In the Wan Chai District of Hong Kong Island, a chorus of smacking shoes reverberates against the underpass of the Canal Road Flyover. Here, people take vengeance on their villains by seeking a group of primarily elderly women known as the “villain-hitters.”

The villain-hitters of Hong Kong have been placing curses on rivals and foes for more than 50 years. Deriving their actions from a centuries-old folk religion in southern China, the villain-hitters are paid to perform an enemy-hexing ritual that requires beating a long strip of paper called “villain paper” with an old slipper or shoe of a client.  

“I don’t really ‘hit’ people, I just scare away petty spirits and other nasty things,” said the villain-hitter, Grandma Yeung, in the South China Morning Post video above. 

While rituals vary, generally the villain-hitter will chant a series of incantations, burn incense, throw divination blocks, and make tributes and prayers to different gods. A client can write down the name or information about the targeted villain on the paper effigy. Some even bring a photo of the person they want punished—whether that’s an ex-lover or a political leader. Clients can also pay to curse general villains and drive away evil spirits, explains South China Morning PostThe villain paper is pounded until nothing but scraps is left.

“People want to weaken others through villain hitting to achieve peace of mind,” villain-hitter Wong Gat-lei told The Guardian. “But it’s more about achieving peace of mind by releasing your anger.”

In addition to getting back at enemies, villain-hitters cast healing spells, help souls cross-over, and contact the deceased, reported The Guardian. Yeung, who had been a villain-hitter for 10 years, said that her clients seek jobs, have sick loved ones, are facing lawsuits, or have a cheating spouse. She even admitted that her practice is a scam, her self-taught incantations nothing but rubbish.  

“You can come to ‘hit’ other people, but other people can curse you too,” said Yeung. “After all, it’s not good to hit people.” 

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