Luk Tung Kuen (The Fists of the Six Passages) is an exercise system that has taken Hong Kong by storm, spread to enthusiastic participants in Australia, Canada, Europe and West Coast America, and now is coming to Salt Lake City.
Its originator, Master Ho King, at 78 looks as if she were in her 50s.She will be here for the annual Asian Festival on May 4 to demonstrate and teach the system. One of her Saturday classes will be in the Salt Palace Assembly Hall at 3:20 p.m., followed by a workshop-demonstration outside the Salt Palace on the West Temple side at 5 p.m. All classes are free, in line with Master Ho's philosophy.
She will also give a special workshop on Luk Tung Kuen at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 5, in the International Peace Garden at Jordan Park, 1060 S. 900 West. The community at large is invited to enjoy this free workshop.
Following the workshop, at 5 p.m., there will be a no-host dinner at the Ho Ho Restaurant, 1504 S. State St., $7 per person.
Her Salt Lake visit is partially sponsored by a grant from the Utah Arts Council and by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Salt Lake City's Margaret Yee encountered the exercise program on a visit to San Francisco and became an instant devotee. She did not rest until she was able to bring Master Ho to town.
"Luk Tung Kuen is an ancient Chinese exercise system, which was a secret and treasure of Master Ho's family, originated by her ancestors generations ago," said Yee. "Luk Tung Kuen is not a form of Chinese boxing, nor Kung Fu or Qigong; it's more like physical therapy, only you have to do it yourself."
The 36 separate exercises (each to be repeated five to 10 times) are based on traditional Chinese medical concepts. The whole workout takes 40 minutes and very simply but effectively exercises every organ, muscle, nerve and joint of the body, inside and out, said Yee.
"Fists of the Six Passages refers to the six main points of the body - the head, the two arms, the two legs and the torso - which you should keep strong at all times. Each exercise has a purpose, and all together they invigorate the body from head to toe, as well as the internal organs, by clearing the energy channels. The exercises also encourage the proper circulation of body fluids and double the body's intake of revitalized oxygen.
"Those who practice Luk Tung Kuen daily have found that many chronic diseases disappear imperceptibly," said Yee, who has found her own well-being enhanced since she took up the system. "The general health will be strengthened, and the immune system will build up as a fortress against disease. Many people have been able to dispense with pill-taking and triumph over illness.
"We have cases where people have been able to throw away their canes, stabilize their weight, and eliminate arthritic pain and crippling. Others have succeeded in controlling high blood pressure, heart disease, mental distress and depression, allergies, muscle spasms and even diabetic symptoms."
The vigorous and vivacious Master Ho is a living testimonial to her system's success. She was born and raised in mainland China, where her father was a doctor. When she married and moved to Malaysia and began to bear children, she experienced many health problems, none of which doctors could seem to remedy. In casting about for a cure, she remembered her family's traditional exercise, which her father had taught her as a child, but which neither she nor her family practiced regularly.
"She began to do the exercises, and her health problems immediately cleared up. She has done the exercises faithfully for 50 years in excellent health, though for a long time, in keeping with Chinese tradition, she would not share them outside her family, except with a few close friends.
"But people were begging her to teach them, and after much meditation, the answer came to her that it would be all right to share them with the world, if she did not charge for her knowledge. This she has done for the past five years, and whoever teaches her system must also promise not to charge."
About 200,000 people have taken up Luk Tung Kuen in Hong Kong, and there are large enclaves in western United States, Canada and Europe, taught by her pupils.
Many honors have come to Master Ho, through her selfless effort on behalf of health and well-being. Though she does not speak English, she spends considerable time in Los Angeles every year, and in 1986 received a certificate of appreciation from the City of Los Angeles for "exemplary efforts and accomplishments that have been of great value to the community." In 1988 she accepted two cups on behalf of her Liu Tung Exercise Club from the Community Chest of Hong Kong, one the Hong Kong Cup for major achievement and the other for having the highest number of participants in the agency's Walk for Millions.
The Asian Festival will take place on Saturday, May 4, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Assembly Hall at the Salt Palace, with admission $3, children under 5 free, children 5-11 $1, and adults over 60, $2. There will be traditional dance and music, food, exhibits and demonstrations, silent auction, children's art corner, art and photo contest, prize drawing and many other features.