes and notes from ageing Chinese Masters: from 1996 - 2005 period we interviewed and received many documents from Chinese Masters living in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Many were desperate to share information as their art was in a terminal condition. Today they have all gone.
  10. The Chin Woo record: We have copied a large part of the Chin Woo record. It is a massive store of books and other documents from the Qing period to present day. There is interesting information available but it takes a mammoth amount of sifting to find gold.
  11. Independent Chinese collectors: We have a network of Chinese collectors we work with.
  12. Inside the Yakuza: For a short time we entered the realm of the Yakuza and were able to spend time with members discussing all things related to martial arts and more. The information was revealing indeed.
  13. Inside the Triads: We lived for many years in Hong Kong and had a chance to enter a Triad group for information purposes. This relationship lasted some years and we must note we kept our noses in the business of martial arts and customs only.
  14. We were able to get information indirectly from both the Hong Kong police and the Thai police on Triad traditions and activities.
  15. Our experience: We test ideas and work with information that requires a qualified background to do so. We are well qualified and have both completed a formal 20 year apprenticeship from the old method of transmission - a method no longer in service today. We are the last of this group.
  16. Computer modelling: Technology has given us the opportunity to explore theories and analyse data in ways never before seen in the Martial Arts world. With previous experience in Algorithmic development, we were able to immediately use technology to our advantage.
  17. Martial Arts Dating and "DNA"  Model: We have developed a method that can date martial arts techniques and identify their origin with great accuracy. As time passes we may submit academic papers on this development, but for now, we continue working with it in-house.