The Unofficial History of Moh Pai Hu Shih Kempo Kung Fu by C. Charlton

 

Moh Tiger Kempo (Moh Pai Hu Shih) is an evolution of the Moh 'Temple' System of martial arts originally developed by Grandmaster O. E. Simon beginning over 50 years ago.

 

Zen Karate: 1961 - 1967

When Olaf Emil Simon immigrated to Canada in 1960 he already had was his own combative martial arts fighting style, but this style was not based on any formal Asian martial arts training. It came from a combination of his hand to hand/ weapons combat background and years as a competitive amateur boxer stemming from his experiences both during and after WWII. It was only after coming to Canada that together with Margitte Hilbig he discovered the world of Asian Martial Arts:

"At least for non-Asians, Canada, like Europe had yet to discover the fighting systems of the Far East. The martial artists coming from the Orient taught everything in secret, their schools hidden from the general public... Frustrated that we could not find a place to learn, we thought that we could open our own self-defense studio. With Olaf's boxing background and my knowledge of self-defense and rape prevention techniques, we thought that we needed only to incorporate what we could learn about karate with our own skills. We had no clue that the history of karate went back thousands of years, that there were strict protocols involved and that learning karate was very regimented."

-"Walking a Tiger's Path" by M. Hilbig & P. Vuong (2003)

In 1961 Olaf E. Simon and Margitte Hilbig opened the very first martial arts school in western Canada called Simon's Karate. There they taught Zen Karate, the first martial arts style that Grand Master Simon developed combining his hand to hand combat and western boxing skills with various Karate styles he was learning at the time including Shotokan, Shito-Ryu and Kyokushin. This is the genesis of what later became his signature 'White Tiger Style': Pai Hu Shih.

Like many of his contemporaries from those pioneering days of martial arts in North America, O. E. Simon was learning whatever he could from as many other martial artists as possible. Whether from established masters he met on his path, to individuals he considered his peers or even knowledge he gleaned from available publications at the time, if Master Simon found a motion, technique, form or methodology he felt could benefit what he was developing he would take it and make it his own, building on his ever expanding system.

A short time after opening Simon's Karate, Margie Hilbig saw an ad in a magazine about a style of martial arts called 'Kenpo-Karate' which was taught by Edmund K. Parker out of Pasadena California. She called Mr. Parker and arranged a meeting with him, thus beginning her study under Master Parker. About a year later O. E. Simon also travelled to the USA and met Ed Parker, the man who likely was one of the biggest influences on Olaf Simon later developing his Moh Pai System.

Though Master Parker wasn't calling it American Kenpo yet, he was already developing his system in the mid 1960's. Ed Parker started his training in the 1950's with Judo, then Karate and Kenpō. In the 1960's he began to train in Chinese Kung Fu styles like San Soo, Tai Chi, and Hung Gar from several teachers including Chinese Kung Fu Master Ark Y. Wong. Master Parker took what he learned from all these different styles, changing and combining elements of Karate, Kenpō and Kung Fu, taking detailed notes and categorizing everything along the way.

You can follow the roots of Kenpo, from Ed Parker through William K. S. Chow, James Mitose and his family tree through to original Kenpō, Ch'uan Fa and the history of Kung Fu. Most agree that Kenpo has direct connections to the Shaolin Temples from over 400 years ago. There are many great websites out there that already discuss all of these subjects in detail, so we do not feel it is necessary to repeat those lineages here.

Over the next few years not only was O. E. Simon's style influenced by Ed Parkers Kenpo-Karate, but early on Simon learned from Parker how to run a proper dojo and later they worked together on how to build a successful business around teaching martial arts. There are many parallels between what Master Parker did to create his American Kempo System and what Master Simon did to create his Moh Pai Kempo Kung Fu System.

In 1964 Olaf Simon and Margie Hilbig attended Ed Parkers inaugural Long Beach International Karate Championships. In her autobiography "Walking a Tiger's Path - The Story of Canada's First Female Karate Black' (2003), M. Hilbig states that this was the first tournament she ever competed in.

