Knowledge, People

Lam Sai Wing

Lam Sai Wing, the disciple of Wong Fei Hung, lived the idea of spreading Hung Gar Kung Fu. He considered the attitude of many Kung Fu masters to pass on their knowledge only very cautiously questionable and taught willingly and openly. As a man of good character, he was a role model for many. He was considered a tireless teacher and great fighter until his death.

Childhood

Lam Sai Wing was born in 1860 in Pingjau, Naamhoi District. His family practiced kung fu. Well known are Jin Jeung Kuen (Arrow Palm Set) and Hang Yut Dou (Crescent Moon Knife) as family techniques, respectively forms. The family was also skilled in the art of Dit Da. Lam Sai Wing was taught from an early age and was already an excellent fighter as a young man. However, he distinguished himself not only by his martial art, but also by his open and friendly character. If there were problems in the village, he resorted to violence only as a last resort and rather tried to solve difficulties through mediation and with words.

Disciple of Wong Fei Hung

When Lam Sai Wing decided to learn from the famous Wong Fei Hung, he was already a grown man who earned his living as a butcher. (This is where the nickname Porky Wing came from.) The story goes that he asked Wong Fei Hung for lessons, but he refused. He would not accept any more students after his son was murdered. Lam Sai Wing, however, did not let up and asked again and again for lessons, each time bringing Wong Fei Hung meat or other gifts. Finally, Wong Fei Hung asked the young man to present his kung fu and decided to accept him as a student. Lam Sai Wing studied diligently and soon became Wong Fei Hung’s best student.

Once the two of them had been in a restaurant where a monk named Iron Head was also staying. He was named after a style of kung fu in which the head is hardened until it is like iron. In one version of the story, the monk challenged Lam Sai Wing. In another, he bragged about wanting to depose the abbot of his monastery, whereupon Wong Fei Hung told Lam Sai Wing to take care of the problem. Either way, Lam Sai Wing defeated the monk (with a kick between the legs, depending on the story) and ended the fight before it had really begun.

After some time, Lam Sai Wing himself opened a school. It was located on Pwajing Street in Gwongjau. Lam Sai Wing himself continued to study with Wong Fei Hung.

Lam Sai Wing as a teacher

Lam Sai Wing is described by his students as a friendly, open and helpful man. He willingly passed on his art, which was not common. Many Kung Fu masters jealously guarded their knowledge to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. Lam Sai Wing was well aware of this problem, but he felt it was worth the risk. He thought that it was right to advance many loyal and sincere students and to put up with the mendacious, false ones in return. He is said not to have accepted gifts from his students, and rather to have supported them in turn with money and gifts when it was necessary.

Various stories told support this picture of Lam Sai Wing’s very noble character. Once, one of his disciples is said to have witnessed a brothel madam beating one of the whores. When he asked what the reason was, she said that the young woman’s family wanted to buy her off, but that was out of the question. This was reported by the student Lam Sai Wing. The latter then took money, went to the brothel with some students and put it on the table. Of course, the brothel madam did not want to release the whore, but Lam Sai Wing took her with him and brought her back to her family.

Lam Sai Wing was very worried that his disciples would not be able to absorb all his knowledge. So that it would not be lost, he wrote books. However, he himself was better at kung fu than at writing, so he had one of his students named Chu Yu Jai help him with this task.

Around 1910, there was a plot against Lam Sai Wing. The owner of the Lok Sin theater in Gwongjau had him and some of his students slyly attacked and blamed him for the fight that resulted in several deaths. Lam Sai Wing had to flee from Gwongjau to Gwailam.

War Years, Old Age and Death

After the fall of the Qing Dynasty, Lam Sai Wing refused the offer to become an army instructor. However, he still taught the family of the commander of the Fuk troops, Ng Yan Wu. The Ng family then became famous in the army for their great kung fu.

Other than the invitation to join the army, Lam Sai Wing decided to teach in the Butchers Association of Hong Kong. War was coming and it was important to be able to fight back. Lam Sai Wing taught his art to many young people. His school was located in Juk Syu Bo. During this time, Lam Sai Wing also published the two books on the Fu Hok Seung Yin Kuen and the Gung Gee Fok Fu Kuen.

Even as a relatively old man, Lam Sai Wing was again approached to be an army instructor and accepted the position. (It is likely that he trained in the early days of the Red Army. There is talk of the ‘Twelve Troops’. The Red Army consisted of twelve divisions.) However, he resigned from this post relatively soon, feeling that he was too old for the job.

In Hong Kong, on Lockhart Road, Lam Sai Wing once again opened a school. This he ran until the Japanese occupation of the city in World War II. He retired to Ping Jau and died there in 1943 at the age of eighty-three.

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