It’s A Wong Story

When I began learning southern Chinese kung fu toward the end of 1975, there were still very few Chinese masters who were willing to teach “roundeyes”; my sifu at the time, William Chung, and his sifu Gin Foon Mark, were among the earliest to do so. But the one who first opened the door, as far as I know, was Grandmaster Wong Ark Yuey (1899-1987), who opened a school in Los Angeles in 1964, and began teaching Westerners the following year.

Back then few people in the West had even heard of kung fu; this was before Bruce Lee introduced us all to it in his role as The Green Hornet’s astonishing sidekick Kato. Most people, if asked about the Asian fighting arts, would have named the Japanese systems of judo, karate, and jiu-jitsu.

Now Black Belt Magazine has put some of its old back issues online, and in the January 1965 edition is an interview with Master Wong himself. Have look on page 11, here. And check out those sneakers!

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3 Comments

  1. Silly question, I know, but I am impelled to ask it: if you put a boxer and skilled proponents of, respectively, kung fu, karate and judo into a ring, which one do you think would walk out of it?

    Posted February 28, 2009 at 11:04 am | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Ceteris paribus, David, I think that the Chinese systems can take the dedicated student the farthest in terms of range and effectiveness of techniques, and depth of internal power. But it depends very much upon the individual’s talent and commitment to training, and perhaps the most important aspects of all are psychology and the strength of the will.

    Posted February 28, 2009 at 12:59 pm | Permalink
  3. Plus, I suppose, who gets the first punch/kick/chop in! Like I said, silly question, really.

    Posted February 28, 2009 at 4:55 pm | Permalink