New English Kung Fu Manual Aims to Keep the Art Alive (Video)
Aging masters of the traditional art of Kung Fu are attempting to stop the practice from fizzling out. The solution, they say, is making it available to a wider international audience. That's where “Hung Kuen Fundamentals: Fok Fu Kuen,” also known as the first Kung Fu manual written entirely in English, comes into play.
Lam Cho, son of 73-year-old Kung Fu Master Lam Chun-Fai Sifu, “fears [Kung Fu] faces extinction because of a dwindling number of serious practitioners and the apathy of young people,” says the South China Morning Post. "There are many entertainments nowadays, making it difficult for young people to focus on one thing," he says. Hopefully, writing this manual will help spread word of the art form and keep it going in the public sphere.
Lam Sufi will be the first to record the moves of the 300-year-old Hung Kuen style. Until now, the moves were treasured secrets, writes CNN, guarded from outsiders and foreigners of any sort. They were passed on through generations strictly orally. The hush hush tradition will have to finally be broken, though, says Lam Sufi, in order to save the art from total extinction.
Traditionally, native practicers of Kung Fu have a slight fear of putting the art into commercial formats like films. Doing so, however, has had some notable benefits and has helped to push forth some of the more positive aspects of the art. “Why would, for instance, a Black African community in the U.S. look on Bruce Lee as a hero?” asks the manual’s other co-author, Hing Chao. “Because embedded in these films are messages of righteousness,” he says. “Of someone who is disadvantaged but through dedication to Kung Fu can become empowered, and through his own empowerment help the rest of the community.”
It turns out that Hung Kuen already has a dedicated international following, and studios in Rome and Prague, for example, have been extremely popular. “While there may be more dedicated practitioners overseas than in Hong Kong,” reports Chao, “the form remains a potent cultural symbol in Hong Kong.”