You are a 7th generation successor of the Wah Lum Tam Tui Northern Praying Mantis Kung Fu System. What does that mean?
My role, not only as a student, but also as a successor of the Wah Lum system, is to ensure this system is preserved. Chinese Kung Fu goes back over 4,500 years, and during this time, many different styles developed. From these, over 18 different styles influenced the origin of the Wah Lum system. My responsibility is to make sure this system continues to grow, and to pass this legacy on through my students (at Wah Lum Kung Fu of Knoxville). This has been done from teacher to disciple in our system since the first generation, over 380 years ago.
Do you train in a variety of styles of martial arts, or do you stick to Kung Fu and T'ai Chi?
I have studied a variety of styles in the past. Training in other styles, such as Judo, boxing, and Wing Chun, gave me an appreciation of the depth of the Wah Lum system, and is the reason I dedicated myself to this style. Wah Lum encompasses many elements of the martial arts: physical, spiritual, philosophical, personal development, with aspects of medicine. Wah Lum also incorporates the three main areas of fighting: long-range kicks and punches, mid-range joint locks and throws, and groundplay with grappling, making it a well-rounded and complete fighting system, though I continue to maintain an interest in observing other styles and the good that they have to offer.
What are the lion and dragon dances taught at your school?
The lion dance was originally intended to ward off evil spirits and to bring good luck during special occasions. The lion is performed by two people, the dragon by seven to as many as 20. The lion is constructed out of bamboo and paper mache, and is most seen during Chinese New Year celebrations with firecrackers. The lion dance is performed traditionally by kung fu students to show the strength of the stances, kicks, balance, and agility of their particular style. During the dance, the lion should display life-like characteristics—happy, sad, strong, playful, hunting, etc. to the beat of the drum player.
In addition to hand combat, do you also teach traditional Chinese weapons training?
Yes, in a traditional kung fu system there are 18 weapons that are always taught—nine long, nine short. These weapons can vary from style to style, and will also include flexible weapons—three-section stick and whip chain as examples. I teach almost 30 different types of weapons. Our system has over 50.