Welcome to The Fight Stuff, a column where we will explore the fighting styles and skills of favorite old school characters. Note these are spoiler filled, so if you haven’t seen the film, please do not proceed.
“The only reliable weapon is oneself.”
Character: Golden Arms, Grand Master of the Chi Sha (performed by Lo Meng)
Styles: Golden Armor (not unlike Toad style), Technique-wise, Lo mostly performs in his mastered style of Southern Mantis kung fu (seen most prominently in the credits sequence.)
Weapons: Hands (can break swords and deflect weapons of various metals)
Nothing bothers him except the mysterious Iron Feet Lad (his only martial equal), who never joined Chi Sha.
Choreographers: Chiang Sheng, Lu Feng, Tai Chi Hsien
The youngest of the four chiefs of the Chi Sha gang of the Deadly Valley, Golden Arms leads with his martial skill, strength, and nearly impregnable kung fu.
Using only bare handed blocks and strikes, Golden Arms pushes back and deflects his attackers. Breaking down a wall, Golden Arms easily defeats the trio of Yang (head of Hu Wei security, played by Sun Chien) and Short Axe (Chiang Sheng) and Long Axe (Suen Shu-Pau), by use of Mantis style deflecting moves and his invincible Golden Armor. Golden Arms doesn’t believe in using weapons as they are often lost.
A keen observer, Golden Arms is proud of his ability to not only prove his martial prowess, but to strike fear into his enemies. He is calculating, patiently waiting to retrieve the chests of gold Hu Wei security are trying to deliver to refugees.
In his fight with Hero Li, after disarming Li, Golden Arms wraps Li’s sword about his wrist and then uses it to kill Li. With his Golden Arm, he can chop a sword blade into shards. In and around his brief fights, you can see Lo’s mastery of kung fu in the push, pull, and deflection fists Golden Arms utilizes. It appears that the style Lo is using here, and in the following fight with Hai To and Iron Feet, is a Dragon Style. I’m not sure if it is a Northern or Southern iteration, but I see certain hand postures synonymous with what is typically Dragon kung fu: the stiff, spread fingers like Tiger, and the wrists are straight and fluid like in both Crane and Snake. Dragon Style also uses a lot of fists and strong punches. There are times that he strikes low stationary stances where he bends his wrists while maintaining the Dragon hand postures. This could be indicative of his Mantis training, and odds are there is some overlap in the stances/postures of the styles, as well as a melding of them strictly for the purposes of creative fight choreography, which is highly likely.
Lo reportedly also trained in Tai Chi, which uses a great many of the 5 Animal systems, in conjunction with his Southern Mantis training. This makes a lot of sense when observing the fighting style he uses here. Of course, the moves we see him doing will all be dependent on the instruction of his choreographers and what they are going after character-wise for the purposes of the film.
In his fight with Hai To (Phillip Kwok), Hai spits wine into Golden Arms eyes, blinding the Chi Sha chief. This injury does not stop Golden Arms. The young master will not give in as he fights his only worthy adversary, Iron Feet Lad. Despite being blind, Golden Arms puts up quite the fight, and he kills the appropriately named warrior.
Notes: Screenshots Copyright 1978, 2016 Celestial Pictures Limited. The Kid with the Golden Arm is available for rental or purchase on many digital platforms, and you may still be able to find the Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock Region 1 DVD, or IVL Region 3 DVD
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