Wong Kay Ying was a style heir of his father Wong Tai and a famous martial artist and doctor. He was a philanthropic man with great moral ideals. He passed on these qualities to his son and disciple Wong Fei Hung.
One story, two possible beginnings
It is likely that Wong Kay Ying was born in Guangdong in about 1815. The actual year is unknown and accordingly it only remains to estimate based on the birth year of his son Wong Fei Hung. There are two different traditions regarding his career as the style heir of Hung Gar.
One of the two stories tells that Wong Kay Ying performed as a street performer and thus made a laborious living. On this occasion, Lukh ah Choi is said to have encountered him. According to the story, Wong Kay Ying impressed him so much that he was accepted as a disciple.
The other variant is mentioned more frequently. This is also referred to in the official family tree of the Chiu lineage. This reads that Wong Kay Ying was not the direct disciple of Lukh ah Choi, but that of his own father Wong Tai. When the latter became a disciple of the head of the style, Wong Kay Ying was also taught directly by him. Nevertheless, he remained the disciple of his father and sifu, Wong Tai, throughout his life.
The three Wongs – Wong Tai, Wong Kay Ying and Wong Fei Hung – are also called the ‘Three Kings of Hung Gar’.
A well-rounded person
Undeniably, however, Wong Kay Ying learned much from his father about both martial arts and medicine, knowledge that was also further deepened by Grandmaster Lukh ah Choi over a ten-year period. After this time, the younger Wong founded his own school. Students came from far and wide to be taught by him, but he was choosy and placed high value on good character – a quality he passed on fully to his son, Wong Fei Hung.
In 1847, his only son, Wong Fei Hung, was born. (His wife’s name may have been Pok Lai-ngor, though I have only been able to find a single source on this name.)
It is said that Wong Kay Ying was an instructor in the Black Flag Army. Unlike his son, this is much more likely because of his age when this group was founded in about 1860. However, as he may not have been particularly well paid, he also ran a herbal shop.
Because of his high qualifications, Wong Kay Ying was part of the first generation of the Ten Tigers of Canton.