Friday, 20 February 2015

Leong Fu's Kung Fu Karato

Leong Fu was a Malaysian wrestler who during the 1930's challenged the worlds best
martial artists and defeated them all. In 1950 he retired undefeated and spent the rest of
his days teaching willing followers of his unimpeachable self defense technique known as
Kung Fu Karato: Atado.

His words were compiled into a massive tome which contained his own hand drawn
diagrams and step by step instructions on how to perform each move. Those unable to
access the book directly could learn and practice with the aid of mini magazine guides
which for a fee could be delivered by mail each month. I chanced upon a collection of
these guides in a flea market a while ago and recently rediscovered them under my bed.

I've halfheartedly attempted to learn Kung Fu Karato but have unfortunately not quite
become the invincible death punching master I hoped to be. No matter though because
reading through the guides is a massively entertaining experience on it's own. Leong Fu
uses hyperbolic statements throughout the series to vividly emphasize the effectiveness
of his self-defence techniques. Some of his lines are almost poetic in their clumsiness, at
times even coming across as satirical.

The drawings themselves also share a charming freehand quality. The box panel format
used to frame the diagrams and the frequent use of dynamic impact effects also helps to
enhance the overall comic book feel of the series. I have been experimenting with some
of them to create live demonstrations of Atado moves. Pictured are some GIFs completed
which translate beautifully into animation despite their uneven quality. I plan to develop
these sketches further to create a mini series on Leong Fu and the art of Kung Fu Karato.