Pei Mei, or White Eyebrows, is arguably the most famous of the five Grand Masters of Kung Fu. Also known as Dao Nhien, the Taoist, Pai Mei's real name was Chu Long Tuyen. Born in China in the late 17th or early 18th century, Pei Mei studied Kung Fu at the Shaolin Temple until the death of the patriarch of the temple, Hong Mei (Red Eyebrows), who named no successor. Chi Thien Su was chosen to replace Hong Mei, but Pei Mei did not agree with this decision, viewing Chi Thien Su as an extension of the corrupt Chinese government. Pei Mei left the temple and his country to live as an itinerant monk until he settled in the Sichuan Basin at the foot of Mount Er Mei. There, at the base of the sacred mountain, Pei Mei undertook his study Taoism.
During Pei Mei's studies, the Manchu Emperor requested Pei Mei's help in leading an army of 50,000 against the Shaolin Temple at Henan. Seeing a chance to strike a blow against the corrupt Chinese, Pei Mei agreed. However, in order to spare the lives of many of his soldiers and the defenders of the temple, Pei Mei directly challenged the leader of the temple, Chi Thien Su, to hand-to-hand combat. At the end of the grueling fight, Pei Mei broke the neck of Chi Thien Su, thus securing the temple. For this, Pei Mei was forever considered a traitor.
Chaos followed the fall of the temple, and the disparate groups of martial artists fell into bloody clan wars, with lines drawn by the differences in style and philosophy. It was in this time the art of Wing Chun was developed to directly oppose the style of Pei Mei (known as the Pei Mei Style), which he continued to teach privately in a time of persecution due to his alliance with the Emperor.
After Pei Mei's death, his art was spread across China by his students. Grand Master Cheung Lai Chuen taught at the military school of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, and converted many schools to teach the Pei Mei Style by defeating the Master of the School and replacing the school's style with Pei Mei. In 1930, the Pei Mei Style was taken to Cholon, Vietnam by Grand Master Tang Hue Bac, who taught exclusively to the Chinese community living there. In 1980, Grand Master Nam Anh of the opposing Wing Chun style studied Pei Mei, eventually ending the age old conflict between the two opposing styles. Since then, Pei Mei schools have been set up across the world.
The legendary Pei Mei is often portrayed in Kung Fu movies, sometimes under the name Pai Mei. His likeness appeared in several of the 1970's Kung Fu films, including Executioners from Shaolin. More recently, Pei Mei appeared in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Volume 2 (played by the famous Gordon Liu), where he became an instant cult icon.
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