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Kung Fu
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Image: Anne and Sophie Demonstrate Kung Fu in Foshan

Kung Fu
Foshan City is the World's leading home of Kung Fu and offers tourism and training in various Kung Fu styles. Kung Fu is known as 'Gongfu' in Cantonese, and you will encounter many other problems concerning western spelling of Kung Fu terms, especially regarding the names of various styles - and we could write a whole page just on this subject alone. Here's you taster for 2:
• Huang is Mandarin for yellow. Wong is Cantonese.
• Hung is Honk Kong Cantonese for red. Mandarin and Mainland Cantonese is Hong.
We will introduce tourist venues first, take a look at some famous real life and film performers, before looking at serious Schools of Training at the bottom of this page:

What is Kung Fu?
Kung Fu is not just a martial art used in hand to hand combat, but 5 related disciplines that actually date back to The Human Sovereign Shennong, the son of The Heavenly Sovereign Fuxi and the Earthly Sovereign Nüwa; dated arbitrarily before 5, 000 BC, but less than 10, 000 BC. He invented medicine, which is foremost of the Kung Fu arts. You should take this to mean modern Chinese medicine only.

Writing, especially Calligraphy is the second. This is because the same skills are required to wield both a pen and a sword. For clarification watch the film 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' and it will become clear to you. The third is mental skill, which includes meditation, study and understanding. The forth is Swordsmanship, and the fifth is unarmed combat.

Acrobatics and Lion Dance are also central to teachings, and here I am not referring to tourist spectacles where a couple of guys or girls don a lion costume and prance about. This is a defined art, which if you have ever seen it performed properly, then you will know it is extremely difficult and breathtaking to watch. Below we will deal with only the unarmed combat version, although references to Lion Dance are included. Kung Fu is always open to both boys and girls, who are taught together in the same class suited to their personal level of proficiency.

Kung Fu Tourism

Ancestral Temple
The Ancestral Temple in the Centre of Foshan dates back many centuries and was originally constructed in 1085; but is latterly most famous as the home of Master Ip Man, who was Bruce Lee's sifu or Master. Bruce was a regular visitor to Foshan, although his parental home lies some distance away in Shunde Daliang. The temple is relatively large and may need several hours to see all. There are performances including traditional Buddhist music and Lion Dance, but check out the times when you enter. This is also a good place to find reasonably priced and genuine souvenirs. There is also a museum and hall dedicated to the memory of Deng Xiao Ping - the founder of Shenzhen and the Policy of Openness.

The temple is known as 'Jo Mu' in Cantonese, correctly 'zhou mu'; and is Zu Miao ( 祖庙 ) in Mandarin. It is located in the heart of the city along Zumiao Road, and a minutes walk from Bai Hua (The big green building with a ball on top - pictured left). The entrance is centrally situated, with the ticket office set to the left hand side. This area is beset with beggars, and foreigners are their number one target. However, do not let this put you off visiting this great attraction.

Immediately to your left upon entry is a stand that makes and sells jade seals (Stamp in candlewax). They will make to your own design within an hour. Further left is the Kung Fu memorial hall, which features rooms dedicated to Ip Man, Bruce Lee, Wong Fei Hung, and other great Masters. Heading deeper into the complex and keeping left, you will find a craftsman making Foshan Paper Cuts. Left from here is the Kung Fu school complex, with two practice arenas. There is also a museum of musical instruments situated here, and adjacent to a mural depicting the atrocities committed by foreign forces in the late Qing Empire, with a description in English. Behind the latter and up some stairs in the wall is a fantastic shop selling all manner of authentic Chinese souvenirs at sensible prices. It is hard to find! Be careful here, as one door leads down and out into a sidestreet.

