Imperial mustache. How to Rock a Fu Manchu Mustache - Rugged Rebels

What do you call a mustache that hangs down the sides of your mouth in two long straight sections? The answer is Fu Manchu Mustache. Common misspellings include fu man chu, fu manchu, foo man choo, and foomanchew. Fu manchu mustache styles.

What is a Fu Manchu Mustache?

The Fu Manchu mustache (or “moustache” to those of you in Europe) is one of the most iconic and memorable styles of facial hair. A Fu Manchu is a long, straight mustache that begins at two points on the top lip and hangs downward past the chin in two tapered tendrils. The longer, the better. If you can throw it over your shoulder like Master Pai Mei from Kill Bill, then you’re doing great.

Image credit: Wikimedia commons

How is the Fu Manchu Different from the Horseshoe Mustache?

The Fu Manchu is often confused with the Horseshoe Mustache. A Horseshoe Mustache is when hair is grown from the entirety of the upper lip, connected all the way across, and can also include hair grown from the sides of the mouth. It’s a thicker, brawnier sort of style, and fills in faster than waiting for the hair from your lip to grow long enough to hang all the way below your chin.

It’s also easier to clean and maintain because the hairs don’t need to swing and sway as much. For this article, they’re all Fu Manchus. We’re not going to nit pick and neither should you unless you’re planning to enter your Fu Manchu mustache into the World Beard and Mustache Championships, where they take definitions very seriously.

The World Beard and Mustache Championships official Fu Manchu standard:

All areas more than 2cm past the corner of the mouth must be clean-shaven, as must all areas under the chin. The tips of the moustache extend downward. The Genghis Khan moustache style is also acceptable. Styling aids permitted.

What is a Genghis Khan style mustache?

What they mean by a “Genghis Khan” style is a Fu Manchu plus a third section of hair coming down in the center, originating from just below the lip to the cleft of the chin.

What does the best looking Fu Manchu look like?

The current World Champion in the Fu Manchu category is California native Patrick Langley, who took the gold for Beard Team USA at the international competition held in Leogang, Austria in 2015.

The next World Beard and Mustache Championships will be held Labor Day Weekend of 2017 in Austin, TX. Start growing! These World Championship events take place every two years and are hosted by a different nation each time. They’re a ton of fun, a great excuse to travel, and allow you the opportunity to meet and make friends with some wonderful people.

How to Grow a Fu Manchu

The Fu Manchu is a great style for men who want some prominent facial hair, but without the drawbacks sometimes associated with a full beard. The chin is clean, so you don’t have to worry about having a “soup catcher”, and the cheeks and neck are left smooth which means beard itch won’t be a problem. It’s also a style that can be grown by just about anyone.

Have a patchy beard? Try the Fu Manchu!

Patchiness can sometimes occur in young men, or men without proper nutrition (see our articles about How Long Does Biotin Take to Work and How Does Biotin Make Hair Grow Faster), but the upper lip is usually not a problem area. In fact, genetic studies have shown that men of Asian descent often have a harder time growing full, thick facial hair. That seems to have played a part in why this particular style dominated China, Mongolia, and the other Far East nations for centuries.

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Is Your Fu Manchu not as thick as you’d like?

If you’re growing a Fu Manchu and it’s not coming in as fast or as thick as you’d like, nutrition is possible to blame. A beard needs the right nutrients just like a crop growing in a field. The health and strength of each particular hair is especially important when you’re rocking a style like the Fu Manchu because the growth area is smaller than with other styles. If there are problem areas, you can’t just cover them up with hair from somewhere else on your face. Every follicle has to pull its own weight. To expedite growth, try the Facial Hair Complex, and to strengthen the existing hairs I recommend Beard Czar Beard Oil. It will not only make your ‘stache thicker and softer, it will also decrease the loss of hairs that you spent so much time to grow in the first place.

Origin of the Fu Manchu Name

The Fu Manchu mustache sometimes called Fu Man Chu, Fu Man Chew, Foo Man Choo, or Foomanchew, derives its name from a fictional character: Dr. Fu Manchu, nicknamed “the Devil Doctor.” He was a Chinese villain who wore the iconic facial hair in a variety of films, TV shows, and comic books starting in the 1920s. They were based on a series of books by British author Sax Rohmer.

