SIFU SAM LAU


‘‘When you know kung fu, you can speak louder than other people. They may be better at something else. But when it comes to kung fu, they can only listen to me.’’

 Wing Chun and sifu Ip have given me a lot of confidence. You’re not afraid of others.

sam_lau_3Sifu Sam Lau:First generation disciple and also assistant instructor of Yip Man.

Master Sam Lau’s Martial Arts learning experiences was rather legendary. His father passed away when Sam was a little boy. He developed a strong interest in Martial Arts because he thought that it could help in safeguarding his homeland and country. His neighbors told him that there was one type of Martial Arts that only required a few months to half a year to master the fighting technique. Young Sam Lau just could not care less as from what he saw and heard: it generally took about 3 years to practice “Chak Ma” (i.e. standing very firmly on one’s feet) before one could take off in learning Martial Arts. He did not believe there was such great Kung Fu. One day, he was having a haircut at a barbershop and a bald chap was sitting beside Sam Lau. The barber told him that was Mr Yip Man, the person who taught the said Martial Arts. So Sam Lau requested Mr Yip Man to teach him some drills since they were living in the same neighborhood. Coincidentally, Mr Yip Man and Sam Lau lived in No. 149 and No. 192 Tong Choi Street respectively. Knowing that Sam’s age was about 15 to 16 years old, with a similar built as Yip Man and great potential, Yip Man agreed to introduce him to his six feet tall disciple Moy Yat who lived in the middle of Bute Street between No 149 to 192, Tong Choi Street; and so Sam Lau stayed there for a few months. In order to put into application, and to prove that Wing Chun was such an outstanding Martial Arts, Sam Lau started to hunt for practice targets in the Kowloon Tong areas. He pounced upon colourfully dressed guys challenging them for a fight. For most of the times, Sam Lau won, but the guys always went after him asking why he did that. Every time Sam Lau mastered any new drill he would challenge for a fight with someone. Recalling this, he agreed that was an unbelievably rash action and very cruel in nature.

Because of Sam Lau’s frequent exposure, many exponents of other streams of Martial Arts sought to challenge him. So he declined their request by saying he needed to prepare for his examination as it was drawing near. After completion of his exams, those exponents had repeatedly come to challenge him but Sam Lau was being pestered beyond endurance. Finally he had to tell Moy Yat and Master Yip Man. Upon hearing this, Yip Man gathered his disciples Chan Kin Hei, Wong Wing and others to Dai Sung Restaurant owned by Ho Kai Luen. At the restaurant attic, they sparred and used “long extended arms and wide spaced steps”, and simulated fighting skills used by the opponents to drill Sam Lau. As the battle was drawing near, Sam Lau asked his mother to prepare some nourishing recipe for strengthening his body and energy (Just to prepare him for the fight).

During that morning, the group arrived at the agreed site: Bute Street / Fa Yuen Street. Sam Lau was very nervous, the opponent stayed cool and grabbed a huge white gourd; drank an entire box of Vitasoy at one go. Together they went to the roof of Ho Kwong Restaurant at Sai Yee Street. At that time, Sam Lau dressed like an athlete wearing a white T-shirt and white shorts. Upon arrival, his legs just could not help trembling like Elvis Presley shaking his legs during his performances. Sam Lau was a man of his words, so he had no choice but to accept the challenge. Wong Wing was the referee, Chan Kin Hei ( nicknamed Chiuzhou chap ) was the instructor and Yip Chun, Yip Ching and others were the observer. Sam Lau emerged as the winner after the fight. After Master Yip Man learnt about Sam’s victory , he took a look at Sam’s opponent and noticed his V-shape body built yet filled with bruises, Yip Man was then further impressed with Sam Lau . Being a youngster and because of some trivial unhappiness, he turned to Western boxing under the coaching of Ramsey Bucks.

After a period of time, Master Yip Man felt puzzled and disappointed, Sam Lau was not seen patronizing Lungfung Restaurant to savor tea drinks with him. Master Yip Man and others liked to chitchat, savoring Lotus paste bun and Chinese tea till late hours. At the same time, Sam Lau accepted Wong Wing’s invitation to teach Kung Fu at the newly opened Kim Chiu Wing Chun Kuen Institute.

One afternoon Sam Lau received a call from Yip Man asking the latter to visit his place and be officially adopt ed as his disciple. So Sam Lau exhibited all of his skills and Yip Man rectified each. Yip Ching’s wife was also present at that time. Yip Man frequently visited No. 192 street to coach Sam Lau and he often travelled with Yip Man to teach Kung Fu. During the period of practice which also invited many challenges from numerous sects, Yip Man would analyse them in detail with encouragement and he never said “don’t fight”.

Sam Lau was the instructor in several societies including Kowloon Motor Bus Athletic Association, Concordian Lutheran School, and youth centres and others. In 1974, ignoring “The King” Mr. Tang’s advice, filled with guts and pride, Sam Lau took part in the Jieshou Cup Martial Arts Competition in Taiwan. His opponent was a Judo champion in the Navy Marine from Hwalien weighing 135 pounds. But Sam Lau only weighted 115 pounds and was not accompanied by coach and assistants. So he had to face the competition all himself.

Initially, Sam Lau confidently used left and right blows on his opponent but the latter dodged the attack and managed to tumble Sam to the ground. After the first and second rounds, because the opponent was too tough and without prior practice and being not familiarized with the rules, Sam Lau almost wanted to surrender in the third round. But driven by his own pride and success in the past, he could not just let it go so easily. So he decided to change his strategy: he first kicked his opponent’s front feet, then executed left left straight punches followed by a right hook fist. The latter suffered badly with dizziness and was too weak to return punches. He won the third round, but taking into account the first two rounds, the opponent won the match. However, Sam Lau had accomplished the most difficult task in the arena.

