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About Master Wai-Po Tang



Summary of Wai-Po Tang's Background

Master 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.

Wai 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).

He 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 programmes.

Wai Po Tang's Martial Art Background:
Pak 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).


Wai-Po Tang's Combat Experience:

past 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 were contained.

1983 - 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 self-defence.

1988 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 one month.


Wai-Po Tang's Academic:
BSc (hons) degree in The Science of Sport & Exercise.
Specialised in Biomechanics and Sport Psychology (Motor-Control neuroscience)
He was shortlisted for a MPhil/PhD research degree from an agency DERA.


Wai Po Tang have written and directed two broadcast quality instructional videofilms, 'Inspired by Wing Chun' and 'Kung Fu Fighting'.

Contributed articles to many martial arts magazines since 1984 to present time.


History of Wai-Po Tang's Kung Fu


Master Wai-Po Tang was born in Hong Kong. He went to live in England at the age of seven.

During 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.

wai po tang at 9 years old training pak mei with his brother


Pak Mei Kung Fu

Pak 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 1970's.

Tang 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.


1976 Knife Attack

Tang 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.

These 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.

Although, 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.


Racial Problems

Throughout 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.

Bruce Lee's influence

The 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.


Kung Fu - David Carridine

The 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.

This 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.


Wado Ryu Karate

Tang's 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.

wai po tang at 15 years old round kick to kwon

Wu Shu

Tang 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.

Tang 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 club.

wai po tang age 15 training for 5 hours 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 several years.

This 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.

During this period of Wu Shu training, Wai-Po was also learning some Wing Chun and other Kung Fu techniques from Peter Lok and other associates.

These sessions were informal and private, normally at the back yard of the Chinese take away, where Wai-Po worked part time.

The 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 regime.


1979 - Wing Chun

It 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.

Tang went along to the introductory session, and watched this master making extraordinary claims, which certainly impressed Tang at the time.

Tang 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 tang teaching a seminar in Richmond park, surrey

Ironically, 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.

His 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.

wai potang age 19 performing for the BBC TV 'The Way of The Warrior' 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.

Tang 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.

It 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.

Tang 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.


Perpetual Research Student

A 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.

Tang attempted to break into the film industry.

In 1986, the blockbuster movie, 'The Last Emperor' was at the pre-production stage. Lucy Boulting was the casting director at the time. Tang was wai po tang at age 21 delivering a wing chun Biu Saushortlisted 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.



Unfortunately, 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 knowledge.

wai po tang in red short in Thailand at a professional Muy Thai fight

In 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.

Grand master Yui Kil  with master wai po tang in Foshan

Tang 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, Yui Kil.

The 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 approach.

Master 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.

Master 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.

wai po tang today

There 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.







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