Knowledge, People

Wong Fei Hung

Wong Fei Hung (9.7.1847 – 14.4.1925 ) is probably the most famous ancestor of our line. He is revered as a Chinese folk hero and is the main character in countless films and books. Wong Fei Hung was not only an outstanding martial artist, but also a practicing physician. He supported the poor and stood up for the weak – and this in a time that was anything but easy to call.

Young years

Wong Fei Hung was born in Foshan as son of Wong Kai Ying (ca. 1815 – 1886). As a child he carried the name Wong Sek-cheung. Already Wong Kai Ying, fighter and doctor, had very high ethical and moral standards, which he passed on to his son. Wong Fei Hung learned both medicine and Hung Gar Kung Fu from an early age. It is very likely that Wong Fei Hung was taught not only by his father and his father’s father, Wong Tai, but also by Lukh ah Choi. Another of his teachers was Lam Fook Sing, a student of Tid Kiu Sam, who taught Wong Fei Hung the Iron Fist. Already at the age of 16 years Wong Fei Hung founded his own school in 1863 in Xiguan (today a part of Guangzhou in the Liwan district).

teacher, widower, philanthropist

According to folklore, Wong Fei Hung was recruited by the Black Flag Army as an instructor and doctor between 1860 and 1870. The troupe was very much based on the Tiandihui in its structure and rituals, and had a positive attitude towards the Taiping Revolution. However, the Black Flag Army was expelled in 1864 and operated in Vietnam. It would therefore be likely that-if Wong Fei Hung was part of the troop-that this involvement took place more in the early 1960s. However, this intersects with his youthful age and the year the school was founded. It is also described that Wong Fei Hung fought with the Black Flag Army against the Japanese invasion in 1895. However, the troop was disbanded in 1985.

However, it is quite certain that Wong Fei Hung worked with Mok Gwai-Lan as an instructor for the army at the latest at the time of his initiation. She also received an instructor position.

In 1871 Wong Fei Hung married his first wife Lo (full name unknown), who died in the same year. The couple remained childless.

In 1886 Wong Fei Hung opened the Po Chi Lam Clinic in Guangzhou. As an experienced doctor, he treated not only wealthy people, but also those who could not actually afford his help.

After twenty-five years as a widower, Wong Fei Hung married his second wife Ma (full name unknown) in 1896. Together they had two sons, Wong Hon-Lam and Wong Hon-Sam, and two daughters whose names have not been handed down.

According to the interview with Mok Kwai-Lan, at the time of their marriage in 1915, the first and third wives had died, suggesting that Ma was still alive. How and if the relationship was dissolved is unknown to me. Also other sources do not name a known year of death for Ma.

In the time of great unrest during the final decline of the Qing Dynasty from 1900 onwards, Wong Fei Hung worked as a bodyguard. At the same time he continued to run his clinic and school. In 1902 he married his third wife Sam (full name unknown). With her Wong Fei Hung had two sons, Wong Hon Syu and Wong Hon Hei. She died of illness within a short time.

1911/12 the Xinhai Revolution (also: Chinese Revolution) took place in China. During this time, many underground groups fought against the inefficient Qing Dynasty, which ended in 1912 with the deposition of the last emperor. Peace did not return with it, however. The destabilized country was not able to offer the population any security. In various cities and rural areas, vigilante groups such as the Merchants Corp in Guangzhou formed. This unit, which had several thousand members, suffered well among the population. It took care of the security of the city and its inhabitants, regardless of the political situation.

In the Chinese Republic

The Qing Dynasty was replaced by the Republic of China. Sun Yat-Sen, a leading revolutionary, became the first president. For political reasons, however, he resigned this office to the former commander of the Beijing army, Yuan Shikai, which turned out to be a disastrous election. Within a short time, Yuan developed into a tyrant and proclaimed himself Emperor of China in 1915. Sun Yat-Sen then continued his fight for the Republic.

In the same year, 1915, Wong Fei Hung became associated with Mok Kwai-Lan (15.10.1892 – 3.11.1982). However, since he believed he was cursed after the death of two women, he did not marry them. Instead, they were joined together in concubinage. Mok Kwai-Lan was only twenty-three years old. According to folklore, they met when Wong Fei Hung accidentally lost his shoe during a performance and hit her with it. Mok Kwai-Lan was a Mok Gar fighter and doctor and supported Wong Fei Hung accordingly, both with teaching and in the clinic.

According to the interview mentioned above, Wong Fei Hung was associated with two other women. However, the nature of the relationships is not described in detail. Polygamy was at least not completely forbidden. In the upper classes it was common for rich men to keep concubines.

End of life and death

In 1919, the son Wong Hon-Sam, who worked as a bodyguard in Wuzhou, was murdered by a competitor named Leung. Leung’s motive was to prove that his kung fu was better than Wong Fei Jung’s. He fell into depression after the death of his son and stopped teaching his sons to protect them.

In 1923, Sun Yat-Sen occupied Guangzhou with his nationalist army. More and more restrictions affected Guangzhou. The occupying forces put massive amounts of money into circulation, which led to inflation, revoked the ban on gambling and cleared out temples to sell the valuable items. All this led to great discontent among the population and to unrest.

In January 1924, the nationalists sought to join forces with Russia and introduce communism. New road tolls were also imposed. The situation escalated in August 1924, when an already paid British arms shipment for the Merchant’s Corps was confiscated. The Corps then called for an uprising. As part of this uprising, the Po Chi Lam clinic was destroyed, a blow from which Wong Fei Hung never recovered. On April 17, 1925, the sick and depressed Wong Fei Hung died at the age of seventy-eight in Chengxi Fangbian Hospital in Guangzhou.

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