Returning to the paper cutter, you will enter a complex behind his stall, which serves as Buddhist temple complete with many rare artifacts. Several interlinked rooms lead out to an open air pool full of carp and terrapins (A Chinese thing all temples have). Progress through this and right a touch to an open air theatre complex and restaurant, combined. This is where Cantonese (Yue) Opera is performed. Progressing along the right hand side of the complex you will find the memorial halls dedicated to Deng Xiao Ping and Cantonese Opera. Foreign tourists will find this quite missable, unless you are into this sort of thing, in Chinese writing only? However, outside are several interesting stalls selling knickknacks, some of which can be personalised or made to order in a few minutes. Dotted around this area are several displays of dilapidated antique things, such as traditional boats and sowing machines set in large glass cases. There is another restaurant here, and the public toilets are located nearby down a nondescript alley. Behind the alley and fronting the main road outside is a garden area. Bearing right brings you back to the entrance - or should that be exit?

Opening times: 8.30 am to 6 pm
Ticket Price: Y20
Tel: 0757 82221680

Xi Qiao Kung Fu
XiQiao is perhaps the most significant Pearl in this vast River Delta. It is a renowned scenic spot, Buddhist temple complex, and home to everything that embodies ultimate and state of the arts Chinese Kung Fu. Teachings are based upon 'HuangFeiHong' (Wong Fei Hung in Cantonese, versions) style 'Gongfu'. Huang Fei Hong came to Foshan as a young boy, with his Father and other disciples as they fled Imperial persecution from the Shaolin Temple in neighbouring Fujian Province. They settled in Nanhai (The name of Foshan City District at that time), and in a new home - which you can still visit today. There is now a very major Martial Arts School there. Lessons are available, and easily booked - if you know how? Contact China Expats if you want this, and we will sort it all for you + options for spouse and friends who think you are maybe a little crazy?

Below is a quotation from the latest edition of Foshan Tourist Guide:
"Foshan Hong Sheng Martial Arts Academy was established in 1851 by a martial Master named Zhang Yan during the Qing Dynasty. Time honoured and deeply influential, the centre boasts a lot of followers. The members of Hongsheng played a positive role in the past anti-feudalism and anti-imperialism wars. Hongsheng Martial Arts Centre has established branches in Hong Hong and abroad".

Opening times: 9 am to 5 pm
Bus numbers: 133, 141, 143
Tel: 0757 83217908

Xi Qiao Tourism
Xi Qiao (Si tew in Cantonese) also features 4 other main tourist attractions in addition to the Kung Fu Centre listed above. Buses will deliver you to the small town of Xi Qiao, which nestles under the Northern wing of the mountain. It is 'OK' in a nondescript sort of way. Left and West a bit is the back entrance to the hills complex of attractions. I mellowed away a very comfortable afternoon here some years ago, which included some shopping at local stalls, and an excellent foot massage. This area also contains a few small fairground attractions for kids.

There is also a formal entrance on the East side, but both are a tad hard to locate unless your driver understands exactly where you are headed for? This mountain has a 'AAAA' rating regards tourism, whatever that implies? Main attractions are: Yun Hai Lai Tai, Huang Daxian holy Land, Baiyun Cave, Tian Hu (Heaven) Lakes, Stone Swallow Rock and Sifang Bamboo Garden.

Most attractions are open during daylight hours, but some are restricted to closing at midday, including: Bodhisattva Culture Garden and Tianhu Lake Scenic Spot = 7.30 am to 12 midday only.

General opening times: 7.30am - 6pm
Through ticket price: Y50 inclusive for all attractions
Enquiries: 0757 86886646

Kung Fu Masters - Fact and Fiction

Huang Fei Hong
Huang Fei Hong (Wong Fei Hong in Cantonese) was a real person who as a boy fled The Shaolin Temple in Fujian Province with his Father and other disciples and their families. His Father was actually one of the Junior Masters, and others far more distinguished also accompanied them on their journey. They settled in Nanhai, which is nowadays the name of 1 of 5 Districts of Foshan City District (Metropolitan County). For long periods of history, Foshan City has also been called Nanhai Prefecture - depending upon political winds no doubt. Please know that if you are not local to this area, you should consider Nanhai and Foshan to mean exactly the same thing.

