Bucksam Kong started studying eagle claw kung fu at age 6 with his mother as a means to ward off colds and fevers. Today, he is a master of hung gar kung fu and runs the Sil Lum Pai Gung Fu Association. BlackBeltMag.com explores his path.

Bucksam Kong is one of those names that martial artists have heard for years — even decades. As one of the first masters to teach hung gar kung fu in the United States, he is recognized as a pioneer in the history of Chinese martial arts. In 1974 Bucksam Kong was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame as Instructor of the Year. He currently runs the Sil Lum Pai Gung Fu Association, based in Los Angeles.


Hung gar kung fu master Bucksam Kong was born and raised in Hong Kong, a city (and former British colony) tacked onto the southern part of the People’s Republic of China. Unlike a lot of martial artists who tell stories about street fights and running battles with the police, Kong says that because he was so young, he never really felt threatened.

That’s why Kong ended up starting his martial arts training not for badly needed self-defense skills but for the often-overlooked health benefits.

“When I was young, I was sick all the time,” he says. “I would catch colds and get fevers. That’s why my mother wanted to start me in kung fu.”

And Kong did start training — with his mother as his instructor. “She started teaching me eagle claw kung fu when I was 6,” he says. “She had been learning that art for a long time, but she didn’t teach anyone — except me.”

At first, the young martial artist and future hung gar master wasn’t really sure if he liked eagle claw or not. If you’ve ever been forced by your parents to take any kind of lessons, you’ve probably been in the same boat.

“But as I grew older, I started loving it,” Kong says. “I kept practicing with my mother for a couple years.”

When Kong turned 8, he began training under a hung gar kung fu instructor named Lum Jo. The boy must have liked hung gar because he stayed with Lum Jo for more than 17 years.

“The training then was a lot different from the way I train people now,” Kong says. “Classes were very strict. The sifu (master) always emphasized very low stances. We had to put a lot of force into every movement.

“We spent long periods of time learning each technique until we became very good at it,” the hung gar master continues. “Only then would the sifu teach us something else. If an instructor tries to do that these days, a week later he’ll have no students.”

Lum Jo ran a clinic in which he set broken bones and administered other medical treatments. So he probably didn’t care how many students dropped out of his hung gar classes because the training was too severe.

“He never had a lot of students,” Kong says. “Nobody in Hong Kong did because the place was so small that getting 15 or 20 people into any room was hard.”

Because it was so crowded in the hung gar training hall, Kong and his classmates practiced a lot on their own out of doors. “We learned all the forms first in class because they taught us how to apply the techniques,” Kong says.

“Then some classmates and I would get together and play around doing the forms and sparring. Sometimes it got pretty rough, but there weren’t a lot of injuries because we always used a lot of self-control.”

Read Part 2 here.

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Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
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Looking to buy some weights to gain some strength?

Looking at Dumbbell, Kettlebells or Weighted bar? How about an all in one that won't just save you some good amount of money but also space? Look no further, we bring you the GRIPBELL!

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Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: StevensTKD@aol.com or go to www.StevensTaeKwonDo.com

Having partners at or above your skill level is important for improving in your martial arts training. At some point, however, you will probably find yourself with a shortage of skilled partners, especially if you are an instructor.

This can happen for any number of reasons: students can move away, change their work schedules, start a family, etc., and just like that, you find that you're the highest-ranked student, or sole instructor, in your gym or dojo. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you take advantage of it, even working exclusively with lower-ranking classmates or students can improve your skills.

I used to host a twice-a-week training session at my dojo where I invited mostly black belts from other schools (as well as a few of my advanced students) to come and run drills. It was a blast. These were tough two- to three-hour sessions where I got to work with fighters of all different sizes, speeds, and technique preferences. My sparring improved dramatically over the next few months, and I don't think I've ever been in better shape. But unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. And as the old saying goes, "You gotta work with what ya got." So, make it hard on yourself.

I like to set handicaps when fighting my students. Specifically, I focus on forcing myself to work on improving my weak areas. Is you right leg weaker than the left? Then only kick with the right leg when sparring your students. Not much of an inside fighter? Don't kick at all. Training with partners of lesser skill not only helps you improve your weak points but gives them an opportunity to improve as well by working on strategy. It's also great for building their confidence. It can also be a low-cost opportunity to test new techniques and combinations, which benefits you as well.

In grappling, just like sparring, there is little benefit to wrapping lower ranking classmates into pretzels over and over, for them or you. Instead, let your partner put you in a bad situation. Let them get the mount; help them sink in that choke or armbar. If you start standing, such as in judo, allow your partner to get the superior grip before attempting a throw. This way you will get comfortable working out of a weaker position and your less-experienced partner can perfect their technique (and get experience using multiple techniques, if you get out of their first one).

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If you find yourself at the top of the heap without partners who are sufficiently challenging, there is no need to despair. Use it as a low-stress opportunity to improve your weaknesses and develop avenues to help your less experienced classmates and students to grow. You may even be surprised. One day they might present more of a challenge than you ever imagined!
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