Master Wai-Po Tang
Summary of Wai-Po
Wai Po Tang is the founder and international chief
instructor of the Martial Art Institute; and he has been teaching
Wing Chun since 1982. He founded his own organisation 'Martial
Art Institute' (MAI) in 1986, and he has continously researched
and developed the MAI system. He was awarded the highest traditional
Kung Fu honour 'The Wing Chun Descendant' by Foshan Grandmaster
Yui Kil in 1988.
Po Tang is a listed domain expert for a research agency (DERA)
since 2000; also a full member of the British Association of Sport
and Exercise Sciences (BASES) since 2001; and a recognised sports
coach UK member of the National Coaching Foundation; and also
an accredited 'Grandmaster' of Wing Chun Kung Fu. Also, a licensed
member of the British National Martial Arts Association (BNMAA).
is a multi talented martial artist - applying
his knowledge and skills across many different industries. He
was selected to perform for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at
The Royal Variety Performance 2001; starred in BBC TV Series 'Masters
of Combat'. Off-stage, Master Wai Po Tang dedicates a lot of time
teaching head instructors of other clubs, as well as teaching
local classes to the public. He has produced, written, starred
and directed two broadcast quality martial art instructional videofilm,
'Inspired by Wing Chun' in 1994, and 'Kung Fu Fighting in 1998.
In addition, Master Tang have contributed articles to many martial
arts magazines, and appeared in many news and television documentary
Po Tang's Martial Art Background:
Mei Kung Fu (1972); Wu shu, Wado Ryu Karate (1979); Traditional
Wing Chun (1980 - 1985); Contemporary M.A.I. Wing Chun (1985 -
present); Thai Boxing (1988); Contemporary M.A.I. Wing Chun &
Foshan Wing Chun (1988 - present).
Tang's Combat Experience:
years - present Lots of unquantify threatening street confrontations
derived mostly from racial attacks or robberies or mindless troublemakers.
He has fought against 1 to 1, and as much as upto 1 against gangs
of 15-20 assailants on 3 occasions. Only approximately 10-20%
of the total confrontations were resolved in administering physical
force against assailants, the rest was verbally negotiated. Majority
of situations were unarmed but he encountered some armed situations
(once against machete, three times against long bladed knife and
two handgun situations, and some short sticks or other blunted
instruments). Master Tang strongly emphasised that all the violent
engagements were solely self defence. All the mentioned problems
- 1985 Engaged in many all-out no-holds barred martial
art matches in car parks, streets or gyms (foolishly defending
the honour of one of his former instructor's reputation). All
fights were won brutally. Master Wai Po Tang emphasised regret
to these incidents because it crossed the ethical boundaries of
Tour of Far East. Master Tang fought in Thailand, represented
one of Thailand's top ten Thai boxing camp (Luprapra). Won his
professional fight knocking out the opponent in the 2nd round.
Subsequently, Master Tang travelled to Hong Kong and China whereby
he cross-hands with a total of 12 opponents in Hong Kong and China.
He won all 12 matches with T.K.O.s consecutively in a period of
BSc (hons) degree in The Science of Sport & Exercise.
Specialised in Biomechanics and Sport Psychology (Motor-Control
He was shortlisted for a MPhil/PhD research degree from
an agency DERA.
Po Tang have written and directed two broadcast quality instructional
by Wing Chun' and 'Kung
articles to many martial arts magazines since 1984 to present
History of Wai-Po
Tang's Kung Fu
Wai-Po Tang was born in Hong Kong. He went to live in England
at the age of seven.
his early years, he has always been fascinated by martial arts.
Whilst growing up in England, he encountered a lot of racial problems.
As a result, he started learning Pak Mei Kung Fu from his elder
brother Yu-Po Tang.
Mei Kung Fu
Mei was well known as a fighter's style in Hong Kong. It was also
infamous during the troublesome era of London Chinatown in the
experienced his first extreme violent incident at the age
of 7, in Cricklewood, London. He saw a young boy smash a glass
bottle into the face of another 8 year old, causing blindness
to one eye. This was a rude awakening.
was himself a victim of a knife attack at the age of 12.
An armed youth at the Shepherds Bush Market, London, held a knife
to Wai-Po's back and demanded money. The streetwise Tang gave
the money and maintained safety.
experiences were a couple of many other incidents, and it had
a profound effect. It had made him felt a need to protect his
integrity, freedom, human rights, and it instilled a cardinal
trait of determined-resolution.
Tang uptook Kung Fu training at an earlier age of 7, he found
that applying the skills were difficult. Understandably, he trained
over six months just on the 'so-called' correct stance.
As an inquisitive child, he questioned his instructor (his brother)
on how such a traditional method of training can be translated
or applied in a real fight. This was the beginning of Tang's path
to search for the relative or absolute truth.
his teenage period, Master Tang had encountered many racial problems,
and had on many occasions were involeved in streetfights. His
cardinal trait was a determined one, hence, he always stood for
his principles, and fought for his rights. Thus, he incurred mental
and physical scars along the way; and won some battles and backed
off some too.
emergence of the great late 'Bruce
Lee' in the 70's was a great inspiration for Tang. He percieved
Bruce as the symbolic icon of 'fighting against prejudices'. It
was an unforgetable image which gave Tang the asipiration to find
real solutions. This perception propelled Tang to work extremely
hard toward his martial arts training.
