Lum Fut Ga Kuen is a style of kung fu developed during
China's Ming Dynasty, which ruled during the 17th
century. The art was founded and developed by a
Buddhist monk using techniques from the five great
masters of the Shaolin temple: Lau, Lee, Mok, Hung and
Unlike many other martial art forms, Shaolin kung fu
origins are based in religion. The Shaolin Temple
was founded as a part of the Chan Sect, a school of
Buddhism adapted to the Chinese culture during the early
sixth century. The Chan Sect soon became the
dominant Buddhist school in China, with more than 79
percent of the country's temples practicing its
teachings. Two Shaolin temples were built, one for
the northern sect and one for the southern. These
Shaolin Temples distinguished themselves from the others
in that their monks were martial arts experts.
Throughout history, and still today, the life of a
Shaolin monk is dedicated to studying and living the
scriptures of Buddhism, and to intense martial arts
The geographical locations of the temples combined
with Chinese history led to the emphasis on martial arts within
the Shaolin lifestyle. Chinese history is one of numerous
wars and power struggles between regions and rulers.
The Shaolin temples, located in the center of the country,
served as refuges for many soldiers, dissidents, and persons fleeing
persecution. Several of these refugees were recognized
martial arts experts, and their combined presence at the temple
allowed for the exchange of different wushu styles and techniques.
This helped to refine and improve the techniques being taught
to the monks. The monks, in turn, fused these techniques with
their system of meditation and qigong. Martial arts training
also has a practical importance, as the temples needed to be protected
from marauders and pillagers. Chinese, and it was generally
believed that hand techniques were a more effective way of fighting
for a shorter person. The southern style also stressed a strong,
firm stance as a base for generating powerful hand techniques, and
movements that are simpler and more direct.
Fusion of Styles
The Five Great Masters of Shaolin developed the
basic wushu styles taught to early Shaolin monks.
Each style had unique techniques and emphasized
elements. For example, Hung Ga emphasized brute
strength and a low. Wide stance; Mok Ga famed for
its kicks; and Lau Ga was known for its locking hand
In the mid-1600s, a Shaolin disciple proficient in all five styles
sought to create a new form incorporating only best elements from each
of them. He was also influenced by a number of
gifted Chinese boxers seeking refuge at the temple.
In creating this new martial art form, he kept only the
techniques he felt were most efficient and discarded
those he considered less essential. The final
result became Sil Lum Fut Ga Kuen, meaning Shaolin
Buddhist Family Fist. This form contains
techniques from both northern and southern kung fu
styles, and from all five of the Great Masters.
Fut Ga Kuen's fundamental principle is based on the
idea that one's ultimate striking power is generated by
the velocity of the blow and the practitioner's ma bu or
foundation. With a solid foundation, the Fut Ga
Kuen practitioner, through his horse stance, produces
the highest degree of force behind every block or
strike. In addition, the efficient techniques are
designed to stress speed and quickness in the execution
of each individual move. The combination of
optimum force and velocity creates this ultimate power.
The art of Sil Lum Fut Ga Kuen was taught only within China
for nearly 300 years after is creation. In 1933, Sun Kung
Sifu Lum Dai Yong of Northern China accepted an invitation to
teach students at the first Chinese martial arts school ever
located outside the country. The school, Jing Moo Chinese
Physical Culture Association, had been established in Honolulu,
Hawaii, earlier that year. It was here that this style of
Fut Ga was first introduced outside of its native land.
Born in 1895, Lum Dai Yong was a Daoist priest raised and educated
in the Shaolin monastery where his father taught and resided. Although
only five-feet-nine and 135 pounds, he became an expert marital artist,
skilled enough to be a personal bodyguard for the Chinese Revolutionary
Sun Yat Sen. He was also well-versed in the growing and use of
Chinese herbs in spiritual and medical healing. In 1941, Professor
Lum opened his own martial arts school, naming the Gee Yung ("Go Forth:
Be Courageous") Chinese Physical Culture Association, which taught the
Fut Ga style exclusively.
One of Lum Sifu's student joined Jing Moo in 1937.
Although severe asthmatic, and lacking in self-esteem,
seven-year-old Arthur Lee would become Professor Lum's
prize pupil Upon Lum Sifu's death in 1957, the Gee
Yung Chinese Physical Culture Association was passed on
to Sifu Lee, who heads the club today.
Continuing the Style
Throughout his career as grandmaster and head
instructor of Gee Yung, Sigung Lee has always
perpetuated the Fut Ga art through widespread exposure
and instruction. Sigung Lee was the first Chinese
martial arts instructor in Hawaii to open his school to
students of non-Chinese ancestry. Martial arts
forms cannot be simply handed from one person to
another. They can only be passed on to new
generations through years of supervision and training.
Sigung Lee has continued to espouse the theories of
Fut Ga learned from Professor Lum. For example,
one major distinction between Fut Ga and other kung fu
styles is the huang ma, or walking horse training.
Most kung fu styles stress paung ma theory of training -
a level horse stance used to develop leg strength and
power. Sigung Lee teaches his students this stance
as part of their training routine, but puts more
emphasis on moving and shifting stances while
maintaining balance and solidity. Learning to
shift quickly and smoothly results in faster execution
Faster execution leads into a second tenet of Fut Ga,
the theory of "touch-go." Combinations of blocks
and counter-strikes are not done in individual steps,
but in one spontaneous movement. The block and
strike are executed simultaneously, as are following
combinations of blow and kicks. Fut Ga also
teaches to strike in threes - to not be satisfied with
one hit, but to follow up with at least two more
strikes. Combinations of blocks and strikes
require many weight shifts; the emphasis on speed in
execution demands that the student subtly and
effortlessly move from one stance to another.
Students spend many class hours training to increase
the speed of their hand and kicking techniques.
The importance of the walking horse training method is
how it develops the speed of shifting the practitioner's
stance to match the increased speed of hand and leg
movements acquired through training. As noted
previously, Fut Ga power is generated through velocity
of technique and maintaining the foundation.
Therefore, to acquire optimum force behind every move,
students must be able to shift stances as quickly as
they execute techniques. As the hands and legs
become faster, so must the ability to balance and
"plant" the foundation.
Fut Ga's Defining
Reflected in blocks, punches, and kicks - in its
simplicity. A major element of speed is traveling
the shortest distance between two points. In
addition to being the fastest way to travel, the
shortest way is also the more efficient tool.
Sigung Arthur Lee is part of a continuing legacy of
Sil Lum Fut Ga Kuen. The history and tradition of
this martial art dates back hundreds of years, and in
many ways reflect the history of the Chinese culture.
Sigung Lee feels that it is his responsibility to
continue this legacy by instructing and spreading Sil
Lum Fut Ga Kuen to new generations of practitioners.
In order to do so, there must be a continuing pool of
dedicated students seeking to become a part of Fut Ga's
history. Sigung Arthur Lee has always taught his
students that no martial art form including Fut Ga, is
better than any other. Instead, it is the amount
of effort and willingness to train and sacrifice that
improves the individual, and expands the limits of
achievement. Kung fu is a tool that can enhance
this self-development. In this way, says Sigung
Lee, "Kung fu is not just learning how to fight.
Kung fu is life."