This Praying Mantis (Tong Lang Pai) system is about one hundred and eighty yearsold. It was created by Sam Dart, a monk of the Jook Lum (Bamboo Forest) Buddhist Monastery in the province of Kwong Sai, China.
Sam Dart taught his system to Lee Siem, a fellow monk of unusual intelligence and physical stamina. Under Sam Dart’s skillful instruction, Lee mastered the intricate and subtle techniques of the system. Abbot Lee Siem was also known as Hung Mui (red plum flower) in Southern China.
In the olden days, martial arts were taught mainly within the monasteries. Near the end of the Ching dynasty many changes in customs occurred. Chung Yu Chang was one of the first laymen to learn the Praying Mantis system from Abbot Lee Siem at the Jook Lum Temple.
Upon returning to his native province of Wai Yung, Chung Yu Chang opened a herbal medicine store with an associated Kung Fu school in the 1890’s. The school was called ‘Kwong Sai Jook Lum Temple Tong Lang Pai.”
This style became popular among the Hakka people of Wai Yung because of its deadly effectiveness. Chang was nicknamed “poison snake’ and was made the head teacher to the Hong Kong Hakka Ship and Dock-Workers Association.
Even in the early 1900’s the self-defense aspects of many Kung Fu systems had been lost. For this reason, and also to attract students, Chang displayed a sign reading, ~Broken Kung Fu Repaired.~
Abbot Lee Siem came to Hong Kong in the 1920’s to supervise the rebuilding of the Jook Lum Temple of Hong Kong (Kowloon today) and to build another temple in Macao. According to the late Grandmaster Lum Wing Fay (1910-1992) Lee Siem was well over 100 years old. The old monk took one of Chung Yu Chang’s youngest students, Lum Wing Fay, as a traveling companion and aide. Lum Wing Fay accompanied Lee Siem for seven years.
A third Kwong Sai Jook Lum school was opened in Kowloon in the 1930’s. Sifu Lum, at the age of twenty, ran this school. He was nicknamed “Monkey” because of his small stature, (5’2″, 120 lbs.) agility and fighting ability.
During the Sino-Japanese War in the late 1930’s, Lee Siem returned to Hong Kong for a reunion with his students, Chung Yu Chang and Lum Wing Fay. To preserve the Jook Lum system, he ordered Lum Wing Fay to leave Hong Kong because of the war. Hong Kong was soon overrun by the Japanese.
Sifu Lum ended up in Liverpool, England. He started to teach his Kung Fu system to the Hakka people in England. With the start of World War II, England was bombed. To preserve the system, Sifu Lum decided to go overseas. His ship was sunk and he was rescued by an American warship. This ship docked in Virginia where Sifu Lum was put ashore. Subsequently, Sifu Lum ended up in New York City’s Chinatown. In 1942, he started teaching in Chinatown’s Hakka organization, the New York Hip Sing Tong. Later he taught at the New York Chinatown’s Free Mason Association.
Master Gin Foon Mark is the present fifth generation master of this system. He began his study of Tong Lang Pai in the Jook Lum Temple in Kwong Sai. When he came to New York, he met Master Lum and continued his studies with him. When Lum Wing Fay retired, he appointed Master Mark to head the system, passing on the altar and its artifacts. There has been no discontinuity of person to person instruction since the inception of the system. None of the original forms, techniques, or subtle principles have been lost or defiled.