“When I was very small, I was attracted to the martial arts; mostly through movies…”

“Then when I went to the UK, I had basic training in Wing Chun. This was about 32 years ago. When I came back (to Malaysia), it was mostly Wing Chun and Aikido.

I have tried many different martial arts but Wing Chun stands out to me because of its effectiveness in close combat. 

The purpose of kungfu or martial arts of any kind, when applied into real life, is very akin to an artist. Instead of piling on more paint, or more clay to a structure, what he does is he chips of parts from the block, chips off the unnecessary parts to reveal the structure within. 

Wing Chun to me is beautiful – it is very scientific in nature and is practical. And I think the way it employs speed and power makes up a very complete package. 

Martial arts pushes you to be disciplined, and its practice pushes you to seek peace within the mind, to realise that the true opponent in this world not external. It is basically, you.

It (martial arts) has helped me in the sense of the inward search of meaning and value, and to a certain extent truth. ” – Sifu Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin, Wing Chun Cheras – Kung Fu Centre

For a video of this story, stay tuned to Humans of Kuala Lumpur

Story by Christine Cheah
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(This post was first published on February 26th 2018)

“There were five against the two of us. There was a lot of noise… shouting, screaming… There was this group of ‘mat salleh’… they were much bigger and taller, and they attacked first…”

“This was in UK, 1992. I was working in a restaurant as a waiter. It was a popular place, and customers were lining up, in the cold winter, trying to get a table.

Outside, there was this tipsy group of five telling the customers ‘don’t go to this restaurant’. They got very upset with us (me and another co-worker) trying to tell them off. I was the only one with some skills (martial arts). Their coordination was not too good because they were tipsy but my skills came in handy. Yes, there was physical exchange between us then, and later, the police came but they had taken off at that time. 

It was the only time I had to use kungfu. It was for self-defence and for the safety of the customers. I hope I don’t have to use it again.

The motions of martial arts, its discipline, the physical expression actually is introspective. It begins with what it apparently is – a physical training. It makes your stronger and faster. It makes an individual grow. The motion of martial arts, its discipline, its physical expression are meant to turn you inwards. You are really in a sense defending yourself. We hope to get more and more people to join. That’d be nice.” – Sifu Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin, Wing Chun Cheras – Kung Fu Centre.

Story by Christine Cheah
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(This post was first published on February 20th 2018)

Why did you take up kungfu classes?

“I took up kungfu for self-defence. I’m too small and I was always bullied. Today, I can use kungfu to fight but I don’t want to. I will only use Wing Chun when I need to.”

“I want to have a good-looking body, with no fats.” – sworn brothers in kungfu.

Story by Christine Cheah 
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(This post was first published on February 18th 2018)

“I’m Malay. Kungfu and martial arts, in general is blind to creed, religion and geographical origins….”

“As a practitioner of the art, I have never felt that my creed, race or ethnicity has affected me in any way, in either my training as a martial artist or teaching of the art.

When we set up this school (in Cheras) three to four years ago, it was more in a sense of finding a place that’s not too expensive. This is a non-profit organization. We don’t do it for profit. I mean the students pay fees, but the purpose is for each student to contribute for the place of training. 

Just like any school, this is a place where people grow up, and it’s about finding yourself. I think I’ve seen it with the students that come through here, and stayed for a significant amount of time and they become really good friends. There is camaraderie of sorts, a feeling that they belong to the same journey.

We call it the kungfu brotherhood. That’s why in kungfu you refer to each other as your elder brother, younger brother, your sister… It’s a family, and I think the idea of family was born out of the fact that everybody in the journey is responsible for the expression of the art, and the spread of the art. It’s been wonderful seeing this place evolve to be an extended family, for me and for the students.

To me, teaching is about the sharing of the experience or journey, of course you undertake a certain amount of formal teaching, but the satisfaction comes from the evolution of the individual that began as a novice… where you see the awkwardness, the stuttering steps.

Then almost like a flower blossoming, several months later, you see improvements, you see the rise in confidence, you see the increase in passion, and you see that double and triple as they continue in the journey. 

They come to a stage where they are matured in the understanding of the art, and they take it to the next level, and when that happens, to a lesser or greater degree, depending, you feel you have given something, and that feeling of having given something, that’s the most satisfying thing for me.” – Sifu Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin, Wing Chun Cheras – Kung Fu Centre.

Story by Christine Cheah (Yu Ping May)
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(This post was first published on February 18th 2018)