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Biography of Master Mark
Master Mark has been teaching Kung Fu for more than fifty years. In 1947 he began teaching in Chinatown, New York, when some trade associations requested that he instruct their young members. He has had Kwoons in New York, Philadelphia and Minneapolis. In Philadephia, he had classes in a Y.M.C.A. and at Temple University and also taught self-defense to the police. He is one of the few living people who were trained in monasteries when they were strongholds of Kung Fu.
The fifth Master,Gin Foon Mark, came from a family of four generations of Kung Fu experts. His Kung Fu studies began at the age of five under his uncles and grandfather. At the age of nine he was admitted to the Chun San Shaolin Temple and studied with the famous monk Ki Fut Sai. He received instruction in Si Lum, White Crane, Eagle Claw, Leopard and Tiger. He also studied Tiger Claw in the Hoi Jung Temple, Praying Mantis in the Jook Lum Monastery and Moo Gai, a martial form of Qigong similar to Tai Chi. In these monasteries, Master Mark was schooled in Ming Kung, self-defense and healing arts; Shin Kung, spirit Kung Fu; Chi Kung, the use of internal power for martial arts and health. This included Iron Shirt, Iron Palm, Cotton Palm and Dim Mak. He continued his studies of Praying Mantis in the United States under Lum Wing Fay for ten more years. When Master Lum retired, he designated Mark to be his successor in accordance with established tradition. Master Mark thought so highly of Praying Mantis that he decided to devote his life to only teaching this system even though he was an expert in other systems.
Master Mark was one of the first Masters to openly teach Kung Fu to occidentals. He was featured on Prism television and the subject of an educational film “Kung Fu Master”. Since he was famous, he was selected to appear on “You Asked for It”. This television program depicted the reunion of Master Mark and his teacher, Master Lum. Sifu Mark has also been featured on Prism television. Master Mark’s home state, Minnesota, considered him such a noteworthy figure that he was elected to their Living History Museum. In 1982, Master Mark was selected for the World Master’s Symposium at Temple University.
Bruce Lee was one of Master Mark’s students. He was so impressed with the effectiveness of Praying Mantis in combat, that he adopted many of its principles in creating Jeet Kune Do.
In 1979 Master Mark went back to China. During his stay he studied Six Sounds Qigong under a famous Tai Chi and Qigong Master, simply known as “Old Master”, in Beijing.
When Master Mark was a small boy in the monasteries he watched his teachers painting and also received lessons. Since drawing materials were hard to get and expensive, he practiced in the sand with bamboo for a brush, frequently in a horse stance held for a long time. He painted more and more as he grew older and is now an outstanding Chinese painter.
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