Yuen Kay-San, Master of Wing Chun Boxing by Yuen Jo-Tong

Historical Articles by Various

 

(Translated and edited from New Martial Hero)

First of all, let me begin by saying that I am the legitimate descendant of

Wing Chun jongsi Yuen Kay-San (Yuen the Fifth). I have received and retained

many of my grandfather, Yuen Kay-San's, notes and have often heard the

accounts of Sum Nung and have thus come to know much about Wing Chun's

history. However, I can not say with absolute certainty that the accounts of

my grandfather, Yuen Kay-San, and Sum Nung are the only correct version and

the ones which should be held as the standard. Instead, I believe we should

look at the authoritative historical records of Wing Chun kept by the Foshan city official

Committee.

[Some have suggested that] there are more than five sects of the Wing Chun

School, of which little is known. [and that] the reason for knowing so

little is due to the discord and distrust among the various sects, the

implication being that the Wing Chun school of martial arts is somehow in

the midst of internal dissension. Factually speaking, according to recorded

accounts at the Foshan Committee, the reason for there being five sects of

Wing Chun is due to the natural evolutionary changes of the martial artists

throughout the course of history, the subsequent development of different

styles, techniques and practices, and geographical separation.

Records on the origins of Wing Chun, the five sects, and various masters may

be found at the Foshan Committee. [Some have also mentioned] that the

expansion of Wing Chun in Foshan is credited to Leung Jan. I would like to

discuss this particular matter in greater detail if I may.

In the early days, Wing Chun was shrouded in secrecy. Outsiders had only the

vaguest idea of the origins of Wing Chun. One may ask, why is it that Leung

Jan is credited with such a breakthrough in the history of martial arts at

such a late date? The reason may be found in a book written by Ngau Sui-Jee

(currently more than 8O years old, in good health, and living in Foshan) in

the 1930's- Foshan Jan Sin-Sang (Mr. Jan of Foshan), in which Ngau enhanced

the influence of Leung Jan. This writing attracted much outside attention to

Leung Jan, at which time the tradition of Wing Chun received more public

exposure. Naturally, Leung Jan's celebrated name was also related to his own

broad range of highly developed skills and contributions toward the

development of the Wing Chun fighting style.

The Foshan Committee and I both have a copy of Ngau Sui-Jee's book Mr. Jan

of Foshan.

Ngau Sui-Jee wrote yet another book about Yuen Kay-San jongsi. Upon

completion of his book Juen Gai Yuen Kay-San (Biography of Yuen Kay-San), he

submitted the book to Yuen Kay-San for review, however since Yuen Kay-San

was a lawyer for the government, he did not wish the publicity and declined

Mr. Au's good intentions, thus the Biography of Yuen Kay-San was never

published.

In the martial world, the writing of books on well known people was common

place, not a special event, and books were written about many people.

Today's authors who write about the stories of martial artists are no

different from Ngau Sui-Jee and his simplistic stories. I would be delighted

if anyone wishing to understand the above would care to visit Ngau Sui-Jee,

who is alive and well, and as him to substantiate what I am saying.

While I am not willing to get involved with controversies between outsiders

and my grandfather, Yuen Kay-San, as far as the mistakes concerning my

grandfather Yuen Kay-San, naturally I feel quite qualified to clear up any

questions surrounding this issue. I also maintain that I am the most

qualified authority on this issue, that is, when you consider that the

accounts provided by my grandfather, uncle, father and Sum Nung (the student

of Yuen Kay-San) are all in total agreement. Even minor details related to

Yuen Kay-San have been substantiated by the accounts kept by the Foshan

Committee.

Although I, Yuen Jo-Tong, am a middle age adult, my understanding of martial

arts is somewhat limited. I have never been initiated into any style of Wing

Chun. However, according to the consistent accounts of my father, uncle, Sum

Nung and the documents of the Foshan Committee regarding my deceased

grandfather, early in his youth, my grandfather Yuen Kay-San studied under

the Qing dynasty Ngao Moon Bo Tao (imperial constable) Fok Bo-Chuen. In one

of the records kept by the Foshan Athletic Committee it is written that:

Dai Fa Min Kam (Painted Face Kam) taught Wing Chun Kuen, to Fung Siu-Ching

in Guangzhou. Fung, a native of Shunde, was later invited by Ma Bok-Leung of

Foshan's son, Ma Jung-Yiu; Jiu Gan-Heung, son of the owner of the Go Sing

Tong (Charity Hall); Lo Hao-Po of the Yin Joy restaurant; Nanhai native Li

Guang-Po; NgNgau Si of the Fai Jee (Chopsticks) street Butcher Shop; Leung

Yan of Fa Hung Road; Yuen Kay-San, son of the owner of the fireworks store

on Chen Bak Road (as well as Yuen Kay-San's fourth brother Yuen Chai-Wan who

was known as Dao Po Chai (Pock Skin Chai) and who was later invited to teach

martial arts at the Nanhai & Shude Union in Vietnam) to teach Wing Chun

Boxing in Foshan. At that time, Fung Siu-Ching lived and was cared for at

the Yuen family's ancestral home of Song Yuen (Mulberry Gardens) in Foshan

(this building is now the tax office located on Fushen Road, Foshan City).

Fung Siu-Ching remained there until he passed away at an age of 73 years. Ma

Jung-Yiu, Yuen Kay-San, Jiu Gang-Heung, Ngau Si, and others officiated at

Fung's funeral.

Because Yuen Kay-San did not publicize who he learned from, I feel I need to

explain things. I admire frankness and the discarding of the random creation

of hearsay with regard to the history of Chinese traditions and culture,

however when one is engaged in writing history, one should not substitute

what one does not know with popular folklore. Such a practice is a crime

against history itself. Please forgive me for my frank yet well-intentioned

admonishment.

I maintain that, due to historical reasons and the results of the

traditional concept of maintaining secrecy, the problems related to the

history of martial arts which our forefathers left us must be tackled anew

by this generation. Moreover, our generation must undo the various

regrettable problems which still exist in the inner circles of Wing Chun.

I approve of those in the martial arts, especially the insiders, and their

attempts toward friendly relations. I once met with sifu Leung Ting, a

student of Yip Man. His friendliness and sincerity moved me greatly, not to

mention my respect for his contributions to Wing Chun martial arts. There is

also an article which appeared in the overseas edition of the Yang Sing Wan

Po (Canton Evening News) in which I interviewed sifu Leung Ting. I feel it

would be very beneficial if persons such as sifu Leung Ting and his teacher,

Yip Man, were introduced to the Chinese reading public.

Feeling a deep sense of obligation and responsibility, my superior Sum Nung

and I hereby present these facts.