Sisuk Wang Kiu describes the legendary fight between Wong Shun Leung and Master Wong Tik San

Sisuk Wang Kiu describes the legendary fight between Wong Shun Leung and Master Wong Tik San

from the book "The Lo Man Kam Wing Chun System" by Marc Debus

 Language: English   ISBN-10: 3865824706 ISBN-13: 978-3865824707


These problematical events arose through one of my work colleagues. We were both in the same business. Every day we worked in the new suburbs outside the city. We worked in road inspections. My colleague’s family were refugees from the Canton region. At this time it was very Wang Kiu in Hong Kongdifficult to find an apartment or a place to live in fast-expanding Hong Kong. The accommodation situation was so severe that my colleague was renting a very small space on the roof of a house, where he lived in one room.

The houses in Hong Kong have flat roofs and are not individually designed. Every house has an area on the roof which can be used by all the inhabitants of the building.

In this house lived a man who was the boss of a Chinese organisation. This man was also the owner of the room which my colleague was renting. At the same time he used the communal roof to teach Kung Fu, and to be more precise, the Bak Mai Pa style. In addition he practised a training method called „Iron Palm“.

The „Iron Palm“ training method I want to explain in more detail. This involves the use of a form of Chinese medicine, a liquid, in which the practitioner soaks his hands to soften them. Then he hits logs and sticks with his hands, in order to harden them up. The practitioners believe that this process will make their hands as hard as iron. This is where the name of this training method comes from.

The man himself was very tall and was well-known in the art of fighting. He had fingers like small bananas. Due to his „Iron Palm“ training his hands were completely blue. He never washed his hands. He was washed by his two wives, since it was believed that water would damage the hardened hands. Therefore most people in the area had great respect for him.

When he held training sessions on the communal roof, all the students had to come up the stairs to reach the training area. They therefore had to pass the little room which my friend and colleague rented. Now the problem was that my colleague had a small dog which always barked when anyone went past. The students complained about my colleague’s dog to their teacher. The teacher, named „Wong“, told him that he should keep the dog quiet when his students arrived for their training sessions. He answered that he could do nothing to counteract his dog’s instincts, and that furthermore he had no idea how he should prevent the dog from barking when strangers passed by. To this Master Wong rejoined that he would kill the dog. My colleague replied that if this were the case, he would go to the police. After this there were frequent disputes between my colleague, the students and Master Wong.

Master Wong constantly threatened my colleague with violence due to his anger with the dog. One day my colleague replied to Wong that heWang Kiu and Wong Shun Leung was not versed in the martial arts and therefore he could not understand why Wong wanted to fight him, instead of finding an opponent who was his equal. At this point Wong asked him if he knew anyone who practised a martial art. My colleague did not answer him immediately. Then Master Wong told him that he would count to three, and if my friend had not named anyone by then, he would hit him. By the time Master Wong had finished, he could only think of my name, Wang Kiu. Wong told him that he should tell me that he wished to see me that evening. Equally, he gave my colleague to understand that if I did not appear, he would beat him up anyway.

The next day my colleague and I met at the office, as usual. As we left the office to go off and do our work, I got on my scooter and drove off, but as I drove through the gate of the compound he suddenly jumped onto the back-seat of the scooter and told me to drive on. Although we were colleagues and friends, we were not close and so I was a bit surprised. In addition he was very agitated and so I drove to a nearby street where there was a food stall. A little stall, as was common in those days; the stall sold coffee, tea and snacks. We sat down and ordered a coffee. I asked him why he was so agitated and then he told me the whole story. He explained to me that he had no other options regarding the situation with Master Wong and that he had given my name because he was frightened. At the same time he insisted that I must come to the meeting that evening as otherwise he would be beaten up. Therefore I arranged that when I had finished work and had a shower I would meet him so that we could go together to Master Wong.

Wang Kiu Later during my work I met Wong Shun Leung: at this time he also worked for the same company. I told him about this incident since the two of us also trained together under Sifu Yip Man. Wong Shun Leung at once said that he would come along too.

In the evening we met up at Yip Man’s school before going off to the meeting with my colleague. Our fellow student Raimon Lee was also there; when he heard the story he was also keen to come with us. And so it came about that the three of us set off together.

