The economics of Hong Kong kung fu

Hong Kong’s streets are safer, with fewer murders by the fierce crime organizations known as triads that figured in so many kung fu films. And its real estate is among the world’s most expensive, making it difficult for training studios to afford soaring rents.

Gone are the days when “kung fu was a big part of people’s cultural and leisure life,” said Mak King Sang Ricardo, the author of a history of martial arts in Hong Kong. “After work, people would go to martial arts schools, where they’d cook dinner together and practice kung fu until 11 at night.”

With a shift in martial arts preferences, the rise of video games — more teenagers play Pokémon Go in parks here than practice a roundhouse kick — and a perception among young people that kung fu just isn’t cool, longtime martial artists worry that kung fu’s future is bleak.

High studio rents are of course a big problem:

…According to Mr. Leung’s organization, the International WingTsun Association, former apprentices have opened 4,000 branches in more than 65 countries, but only five in Hong Kong…

“Kung fu is more for retired uncles and grandpas.”

That is from Charlotte Yang at the NYT, interesting throughout and yet I hear the author is only a summer intern.


And i thought that everybody loved kung fu fighting.

Amirite? Eh?

Ill, uh, let myself out.

The lyrics are actually "everybody WAS kung fu fighting".

And if this article is true, than those lyrics, and their use of the past tense, has never been more accurate.

Ah, you are totally right. I hate myself.

"“You can see how fierce Thai boxing is from watching professional matches,” she said. “But I rarely see such competition for kung fu, which makes me wonder whether those kung fu masters really are good at fighting or they just claim to be,” she said." - but in Muay Thai they also pull punches, especially in tourist towns like Phuket, since the fighters have to fight night-after-night and you can't expect them to go full out 100% under those conditions. For self-defense, the best weapon is escape, run or drive away.

No the best weapon for self-defense is to be Batman, or Captain America. Those guys are tough.

1, Run
2. Gun
3. MMS
4. Toss the wallet, see 1 above.

There is a difference between Muay Thai that is offered as a show to tourists and the real deal. Real Muay Thai is pretty fierce and just one step below mixed martial arts.

The decline of Kung Fu likely has a strong negative correlation with the raise of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Tyler, if you aren't familiar with the early days of the UFC, I'd suggest you read about it, you'll find it fascinating.


Betcha the Asian martial arts would be doing just fine if they hadn't been convincingly shown to be a form of dance rather than a useful fighting style. Certainly there's been massive change in the North American training market. I'd have been surprised if there was no impact abroad.

Are Muay Thai, Judo, Karate forms of dance? Or not "Asian martial arts"?

Muay Thai is apparently not a thing. Nor is K1-style karate. What are you talking about?

Yes, they're forms of dance with rules prohibiting effective technique.

For example, one lesson from the early days of MMA (though it should have been obvious to anyone who observed actual fighting) is that it's essentially impossible to prevent grappling unless the rules forbid it or require it be broken up.

Judo has some things going for it, and it's the source for some more modern forms.

I should have realized this would bring out the "I've spent 20 years of my life on X, of course X is valuable!" crew. I didn't mean to insult anybody. It's completely fine to practice sports that kind of look like fighting. Most sports are like that.

Seems to be plenty of UFC fights featuring little or no grappling nowadays.

No, I think it's just funny that you seem to fancy yourself some kind of expert on fighting but you seem to only base your opinion on early UFC.

This is why nobody trains in striking at all, right? Literally nobody knows any striking. Pure BJJ guys are dominating UFC today. Machida, McGregor, both of those guys practiced dance before they learned how to fight.

"Seems to be plenty of UFC fights featuring little or no grappling nowadays."

Oh for the love of god, have you followed the history at all?

"No, I think it’s just funny that you seem to fancy yourself some kind of expert on fighting but you seem to only base your opinion on early UFC." "This is why nobody trains in striking at all, right?" "Pure BJJ guys are dominating UFC today."

You're fighting with a strawman. It probably feels familiar.

Last I checked, Muay Thai is Asian, and the guys who pioneered K1 were all either from kyokushin, Muay Thai, or kickboxing offshoots.

And I hear judo is Japanese.

But hey, what do I know, I just train in martial arts.

Define "useful fighting style". Surely if you are training for purposes of self-defense (against people who presumably are not trained fighters), then it doesn't matter as much whether a Brazilian jiu jitsu master can beat up a Wing Chun grandmaster?

I mean, when I learned Wing Chun, it certainly wasn't mostly dancing or whatever. Yes, there were forms to learn, but we also did sparring, and got a whole lot of practical tips about how to use techniques in real-life situations. Yeah, even if I got really good I'd still lose to someone in an MMA competition, but that wasn't really why I was learning it.

Would a typical hockey player have something to fear from a typical karate black belt? No, he wouldn't. Would he have something to fear from a typical person with modern MMA training, yeah, maybe so. Weight class matched, at least.

I do recall getting into a flame war in the early days with UFC as to whether it was staged. Maybe the sumo wrestler getting his teeth knocked out was real, but perhaps more prosaically he should have been wearing a mouth guard. And UFC does have rules, such as no grabbing of nuts, eye gouges, etc. I say it's still largely staged.

If they were staged, I assume they would be more exciting than two dudes rolling around on the ground for 15 minutes.

I know you are trolling but UFC recently cancelled the hugely anticipated and hyped headline fight of its big 200th pay-per-view event because they found evidence one of the fighters might have been doping. That's not something you do if your sole objective is maximizing revenue and creating a spectacle for the audience.

Maybe MRU should extend a hiring invitation to Charlotte Yang.

She would likely have to reveal her favorite color, though.

I wonder why schools or similar venues are not suitable for martial arts practice. A government school could be rented out in the evenings and the revenue used to either reduce the cost to tax payers or enhance school budgets. Seems like a win/win.

Hong Kong Phooey begs to differ

Something else Pokemon Go is getting the blame for...
“Pokemon Go" is a conspiracy between Japan and the U.S. to undermine the BeiDou system, Chinese national security officials say in earnest. Using GPS, the game makes it possible to draw maps and take photos of restricted areas and identify the locations of missiles by positioning game characters in various places across China, they say…

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