A CHIP off the old block, Danderhall kung fu instructor Mark Cairns has been living in the shadow of his father, also a martial arts expert, for many years.
However, the young Lau Gar Kuen exponent emerged from that shadow in glorious style last month, kickboxing his way to the final of the WKA World Championships in Germany.
In reaching the final, Mark (27), an assessment officer for the Legal Aid Board, became the first Lau Gar practitioner in Scotland to bring a silver medal home from a World Championships event.
He also went one better than his father Jim, who himself was a well-respected figure on the points fighting circuit in the late 1970’s.
One of only two fourth degree black sash instructors in the country, Mark eats, sleeps and breathes traditional martial arts, and is devoted to the Lau Gar style, which is one of the oldest in the world.
Taking up kung fu at the age of 10, he studied under his father, who has gone on to become Lau Gar’s only fifth degree black sash senior instructor in Scotland.
Relaxing at his Drum View Avenue home on Friday, the traditionalist spoke of his pride at representing Lau Gar on the world stage.
Mark told the Advertiser: “Getting to the final was an amazing high and I am immensely proud to be the only Lau Gar fighter in Scotland to have done that.
“It was a long day, and I had to fight many rounds on my way to the final. The competition was tough, but thankfully all my hard work paid off and I managed to come home with a medal.”
With an enthusiasm for life that matches his energy on the mats, Mark is known to be one of the nicest guys on the point fighting circuit.
Nicknamed ‘The Duracell Bunny’, his highly offensive, energetic fighting style is a joy to behold, as his kung fu skills lend a certain grace to his fighting techniques.
Training four times a week, Mark’s success has not come easy.
His mother Jan believes that ‘family’ has played a big part in her son’s success.
“We are proud of his dedication because he has had to give up a lot,” she explained.
“He has had some disappointments, but with the support of the family he has overcome them. Mark has an amazing relationship with his father, and has gone from being Jim’s son to his own man, which has been amazing journey to watch.”
While Jim has been a hugely positive influence on his son’s martial arts journey to date, it was an encounter with Master Jeremy Yau, the ‘keeper’ of the Lau Gar style, and who first brought it to the UK in 1961, which left a burning impression on the fighter as a youngster.
Attending a national kickboxing competition in England as a boy, he stood alongside Master Yau and his father as the trio witnessed Lau Gar’s legendary fight team, ‘The Bristol Death Squad’, wipe the floor against all competition.
The excitement of that day stayed with Mark, and it was as a direct result of that experience that he decided to start out on the long road to kung fu greatness by joining his dad’s class in Danderhall.
Fast forward 17 years and Mark is now running his own Lau Gar classes at Cameron Toll, Edinburgh.
Setting his sights on a gold medal at next year’s World Championships, his main ambitions are to become a fifth degree black sash instructor, and to establish a full time institute of Lau Gar kung fu in the Lothians. “My dream is to set up a centre of excellence, teaching traditional kung fu while at the same time building a kickboxing ‘fight team’ so that students get the best of both worlds,” he added.
If you are interested in studying Lau Gar under either Jim or Mark, visit http://www.eastedinburghlaugar.com/ for more information.