Lo Man Kam narrates

Lo Man Kam narrates

by Sifu Lo Man Kam

 

Yip Man’s real name was Ki Man. He came from Fo Shan in the Kwangtung (Canton) province, and was the second child of a family living on Fook Yin Road in the Mulberry Gardens of Fo Shan. The family was well-known in the area. Next door to this house were the famous Fo Shan tea-rooms, Tou Yun Gue. Next to that was a renowned bakery, Gow Hing Long. Mulberry Gardens was a prestigious area of Fo Shan, and the houses in Mulberry Gardens were all very large.

Sifu Lo Man KamI was born in Hong Kong and grew up there. My mother was Yip Man’s sister. Because of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during World War II, I went to Fo Shan to live with my uncle in Mulberry Gardens. At that time, I was with my uncle every day and learned with him. My mother had told me many stories about Uncle Yip’s great fighting accomplishments. As a youth, this inspired me, especially in view of the difficult times in which we were living. At the age of seven, my uncle had been one of the students of Master Chan Wah Shun. Master Chan was already very old at the time and rarely taught students himself. Yip Man was his last pupil. Since Master Chan had accepted Yip Man as his “closed door” pupil, Master Chan developed a great liking for him. Yip Man’s elder fellow students, Ng Choun Su, Lar Ru Chi, and Chan Ru Man, all took care of the young Yip Man.

The fee for Master Chan’s tuition was very high: each student had to pay a few ounces of silver. The average man could not afford such fees at the time, so Master Chan’s students numbered only in tens. This is also why Wing Chun is known as the rich person’s kung fu.

Six years later, Master Chan was near death. Before he died, he ordered his student Ng Choun Su to teach his younger students. Master Yip Man trained with his elder fellow-student for three years. At the age of sixteen, Master Yip went to Hong Kong to study English at St. Steven’s College. There he was introduced by a classmate to the second son of Leung Yan, Leung Bik. The two studied together for three years and perfected the art of Wing Chun.

Among his fellow students, Yip Man got along best with Yun Ke Shan, who was a student of Ng Choun Su. Yip and Yun were of the same age and spent a lot of time together. While at Yip Man’s house, Yun met Yip’s son, Yip Chun. Yun was very impressed by Yip Chun, so he taught him the first form of Wing Chun, the “Siu Lim Tao.”

During the early years of the Chinese Republic, Fo Shan had a yearly festival called “Autumn Scenes.” One year Yip Man and his wife went to the festival. While there, an officer of the military tried to take advantage of Mrs. Yip. At the time, Yip was wearing a long Chinese gown withYip Mans passport cloth shoes. He was a small man, and he looked more like a gentleman than a fighter. The officer assumed he was weak and helpless, so he became ever more daring and offensive. My uncle immediately resorted to the “simultaneous attack and defence” technique of Wing Chun, and the officer was knocked to the floor immediately. The officer then took out his revolver, but before he could fire uncle grabbed it by the barrel and used the strength of his thumb to break the trigger, rendering it useless.

When the Japanese occupied Fo Shan, their military police heard of Yip Man’s reputation and invited him to become their coach. But he refused because it would have been against his principles. That angered the Japanese greatly, to the point that they ordered another Kung Fu master, with the surname Leung, to challenge Master Yip Man. Yip Man only accepted after having being asked many times.

Master Leung thought his punch very powerful and used it against Master Yip. Yip Man immediately used the Wing Chun ‘horse stance’ and Quan Sao to defend himself, and then turned around and kicked Master Leung to the ground.

After this occurrence, Yip Man left Fo Shan due to increased harassment from the Japanese. However, he still continued to help the Chinese government in resisting the Japanese. After the Japanese occupation, Uncle Yip did not teach Wing Chun, but worked for the police. In order to rid the area of criminal elements and protect the people, Master Yip solved many crimes, including the Fo Shan Sar Ton Fon Street Robbery, and he caught the robbers in the Sing Ping Theatre. Master Yip Man later became leader of the military patrol of south Kwang Chow (Canton) until the collapse of Mainland China.