Huang Fei Hong's Father settled in Luzhou Village, which lies at the foot of Xiqiao Mountain. This is technically in the modern City District of Nan Hai (Namhoi). Xi Qiao Shan refers to the big hill clearly visible from Foshan City centre to the Southwest, and it is quite large with several entrances.

My understanding is that Huang Fei Hong was actually a young boy when he arrived in Foshan, then known as Nanhai Prefecture; and was not actually born here. We have a dedicated page to Wong Fei Hong which you can find here

Ip Man (Yip Man)
Ip Man (Yip Man) was a real life person and Wing Chun Grand Master who lived in Foshan City. During the hardships and atrocities of the Japanese invasion during WW2, Ip Man became a champion of the ordinary people, and showed a spirit that could not be broken. He was Grand Master Wing Chun style Kung Fu and Bruce Lee's Sifu.

We have an in depth page solely dedicated to Ip Man, his family history, and the development of Wing Chun Kung Fu. It also features the Film 'Ip Man, with links to a full film download. You can find this page here

Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee (aka Lai Siu Long) is the first actor and an exceptionally skilled Martial Arts disciple, who popularised Kung Fu in Western cinemas during the 1970's. He was born in California, but does have extremely strong links with Hong Kong and Foshan. His Father was born in a village, which is now a part of Daliang City, the Capital of Shunde District, and another of the 5 Districts of modern Foshan. Bruce Lee did visit his ancestral home there once. This is now a working museum and Martial Arts school. This can be included in tours of course

Bruce Lee's Master was called Master Ip Man, also known as 'Yip Man'. He spent the last 20 years of his life in The Ancestral Temple right in the city centre of modern Foshan, which is also known as 'Zumiao'. Bruce Lee did visit his Master there on many occasions, and there is a museum and halls dedicated to Bruce, Master Man, and other Kung Fu Masters within the temple complex (See above).

To learn more about the real life of Bruce Lee, his films, and Jeet Kune Do or the Way of the Intercepting Fist, please see our dedicated page here

Jet Li
Jet Li (aka Lai Li-en Gi, Cantonese name) is arguably the best current exponent of this art in modern mass cinema. Jet Li is very highly respected in Foshan, and an adopted son of the city fathers because of his excellent Huang Fei Hong style Kung Fu skills. I am pretty sure some of his films have been made at Foshan TV Town in Nanhai District. He often plays the character of Huang Fei Hong in his Chinese language films.

Again we offer a dedicated page of great detail about Jet Li, which you can find here

Jackie Chan
Jackie Chan (Sing Long) is highly revered for his skills in Gongfu, and apart from his comedy, and projects for less fortunate in HK, he also employs Wushu techniques in some of his films. Jackie has recently opened an academy in HK for teaching 'Gongfu for actors', and is a child from Cantonese Opera and Drama backgrounds = hence his unbelievable flexibility, speed, and spatial awareness

Wushu style Kung Fu is a modern interpretation, made famous in films. Wushu means 5 Ways, Books or Lessons; and embodies ancient teachings into a new methology. Wushu is largely castigated by traditionalists, whilst being very popular with younger Chinese students who cannot spare the time for complete studies of Martial Arts. Wushu displays, performances and Teachings are also available in Foshan.

As you would expect, we have a page dedicated to Jackie Chan here

Other Film Stars
Our page Kung Fu Films has pages dedicated to other stars such as Sammo Hung and Yuan Biao

For serious Western students of Kung Fu and Hung Ga, then this link may be of interest:

This morning I read your article by Tim Louie
"About Tim Louie:
Tim Louie is a Hung Gar Practitioner, a Shorin-ryu Okinawan Karate 5th Degree, a Kajukenbo Karate 6th Degree and also studies Northern Kung-Fu, Tai Chi and Contemporary Wushu. He is the creator of Thunderkicks shoes. This article is a companion piece to In Search of the Real Wong Fei Hung: The Wong Fei Hung Museum in Foshan, Guangdong, China, in the May June 2006 issue of Kung Fu Tai Chi."

