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Sugong: The Life of a Shaolin Grandmaster


Sugong: The Life of a Shaolin Grandmaster

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    Available in PDF Format | Sugong: The Life of a Shaolin Grandmaster.pdf | English
    Nick Hurst(Author)
Nick Hurst was working in London when he threw in his job in advertising to train for four years in Malaysia and China with a kung fu grandmaster, Sugong. This book is a mix of Nick’s experiences in South-East Asia and the story of Sugong’s extraordinary life. Initiated into kung fu by an opium-addicted master, Sugong was expelled from school, kidnapped, and nearly killed in a family feud. All by the age of sixteen. He fled army conscription in China, only to be engulfed in a world of gangsters and blood-brothers in Singapore. Saved by a Shaolin warrior monk, his penance was eight years of fiercely-enforced temple training. A near-fatal fall-out with his master, love affairs, race riots and gangland vendettas all followed as he travelled through South-East Asia. Throughout, he struggled to adhere to martial arts’ ethics in an imperfect world. His story spanned fascinating periods of history of four Asian countries in Asia: war-torn 1930s China; instability in post-war Singapore; racial tension in the newly independent Malaysia; and a gangster-led Taiwan in the aftermath of its Chinese breakaway. The origins of Shaolin kung fu and triad organised crime are explored to provide a context to his life.

David Carradine's role as a Shaolin warrior monk in the early-Seventies American TV series Kung Fu sparked an interest in martial arts in the West, but few had the discipline to keep going. Nick Hurst is an exception: tiring of life in a London advertising agency, he went to Kuala Lumpur to train for four years with a real Chinese kung fu legend taught by Shaolin monks. Sugong – or "grandmaster" – stood just over 5ft but had a swagger and well-muscled presence that belied his stature. Aged nearly 80, he could still hammer six-inch nails into a plank of wood with his bare hands. Hurst's account reveals the brutal training regime he suffered at Sugong's hands, at times literally, before winning grudging respect. But when the Englishman asked to write about his master's life, the response was initially hostile. It is an extraordinary story. Sugong paid for his early lessons by stealing opium from an uncle. Expelled from school, kidnapped and nearly killed in a family feud, he avoided army conscription by fleeing to Singapore, only to be dragged into life as a drug-runner to pay for his passage. To escape, he spent eight years at a Shaolin temple. Always restless, he left to live on his wits and fists in triad-dominated Taiwan, then founded martial arts schools and enjoyed peace and prosperity back in Malaysia before dying aged 83 in 2009. By bringing his dramatic tale to a wider audience the English pupil has amply repaid his debt to his master. (Simon Redfern 2012-06-17)It is an extraordinary story... By bringing his dramatic tale to a wider audience the English pupil has amply repaid his debt to his master. (Simon Redfern 2012-06-17)

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Book details

  • PDF | 288 pages
  • Nick Hurst(Author)
  • Sportsbooks; UK ed. edition (12 April 2012)
  • English
  • 8
  • Society, Politics & Philosophy

Review Text

  • By ChunLi on 8 April 2014

    I study kung fu under Nam Pai Chuen (Sugong's UK school) and I enjoyed reading about his life. He is quite a character and led an inspiring life.

  • By Mr. D. J. Hill on 16 May 2012

    Admittedly, I read a lot and I read very quickly. It is not uncommon for me to read a book in a day. That said, it has been a fair while since I found one that seemed so good that I was almost unable to put it down. This book is one of those and should I fail any of the exams I have recently taken, then I lay the blamely solely at the feet of Mr. Nick Hurst.I am a martial artist (though much of my experience lies with the Japanese Arts), so perhaps it was likely I'd find something in it. However, when I recently went to visit a friend and left the book on the table at her place, in order to make some tea (yes, I'm the sort to take a book when visiting people), I found her several pages in and unwilling to stop. She is not a martial artist, but she has elicited a promise that I will allow her to borrow it. I can safely assume, then, that even for the non-practising population there is something to be found within the pages. Actually, that reminds me; the pages are really nice quality. I actually enjoyed the physical act of turning them (I say as a confirmed kindle user), plus the cover is nice too. I know those last points are slightly irrelevant, but...

  • By RobVeling on 22 April 2012

    I found this book to be an excellent read. It depicts the trials and tribulations of a Kung Fu grand master and the author's experiences from training with him.Sugong has lived an incredible life, from run-ins with various shady parts of the underworld to setting up businesses, but most of all his dedication to his art. Nick interspices accounts of Sugong's life story with anecdotal stories of his own time training with him, which can be highly amusing.Well written and very interesting, I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in martial arts, but I also think that anyone with an interest in the East and their culture over the ages would find this a good read as well.I finished the book in 3 days, it had me riveted!

  • By Kim Halliwell on 25 April 2012

    An amazing book about an amazing man. I was hooked from the first page and couldn't put it down. This book gives a wonderful insight to the life of Sugong not just from a martial arts perspective, but on a personal level as well.

  • By MG on 24 May 2012

    I've just closed the last page of Sugong for the second time. What a great book. It documents an extraordinary man's struggle to stay on the righteous path in a turbulent world of gangsters and social change. It's a history book, a biography and an investigation into some of the mysteries surrounding martial arts such as what is chi and how can practitioners break bricks with their bare hands. Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" suggests people may need 10,000 hours of practice before achieving greatness. Here is a man who may well have practiced and taught his art for over 50,000 hours during his lifetime - no surprise then he was doing the splits and showing off with one armed press ups into his 80s! Nick Hurst's touching portrayal of Sugong's life is an achievement in its own right - I understand it was very difficult it was to get Sugong to agree to interview sessions and then even more difficult to get him to discuss what Nick, CG and Mr Tan wanted to - but also an invaluable contribution to the domain of martial arts literature, and above all a fun read.When's the film coming?!

  • By N Wall on 22 April 2012

    Very enjoyable. The reader's treated to a combination of kung fu, cultural history, personal journal, and a biography of a fascinating man - Sugong.

  • By Alun (Wales) on 24 April 2012

    Wow, what an incredible book! Nick Hurst's account of a kung fu master's life, is riveting reading.Couldn't put it down.

  • By rubber.bullet on 29 May 2012

    A great book about a great man, totally committed and dedicated to his Martial Art. Without people like Sugong, and his master before him, Kung Fu would not be practiced outside of China. I am honoured to train in this style of Kung Fu, which has been passed on to his predecessors, and is now a worldwide and popular system.

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