Fu - David Carridine
70's-80's media had a massive influence on Tang's martial way
as it did for many people. Programmes like 'Kung Fu' starred David
Carridine, and as well as all the 70's new wave of London Soho
late night Classical Kung Fu films. It started showing at 12.30am
at Leicester Square, London, and in those days it was a typical
hangout place for the Kung Fu buffs.
era of Kung Fu film manic increased Wai-Po's appetite for more
Kung Fu, and he attempted to emulate the characters of the silver
screen - as they appear convincing and invincible. Inspite of
the Kung Fu prowess, the films also shows traditional martial
art integrity, honour,and clear resolutions. A fantasy that had
a very powerful motivation for Tang to train as hard as any elite
athlete or special forces' personel.
first formal martial art club lesson was in 1978, he studied Wado
Ryu Karate, with an instructor called 'Charles' (based in Chiswick,
London). Wai-Po recalled that Charles was a very good instructor
and very attentive. Unfortunately he did not stay there long enough
to benefit the quality instructions.
moved on to a different club, trained in Northern and Southern
Style Kung Fu (Wu Shu). Trained under Master S K Yong, a master
from singapore. Tang respected him and got on very well him.
remembered his first lesson at this Wu Shu club's free sparring
session. As a novice Tang was chased and kicked from one end of
the hall to the other. He incurred massive bruises from the brown
and black belts karatekas, they also trained at the same Wu Shu
Rather than giving up after his first beating, Wai-Po was determined
to improve. Hence, two months went by, Tang was kicking back big
time. He had easily defeated or matched others who had trained
was an incredible inspiration, hence, Tang's obsession of Kung
Fu took a significant hold. At this time, Tang was training between
5-7 hours a day, every day - regular 2 hours in the morning, cycle
5 miles to school, train during lunchtime, and then travel 1-3
hours to clubs all over London, and worked-out for another 3 hours.
This was sandwiched between school time. It was an unbelievable
task, driven purely by self motivation and self discipline.
this period of Wu Shu training, Wai-Po was also learning some
Wing Chun and other Kung Fu techniques from Peter Lok and other
These sessions were informal and private, normally at the back
yard of the Chinese take away, where Wai-Po worked part time.
part time wages was just enough to cover Tang's travelling expenses
and the costs to learn Kung Fu. But he endured hardship without
support from the family. He sacraficed social life, and other
youth activities for a strict and tough self-inflicted training
- Wing Chun
was around 1979/80 that Tang saw an advertisement in the Richmond
Upon Thames College - someone advertising a new Wing Chun class
and stated he was Bruce Lee's colleague.
went along to the introductory session, and watched this master
making extraordinary claims, which certainly impressed Tang at
trained diligently in Wing Chun for two years, and then he became
an instructor, and opened up his first Wing Chun school in Hounslow,
Middlesex in 1983.
Wai-Po learned very quickly, and turned out to be an outstanding
instructor. To the point, that his master was copying Tang's teaching
methods and training skills. Tang started to open many clubs.
reputation was so strong that he was selected to perform for a
BBC martial arts documentary 'The Way of The Warrior' in 1983.
Also, featured in a medical documentary 'The Living Body' in 1984.
Appearing on TV in those days was a very prestigious moment. It
would mean instant fame, as TV was the biggest medium.
After the showing of the BBC's Warrior, his master received tremendous
amount of challenges. This culminated into a very troublesome
era. Tang and his colleague dealt with the challenges, whilst
his master basked in the glory of Tang's victories.
was young and naive at the time, and he engaged in some extremely
brutal street fights against other martial artists - misfits/troublemakers.
Merely, to protect his master's honour.
was during these trouble times that Tang began to question his
own training methodologies. He was amazed that the techniques
he had learnt so diligently, did not really work. Although Tang
won all his fights. It was predominantly due to determination,
aggression, and natural instinctive simple movements.
became disillusioned by this fact. Hence, Tang became a self taught
and a research student eversince. Tang went on his own way to
seek the truth again.
new chapter of his martial life, Tang decided to go it alone.
Researching practical skills produced great revelations but before
that, he embarked on something that was remarkably different.
attempted to break into the film industry.
1986, the blockbuster movie, 'The Last Emperor' was at the pre-production
stage. Lucy Boulting was the casting director at the time. Tang
for the lead role of the emperor. This meant Tang needed voice
and acting lessons, which led to his friend's wife Mary Selway
helping a great deal. For a brief time Tang uptook acting lessons
from Joan Washington, and was with an agent Neil Toland.
Tang did not fulfilled his intentions, and decided acting was
beyond his skills. Then he moved town, and started a health food
business, as well as running a full time martial art gym on the
south coast of England - Brighton.
Tang founded the Martial Art Institute in 1986. Tang continued
to learn and research mixed martial arts disciplines. He tested
his research and skills in the Far East, fighting in Thailand,
Hong Kong and China. Tang won all of his fights or cross-hand
challenges. Tang came in contact with many prominent martial arts
Masters and was very grateful to all those whom generously exchange
1987, Tang went to Foshan, China where he met Great Grandmaster
Yui Kil. Tang formally became a research student of Grandmaster
Yui Kil since 1987.
was introduced to Grandmaster Yui Kil by Grandmaster Ip Chun.
Tang recalled Master Ip Chun was a very generous and knowledgeable
man, and Tang enjoyed his company during their trip to Foshan.
In February 1988 Tang received the highest honourary traditional
Kung Fu recognition, a prestigious award from Foshan's Grandmaster,
rest just gets better and interesting. The integration of Foshan
Wing Chun and Tang's research and development had brought about
a brilliant and unique approach to Tang's Wing Chun. This approach
considers mixed martial arts - a multi discipline and inter-discipline
Tang's system and philosophy has stood the test of time, producing
excellent artists, fighters, sport-fighters and as well as successful
recreational classes around the world.
Tang is now a renowned Kung Fu master, recognised as one of the
best in the world. His teachings are innovative and sets the trends
that others follow.
will be further updates in the near future - how Tang defended
himself in the many brutual street fights; and how he has developed
as a peace seeking martial artist.