CHALLENGES BEYOND OUTERLIMIT:
APPLIED WING CHUN IN THAILAND
is made when a person challenges the boundaries of normal perceptions
of the internal and external world. Martial artists often tread
a very lonely path to discover or challenge the notions or principles
of learned combat. Everyone has a story to tell, the truth is often
in the eyes of the beholder, particularly with fights or training
topic tells the story of Master Tang's 1988 Far East Tour - an emotive
narrative that looks at the journey to Thailand and Hong Kong and
China. This chapter will discuss Master Tang's experience in Thailand
and in the following weeks we will discuss Hong Kong and China.
January 1988, Master Tang decided to go alone to the Far East, stopping
at Thailand first. He packed his bags, and went on his own to seek
the path of discovery. He said that it was much more adventurous
to go alone, and to expect the unexpected. It was a great coincident
that Master Tang was accepted into Thailand's top professional Thai
boxing camp 'Lupraba'.
Wai-Po Tang working out prior to the fight
camp houses 30 professional fighters, it is located approximately
2 hours drive from Bangkok, set in a remote dusty town among the
hills. The camp was considered of a high standard even though, 3-4
boxers shared a small room, and the floor was the standard bed.
Master Tang was determined to tough it out like any of the other
boxers and did not want any special treatment from the owner.
Tang at the Lupraba Camp 1988
Tang shared a room with a former champion 'Odnoi Lupraba' and another
guy. Both became very good friends despite the obvious language
Luprabra and Wang Yu Lupraba (Wai-Po Tang)
Tang was shocked by the magnitude of Thai boxing and its high standard.
There were so many really good and tough fighters, and these fighters
fight for a living every month for years on end. The Thais were
so warm and friendly outside the ring, absolutely no 'bullshit'
attitude, but inside the ring, they were formidable. Master Tang
notice this general behaviour with most high standard fighters of
any martial art discipline, he had previously noticed many 'non-fighter'
martial artists tend to have the biggest attitude problem. Master
Tang was open-minded to research and learn from anyone with great
knowledge and substance. Hence, the relationships with his stable
mates and trainers were very positive and constructive.
to Thailand, Master Tang had never done any kickboxing or Thai boxing.
He has however, formulated and researched applied Wing Chun (includes
investigation of mixed martial arts disciplines). Hence, he wanted
to evaluate whether such self-researches can be applied in the real
world of high combatants.
the 3 weeks stay in Thailand, Master Tang went through a series
of test fights, he then represented the boxing camp 'Lupraba' in
a professional fight at a Thai festival. The fight was schedule
for 5 rounds. Master Tang was promoted as the Hong Kong Kung Fu
fighter 'Wang-Yu Lupraba'. Despite Master Tang's request that he
did not want the fight to be promoted as Kung Fu Vs Thai Boxing,
but the promoters announced it just that. It created a lot of interest
among the crowd - plenty of betting went on. Master Tang recalled
the atmosphere was absolutely electric.
opponent was a Thai boxer; the crowd was cheering for him and booed
Master Tang. Master Tang had only his corner men and a few stable
mates supporting him - it was an extremely daunting experience.
The humidity was unbearable, sweat was pouring before the warm up
began. The crowd shouting to each other - betting against Master
preparing Wai-Po Tang for the fight
1 - The Thai boxer came straight in with a powerful low kick
to Tang's lead leg. Tang moved away from the following kick. Thai
boxer continue the attack, Tang wanted to test the opponent's reach,
impact force, and repertoire by evading all the strikes. To the
crowd, Tang looked as though he was getting chased by a more aggressive
and competent fighter. The round ended with Thai boxer ahead on
2 - The Thai boxer deliver a powerful round kick, this was leg-blocked
by Tang simultaneously countered with a right cross on the Thai
boxer's chin. The Thai boxer was almost knocked-out, but Tang could
not follow-up because the kick had dislocated his knee joint. The
ease of dislocation was due to pre-fight injury (partial rupture
anterior cruciate ligament). The crowd was wondering why Tang did
not follow through while the opponent was half dazed, but Tang did
not show any sign of pain save onslaught from the opponent.
Wai-Po Tang in red shorts
Thai boxer recovered and threw some kicks and punches that were
blocked by Tang from a stationary position. All the time, Tang was
twisting his leg trying to get the joint back in place. The Thai
boxer began to dance in and out of Tang's range making teasing gestures.
Suddenly, the joint went back in place, Tang darted forward and
delivered a powerful leg kick to the opponent's thigh. The Thai
boxer fell straight down, Tang followed through with a knee to the
head and hooks to the head that rendered a knockout in the 2nd round.
crowd went wild; they switched side and cheered for Tang. Tang was
overjoyed and he paraded around the ring in glory. Apparently, Tang's
single kick to the opponent's thigh had put his opponent on crutches
for 2 weeks. Hence, the Thai boxer was carried out on a stretcher.
The Thai boxing camp that Tang represented was also overjoyed, and
Tang gave his fight prize money to the camp. He insisted that he
did not want to fight for money, and was only interested with the
journey experience and privileged to represent a famous camp.
next day, local people were waving and congratulating Tang calling
out his boxing name 'Wang Yu
Wang Yu'. Master Tang remembers
to this day that the Thai experience was a great experience, and
hold high respect for the Thai's fight standard, and their general
warmth and friendliness as human beings. Tang is grateful to the
owner of the Lupraba camp and his stable mates. From this eye-opening
adventure in Thailand, Master Tang takes a flight to Hong Kong to
meet some Wing Chun masters. This story will be told in the next
forthcoming 'Today's Topic'.