The opponent was a local native with local influence, physically strong, over-weight and young too. He had the upper hand in the first two rounds. Sam Lau was beaten terribly until he could not catch his breath and his mind went completely blank. It was a miracle for him to win the third round without being accompanied by coach and assistants. One must face one’s battle and fight to the end then only can one escape from being thrashed by one’s opponent.

During the journey to Beijing in 1996, Mr. Wong Shun Leung told Sam Lau: “your drills were too much of western boxing, otherwise you could have won the match!” In fact, Mr. Wong wanted to ask Sam to participate in the competition held in Japan.

Sam Lau was minded that everyone had the responsibility to do something for his own country and not to waste one’s time achieving nothing. One could contribute either capital or strength toward one’s homeland. Sam Lau felt sad about Chinese Kung Fu being turned into other countries’ Martial Arts; Chinese tea culture being transformed into Japanese tea art, dragon boat race faced challenges from Korea. Recently there was a World Martial Arts Village constructed in Korea. In fact, Chinese Martial Arts were profound but their development was sporadic and undestined without much achievements. If the Chinese do not act now, Chinese Martial Arts would fall in to the hands of Western people as a matter of time. Most foreigners popularly practiced Wing Chun, they had the passion in Chinese Kung Fu. Their serious attitude and enthusiasm (for learning) had surpassed the Chinese. Sam Lau wondered one day, if one wished to master Wing Chun, one would have to go to the western countries to do so.

Presently, the quality of Wing Chun instructors were so varied that it is very difficult to choose from. One day, foreigners would establish their own stream of Wing Chun. During the past 10 or so years, an appeal had been made to the relevant organization to unify Wing Chun and to try to further perfect the skill. This would set standard or direction for everyone on how to promote Wing Chun culture.

Setting sight on the present alone at the expense of future development is bound to be condemned and history will tell in time.

Before the return of Hong Kong to Mainland China in 1997, Mr. Li Jie, former Chairman of Chinese Wushu Association and Sam Lau had various discussions, positively setting the framework. It is hoped Wang Xiao Lin, the newly appointed Director and Yu Zai Qing, the Commissioner would understand the urgency of this matter. And Sam Lau has planned to write personally to relate the important needs to the leaders Hu Jing Tao and Wen Jia Bao of protecting our Chinese Martial Arts culture.

Responsibility for unification of Wing Chun lies on the National Athlet ics Bureau and Ministry of Culture. The execution and actual work could be done by the individual local organizations.

Persons who are familiar with foreign Martial Arts and well versed in Wing Chun should take part in the work. No administrative measure should be taken to control and set restrains on the development of Wing Chun. It is definitely not in the interest of the country nor the objective of Chinese Martial Arts that such unified Wing Chun was a mere consolidation of various sects of Wing Chun without scrutinization as a result of trying to satisfy everybody whether politically or otherwise. So there is no time to spare but to integrate and enhance Wing Chun as soon as possible with wide acceptance by the public. It is hoped that a balance between Chinese and foreign Martial Arts could be achieved and to promote Wing Chun to the rest of the world, combating motion with action.

There were many Wing Chun Association established in China and Hong Kong. On 15th of October last year, the First World Traditional Wushu Competition was held in Zhengzhou of Henan Province. Sam Lau led Yip Man Martial Arts Association to participate in the event. It was the only team to represent Hong Kong and China. But there was no referee who was familiar with Wing Chun. Referees such as Mr. Wu Bin specialized in Wushu, Vice-referee Mr. Dong De Qiang well versed in Choy Lee Fut and others were totally unfamiliar with Wing Chun. How exactly should they award points? Little points were awarded to excellent standard of skill displayed which did not command hissing sounds. But those with louder the sound created were awarded the higher points. Yip Man Wing Chun had taken the limelight of Shaolin and widely spread across its mother country. It is believe d that the Grandmaster of Wing Chun would feel consoled after all.

Persons who are familiar with foreign Martial Arts and well versed in Wing Chun should take part in the work. No administrative measure should be taken to control and set restrains on the development of Wing Chun. It is definitely not in the interest of the country nor the objective of Chinese Martial Arts that such unified Wing Chun was a mere consolidation of various sects of Wing Chun without scrutinization as a result of trying to satisfy everybody whether politically or otherwise. So there is no time to spare but to integrate and enhance Wing Chun as soon as possible with wide acceptance by the public. It is hoped that a balance between Chinese and foreign Martial Arts could be achieved and to promote Wing Chun to the rest of the world, combating motion with action.

There were many Wing Chun Association established in China and Hong Kong. On 15 th of October last year, the First World Traditional Wushu Competition was held in Zhengzhou of Henan Province. Sam Lau led Yip Man Martial Arts Association to participate in the event. It was the only team to represent Hong Kong and China. But there was no referee who was familiar with Wing Chun. Referees such as Mr. Wu Bin specialized in Wushu, Vice-referee Mr. Dong De Qiang well versed in Choy Lee Fut and others were totally unfamiliar with Wing Chun. How exactly should they award points? Little points were awarded to excellent standard of skill displayed which did not command hissing sounds. But those with louder the sound created were awarded the higher points. Yip Man Wing Chun had taken the limelight of Shaolin and widely spread across its mother country. It is believed that the Grandmaster of Wing Chun would feel consoled after all.

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