Hong Kong’s own Charlene Houghton is bringing the old school back to mainstream martial arts.
The 28 year old actress has been practicing traditional Hung Gar Kung Fu since she was 14 and is currently in the works to debut her stand up skills to the world with GLORY Kickboxing.
Charlene is much more than just a martial arts practitioner, Kung Fu is literally in her bloodline. Daughter of the legendary Hung Gar master, actor, stuntman, and fight choreographer, Mark Houghton, better known as “Ho-Mak” in China, Charlene has been watching her father’s movements since birth.
“My first true experience in Kung Fu was at the age of five. My father encouraged me to stretch and copy his Kung Fu movements as an activity, nothing formal or traditional. He just wanted me to enjoy Kung Fu for myself,” Charlene tells ROUGH.
“I loved it, and I remember being really excited when I took part in a short martial arts documentary with my father for a TV show. Unfortunately, my father stopped teaching me Kung Fu because I kicked a boy and made his nose bleed when I was in kindergarten.”
I WANT TO SHOW PEOPLE THAT KUNG FU IS NOT ONLY FOR PERFORMANCE BUT IS EFFECTIVE IN AN ACTUAL FIGHT.
It wasn’t until she was 14 that she took it up again, and since then hasn’t stopped. She is classically trained in the traditional Hung Gar Kung Fu lineage.
Training under her father, Charlene was also privileged enough to have worked with her grandmaster, the late Lau Kar Leung. Lau Kar Leung was a famous Hong Kong-based Chinese actor, filmmaker, action choreographer, and martial artist.
She continued to follow her father’s footsteps into the movies and works regularly in the local film scene both in Hong Kong and in China. She’s also dedicated to Kung Fu training, her fitness regime and is working as a personal trainer.
When it comes to the movies, Charlene sees it as a platform to help preserve Hung Gar Kung Fu.
“My grandmaster wrote his last movie script before he passed away. My father and I decided to continue his dream and bring the script back to life on the big screen. Introduce this traditional martial art to the whole world before it disappears.”
That same mentality has now brought her to GLORY, where she hopes to lead the way in helping traditional martial arts make a successful transition to modern combat sports such as kickboxing and MMA.
“I want to show people that Kung Fu is not only for performance but is effective in an actual fight.”
Despite her extensive experience in martial arts, Charlene will definitely be going into GLORY as an underdog. She’s technically only fought a handful of times, whereas most of the other women on the roster come from stand-up fighting backgrounds.
In 2015, Charlene had her first fight when when she starred in a Hong Kong based reality TV show about eight female fighters from different martial arts backgrounds who were brought together to compete in MMA.
The show was played out for two years during which time Charlene beat out her opposition and won the championship. Since then, she hasn’t been in a cage or a ring as she has been focusing on her movie career and traditional training. Charlene knows what’s at stake stepping through those ropes, but the Eurasian is ready for the challenge.
“I believe I will be a top fighter in kickboxing and will even be a contender for the title in the near future. I would like to prove that as a female action artist I can fight for real too.”
Once she goes pro, Charlene intends to devote all of her time to training. She admits that her lifestyle will change drastically, but knows that complete focus will be needed for her to succeed.
Despite switching to kickboxing, Charlene will continue to train Kung Fu with her father. She will most likely travel to China to train at the Xi’an Sports University where she has spent extended periods of time training in the past.
“Besides basic skills, footwork, and stamina, I am focusing a lot on sparring. I spar with everyone of different genders, weights, and sizes.”
With the pressure of lineage and family honour riding on a successful professional debut, the fight is more than just a win to add to her record. A daughter’s devotion to a proud tradition of Kung Fu demands more and will not settle for less.