I recently posted on Facebook about the passing of Louie Jack Man, a master of Jook Lum Gee Tong Long Pai, (translated: Bamboo Forest Temple Praying Mantis Family) a traditional Chinese kungfu system, which (along with a couple of other systems) is often referred to as Southern Praying Mantis or SPM. Several people have asked me about it, so here is the short version of the story:
In 1995 I began training in Jook Lum mantis with my Sifu Roger Hagood. Louie Sifu was Sifu Hagood’s first Southern Mantis teacher, he was Louie Sifu’s first student. He also trained with several others, including Master Gin Foon Mark, 5th generation Master of Jook Lum. Although I have spent some time practicing some other styles & systems, Jook Lum has been my primary martial expression. It is a principle-based system of fighting that is both internal and external, soft and hard. Centerline attack and defense, sticking hands and vital point striking are primary components of this system.
Here are some images of Louie Sifu and Sifu Hagood demonstrating Jook Lum skills, provided by Sifu Hagood:
Sifu Hagood had a school in the first floor of his Brentwood TN home and we trained there for a couple of years before he moved to Decatur AL. For a couple more years I drove 2 hours down to Decatur, did class and drove 2 hours back, sometimes not getting home until 3 in the morning, sore and bruised from hard training. Eventually regular classes became impractical, but I continued this on and off until he moved to China in 2002, even taking on a few students along the way. We remained in contact via email and I continued to practice Jook Lum, although admittedly not with the same level of commitment as the days in the Brentwood or Decatur schools.
In 2006 I met Sifu David Stephens of Shaolin Concepts in Nashville and found out that we had both walked similar paths in our Jook Lum training. He had a direct link to both Louie Sifu and Master Gin Foon Mark and is currently the official Gin Foon Mark branch school in Nashville. I was very happy to have found a new training partner who was willing to explore the depth of the SPM skill we had each been taught. Sifu Stephens and I have shared our notes from our individual experiences and Louie Jack Man’s teaching is deeply embedded in everything we do.
In 1997, Sifu Hagood launched www.bambootemple.com and has had various schools and study groups since. A few months ago he invited me to be listed as a branch school instructor . I agreed and he sent me my teaching certificate from China. I had taught classes both privately and at his school, so it is nice to have official documentation. During our correspondence, Sifu Hagood informed me that 81 year old Louie Sifu was in very poor health and that he would likely not be with us much longer.
I only met Louie Sifu once, in 1997, when I was visiting Philadelphia. He was working at a restaurant at the time and I was able to visit him there. He sat and talked with me for about an hour about kungfu theory and philosophy.
Regrettably, scheduling did not allow me to train with him or even visit his school. I am thankful that I got to meet when I did. His knowledge of Jook Lum was encyclopedic and even though I never actually trained with him directly, his spirit and influence is with me every time I practice SPM.
Rest in peace Sifu Louie Jack Man.