Tuesday, January 29, 2019

End of an Era, Master Gin Foon Mark R.I.P.

On December 19th, my teacher, Master Gin Foon Mark passed to the Bamboo Temple above. I was introduced to master Mark in 1984 by my classmate, Orley Pettiford. Orley took me to a Chinese New Year celebration and demo at the Mark's school on 3rd in  Minneapolis. I saw him many other times, at his restaurant where we ate with my Tai-Chi teacher, Master T.T. Liang during a seminar, at my Masonic Lodge, Master Mark was also a Freemason. But the most important was at my school around 2010


Master Mark came to visit me at my school and watched class. After class was over, he stayed, did a little demo, and then asked me to help him write a book about Southern Praying Mantis! I said I would help him, but I only know a little about his style. My classmate, Orley Pettiford, was one of Master Mark's first disciples and also taught me some of the basics of that style in exchange for private pushing-hands lessons. Master Mark said no worries, he would work with me privately so I could better understand his style and it's applications. I also got a lot of the history as well.

For over two years I studied privately with Master Mark. I also learned calligraphy and sin-gung. I would also take Master Mark out on a weekly basis to go for rides in the country, eat at restaurants like Keefer Court, Ho Ho, Hong Kong Noodle,   and House of Wu. We even took a paddleboat down the Mississippi River. All the time I got stories, techniques, and hands-on instruction. The result is my book, Kwong Sai Jook Lum Southern Praying Mantis Kung-Fu.

During this time I got to see and read many of Master Mark's manuscripts, notes, and his teacher Lam Sang's drawings and notes on the style. One time, at Subway, Master Mark pulled out of his wallet, a handwritten paper, by his teacher, Lam Wing-fay. It showed the 36 points of Dim-Mak, their locations, timing, and results. I asked if I could copy it and he handed it to me! I scanned it and gave it back to him the next day. He took the original back and said to keep the copy for myself.

There is so much to write about this pioneer of Chinese Martial Arts in America. Not only was he a deadly fighter, but he was an artist, educator, and loving family man. And that family extended to all his students and fellow practioners. Rest in Peace Master Gin Foon Mark!

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