Kong Han Athletic Club, the second oldest kung fu school in the Philippines celebrated its 77th anniversary this month with a friendly tournament in the tradition of lèi tái, the full contact martial arts contest of old China, at Lucky Chinatown Mall in Binondo, Manila.
Kong Han, located in Binondo, is under the guidance of its current Grandmaster Siensi Henry Lo, who inherited the Kong Han Martial Arts Club mantle from his father, the late great Grandmaster Lo King Hui in 1995.
Fighters from the Philippines, China, Canada and India competed in two-round bouts and the participants were Edwin Ting, Zeus Tan, Joseph Cudilla, Jet Tyrone Lao, Bianca Dayanghirang, Fidel Ballesteros, Tajinder Ubhoo, Edison Zhuang, Benetta Abraham, Victor Chow, Thai Tran and Bryan Kun.
“This is a friendly competition and they are all winners,” said Kong Han Grandmaster Siensi Henry Lo,” There is no loser here. All of them used the wu zhu quan style.”
Through the years, Kong Han, founded by Dr. Lo Yan Chu has chosen to stick to the traditional ways of kung fu emphasizing quality over quantity.
Lo, a third generation grandmaster said the school emphasizes the value of self-confidence, responsibility, martial virtue, and good moral character among its students.
“We do not commercialize our school since we are more of traditional martial arts,” the 54-year-old Lo told The Manila Times. “It’s not like school that teaches wushu, karate and tae kwon do, among other disciplines, which accept a lot of members. Kong Han has its own way of selecting its student. If you don’t follow the sacred certain rules, you don’t simply qualify.”
“Quality remains to be our priority than quantity. We want our students to embrace all the philosophies and teaching of Kong Han physically and mentally,” he said. “Since from the beginning of our school, we really wanted to produce best students and we’re still doing that until now.”
Lo also explained that Kong Han is not a Chinese martial art style like wing chun, nanquan, ng ga kuen, choy li fut and hakka, among other hundreds different styles. “Kong Han is a martial arts school based here in Philippines and some other countries,” he explained.
Lo said that Kong Han is teaching the Five Ancestors’ Fist or wu zhu quan, which consists of strikes, locks, takedown, self-defense and is considered good for the health too.
“There are many traditional styles of Chinese martial arts, but we’re only using wu zhu quan,” said Lo, who first started studying the Five Ancestors’ Fist when he was five-year-old.
Wu zhu quan originated in the Southern Shaolin temple in Fujian, China.
Lo also said that for the past 77 years, Kong Han School has produced around 10,000 quality students around the world.
Besides its schools in Binondo and Iloilo, Kong Han has branches in United States, Canada, Brazil, Greece, Germany and Denmark.
“We have good training facilities but we’re not the oldest martial arts school in the Philippines. There is Chin Wu school in the Philippines,” Lo said.
Kong Han’s started when Dr. Lo Chan Yu arrived in Manila in 1938 during Japan’s invasion of China. Yu is starting a medical mission in the Philippines then a few days later he received a request to teach martial arts.
According to the school’s official site www.konghankungfu.com, Kong means fiery, bright, brilliance or shining while Han is the ancestral term for the people of China. The animal symbol in the club’s coat of arms is a tiger.
Lo said that his late grandfather trained guerrillas in wu zhu quan to fight the Japanese Imperial troops who invaded Manila in the early 1940s. Lo Yan Chu passed away at age of 66 because of heart failure in 1944.
Lo’s eldest son Lo King Hui returned to Manila in March 1945 to rebuild the Kong Han Athletic Club.