Monday, 18 January, 2016
I had had my adventures in Zhuhai 珠海, with Henry Ho 何英才 and the Ming Concept 銘念, and in Hong Kong 香港, though admittedly only visiting one school (and not being particularly motivated to see the others), in Yip Ching’s 葉正 class. I had one more lead to explore, and that was in Foshan 佛山.
Foshan, also commonly known as Fatsaan (Foshan is the Mandarin Pinyin Romanization, whereas Fatsaan is the Cantonese transliteration), is known as the birth place of Yip Man 葉問 himself, and where he was educated in the Wing Chun system by Chan Wah-shun 陳華順. Foshan is just south of my residence in Guangzhou 廣州, and easily accessed during the day via the Guang-Fo (Guangzhou to Foshan) subway line 廣佛線. While in Zhuhai, Henry had given me the name and number for someone by the name of Rocky Lui, or Lui Ming Fai 雷明輝. He was said to live in Foshan and to teach Wing Chun there, and also to be a very skilled student of Ho Kam Ming 何金銘.
I called Sifu Lui, after a text message or two proved uneventful, and arranged to meet him at his Foshan school the night after I returned from Hong Kong 香港. It was a Sunday evening, and I left early to scout the place out (this is a routine I’ve developed through traveling, and I believe it an important part of traveling when without the aid of electronic positioning systems and maps that most people are growing accustomed to). I found the location, after walking past a Cantonese Opera rehearsal, and wandering down an empty dark street. I the continued to explore and discovered the area, several city blocks, to be a renovated “old town” tourist destination. These things pop up in a lot of tourist towns, or towns that want to be tourist towns, because it combines the interesting old architecture, with the bustling modern and cool western attractions, such as cafes, bars, and brand name clothing stores. Kind of weird if you ask me, but it’s interesting to see on a quiet evening, when the tourists aren’t around.
I entered the school, on the second floor of one of these renovated old buildings (they really look fake), and met Sifu Lui, after inquiring at the front desk. This is the first kung fu school I’ve ever been to which had a front desk, and a receptionist. Lui took me into a side room which was playing a video about his school, and housed a wall display with several photographs of him and his exploits. He seemed quite humble, and admitted a little discomfort with teaching in the place, informing me that it was not paid for by him, but by a friend and kung fu practitioner who was part of Ho Kam Ming’s lineage – the same person who owned (I believe) the entire tourist attraction. He said he used to teach in a quiet place, outside by his home. He also told me that he doesn’t like his English name any more, after the Rocky films were made (he has another nick-name in Chinese, but I won’t disclose here). I was not particularly interested in the video or the display (there was, however, a photograph of Lui with Augustine Fong 方致榮 and Ho Kam Ming in Arizona for a seminar, which was interesting to see).
Sifu Lui is short and sturdy. Though he carries himself humbly, he has the airs of a fighter. His style seems particularly rooted, and highly applicable. He gets excited when talking about sparing and application, and likes to give demonstrations of application. I am of the impression that he felt a little deprived of experienced students with which to train, as that excitement diminished when working with the new students. He also teaches weekly in Hong Kong and Macau 澳門. When he was young he apparently did well in some tournaments. Henry Ho indicated that he had learned much from Lui. In relation, Augustine Fong started under Ho Kam Ming earlier than all of them.
He then showed me around the training room. This room was very spacious, with hard wood (or something resembling hard wood) flooring, two wooden dummies, and several floor to ceiling mirrors. A heavy bag hung from the ceiling in the middle of the room, and a canvas punching bag hung against one of the walls next to a dummy. Outdoor shoes were not allowed, so I went in socks. As students began to arrive Lui told me he’s not allowed to “teach” unless I’m a paying student, but that I may watch and show him what I know. This led to him, out of what seemed to be uncontrollable excitement, to give me some pointers and corrections to my stance, punches and Sil Lim Tau form. Most of these points I had already covered with Henry Ho in Zhuhai, but I guess I needed to practice more.
From what I could tell, there was one advanced student, and the rest were completely new. As to be expected, Lui indicated that he would have to take me through the basics first to make sure what I do is compatible with his students. I told him I’d be back and start training. I returned the next day, paid the monthly tuition, paid for a school shirt (not too interesting), and some training shoes for inside the training room.
Unfortunately, this arrangement did not last long.