Ipohworld's World

Saving Yesterday For Tomorrow

Well there was one man at least in Ipoh who was very much into it, particularly ‘Kung Fu Karato’. He was known as Leong Fu and he lived at 119 Anderson Road, Ipoh. Not only was he into the art, he was the world champion, having fought in all parts of the Kung Fu world and beaten all comers. When he retired he did so as the unconquered champion of the Kung Fu world.

Subsequently in 1947 he produced a massive book describing the many moves that an exponent needs to learn. Here is the cover and a part of the title page of that book for your viewing.

This, truly a giant book, lent to us by Charlie,  measures 10 x 12 inches and is 2.25 inches thick, with hundreds of drawings of the different stances and moves needed tp be practiced. Despite its size, it sold all over the world as is shown in the last few pages by a wide range of letters and photographs of people who benefitted from the publication. Leong Fu clearly put Ipoh on the world map!

Now the question is how can we obtain a photograph of the King of Kung Fu Karato? Does anyone know his family or have a photo we could scan? We really need to feature Leong Fu on our history database as there is no doubt that he made history.

We look forward to hearing from you.

  1. AHLAI says:

    If I am not mistaken, Leong Fu was the uncle of Merrill Leong who is a regular contributor to Ipohworld. He should be able to help throw some light into the illustrious life and works of this uncle of his.
    I only heard but never saw him in the ring as I was still a small boy. But in his later life when he was promoting his food business with his wife, I patronised his stall and he was on-hand to talk to customers.

  2. C K Leong says:

    I am sure Merrill will be able to help. He has good history skills.
    If he has not got a picture of Leong Fu aka Edward Leong, I might be able to.

  3. mah kin fatt says:

    i remember the leong fu chicken chop stall in ipoh garden south back in the early 80’s. it had a picture of his face on the signboard.

  4. Merrill Leong says:

    Lee Leong Fu is the nom de guerre of Edward Leong Choo Liang. And Ahlai is correct, he is my uncle, the younger brother of my father, Robert Leong Choo Meng (ACS teacher).

    Leong Fu was a world renown wrestler in his hey days and became very famous with his defeat of his arch foe King Kong (who in real life was his very good friend).

    Disciples of Atado and Karato (2 martial art forms he created) would come from all over the world to pay homage to him, and his advice to them was always the same… practice restraint. In his later years, he became a devout Christian and advocated the way of love. Martial skills are only to be used in self defense and for the protection of the weak.

    Although relatively short at around 5 feet 2, he was immensely strong. I remember him nearly collapsing his metal office desk one day when he whacked it with his fist in a rare display of anger.

    Most of the hundreds of illustrations in the featured book were contributed by my own father using my hands and fists as models. Please do not think for a moment that I have inherited Leong Fu’s Kung Fu skills as a result of this… I have not… too lazy to learn it.

    The family of the late Leong Fu celebrated the 80th birthday of his widow beginning of May recently. I’ll have a talk with my aunty and mebbe get from her some pictures and articles of him from the past.

  5. ika says:

    Merrill, thanks for the post. I do hope you can get some history and photos about him as he is a “must” to be recorded in our archive of Ipoh and the Kinta Valley.

    mah kin fatt what a great memory – does anyone have a photo of that signboard please?

  6. Merrill Leong says:

    BTW, the book was not produced in 1947, but 1967. MCMLXVII translates to…

    M = 1000
    CM = 1000 – 100 = 900
    L = 50
    X = 10
    VII = 7

    Add it altogether and you have the year 1967.

  7. ika says:

    I think you are right for I learnet the following at school:

    When you go from big to small (reading left to right), you add the numbers together.

    When you go from small to big, you subtract the small from the big.

    I must have transposed the L and X in my mind!

  8. sk says:

    I remember as a kid, my friend ( Leong See Meng ) bought his book to learn Kung Fu. It was not cheap those days. Could it be $ 100 ?
    One of the stance I remembered was rubbing both palms together
    to lift an object.
    Correction, anyone ?

  9. Dr. Dayanand says:

    I do not know exactly when the book was published. I did not know anything about martial arts. After reading the Ad I was highly excited to know that I can learn Chinese Kung Fu as correspondence course. It was, I remember, in 1964 or so. I was in Coimbatore, Madras, India. State Bank of India asked me for the invoice to send money to Malaysia. So he sent me an invoice. On receipt of money he sent all 21 (or so) books to me. The cover page was same. He was known as HONOURABLE MASTER LEONG LEE FU. I was excited to know a man of my height could defeat King Kong and Dhara Singh of India and I can smash up anything with my bare hand. And I do not require any particular training material. I think I still have a return cover with his address with me.
    After some years I happened to meet some Keralites (Indians) working in IPOH Malaysia. They did not have any idea about ATADO or Chinese Gung Fu but they said some physical activities are going on there.

  10. ika says:

    Sunsequent to our publishing this blog, two members of the Leong family provided us with a lot of background and detail of this amazing Ipoh boy who became Champion of the World.

    With the need to upgrade our database software, design, build and manage exhibitions and generally keep ipohworld on the road (so to speak) there was just no time for either myself or Felicia to make use of the information we held. However today there is good news as I have just completed uploading it all.

