Kung Fu has been part of Chinese culture for thousands of years. Over the last century masters have fled China, taking their traditions with them. Many ended up in Borneo where their art is on the verge of extinction.
This repression happened during WW2 and continued under Mao and the cultural revolution in 1966, which made practicing Kung Fu a capitol defense.
Many traditional masters were forced underground to practice Kung fu in secret. Many were executed and killed under Mao. Many Shaolin Kung Fu styles also went extinct, during this time.
Today oddly enough Borneo, East Malaysia is considered by many as the new Kung Fu capitol of the world. Where some of the elite still live and practice Kung Fu Today
"What do you know about Kung fu", Master Eric Ling asked? "Nothing", I said. "You have spoken well, this generation has seen the death of many styles, and many people don't seem to care. In this day of globalization we are losing our cultural identity." Ling was featured in a Youtube clip talking about this very subject "What is Cultural Identity to You?" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4wVZep86
See also a trailer for a film about the vanishing art of traditional Kung Fu, filmed entirely in Borneo, East Malaysia http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlCB0LrZY
Ling explained "to you, a lay person, Kung fu is just Kung fu right?. But there are over 600 styles and sub styles of Kung fu in the world, he explained. The forms are not just a collection of techniques, it's much more than that. It's a complete way of life, philosophy, spiritual, physical, metaphysical and emotional all these things and more..."
Kung fu (or gongfu)- is a chinese term used by the west to refer to Cinese martial Arts. It's original means is somewhat different, referring to ones expertise in any skill achieved through hard work and practice.
Among the living Kung Fu masters living in Borneo today include:
Master M Qui Kwang Song is a master of Fong Yang Quan Kung Fu or "Needle through Brick". He has been teaching the art for over 50 years. Amazing quick, fast, furious. Some say he is able to kill a man with a single touch.
Master Choug Kak Chiong is master of Tai Chi sword/walking stick. Expert in Tai Chi "energy" Kung Fu.
Grand Master Sieh Song Lian - is a living Tia chi expert in the sword, and staff and White Crane Kung Fu. Dim Muk - poison touch, iron fist, open hand... Twin Dragon Kung Fu styles. Very rare tradition.
Master Xiong De Lu - master "Five Ancestors (Fist) Kung fu" Dragon, snake,tiger,mantis and White crane Kung Fu. Grappling, and take downs. Rare Shoubo - Kung Fu.
Grand Masyter Lam She Sing - Hung Style "Drunken Boxing", Hung Gar Kung Fu. Also master at specialized quick kill techniques, and break out holds. Death touch...Many people claim Sing has the ability to disappear, escape from hand cuffs and chains.
Eagle claw and Wing Chun Kung Fu.
Grand Master Yeo Ching Ping, and others are all experts in the cultural art of Kung Fu, Master Lee, explained. There is also Master Chester Lim...and others
They represent a "living legacy" of Chinese cultural arts that still survives today, but only outside China. They are the unofficial ambassadors of Chinese culture, which the Chinese government doesn't formally recognize, even today.
Kung Fu was originally developed by the Shaolin who were basically fighting for their lives, over hundreds of years. They had to make sure what they learned actually worked. "We continue in that tradition today", Tang explained.
Kung Fu was based on careful observations of animals and insects like the praying mantis that over time provided mystical insight into a range of fighting styles unlike that ever developed in the world before. With a history that stretches back to before 200 BC in China, well before the birth of Jesus Christ.
Today the masters are getting old, and in many cases their legacy and teaching tradition of Kung fu will die with them. "What we are witnessing a tragic situation", said Bang Ho, a resident of Borneo.
Oddly enough China still doesn't recognize the importance of keeping the Kung Fu tradition alive. Instead of welcoming them, China seems uninterested in saving this unique Chinese cultural expression.
In the meantime a small group of the world's surviving masters still teach students in Borneo, Malaysia, for a pittance. Why do they teach? Grand Master Yeo Ching Ping explains: "It is my responsibility to try and pass on the knowledge to the next generation, to people who want to know this art, so that it will not disappear in the sands of time..."
In talking with people about the master, money is not the primary motivator for teaching Kung Fu. "We do it to keep the tradition alive...",said Lee Dong Fat, a master practitioner in his own right.
That is also evidenced by the fact for a few hundred dollars you can learn Kung Fu in Borneo, at special studios, complete with accommidations, meals included in some cases. Here you can live and work with Masters who devoted their entire adult lives to Kung Fu. Many are in their late 80's and 90's and still practice everyday.
One particular master is rumour to be 110 years old and lives in the mountains, called "Master Yong Ki Lee", he teaches a rare form of Tai Q igong Kung Fu.
If you want to learn Kung Fu - Borneo is the place to go. It's also dirt cheap to live.
If you do go - connect with the masters via one of the many the Chinese Martial Arts Association. They will connect you to the right people who can get you in touch with masters of 15 different Kung Fu styles.
Nowhere in the world can you find more Masters and Grand Masters of Kung Fu in one place.