Hong KongWith the mainland lost, my uncle left Fo Shan for Hong Kong. There he was introduced to Mr. Lee Min, who later helped Yip establish a Wing Chun school at the Restaurant Union in Da Nan Street, Kowloon. At the beginning, the students were Lee Min, Leung Sheung, Lok Yiu, and myself. There were never more than ten students present. Mr. Lee was not only a student but also a good friend of my uncle’s. Later, Tsu Sheung Tin and Yip Bo Ching also joined us.

The number of students kept increasing to the point that in 1954 Master Yip Man left the premises of the Restaurant Union to establish a larger Wing Chun school at Hia Ten Street, Deep Water Bay, Kowloon. The other students and I followed him there and continued our training. At that time, uncle also gave tuition two or three times a week to students of a union on Hollywood Road, and at the Tai Wong Temple at Queen’s Road, East Wanchai. 
The number of students continued to increase, so uncle moved the school from Hia Ten Street to Lee Da Street, then to Lee Jenwou Village and finally to the Hing Ping Building. Yip man never had to advertise for students. One had to be introduced to him or to know a follower. Bruce Lee was introduced to him by Cheung Jwo Hing (William Cheung) when the school was on Lee Da Street.

Yip Man’s method of instruction varied for every student and depended on his degree of knowledge, interest, natural ability, and personal routine. Yip Man’s great innovation was to personalise instruction by giving individual attention and making each student’s progress dependent on his own ability and will to succeed.

The strength of Yip Man was equal to that of a man half his age. At this time robberies occurred frequently in Hong Kong due to the largeLo Man Kam and Yip Chun number of gangs operating there. One night when Yip Man was taking a walk, two thugs with knives tried to rob him. It only took Yip Man a few kicks to chase them away.

In 1956 my uncle encouraged me to go to Taiwan and establish a Wing Chun family there. In this regard I also received support from President Chiang Kai-Shek. I was representing the young people of Hong Kong.

However, I began to miss my home in Hong Kong and tried to return, but my uncle scolded me for coming back. Yip Man thought the opportunities in Taiwan too great to turn one’s back on. So in 1960 I returned to Taiwan and made it my permanent home, and I have remained here ever since. To serve my new country, I enrolled in a military school and learnt the art of war. I became a field commander.

Sifu Lo´s regiment with Chiang Kai Shek

I am the only licensed Wing Chun Sifu in Taiwan, and have as one of my students President Chiang Kai Shek’s grandson. Now that I think about it, I realise Yip Man’s intention in sending me back to Taiwan was that I should devote myself to this country and develop Wing Chun Kung Fu here. His wishes have been fulfilled. I am currently teaching students from France, America, England, South Africa, Australia, East Africa and Germany, who all come to Taiwan to learn Kung Fu.

During the Asian and International Kung Fu contests, the members of the Wing Chun Sport Team have received high honours, thus helping the Wing Chun style to prosper around the world. Because of my obligations in Taiwan, I was unable to attend my uncle’s funeral, which I greatly regret.

Lo Man Kam and Yip Chun on Yip Mans graveWhat the people from outside our area do not know, is that only the authentic disciples of Yip Man, such as myself,were entitled to wear the black band of mourning around their waists. Indirect students, such as Leung Ting, were entitled only to wear black bands around their arms. Since the death of Yip Man, much confusion has existed concerning all matters associated with Wing Chun. I have great respect for the traditional Chinese ethics and to honour my uncle’s memory I have avoided all argument and conflict with those people who have claimed to be the new leader of the Wing Chun Clan. My uncle taught that Wing Chun is not for sale. Students may apply for lessons, and each student can make his own decision about which teacher to learn with, depending on whose style of teaching suits him most. Kai Sai was the first to earn a full teacher’s licence from me. Since he left Taiwan, I have encouraged him to spread the art of Wing Chun that I learned from my uncle. I welcome serious students from around the world who desire to come here and study Wing Chun. They may contact me at my address in Taipeh.

 

Marc Debus and Dominik Dertinger on Yip Mans grave