The Decline of Traditional Kung Fu


A video recently made the rounds on social media depicting a fight between Tai Chi Master Wei Lei and MMA fighter Xu Xiao Dong, the result of which has been quite upsetting for the Chinese martial arts community. In only 10 seconds, the Tai Chi Master, whose name is Thunder, fell like a lightening bolt at the hands of the MMA fighter. After the fight, the victor spoke many half-truths and sophisms.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated event. A few years ago online videos depicted a Japanese Grandmaster of Karate as being able to drop his students at a distance through telekinesis. He was also swiftly defeated by an MMA fighter, unable to block an attack or land a single blow.

Another Tai Chi Master met an MMA fighter in combat, saying he would be able to block his shots with energy, facing his opponent on his knees. The result was much of the same, with the Tai Chi Master gesticulating with his hands in attempts to form a kind of invisible shield before receiving shots to the face and falling to the ground.
Finally, a “recognized Master” subjects his students to electric shocks, and their reactions are reminiscent of a Stephen Chow comedy.

Energy-based techniques do exist, and those who master them are capable of impressive feats. These techniques are based on a science that is thousands of years old, which divides human energy into three categories or bodies: the physical, energy-based, and mental.

The practitioner can begin studying the energy-based body once he has reached the second level of Kung Fu. In order to attain this level, he must lead a healthy, worry-free life as well as follow rigorous training under a competent Master. Once this level is attained, the conception of the self is turned toward the dissolution of the ego. Basically, there is no point in showing off for it goes against this objective as well as the Martial Way.

Unfortunately, these martial arts comedians are becoming more and more common, Ancestors must be rolling over in their graves at the sight of all these so-called “masters.” The growing presence of fake masters and usurpers is a problem that the rise of MMA has brought to light. The MMA fighting style is generally a mix of Muy-Tai, Judo and Jiu-Jiutsu. It is more prone to efficiency than artistry. Its practitioners start engaging in combat much faster than those from traditional schools, who must learn many Katas, use of weapons and study the philosophy before learning to fight.

The rise in popularity of this modern sport has been a wake-up call for traditional schools. For too long they have sat on the laurels of their glorious past, forgoing practicality for the benefit of sensationalism and YouTube views.
As the saying goes “a thousand theories are not worth a single practice.” Alternatively, as Bruce Lee once said: “Kung Fu without fighting is a desperate dance.”

Kung Fu is a complete and efficient combat system, but it must be taught by true, certified Masters. Like in any profession, a Master must have a diploma to be recognized. For example, a doctor must be approved by the Order of Doctors, as a lawyer must pass the Bar. If an individual becomes a self-proclaimed doctor or lawyer and starts treating patients and accepting clients it is not only dangerous, but illegal.

Unfortunately, in martial arts today false masters seem to grow like weeds, taking over the once flower-filled garden. The days of the monk’s descent from the mountains are far behind. They could only leave the Shaolin Temple after completing many rigorous challenges. There was the pitch-black room with 72 wooden dummies, or the great cauldron that had to be lifted by the monk using his forearms, who would thus be marked by a tiger on the right arm and a dragon on the left. In this fashion there was no room for doubt regarding the skill and talent of the monks having accomplished these tasks.

Today we must ask ourselves: where is the seal and sword that certify the competence of a Master? Where are the tea ceremonies that confirm the level attained and mandate transmitted? Where are the diplomas certifying a Masters competency?

Many choose to invent or hide their past, sometimes because they have none!
As my Master taught me “The past justifies the present, and the present is the guarantor of the future.”
It is my conscience, love for Kung Fu, and strive for professionalism have inspired me to write for the future, so we can become the guardians of this cultural heritage and make sure it stays true to its origins so that it may be transmitted with integrity to future generations.

Nam Ngu
Pierre-François Flores
Orthodox Pak Mei



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