Dr. Fu Manchu didn’t have a mustache in the books, which means that even back in the ‘20s there were probably annoying people at movie theaters pointing out petty differences from the original source material. In any case, we’re glad they made the change in the films or else this world-famous facial hair style might be called something a lot less cool.

Dr. Fu Manchu is famous for being one of the first true Supervillains, using his cleverness and intellect to design massively complex criminal undertakings rather than just being a big thug. In the novel, The Bride of Fu Manchu, it’s revealed that Dr. Fu Manchu holds doctorates from four renowned Western universities. In Emperor Fu Manchu, he reveals he attended Heidelberg University, the Sorbonne, and University of Edinburgh (the fourth university remains unnamed). It is also revealed that Dr. Fu Manchu is descended from the Emperor of China, and likely lost his status of wealth and power by betting on the wrong side in the Boxer Rebellion.

According to Cay Van Ash, Rohmer’s biographer and former assistant who became the first author to continue the series after Rohmer’s death, “Fu Manchu” was a title of honor, which means “the Warlike Manchu.” Manchuria is a territory within modern China, and people from that area are called Manchus. In the earliest books, Fu Manchu is an agent of a secret society called the Si-Fan and acts as the mastermind behind a wave of assassinations. In later books, he vies for control of the Si-Fan, which is more concerned with routing fascist dictators and halting the spread of communism.

The Si-Fan is largely funded through criminal activities, particularly the drug trade. Dr. Fu Manchu uses this network of drug traffickers to acquire the myriad herbs, potions, animals, and so forth that he uses in his devilish schemes. Dr. Fu Manchu has extended his already considerable lifespan by use of the “elixir of life”, a formula he spent decades perfecting. His age ranges from 70 to 300 years old in different stories, though he’s never a decrepit old man. Dr. Fu Manchu retains strength and vigor no matter what his age and can fight like a mad Kung Fu master.

Dr. Fu Manchu’s evil plans feature the extensive use of arcane and magical methods, calling upon ancient Chinese religion and occult practices. He prefers knives to guns and loves using snakes, spiders, fungi, and plant-derived chemical weapons. Mind-control is a favorite tactic of his, which is done through magical powders and spells. He tried to create a vast harem of mind-controlled women in The Brides of Fu Manchu.

Fu Manchu is a unique character, in that he is one of the few examples from popular culture of a villain whose fame and acclaim far surpasses that of the supposed “hero” against whom he was pitted. For comparison, consider the disparity in fame between Hannibal Lechter and…what was the name of Jodie foster’s character in Silence of the Lambs? Nobody remembers, is the point. Like Hannibal the Cannibal, Fu Manchu was a bad guy who completely stole the show and spawned a dozen remakes and reboots of his franchise.

The good guys that opposed Fu Manchu in the original stories were Denis Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie, whom greatly resemble Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in their character. Perhaps that’s why they were the less famous characters from the franchise. They were rip-offs, but Dr. Fu Manchu was a wholly unique and fascinating character to audiences of that time period. Nayland Smith and Fu Manchu share a grudging respect for one another, as each believes a man must keep his word even to an enemy.

In the first three books, Nayland Smith is a colonial police commissioner in Burma (present-day Myanmar) which allows him to exercise authority over any group that can help him in his mission. He resembles Sherlock Holmes in physical description and acerbic manner, but not so much in deductive genius. He goes after Fu Manchu with aggression and perseverance, rather than cunning. Dr. Petrie narrates the stories and tries to keep Nayland Smith out of trouble – just like Dr. Watson in the Sherlock Holmes stories.

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Dr. Fu Manchu also had a large cadre of henchmen that began as a small group of helpers and steadily rose to become an international criminal conglomerate. His allies were thugs, assassins, witch doctors, and villains from Persia, Africa, the Caribbean, and many other exotic parts of the world. Each brought their unique mystical evil from their respective cultures.

9 Popular Characters Inspired by Fu Mancho

1) Swap out the magic for explosives, and you can see how Dr. Fu Manchu became the inspiration for The Mandarin, the perennial Marvel villain who leads a multi-national group of terrorists with his ten rings of power. The Mandarin, or just “Mandarin” as he’s known in the Marvel cinematic universe, sports an exceptional Fu Manchu mustache, though actor Sir Ben Kingsley added a beard to his Fu Manchu when portraying the character in Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3.

