Most of the students who trained with my Master were all from Hong Kong. What I did not understand as a fellow Chinese student was that I was being subjected to prejudice.
At times, they told my Master that I was not a pure Chinese because as I was born in Malaysia and did not deserve to be taught by him. Luckily my Master did not listen to them.
Some of his students still denied the fact that I have become my Master’s rightful successor, which I had not expected, but it was meant to be. I had proven to him my martial arts spirit, character and loyalty all these years, teaching and spreading his art to the world.
Even though I faced jealousy. I just got on with it, there were two of his students who always stood by me and encouraged me, and for that I am grateful.
Maybe it was the way my parents brought me up to respect and honour and always remember the people who had helped me along the way. Without this help I would of have given up when faced with these situations during my training with my Master. Yet whenever my Master needed help I was the only one there and none of them would show up.
I remember there was a man who claimed that he was the direct disciple of Yip Man and told people that my Master’s Wing Chun was not in the same family and wanted to challenge my Master. None of my Master’s students dared take up the challenge, but to me it was just another sparring session so I took him on in front of my Master and his students.
He was good and I must say, he knew his stuff and managed to punch me on my cheek. I took it and staggered back. He took advantage of the situation and charged toward me to knock me down. My vision was blurred and I could barely see. As he approached I jumped to the side and kicked him in the rib cage. He fell like a log and was unconscious. We called the ambulance. His ribs were broken — luckily he survived. After this incident some of my Master’s students accused me of ruining the Wing Chun image by using a Tae Kwon Do kick to defeat the guy, disgracing the family.
I asked my Master what is wrong with these people? If they are that good why don’t they take the challenge, yet only I would. He told me that I did a good job, and that guy was one of the top Wing Chun fighters in Hong Kong — but he only knew the straight line Wing Chun not the traditional training or the kicking techniques that I was taught. These arts are not meant to be taught openly, only closed door disciples can learn these techniques. He told me to ignore all these people and keep up with my training.
After this I would take over my Master’s class whenever he was not there, and as my reputation grew I travelled all over to show my skills, knowledge and my master’s teaching to the world. It was hard work connecting with different cultures. They embraced my teaching, making me feel very satisfied.
In 2017 people create a website and write whatever they want to attracts students and argue with over one another on the Internet, calling themselves masters and grandmasters.
It’s a crazy world.
Martial arts training had changed over the years with the Internet and TV. Information is available so easily, that people are learning it faster and achieving black sash and Master titles far easier than there were 40 years ago. Is this a good thing? It can be good as at least students understands the different training discipline in a more accessible way, not in the dark like before. Is this a bad thing? Yes too, because many self proclaimed young masters do not understand or spend long enough time to understand and train the art properly before teaching others, therefore ruining many student life to satisfy their own ego and for their own financial gain.
Therefore after forty years I have found the balance to help and guide the future generation in their martial arts journey, not only so they can learn it properly but also pass the arts to the next generation in a responsible way.
It makes me think — where is the martial arts spirit, when people are giving themselves self-proclaimed titles so easily? What can I do? I lost tens years not understanding all about the Internet and how to go about attracting students from it. Now I am starting to understand and it is not too late, I still believe that my past experience, knowledge, skills and wisdom will help me to send my message across. This is the new world of technology that I need to adapt and will embrace.
For every new challenge one must start with the first step.