Video: Kung Fu Master Witnesses the Change of Discipleship in Chinese Martial Art

HONG KONG –– Chinese martial art has seen a move away from tradition in recent years, according to kung fu master Li Tin-loi.

Mr. Li is a fifth generation member of the Chow Gar Tong Long – one of the four major schools in the tang lang (Southern Praying Mantis) martial art.

He believes discipleship in kung fu – meaning the relationship between a master and a student – has been relaxed due to the modernization of traditional Chinese culture. Teachers are now commonly referred to as a “coach” rather than sifu, the Cantonese word for “master”.

Discipleship has been common feature of Chinese martial art since its beginnings. There are hundreds of styles of Chinese martial arts, each with its own system of techniques and philosophy identified by family affiliation.

More than a teacher, a master is like a father to his disciples.

“That’s why we use the Chinese character fu (father) in sifu (master),” Mr. Li said.

Mr. Li still visits his master’s grave twice a year. This type of student dedication to a master is fast disappearing, according to Mr. Li.

“My master had a lot of disciples but how many of them continue to pay their respects to him this many years on?,” Mr. Li said.


By Feliks Cheang, Laurence Chu and Tanya McGovern

This video story was produced for the JOUR7040 Multimedia Journalism course at Hong Kong Baptist University.

Published by Tanya McGovern

Journalist and Communication Professional Tweeting from @tanya_mcgovern