The history of Chinese martial arts changed forever when “Grasshopper”
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Kung Fu TV Series Flashback: Behind the Scenes
With David Carradine (“Kwai Chang Caine”)
Bucksam Kong believes the martial arts had a good reputation in Hong Kong then — and continue to have a mostly good reputation around the world — because they're not just about learning self-defense. “The main reason is that they teach you the kung fu virtues: honesty, humility and all those things. You also learn a lot of culture.” In an effort to spread kung fu and Chinese culture, Kong moved to Hawaii in 1957 and started teaching hung gar late in 1963. “Back then, karate had just come to Hawaii; there weren't a lot of schools,” he says. “When I started teaching kung fu to the public, people in the Chinese society there didn't like it. They said I was teaching locals who would learn kung fu and use it to beat up our own kids. They didn't like it at all.” But Bucksam Kong didn't back down. He argued that there are good kids and bad kids in every country, and he said he was training only the good kids. “I said, 'If you train them right, there's nothing wrong with that,' ” he says. “So I kept on teaching the public, and gradually the Chinese society gave in.” Kong taught in Hawaii for more than 13 years. He moved to Los Angeles around the end of 1976, where he still teaches and practices hung gar. Although his love for the art has never faded, he advises kids to take up any style that appeals to them. “The health benefits of kung fu can be gotten from virtually any martial art,” he says. “They are the most important benefit for the average student.”
More About Hung Gar Kung Fu One more tidbit about hung gar kung fu from Bucksam Kong: “The art is from the Sil Lum Temple (Cantonese for Shaolin Temple). It's based on the five animals: tiger, dragon, leopard, snake and crane — and the five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. There are more hand techniques than foot techniques because it's a southern art. It uses about 75 percent hands and 25 percent feet. We never kick higher than the chest.”