Friday, November 4, 2011

A short history of Kung-Fu Theater

      During the early/mid 90's if you lived in the San Francisco Bay Area you were one of the few lucky enough to be able to witness the awesomeness of Kung-Fu Theater. Every Friday night around 1 a.m. A local channel KTSF 26 would play the trademark "Window to the World" song just before the coolest show on earth would begin. Kung-Fu Theater was a show similar to the likes of the Creature feature style show , As it featured niche movies , being Martial Arts films and they were hosted by local legend Master Tat Mau Wong. Wong would perform a cool exhibition before announcing each film and in between commercials for local Asian markets and restaurants Wong would bring in several Martial arts masters and folks who ran schools of several different styles of Kung-Fu and Karate as they would show self defense techniques and perform routines as well. As a child I could not get enough of this show as  I would stay up every Friday night and watch KTSF's programming in wait of the latest Shaw Bros. or Golden Harvest film to be broadcast. KTSF was actually a really neat channel on that special night as right before the lead in to the Theater ,CMC a music video show would play local Bay Area Rap videos featuring artists that were not seen anywhere else at the time, some of which that made it big years later like Too Short, Dre Dog, RBL Posse, Master P and E-40. After the greatness of Master Wongs show another local music show would come on called Potpourri which would feature avante garde films and Punk music videos, Ran by Local Record label Jelo Biafra's (Dead Kennedy's) Alternative Tentacles Records. Then to top it off when the channel came back on the air on Saturday morning they would re run The Theater again and then feature Global Championship Wrestling. So as you could imagine this was a dream for a young boy between the ages of 12 to 16 or so.

Now onto The host , Master Tat Mau Wong. Wong was a world renowned Martial Artist and Sifu of a form of Chinese Kick Boxing and weapons forms called Choi Lay Fut or Tiger Claw Gung Fu. Wong hosted several tournaments and ran several successful schools throughout the greater bay Area and later went on to open some world wide. Wong also was listed in Kung Fu Magazine's top 100 most influential Martial Artists list along the likes of Jackie Chan , Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and Sammo Hung. He was always entertaining too watch on the show as he would demonstrate some very interesting  techniques he also was a talented Dragon dancer as well . The show was always educational and entertaining and I sure wish there was something like it on this day in time, especially with the recent resurgence of the horror host show it would really be nice to see this interesting take on the hosted movie show as there never was and never has been anything like it ever again anywhere on T.V.
For a more detailed bio of Master Tat Mau Wong check out Wong's Academies website at http://tatwong.com/wong.php
He has a very interesting story indeed. One thing about the show I found strange is that there is literally no info about it on the web as it seems to have just disappeared and nothing was vaulted or archived at all which is sad because I think a DVD release of the seasons or anything would be awesome , I would give anything to be able to enjoy the show in some way again, SO this month I will be reviewing films that would be on that show in order to give folks who did not get to see it a small glimpse at what an awesome show it really was.


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