For some thoughts and insights into the historical evolution of the Shaolin Temple please click here.
Related below pertains to the Kung Fu Academy in Castle Hill, a story that started in the 1950s in China's South, where a Shaolin Temple descendant passed the Kung Fu style down to a young man by the (English) name of Robert Feng.
Sifu Feng became a highly trained Kung Fu Master, with an amazing knowledge of the Shaolin style. In particular the 18 Hands of Lo Han. This style was no myth, nor was it just dance-like jumps. This style was witnessed and techniques tested by students and people foolish enough to harass Sifu Feng - this style was real Kung Fu.
After studying in China, Sifu Feng travelled to Australia to take up residence and to teach his art to various students. One of his best students was to eventually become the new keeper of the style, Sifu Keith I. Blackburn.
Sifu Blackburn already had a strong background in the martial arts, from Blackbelts in Jiujitsu, to Dans in Karate, Judo, and shootfighting (ground fighting). When he found the style of Kung Fu taught by Sifu Feng, Sifu Blackburn stopped training in all his other martial arts realising that all he had learnt in the past was included in this style of Shaolin Kung Fu, along with much more. He studied and trained extensively under the guidance of Si Gong Feng (who at that time had moved up from the title of Sifu to Si Gong) before Si Gong Feng passed the style onto Mr. Blackburn to continue, awarding Mr. Blackburn the title of Si Gong, or "Grand Master".
Whilst still teaching the traditional system of Shaolin Kung Fu, Si Gong Blackburn also implemented one of the first hybrid fighting styles, mixing certain aspects of other styles into the Kung Fu. In doing so he created a contemporary, practical and extremely effective form of Kung Fu.
Si Gong Keith Blackburn became a very highly respected figure among martial artists of all styles, in fact, if you ask any respected martial arts head instructor in Sydney they will know of him and have only good things to say of him.
Si Gong Keith was known not only for his skill and powerful techniques, but even more so for his kind heart, the care he gave to all of his students and certainly for his ability to break the mould of the 'martial arts instructor' by being not only personable, but also a smiling and funny character. Showing his students how to reach the top, Si Gong Keith took a team of martial artists from his academy to compete all over Australia and New Zealand (a team who were to became an integral part of the Australian National Team) and won International Gold in various martial arts tournaments.
Sadly in mid 2006, Si Gong Keith was diagnosed with Motor-Neuron disease, a disease that affects the body's nerves between the brain and the muscles and over time ceases the body's motor functions, disabling normal muscle operation. On the 14th of May, 2007, Si Gong Keith passed away peacefully with his family by his side.
Throughout his career, but especially during the 80s and 90s, Si Gong Keith gathered around him many fine students, and many of these still contribute to the school to keep their teacher's memory and style alive. Amongst these are Shi Fu Teja A. Jaensch, Sifu Monte J. Partridge, Sifu Sean Harnett, Sifu Thomas Wildt and Sifu David Zullo. Please see our instructor profiles page for current instructors.