Schools of Kung Fu Training in Foshan
Latest News!
China Expats are pleased to announce co-operation with two of Foshan's leading Kung Fu Schools that have won international competitions in Wing Chun style Kung Fu.

Sim Wing Club is highly recommended and offers several Master's, of which we interviewed Sifu Liang. He is a lovely man and very helpful. The premises are modern, clean and just what you would expect of a leading Kung Fu Training centre. Sifu Liang was taught by Gwok Fu, who remains a guiding influence and often attends training sessions in person.

Yao Bao Gongfu is a working school under Sifu Paul Mak Yiu Ming and President Master Sifu Mai. His school has won many international competitions and also includes other instructors, one of whom is a woman called Liang Jiandong.

Please see our page: Wing Chun Training in Foshan for full information (Class times, fees, optional extras)
China Expats are pleased to arrange tuition, accommodation, meet and greet, transfers, translation services and sight-seeing trips for any Kung Fu students to the above and other locations on an all inclusive basis. Please ask for details.
Hong Sheng Martial Arts Academy

Below is a quotation from the latest edition of Foshan Tourist Guide:
"Foshan Hong Sheng Martial Arts Academy was established in 1851 by a martial Master named Zhang Yan during the Qing Dynasty. Time honoured and deeply influential, the centre boasts a lot of followers. The members of Hongsheng played a positive role in the past anti-feudalism and anti-imperialism wars. Hongsheng Martial Arts Centre has established branches in Hong Hong and abroad".

Opening times: 9 am to 5 pm
Entrance: Free
Bus numbers: 133, 141, 143
Tel: 0757 83217908

Huang Fei Hong Pugilism Hall lies at the foot of Xiqiao Mountain in Luzhou village - the original home of Wong Fei Hong's Father. This complex features: Bao Zhi Lin, Bai Cao House, Hung Fei Hong Historical Relics Exhibition Hall, Guan Dexing Memorial Hall and martial arts patio, instruction and training schools.
Open: 8 - 5.30.
Entrance: Free - Part of Xiqiao general ticket price (Y50).
Performance Times: 9.30 - 11.30 and 2.30 to 5pm
Tel: 0757 8689 6189

Do not confuse this 'Pugilism Hall' with the Huang Fei Hong  Museum which is part of The Ancestral Temple in central Foshan. They also provide displays and demonstrations, and offer tuition similar to above.

Jingwu Society
This is an excellent academy which is devoted to exchanging martial arts skills with any other practitioners and societies worldwide. Members of the Foshan Jingwu society practice many forms of 'Boxing' as Kung Fu is often referred to, namely: Hung, Yongchun, Cai, Li and Fo. It is here that Americans will find what they call: Hun Gar.

There are many other Kung Fu schools in Foshan, both large and small; and given to different styles of Kung Fu. There are also Kung Fu working museums and memorial halls. The most publicised are:
• Huang Fei Hong Memorial Hall (Zumiao)
• Ip Man Memorial Hall (Zumiao)
• Huang Feihung Lion Dance and Martial Arts Centre (Xi Qiao and Zumiao)
• The former residence of Bruce Lee (Shunde Daliang), a museum that also features traditional 'Bone Setting' displays of Chinese medicine.


Perhaps what you really need to know is that Foshan is the modern home for Yongchun Gongfu and Wong Fei-Hong style, and a 'Must Visit' for any serious practitioners of Kung Fu. Please also remember, this is a general page for all levels of understanding. It is written by an Englishman who lives permanently in Foshan, and has no idea what Gongfu is really all about - I do like the films though!

This information is as supplied by China Expats and our friends, as dated 10th July 2010, and/or other reliable sources. Please check this information yourself as it may alter without notice, and whilst we try our best to ensure it is correct, please do not hold us responsible for any errors - this is intended as a simple guide only
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