Why We Train:
Three Generations of Cultural Study
Choosing Your Ancestors
Lucky enough to stumble upon the rare art of Jook Lum “Praying Mantis” gung fu, I studied under John Clark Sifu for over 7 years. Later, I was fortunate to have my Sifu introduce me to, and develop a relationship with, Louie Jack-man. This, already, was a great privilege.
In 2009, under Clark Sifu’s invitation, I was admitted into the “pai”, or clan, through a traditional ritual of discipleship. In the eyes of my teachers, I had earned a place amongst the lineage of our cultural family. A few too-short-years after, Louie Jack-man Sifu passed away.
This is the story of why we train. It is a nuanced tale of what holds us together and why we are impassioned to practice an art regarded by most today as irrelevant. It speaks to why gung fu is more than just fighting, but a systematic design for living.
When asked to create a visual narrative for IDEO.org’s Global Fellowship, I wanted to share with IDEO something of great importance to me, but was otherwise rarely articulated to others. My mind instantly thought of creating a short documentary-style video interviewing my gung fu teacher, John Clark, to expound upon the history of this cultural art I’ve made an integral part of my life. I hint at the fact that I view martial arts as a manifestation of cultural design, of heritage design.
As I worked with my teacher and fellow classmate in creating this piece, we realized we had a potential short film on our hands—if not for the world, then for us, to internally process how much this all meant to each of us.
Of that footage, I decided to create an homage to our latest lineage’s forebear, Louie Jack-man, articulating the side of gung fu unknown to most. I took this project as an opportunity to foreshadow a potential larger narrative to be crafted in the future, as a dedication to Jook Lum and to the man who chose us to carry on a legacy.
Louie Jack-man Sifu: 5th Generation Jook Lum Master
John Clark Sifu: 6th Generation Jook Lum Instructor
Direction: Phillip Le
Cinematography: Arvil Prewitt & Phillip Le
Editing: Phillip Le
Narrative Concept: Phillip Le
Music: Clint Mansell, The Last Man The Fountain OST
Learn about the gift I was given from a grandfather I never met, the catalyst to my training in gung fu.