Though it is unclear to us exactly how many Karate tournaments O. E. Simon competed in himself during these years, a common statement was that he was 'disqualified' from more Kumite competitions than he actually finished for using 'excessive contact'. At Zen Tiger we believe this is an example of how Master Simon's personal fighting style (Pai Hu Shih) is generally not conducive to sport competition because of its aggressive leg strikes and sweeps.

One of the main ways O. E. Simon and M. Hilbig promoted Karate in western Canada during those early years was through public demonstrations. They did many of these performing a combination of brick breaking, ice breaking, self defense applications and weapons defenses.

More than once during these live weapons disarming demonstrations Master Olaf Simon was challenged by someone from the crowd who didn't think it was real. Olaf would then let the challenger come on stage to try and attack him with the weapon themselves. The story usual went "He came at Olaf and in a flurry of hands the weapon flew in the air barely missing the audience and the attacker would hit the ground out cold before the weapon landed."

At some point during this time Master Simon may have also called his style 'Simons Budo-ryu Kempo'.

 

Moo Kempo (Kenpo) Kung Fu: 1967 - 1972

It was around 1967 when Master Olaf Simon introduced to his students 'Moo Kung Fu' (Pronounced 'Mo'), a blend of different Chinese Kung Fu systems and Japanese Kenpo-Karate he stated was a Northern based Kung Fu style.

At Zen Tiger Martial Arts we strongly believe that Grandmaster OE Simon was influenced by many different martial arts styles and individuals from the USA, Canada and elsewhere. However finding a strong link to anyone south of the 49th parallel other than Ed Parker is tenuous at best. Closer to home is a different story as there were several Chinese Kung Fu stylists living in Canada at that time who likely had a definite association with Olaf Simon including Stan Lee (Hung Gar, Wing Chun), Frank Lee (White Crane), Mark Chan (Hung Gar, Five Animal Sil Lum) and possibly brothers Tony & David Chong (Ng Ying Kuen/ 5 Animal Forms).

Like Simon, these men all immigrated (separately) to Canada in the 1950's and early 60's, many settling in Edmonton, Alberta.

S. Lee and M. Chan were both running a Kung Fu school in Edmonton called Green Dragon Kung Fu when OE Simon likely met them. In 1969 Grand Master Stan Lee founded the Canadian Ging Wu Kung-Fu Association.

Dr. Tony Chong and his brother David M. Chong came to Canada in the late 50's and together with their cousin 'little' Dave Chong they founded the Canadian Karate Kung-Fu Association in Toronto.

How much training O. E. Simon actually did with any of these Kung Fu Masters is unclear, but the influence of 5 Animal Kung Fu, Hung Gar, White Crane & Wing Chung is apparent in many of the techniques, forms and philosophy of what later became Moh Pai and Pai Hu Shih.

Though we have little specific information on a connection with Master Olaf Simon and other martial artists, there are certainly other styles out there that share similar characteristics to Simons Pai Hu Shih like David German's TAI System. Click here for a short video showing Grand Master German teaching his style.

Some examples of early martial arts literature that also likely influenced O. E. Simon developing his Moh 'Temple' System possibly include Ed Parkers two books; "Kenpo Karate: Law of the Fist and the Empty Hand" (1960), and "Secrets of Chinese Karate" (1963);  Masutatsu Oyama's book "What is Karate" (1958); and Robert W. Smiths "Secrets of Shaolin Temple Boxing" (1964). This last book discusses the history of Kung-Fu, including Ta-Mo (DaMo/ Bodhidharma), the Five Animal styles, Ch'i development, the Muscle Change Classics (with pictures), the 18 Exercises, Hard vs. Soft styles and Northern vs. Southern schools in a way very similar to the later teachings and writings by O. E. Simon.