We went to a man called Henry Chung, who had a small cafeteria nearby, in order to meet up with my colleague. We asked him to tell Mr. Wong that he should come down and that we were waiting for him. At this point we did not realise that the cafeteria was actually situated in the building that belonged to Master Wong. But we thought that it was a good idea to sit there and wait for him. Then he approached us.

At this time we were very young; still in our twenties. Master Wong was considerably older than us. I think he was around forty. We sat at the table and the cafeteria-owner introduced us to Wong Tik San, as he reached our table. Master Wong at first said nothing at all. The first thing he did say was: „You crazy young people, you’ve been sold by someone“. I asked him to take a seat. Initially I didn’t go into the problem with my colleague but simply introduced myself. I explained to Master Wong that I was the one who had been asked to come and meet him and that I had heard that he was a great fighter who used the „Iron Palm“ method. I told him that we were learning Wing Chun, which was relevant to the current situation, and that I and my two friends Wong Shun Leung and Raimon Lee had come to see him as he had wished.

Master Wong pointed to my colleague and asserted that he had tricked us, and asked if we had heard what the problem was. I said that I hadWang Kiu and Wong Shun Leungs with their wifes and family nothing to do with the problem and was only there because I was interested in the fact that he used the “Iron Palm“ method. I said I would like to see the "Iron Palm" because it was completely different to our Wing Chun style. Then Master Wong began to recount the story concerning my colleague. Again I made it very clear to him that this was not my problem. We were simply here because we did not want to pass up on the chance to learn something from a great martial arts master. He next asked me why we had come as a foursome. I replied that my two friends were also learning Wing Chun with me and were equally interested in his art. But he only asked very directly which of us he could challenge to a fight.

The three of us were very different in stature. Raimon was a bit smaller than Master Wong, but taller than Wong Shun Leung and I. We two were of equal height though Wong Shun Leung was thinner than me. At that time I was still very sportive. We said that he should choose one of us and he chose Wong Shun Leung, since he was the smallest and slimmest of us all. Wong Shun Leung consented and immediately asked Master Wong where the fight would take place.

We were all in agreement that it could not take place publicly. Further, we did not want to fight it out in Master Wong’ school, so we chose a hotel which I knew and which had a balcony. The Sam Che Bo Hotel: I don’t know if it still exists.

Marc Debus Wang Kiu and Olaf BuschkeI can remember precisely that I paid 20 Hong Kong Dollars for the room. I paid it because I was earning well at the time. Most people then earned no more than about 160 or 170 Hong Kong Dollars a month. Master Wong requested though that three of his friends also take part in the fight, so that it would be quite fair. We had nothing against that and so he called his three friends and we all went off together to the hotel. Meanwhile Master Wong put his arm around his opponent Wong Shun Leung many times and said to him, grinning, that he was on his way to fight with him. In this way he was trying to make clear to Wong Shun Leung that his own victory was assured.

I tried to negotiate with the hotel staff over the cost of the room but had to pay for a whole day. We went up to the room. The next question concerned who should be the referee for the fight. It was a role I played fairly often at that point in time, but in this case I was personally involved. Two of the companions of Master Wong were the sons of his Kung Fu teacher. One of these two pointed to Raimon and said that he should be referee.

Before the fight began, it was decided who should attack first. We agreed on two rounds each of two minutes duration. Only if it should remain indecisive would a third round be fought. Next a coin was tossed and it was decreed that Master Wong would attack and Wong Shun Leung should defend himself.

Master Wong fought from a stance which was very low in comparison to the Wing Chun position. We stood in fighting stance with one handWang Kiu with 20 forward and the defending Wu Sao hand further back. This was called Fat Si Man Lo, where the fingers were aimed at the attacker. This comes from the legend. The index finger of Buddha is called „Fat Si“ and „Man Lo“ means „to ask the way“. Therefore in Wing Chun one always orientates oneself towards one’s opponent. This was Wong Shun Leung’s stance.