    If you are interested in reading the life story of Leong Fu, please go to http://db.ipohworld.org/view.php?type=id&id=6678#search_form_wrapper where you will find a fascinating story in words and pictures.

    By the way, if you find any mistakes please let us know via info@ipohworld.org. We welcome corrections as we strive for accuracy.

  11. Mano says:

    In the early 70’s, there was a unique style of martial arts started by an exponent in Ipoh. It was mistakenly called “Pocket” but it was Poh Keat or something to that effect. Anyone remembers this?

  12. T Toh says:

    Hi Mano, Yes I do remember a martial art called ‘Pok Keat’. Apparently it resemble another style of martial art known as ‘Choy Li Fut’. This particular style utilize the large rotational movement of the arm and brute strength.It will be futile against a western boxer or a Wing Chun practitioner as these arts emphasize on linear movement on hitting ( shortest distance between two points is a straight line )- Boxing jab and Wing Chun chain punching.This particular style also lack the footwork found in other martial arts notably Boxing,Wing Chun or Jeet kune do. A famous exponent of this particular martial art was a practitioner from Kampar by the name of ‘ Fay Ting Low See ‘ or ‘ Flying Fox ‘.

  13. rosebud says:

    Hi Mano & T Toh, during the martial arts craze of late 60’s I did learn ‘pok kek’.My sifu was a short dark Chinese man in his 30s in Pasir Pinji who is a nonya kueh maker by day. T Toh described it right that it lacked footwork so I was not particularly impressed with it. I learnt it for short while & was even taught the use of a 6 foot long rattan cane.I bought & kept that cane at home for about 20years. I thought it would be handy as 2 bedroom windows of my corner house was prone to thieves who come in the middle of the night to fish out pants for valuables through the room windows.My family was hit a couple of times. Not once did I get the chance to use the cane to confront these buggers as I slept through it all.

  14. Ronald Noble says:

    To describe what an immense value beloved Sensei Leong Fu has been in my life, is extremely diffcult. I have been in innumerable conflict situations, but have survived all of them.
    In my view, beloved Sensei’s entire course of ATADO can be taught with just his famous two words: Practice Restraint

  15. CKLeong says:

    Leong Fu Martial Arts or Atado is still practiced in the UK as far as I know. I was in communication with one of the clubs a few years ago who wanted some biography of Leong Fu early days. Go to Google and look up Atado UK.
    There was also a question of whether Leong Fu had connections with Okinawan Karate. Leong Fu did indicated that he was impressed with Mas Oyama (well known karate kancho of the naha te variety) who used to frequent with wrestlers in the 50s. However I think Leong Fu was more into Judo, JiuJitsu and Kung Fu rather than pure karate.
    Merrill was correct, Leong Fu became a dedicated Christian in his later years and advised martial artists (including his clubs in the UK) to be aware and keep away from the esoteric martial arts. How true, as an ex martial artist of many years!

  16. ika says:

    We do have a significant amount of detail about Leong Fu on our database, thanks to members of the family who provided it.

    Just click on “Database Search” at the bottom of this page and search for Leong Fu – All. There you will find 20 entries and a host of photographs.


  17. Mark Spiteri says:


    I do teach a style which is derived from Leong Fu, its kung fu (Dragon style) called Mon Lung. My instructor was a direct student of his. Can someone confirm?

  18. alexandrina Jones says:

    In the 60s my dad was into martial arts and he purchased a unique set of 21 lessons in the art of leong fu karato from Malaysia. I have just advertised it on eBay. My user name is alexa1955. Please contact me if you are interested.

  19. paula says:

    Hey I’m from n.ireland I was giving 21 booklets of Leong fu 21 1958 in original box posted from Leong fu, can you tell me some info, thank you

  20. larry N says:

    Hi Paula,

    Leong Fu was a brother of ACS Ipoh teacher Robert Leong. Your booklets were probably published by the brothers’ bookstore called “The Strand.” The two brothers knew some judo but Leong Fu was also a wrestler who reportedly defeated a well-known Hungarian (I think) wrestler called “King Kong.” Long Fu called his art “Atado” and it was quite popular during his time. I left Ipoh during the 60s and don’t know what happened after that.

    • larry N says:

      I’m so sorry I didn’t see the postings above Paula’s request. Looks like many here already have the facts – and more!

      Regarding Fay Tin Low See, that’s more like Flying Mouse, no? He learned from my brother for some time, but because he wanted to test my brother’s skills by hitting him from the back, my brother rejected him (after giving him a kick on the chest that sent the man flying). My brother was a Hsing Yi practitioner, but his foundation was Tanglang Qian (praying mantis) because that was my dad’s specialty. My dad’s name in Mandarin was called “Huang Shen Young” and he founded the Penang Jinwumen with his “si dai” (“younger brother”). I didn’t know he (my dad) was quite well-known until I talked with the secretary of the Malaysian Wushu Association about a decade ago. I casually asked him “do you know Huang Shen Young” and he replied immediately “Tanglang Qian”!!!

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