I was born in Longtouye House, Chaolang Village, Chashan Town, Dongquan County, Guangdong Province, China in 1930, on 17th June of the Lunar calendar. I had a craving for martial arts since I was young. Though I had learned Chinese martial art of Northern and Southern style, martial art was something beyond touch to me in those days.
In the 50’s, I came across a book named Secrets of Internal and External Martial Arts in a bookstall that sold second-hand books. The book was published by the Hong Kong Martial Arts Research Society in 1928, and contained two volumes. The first volume titled The Way of Yiquan was written by the late Grandmaster Wang Xiangzhai. As the book revealed so many insights into martial arts, it was indeed an invaluable treasure. I longed for the art of Yiquan and hoped that I could learn it some day. But the problem was: Did anyone know this art in Hong Kong? In the following ten years, I earnestly looked for a Yiquan master, but to no avail.
One day, I suddenly thought of Mr Yau, an old friend of mine who worked in a Shanghai style barbershop. As he had met so many people from Northern China, he might have good news for me. I visted Mr Yau and was much delighted. He told me he knew a man from Northern China who was a disciple of Wang Xiangzhai. This man could send a person flying off the ground effortlessly and every time the person would land on a designated barber chair. Mr Yau was a renowned master of Fengyang style martial art and a friend whom I had known for over 10 years. What he witnessed must be true! Guess who that man was? He was Master Han Xingyuan, who later became my teacher.
After being referred by three people and visited Master Han for three times, I was finally accepted by Master Han who later passed the essence of Yiquan on me. At that time, Master Han taught at Grace Church, 2/F., 33 Un Chau Street, Kowloon (the church no longer exists now). It was in the early 60s.
On 4th December 1966, Master Han opened a new school at 3/F., 24 Kimberly Road, Tsimshatsui, Kowloon. I followed him to the new training place. At that time, I was lucky enough to be chosen by Master Han who began to give private lessons to me.
The days I cherished most were those when Master Han still lived by himself. The trainings were so tough, but the benefits were so immense. Master Han gave me a key of his flat and asked me to wake him up every morning (he was usually still sleeping when I arrived). Then, we would go upstairs and practise on the rooftop. Afterwards, we would go to Jade Garden Restaurant at Dong Ying Building to have dim sum for breakfast. After that, Master Han would go to Fei Ngo Hill to treat his patients, while I would deal with my own business. After one o’clock in the afternoon, I would go to the new school and practise by myself. When Master Han came back from Fei Ngo Hill, he would guide me with my practice again. Day after day, I sweated head over heels and even wetted the floor in mid summertime. The pain was on my body, but the gain was on my skill!
Master Han taught me at several places other than the school, including the park on old Chatham Road, Kowloon Park and 2/F., 116 Portland Street, Yaumatei.
Master Han also enjoyed discussing martial arts with me. With the book of The Way of Yiquan and Attainment of Yiquan in my hands, Master Han would explain and demonstrate to me the true meanings of Yiquan. He always taught me with a tireless heart and a pleasant smile.
When I had time in the evening, I loved going to the school to just ‘watch’. I intended to train my power of observation and see if I could observe the rights or wrongs of other students’ practice. I also liked to observe Master Han’s movements and listen to his words when he gave lessons. All these nourished my Yiquan skills because ‘Lookers-on see most of the game’. Thus, less than ten students of Master Han had seen me practise in the school.
In the early 70’s, Master Han urged me several times to open a school to teach Yiquan. However, I could not do so because I was too busy. Some time later, a few juniors of mine like Tong Hoi Tai, Cheng Cheuk Hing, Nip Wah Chi, etc. found that the schedule of Master Han’s school did not fit their spare times and proposed to be trained by me at my home instead. Thus, with permission from Master Han, I taught them on behalf of my master.
In 1977, Master Han went to the United States to teach Yiquan for the second time (He went for half a year this time). He lived at Li Cheuk’s home in San Francisco. Li was a leader of the local Chinese citizens and had a nephew who took Master Han as his Godfather. At that time, Li’s nephew was going to get married in Hong Kong, and planned to stay in Hong Kong for several months. Before Li’s nephew left the States, Master Han told him to learn from me. Half a month later, Master Han called me and asked whether his godson had come to see me. I said ‘not yet’. Master Han then told me the room number of a hotel where his godson stayed and asked me to find him. Later, I gave the godson of Master Han a call, and invited him to meet me at the car park of Grantham Institute of Education at 9:00 a.m. the next day, where I practised everyday. When he came the next day, my Junior, Cheung Chi Wan and Keung Sang, whom I taught on behalf of Master Han, were also present. After chatting for a while, I knew he had learned two schools of Kungfu and Qigong, and was learning from a renowned martial artist in Hong Kong. He asked how long I had practised Yiquan. I replied ‘not long’. He then asked for a bout. I said ‘okay’. So we got into contact and … he just exclaimed, ‘Very Wonderful! Very Wonderful!’ (no need to repeat what happened because it was just another old Yiquan story). After the trial, he at once wanted to learn from me and quit all other schools of martial art. I consoled him and said, ‘the style that you are learning was well known. I don’t mind if you keep on learning it. But if you really want to learn from me, I am glad to teach you.’ Finally, he quitted what he was learning and started learning Yiquan from me. I was happy that I had not disappointed Master Han and fulfilled the task he assigned to me.
One day in the afternoon, when I was practicing with my junior Or Kwang Sing, Master Han came over and said, “Should someone ask what you are learning, tell him it is ‘The Way of Yiquan’ ”. What he meant was the right path of Yiquan.
On 18th January 1983, Master Han passed away. At his last moment, his wife, Or Kwang Sing and I were by his side. We saw him off for his last journey!
In early 1985, Master Han’s elder brother, Han Xingqiao opened the ‘Yiquan Training Centre’ in the ‘ Zhu Hai Government Officials Rehabilitation Centre’. I attended the training class there and hoped to absorb more valuable knowledge of Yiquan. I was trained under Master Han Xingqiao for more than two years and greatly benefited from his concept of ‘take what you need’. It was a pity that because of full occupant of my work, I subsequently stopped learning from Master Han Xingqiao.
In July 1987, the Hong Kong Yiquan Society was founded. I was one of the founders and a supervisor of the society’s affairs. Starting from the second session, I have been the vice-chairman, while Fok Zan Wan (also a student of Master Han, my junior) has been the Chairman.
In 1991, I became a director of the ‘Hong Kong Jing Wu Athletic Association’ and opened a Yiquan Class to teach people who love the art. My class has a large number of students since its commencement. This shows that many people like Yiquan in Hong Kong.
I am not trying to say that I have made contribution in promoting Yiquan (Dachengquan), but I deeply feel that I have the responsibility to do so. Now, in my old age, I determined to contribute my remaining days for the promotion of Yiquan!