In the Bak Mai Pa Style a different stance and a different hand-position are taken. This is called „Mo Kap Sao“. This was used by Master Wong from his first attack. Due to this position he came so close to Wong Shun Leung that he was not able to use his fists for attack but instead he grabbed Wong Shun Leung by the throat in order to throttle him. He forced him against the balcony structure: Wong Shun Leung had his back to it. The balconies in Hong Kong are generally constructed to give shelter from wind and rain and the upper part is mostly made of glass. So Wong Shun Leung stood with his head pressed against a pane of glass. The son of Master Wong’s teacher shouted that the fight should be interrupted and Master Wong let go of Wong Shun Leung. This should actually have been Raimon’s duty, but he had little experience as a referee. Master Wong looked as though he had every intention of coming out of this fight the winner.

The fight began anew. Master Wong again made contact with Wong Shun Leung’s arms. Because he had a lower stance, this time he hit Wong Shun Leung in the side. Although Wong Shun Leung defended himself with a Cham Sao, he was hit nevertheless and he drew back. We observed this in mirror image in the glass of the balcony, as there was only a small door to the balcony and therefore there was not enough space for us all to watch there. Shortly afterwards the first round was over.

During the break I asked Wong Shun Leung how he was as I had seen that he had been hit. He said that he was in some pain but that he wanted to continue to fight. At the same time he confided that he had seen a way in which he could get at Master Wong.

Wang Kius seminar for the German Lo Man Kam AssociationThe second round began. Now it was Wong Shun Leung’s turn to attack and Master Wong was ready for him in his fighting position. Wong Shun Leung used a Pak Sao on Master Wong’s hand which was to the rear in his defence position, and subsequently punched Master Wong in the face. There followed two or three bouts of fist-fighting. The next thing to be seen was a tooth of Master Wong’s skittering across the floor of the balcony. In addition he was bleeding from the mouth, but he kept it firmly shut. He again took up his defence position and waited. Wong Shun Leung attacked again. We began to notice that Master Wong was stepping back somewhat fearfully when Wong Shun Leung attacked him. During his next attack he again broke through Master Wong’s defence with the same sequence of movements, and landed two further punches to his face. Wong had kept his mouth tightly shut all this time but now the all the blood he had held in his mouth spurted out, all over Wong Shun Leung, whose clothes were covered in it. I went through the door onto the balcony and said „Stop!“.  I told Master Wong that it would be better to end the fight now, as otherwise one of the combatants would certainly be badly injured and then the police would be called, which would not be a pleasant experience.

He said: „Very good, very good!“ and shook my hand. He was clearly confused due to his injury during the fight, and I held on to his hand. Wong Shun Leung came up to us and I had the two combatants shake hands together.

I then told Master Wong that there was a tea-house on the other side of the street by the name of „Wang Tin – Cloud of Heaven“ and that we would wait there for him, while he cleaned himself up, and then drink a cup of tea together. We went into the tea-house and waited for him there. We wanted to end the whole affair positively, since because of his position he had many friends in Hong Kong, who could otherwise cause problems for us. We had not previously given consideration to this aspect of the matter. However as soon as we left the hotel we realised that Master Wong had not only been accompanied by his three friends, but that many others were waiting for us outside on the street. The entire front steps of the hotel were full of people and they all grinned at us menacingly. In addition we were in an area of the city where Master Wong was very well-known.

Master Wong came across to the tea-house and we ordered tea. I said to him that we had not known each other before this fight but that now we would remember each other very well. And that the question now needing to be asked was why should we not be friends? Master Wong was very impressed by our behaviour and affirmed that this would not present a problem for the future. Later I often bumped into him and we would chat or drink tea together. He always greeted me even when I passed him on my scooter.

The next day – the fight took place on a Saturday evening, so on Sunday - we went to Sifu Yip Man’s school. Yip Man was himself there, since he lived at the school. We described the fight to him. Yip Man said that Wong Shun Leung should have used a Gan Sao rather than a Cham Sao to defend himself from the punch which had hit him. But I think that it is always very difficult to make the correct decisions during a fight: afterwards one often finds better solutions to any problem. However this is the reason why the Gan Sao gained its place in the first form, instead of the Cham Sao, with many of Yip Man’s pupils.