CROSSED-HANDS IN HONG KONG
Tang outside the Tang Village Ancestral Temple, NT. Hong Kong in
flight from Thailand to Hong Kong was a short one, but always a
place for self-evaluation. Master Tang was sad to leave Thailand
but excited to meet some famous Hong Kong Wing Chun masters. Master
Wai-Po Tang arrived Hong Kong Kai Tak airport in February 1988,
still hopping around on one leg as a result of the ruptured ligament
of the knee.
explorations of Hong Kong's Kung Fu clubs/schools were meant to
be general research or sightseeing. Before going on to some of the
fights in Hong Kong, I want to tell a similar story that occurred
in the previous year in 1987.
visited a very famous Hong Kong Wing Chun Grandmaster whom invited
Tang to his home to show him video footages and documents and demonstration
of Yip Man Wing Chun (this meeting took place just a few weeks before
meeting Great Grandmaster Yui Kil in China). There were discussions
on traditional art and applied Wing Chun which led to very interesting
debates. The Grandmaster asked Tang to come back to his home next
day to continue the research.
Tang practising Front kick
arrival the following day, Tang noticed there were additional two
of this Grandmaster's top students. Tang had a feeling that they
wanted to prove something. Tang politely greeted everyone, the Grandmaster
then asked Tang to perform the forms and the wooden dummy form.
This request was typical of evaluating someone before challenging
him or her. The problem was that the forms were hardly a good measure
of someone's combat abilities.
of the Grandmaster top students (MT) sarcastically remarked aloud,
saying Tang's movement are very powerful but he gestured that he
was not impressed. He challenged Tang to Chi Sau (sticky hands),
and Tang was surprised but obliged. This top student MT commented
about all the technical know-how, but as soon Tang close the distance
using very basic techniques, MT fell onto the floor and continued
that way for a short while. Tang did not want to strike MT in case
he might hurt MT, and cause embarrassment to Grandmaster. Tang trapped
MT to one corner, at this point MT lost his temper and attempted
to strike Tang with his elbow. This was considered all-out fight.
Tang avoided the elbow strike and countered with a double palm strike
that knocked MT flying back into a glass cabinet. Tang wanted to
finish him off but the Grandmaster requested a stop to it. As a
mark of respect Tang did stop. The Grandmaster was so impressed
that he accompanied Tang to meet the Great Grandmaster Yui Kil in
above story was a very similar event to the challenge fight that
took place in February 1988 in Hong Kong after arriving from Thailand.
Tang was walking along a side road of Nathan Street, Kowloon, and
noticed a Wing Chun school. Tang was pleased, and asked the master
of the school if it was possible to look at the training session.
Two brothers ran the school; one of the brothers was running the
school at the time. Tang was told that their students frequently
compete in full contact competitions in Taiwan.
watching for a while, the master asked Tang if he practiced Wing
Chun and Tang told him that he did. The friendly chat suddenly became
hostile. Tang commented that some of his students are very good,
but the master took it the wrong way and suggested that Tang was
not in a position to comment.
knew then all that friendly chat was a pre-requisite of gaining
information before the attack. The problem was, there were so many
of them, and Tang did not know what kind of action they were willing
master condescended, 'Why don't you try out some Sticky Hands with
my students?' Tang continuously declined, emphasising that he only
wanted to watch. Next minute, the whole class surrounded Tang, and
a top student stood in the middle of the circle staring at Tang.
Tang obliged, and crossed-hands with this top student. The student
was no match but Tang did not want to expose him to too much embarrassment,
hence held back the attacks. Tang easily controlled this student
even with an injured knee from the previous fight in Thailand.
master then remarked arrogantly saying Tang had many weaknesses
and openings in the sticky hands, and that Tang's sticky hands were
very different to the Hong Kong style - suggesting Tang was ignorant.
The master then challenged Tang. Tang placed his arms on the master's,
and suddenly the master launches determined powerful punches to
Tang's head. Tang was simply at his peak of reaction and response
time. All the attacks were so easily neutralised. The master got
frustrated and angry, and decided to sneak a low kick in but Tang
intercepted the low kick, and Tang trapped it between his foot and
felt it was time to teach this arrogant master a small lesson, Tang
launched attacks at will, and every strike falling just short of
contact. Just a couple of strikes connected to let the master know
that all other strikes could have connected and could have been
very hard. The master was so overwhelmed by Tang's restraint and
skills, and admitted that sometimes it is wrong to make too quicker
judgement. The master went the kitchen and brought Tang a cup of
Chinese tea; this was a symbol of high respect.
was glad it was a cup of tea and not the choppers. Tang accepted
the tea, and left the master with a positive change of attitude.
This was one of several incidents that occurred in Hong Kong and
unfortunately the stories are all too similar. Tang's general conception
of a lot Hong Kong masters he had came across, were very insecure
and always needed to prove they are better than you. This behaviour
was not generally found in China, instead in China they normally
praise good development and does not find political angles to ridicule.
I guess in a small land, people tend to be more naturally competitive.
Hong Kong is certainly a place of commerce and politics, and this
is very apparent in the martial art fraternity. People just don't
have the time for training Kung Fu.
next trip was a very short train journey across the border of Hong
Kong by train, into the Canton Province to meet his Grandmaster
Yui Kil. This story will be in the forthcoming Today's Topic.
Grandmaster Yui Kil in Foshan Temple in 1988