In GM Simon's own book “The Law of the Fist” (1969), he himself wrote a history of Shaolin Ssu and "Modern Karate", including stories of the northern and southern temples, Shaolin corridors and cauldrons. There is his interpretation of the philosophy on the art, the importance of meditation, the "parallel's to nature" and such. It contains many pictures of the Zen Karate he taught in the 60's and there is strong evidence that Pai Hu Shih's roots can be found here. There are also pictures of Simon in postures of his 'Moo Kung Fu" that are part of what later became his '18 Temple Motions'. People who are familiar with Ed Parker's early Kenpo-Karate say they originate from the 72 Luohan hands from William K. S. Chow.

 

Moh Pai Kempo Kung Fu: 1972 - PRESENT

It was around 1972 that 'Grand' Master Simon changed the name of his studios to 'Simons Kung Fu' and officially introduced his Moh (Moo) 'Temple' System. This includes most if not all the forms that are part of Moh Pai today: Lung, Kempo, Hung, Temple Motions, Short Staff, Sweeping Form and Fighting Forms. Most if not all of these forms within Moh Pai were created entirely by Grand Master O. E. Simon, a combination of his own fighting style with motions and sets from other martial arts.

Though he wouldn't officially introduce his Pai Hu Shih or Ch'an Meditation for another 10 years, these elements were already a key part of his system along with other aspects such as his combative breathing techniques and focus on circular torque in the arm blocks and strikes.

True to it's Kempo and Kung Fu roots, training Moh Pai involves a balanced focus on forms (sets) and self defense applications with an emphasis on the understanding of Ch'an (Zen); developing Chi (Vitality) through proper breathing and meditation; applying it to the physical training for healing and to generate power; while showing respect to all living things.

Around 1980 O. E. Simon changed the name of his schools from 'Simon's Kung Fu' to 'Temple Kung Fu'.

 

Pai Hu Shih: 1985 - PRESENT

Pai Hu Shih (PHS) is GM Simon's own signature fighting system that he began officially teaching to the senior members at his `Temple Kung Fu Studios` in the mid 1980's. It includes the Tiger form, 'Fighting' Tiger, the qigong 'Slow' Tiger set, Long Arm, the Mountain Breathing set and the Tiger-Dragon (Lung) sets. It also includes his sinew-muscle change exercises and the full set of PHS strikes, catches, blocks, sweeps, checks and kicks.

All the early forms in Moh Pai have a direct connection to Pai Hu Shih and once a student has learned the fundamentals of Simon's style it 'un-locks' many of the advanced techniques hidden within the Moh forms.

Pai Hu Shih at its heart is a very aggressive style using powerful whipping/ cutting motions designed to incapacitate or debilitate multiple attackers quickly. The system also contains a comprehensive set of catches and defenses vs. weapons stemming directly back to GM Simons early hand to hand combat experience.

With the introduction of his 'White Tiger Style', GM Simon began formally teaching his Ch'an 'Purposeful Meditation' mind training/ philosophy classes. The breathing exercises within Simon's Purposeful Meditation teach the proper timing for all the health 'slow' forms in Moh Pai and create an expanded awareness of everything while paying attention to no one thing. Thus helping a student learn how to control their emotions and focus Ch'i in order to develop an effective reaction response to any stimuli.

Moh Tiger Kempo

 

From the Author

The above history is considered 'Unofficial' because it contradicts many past statements made by Grandmaster Simon himself about the origins of his Moh 'Temple' System. A far more detailed version of this history was originally published at www.zenshack.net & www.zenshack.ca from 2006-2015, but has since been removed. To learn more about this contact us here.

 

Special Thanks

Zen Tiger Martial Arts would like to thank the following individuals whose invaluable contributions over the years have made our Moh Pai (Bai) Hu Shih History a reality:

R. Shergold, B. Macdonald, T. Tonsi, R. Dolatowski, R. Van Raamsdonk, J. Koloski, M. Bagwell, S. Pickett, D. M., and many, many others.

 

Copyright (January 14, 2016)

Any works copied or reproduced from this history, in part or in whole, whether for news, information, research, non-profit, profit, personal gain, advertising, commercial or similar use is subject to copyright law and should not be used without express permission from Zen Tiger Martial Arts, the original copyright holders or their affiliates and must credit the author and have a link directly back to this webpage.

 

For more information please contact us HERE.

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