Your 52 years of research and training, in various Martial systems, is well known, but what specifically drew you to Hakka Praying Mantis Kung fu?
Read the FULL INTERVIEW HERE: https://hakka-mantis.com/rdh-interview-001-by-tyler-rea-a-southern-mantis-retrospective-july-28-2018/
After returning to the USA, from Korea, circa mid 1970s, I was living in Kentucky. There were Chinese restaurants, but no Chinese Kungfu. There was lots of TKD and some Karate. So every weekend I would drive and expand my perimeter, until one day 180 miles away, I found Louie Jack Man Sifu working, as a Chef, at the House of Wan restaurant, in Bowlingreen. It took me three three months to persuade him to teach me. His style was Southern Mantis. I had trained Northern Shandong Mantis, but had never heard of Southern Mantis. (Even the Wushu Authorities, in Shandong, had not heard of Hakka Southern Mantis, in the late 1980s – I traveled to Jinan to inspect…)
I didn’t like Louie Sifu’s style, at first. I was used to long stances and wide arcing strikes. Louie Sifu’s Southern Mantis was upright, a high horse mostly, with direct straight to the target strikes. I remember telling some friends that Southern Mantis seemed odd. But, I persisted over the next few years every weekend, with Louie Sifu, and after some 18 months – Southern Mantis began to make sense to me. It was rooted, yet agile, intent on the targets, soft and hard. I was Louie Sifu’s first student, in the USA.
Circa 1979, Louie Sifu suggested I move to Minnesota and train with Mark Foon Sifu. Louie, Mark and I spoke on the phone that year. And so, I did move to MN and made Ceremony to Gin Foon Mark, in 1980.
Initially I trained with Louie Sifu, because it was the only Kungfu around. But later, I trained because the Style suited me – it was functional, combat ready, not a “flower hand”. It was “nothing for show, everything for use”.