Dr. Fu Manchu inspired numerous other characters, including

2) Ras al Ghul from the Batman comics

3) Dr. Yen-Lo from The Manchurian Candidate

6) Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China,

8) The Celestial Toymaker from Dr. Who,

9) James Bond villain Dr. No. He was parodied by Kenneth Williams in the radio show Round the Horne as the criminal mastermind Dr. Chou En Ginsberg MA, accompanied by his concubine Lotus Blossom. Appearing in ten-minute sketches within the show, he was the villain for Kenneth Horne ‘s master spy in adventures such as “The Man with the Golden Thunderball”, which spoofed James Bond.

The last authorized film appearance of Dr. Fu Manchu was in the 1980 Peter Sellers spoof, The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, with Sellers playing both Fu Manchu and Nayland Smith. Anyone familiar with the Stanley Kubrick film Dr. Strangelove will know that playing multiple roles in a single movie is fairly common for Peter Sellers, and he’s quite good at it. The film bore little resemblance to any prior film or the original books. In the film, Fu Manchu claims he was known as “Fred” at public school, a reference to the character of “Fred Fu Manchu,” a famous bamboo saxophonist, from The Goon Show – a comedic radio show which had co-starred Sellers.

The character has sometimes been called an offensive stereotype, and was associated with “Yellow Panic” or “the Yellow Menace” back in his heyday, but we’re not here to solve racism – we’re here to talk about a glorious mustache style. It is perhaps a sign of progress that the Fu Manchu is now proudly worn by people from all races and walks of life – and damned if it doesn’t look good on just about anybody, too.

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How to Rock a Fu Manchu Mustache

There’s really no wrong way to rock a Fu, because its defining characteristic is that it’s worn by men who don’t care what the world thinks of them. A Fu Manchu is for a man that rejects popular conventions of what facial hair should be. Beards are for lumberjacks, and twirly mustaches are for hipsters. The Fu Manchu, on the other hand, has no predetermined subculture or lifestyle associated with it. It is whatever you want it to be, and whatever you make it. Proudly astride your mouth like the horns of a longhorn bull, a Fu Manchu fits any man with confidence, a strength of character, and a personal identity that is accentuated – not defined – by his choice of facial hair.

Examples of Fu Manchu Mustaches in Popular Culture

Hulk Hogan would be unrecognizable without his signature Fu Manchu.

Ted Nugent wore one on the cover of his 1977 album Cat Scratch Fever.

Pro Athletes That Rock the Fu Manchu

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco

Washington Nationals shortstop Danny Espinosa

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers

It’s found on the faces of bikers, construction workers, cowboys, MMA fighters, and badasses of all stripes. You see a man with a Fu Manchu, and you know that’s a man who can lend you a wrench. That’s a man with a really good hunting story, and he’ll be glad to tell it to you after opening non-twist beer bottles with his bare hands. The Fu Manchu may be the only style of facial hair in existence that will make your Mustang go faster and put callouses on your hands.

The Fu Manchu is worn in films by celebrities such as

Nicolas Cage even played the role of Dr. Fu Manchu in the fake trailer for Werewolf Women of the SS, directed by Rob Zombie, as part of the 2007 double-feature, Grindhouse.

But of course, none of them ever wore it as well as Sir Christopher Lee

You may know Christopher Lee as Saruman from The Lord of the Rings, or as Count Duku in the Star Wars prequels, but he got his start in acting long, long ago. After he retired from being a professional spy with British Intelligence during WWII, he began a long and illustrious career that included playing Dr. Fu Manchu in five films. His series of Fu Manchu movies was the most famous and successful portrayal of the character in cinematic history and the enduring legacy of Lee’s performance is why this certain style of mustache is known throughout the world as the Fu Manchu, even though most people today have forgotten, or never even knew, who Dr. Fu Manchu was.

What’s most important to remember about rocking the Fu Manchu is that it bespeaks power. That power could be crude or exotic, urbane or barbaric. It could be a horde of Mongols at your beck and call, eldritch magic and mind control, supernatural fighting abilities, or face-melting guitar riffs – whatever it is, it sets you apart from the herd as a man of distinction and strength. Find your power, and revel in it. Grow your Fu Manchu and grin at the world through it.

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