Transformation of Kung Fu and Martial Club in a Capitalist City- Hong Kong

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The research contextualizes the discussion on spatial changes in Martial Clubs (武館) and its relationship with transformation of Kung Fu techniques and skills in a capitalist city –Hong Kong. Hong Kong is claimed as an important place to promote the Chinese Kung Ku Culture after the great changes in Mainland China in 1949. This view emphasizes the importance of historical changes in mainland China and Kung Fu Sifus’ immigration to Hong Kong. The claim seems to highlight the preservation of Kung Fu Sifu for the “traditional” knowledge of Kung Fu in Hong Kong which may be lost in mainland China. The claim oversimplifies the process of preservation and knowledge transfer of Chinese Kung Fu, especially for ignoring the complexities of preserving the arts in the specific contexts of martial club in Hong Kong.

Martial Club is the physical and social space providing the following functions: 1) training and preservation for Kung Fu, 2) identification with the Kung Fu school and disciple, 3) social stratification for members (Sifu師父, Daizi弟子, Sihing師兄, Sidai師弟 and etc), social gathering and even the living place of Sifu. The imaginations of martial club (武館) are commonly found in Hong Kong action movies and even the articles about Chinese Kung Fu.

In a capitalist city –Hong Kong, the imaginations of martial club (武館) are illusions for the fields of Chinese Kung Fu. In highly urbanized Hong Kong, the development of city has made two impacts on the field of Chinese Kung Fu: 1) the decrease in the number of martial club and 2) compressing the spaces of martial club. The Sifu may change the body movements in such as steps and movements of Kung Fu forms to adapt to the physical environment in the context of urbanization. In this research, the researcher adopts in-depth interviews with Six Sifus of Southern schools (南派) and Northern schools (北派) and the field study for their martial clubs to investigate the impacts of urbanization on the transformation of traditional Kung Fu with their narratives and demonstrations of Kung Fu forms.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusSubmitted - 2017


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