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Pai Mei: The Legend of a Master

The infamous mentor from the movie series Kill Bill, Pai Mei was a Kung Fu Master of legend who created and perfected the art and style of Bak Mei, a martial art that was named after him. In the film industry, he was the one who taught Beatrix a fatal technique. Whether or not he really is a myth, however, has yet to be seen.

The Myth of Pai Mei

  • He was the mentor of Beatrix Kiddo, a fictional character from a movie series.
  • He lived to be over one thousand years old, a living legend.
  • For a mentor of Kung Fu, he had racist views, hating the Americans and Japanese.
  • Pai Mei had a deadly technique known as the Five-Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique, which he taught only to one of his students, namely Beatrix.
  • A myth claims that he slaughtered sixty monks at a Shaolin Temple after one monk failed to return his greeting.
  • This mentor was killed by one of his students, who had wanted revenge ever since he had taken one of her eyes.
  • He had long white hair, complete with beard and moustache, as befitting his name which itself means “white hair”.
  • He can have a terrible, trigger-quick temper, as proven when he harms his own student over an insult.

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The Facts & Story Behind Pai Mei

According to Chinese legend, there was a monk who went by the name of Bak Mei. It was said that he was one of the legendary Five Elders, a small group of survivors of the Shaolin Temple c.1727, which had been destroyed back in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).

Some accounts claim Pai Mei as a betrayer of the Shaolin who sided with the imperial government. The Southern Chinese martial art, Bak Mei, was named after him, though it has Taoist roots. This mentor of martial arts is usually described as someone who can be very cruel and brutal, especially if noting the idea that he might have betrayed the Shaolin monks.

Much speculation and research have been done to determine whether or not Bak Mei really existed. The earliest record of this mentor monk was found in the book called Wunnian Qing, or, “A Thousand Years Green”. However, this book is purely fictional and does not appear to have any basis on actual historical events.

In the End

The story of Bak Mei, or Pai Mei, talks about a Taoist monk who, through his fighting skills and talent as a mentor, has become a legend for the Chinese people. Due to the lack of evidence on whether or not he really existed, his legend has become more of a myth.

Nevertheless, Pai Mei is considered to be a major character in the legend of the Five Elders, which describes the very beginning of the Kung Fu known today. The kung fu so named after him is a difficult and powerful martial art that instills discipline, yet retains honor and humility. So while the teacher himself may be a myth, there is indeed a kung fu style with his name.