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06/24/13 21:27

New Martial Hero From 1971

Yong Chun


Originating from Fushan, the development of Yong Chun (Weng Chun) kung fu may not be as flourishing as the other Wing Chun kung fu, however there are still a number of highly-skilled Yong Chun practitioners in Hong Kong such as Zhu Songmin (Chu Chung Man), Luo Chaohuan (Law Chiu Woon), Deng Yi (Tang Yick), whom are left as the direct Yong Chun successors. Since Zhu Songmin is now working as a doctor and Luo Chaohuan is a businessman, they do not openly teach Yong Chun to the public. As for Deng Yi, he taught Yong Chun at Da Dei Poultry Market (Dai Duk Lan) in YauMaTai (Yau Ma Tei) and Lin Xiangrong’s (Lam Heung Wing) place on Nathan Road years ago. However since Lin’s building was rebuilt, the classes had to be suspended for years. In the end Deng Yi simply gave up teaching Yong Chun altogether.

Feng Xiaoqing (Fung Siu Ching), The Master of Yong Chun

Yong Chun was first passed on by Feng Xiaoqing in Fushan. Feng was born in Shunde in China. When Feng was a boy, he was an apprentice in Long Feng (Lung Fung) Tailor Shop at Zhuang Yuan Fang in Guangzhou. His duty was basically ironing and folding actors’ costumes properly before putting them into boxes once the costumes were made. Feng was quite a rough chap, so he was not apt for doing intricate tasks such as stitching and sewing. As such, the tailor masters at the shop could not train Feng to do detailed jobs like needlework or edging. They could only ask him to do crude duties such as ironing and folding costumes of which he was really good at.

The customers of Long Feng Tailor Shop were mostly theatre actors and the shop was frequently visited by famous actors. Xinjin (Sun Kam) was a popular leading kung fu actor in san ban tou at that time. As a famous actor, he often had his costumes made at Long Feng Tailor Shop. Since Xinjin was such a frequent customer, most men at the shop recognized him. One day, Xinjin was visiting the shop and started talking with Feng’s master. The master told Xinjin that Feng Xiaoqing was doing an apprenticeship at the shop, but since Feng was not very skilled at doing fine jobs, he could not ask him to do dainty task like needlework. And this convinced him that Feng would probably not make much progress in the tailor field. When Xinjin learnt about this, he was really pleased as it was just what he wanted to hear. Every time Xinjin walked into Long Feng Tailor Shop, he would notice Feng’s strong body and his fine skills of folding the costumes properly and neatly. Xinjin had been thinking about getting a boy to help him fold his costumes, and since Feng was good at it, he was the right candidate for the job. Learning that the tailor master was not being too positive about Feng’s future in the costume-making business, Xinjin talked to the master and asked for his permission to let Feng to work for him instead. Given that Feng might not have much prospects in the business, keeping him at the shop would only waste his time more. The fact that Feng was skilled at folding up actors’ costumes made him seem the right person for the job. Xinjin would also try to teach Feng the skills he had and train him to be a capable, professional individual.

When the tailor master heard Xinjin’s proposal, he was really happy as it was all he could wish for. The master then went to talk to Feng immediately and asked him if he was willing to have Xinjin as his new master. Deep inside, Feng was prepared to change his profession as he always heard his master saying he was not suitable for any tailor jobs and that had made him give up hopes a long time ago. But due to the contract with his tailor master, Feng just could not simply leave. And now with the new proposal, which specified Xinjin as his new master, Feng agreed without hesitation; for he was too glad to be a student of Xinjin whom he had admired as the only qualified kung fu actor at that time. The master spoke to the boss about Xinjin’s plan and with the boss’ approval, his contract with Feng was called off. Since then, Feng Xiaoqing became Xinjin’s apprentice and he followed Xinjin to the red boat. Feng’s main duty was to fold the master’s private theatre costumes. Besides, Feng was also trained with Xinjin’s kung fu skills and his on-stage skills as well.

In fact, Xinjin’s kung fu was handed down by Huang HuaBao (Wong Wah Bo) in person. The Yong Chun kung fu move, liu dian ban gun (Luk Dim Boon Kwun, and other Yong Chun kung fu techniques, were all taught to Xinjin on the red boat. Duan qiao Duan ma (short Kiu and Short stance) and shuang tou gun (this stated as double head pole should be corrected as long single head pole), are both authentic Yong Chun kung fu moves. Thus, it made perfect sense that Xinjin was the leading kung fu actor at that time.

Dong Zhi (Tung Jik), Deng Suan (Tang Suen) learning Yong Chun at Bu Guo Xuan (Bo Guo Hin – name of place)

Xinjin’s “liu dian ban gun” dominated the kung fu circles in the Southern part of China at that time. Since Feng was his student, Xinjin started to teach him his acrobatic and kung fu skills on the red boat. (The red boat was so small that when Xinjin tried to teach Xiaoqing the skills of using the kung fu gun, Xinjin had to use a shuang tou gun) (again this was recorded wrongly in the original article as the Luk Dim Boon was a long pole which was only 6 ft 4 inches long (this is Chinese length measurement which is longer than the English foot and inches). They also installed a Kwun Chong on the red boat, the Kwun Chong was made from a rectangular wooden frame , hanging onto the wall. The Chong looked like the Chinese character “tien”, with three poles at each side and one pole at the centre. The guns Jong (Kwun Chong) were hung onto the wall, and they have to be movable such that they would have the required flexibility. When practising the gun, the (chong) should be treated as a simulated enemy, and one has to practise liu dian ban gun of “seizing, fencing, pointing, revealing, cutting, transporting and dripping” till one can master all the moves flawlessly. All these kung fu techniques followed the Yong Chun school of kung fu. On one hand, Feng Xiaoqing was learning Xinjin’s kung fu, on the other hand, he was responsible for folding up Xinji’s theatre costumes. When Xinjin first asked for Feng Xiaoqing as his student, his intent was to train Feng as a kung fu actor such that Feng could replace his position in Li Yuan (Chinese name to describe the opera profession, Li Yuan is the Pear Garden, a place where the artist was trained) when he retired. After Feng Xiaoqing left the red boat with him, Xinjin continued to pass on his kung fu skills to him, as well as having Feng to practise his vocal. Yet when Xinjin asked Feng to try to sing a few lines, he found that Feng’s voice was too low and hoarse to attract the audience. Xinjin knew very well that if one wishes to become famous in the theatre business, one has to have the voice, the looks and the skills. Even if you have the looks and the skills, without an enchanting voice, it would be very hard for one to develop a career in the showbiz world. Once he realized the weaknesses of Feng’s voice, which made it difficult for him to get started in Li Yuan, Xinjin changed his mind. Instead, Xinjin decided to train Feng as a well-known Chinese kung fu master, in the hopes that one day he could promote the arts and skills of Yong Chun to the world. Xinjin went ahead and told Feng about his plan so that he could concentrate on practising kung fu and get ready to develop his career in the kung fu field.

Knowing that Xinjin had been devoting all his time to train him as a professional Yong Chun practitioner, Feng listened to his master’s advice and focused on practising kung fu. Six years passed and Feng was now a twenty-something young man and his kung fu skills was superb.

Another two years went by. Getting older and older, Xinjin decided to retire. With Xinjin’s retirement, Feng Xiaoqing had no choice but to leave his place. Upon leaving, Xinjin told Feng to introduce Yong Chun to the common people and carry forward the fine arts of Yong Chun. Feng complied and he first went back to his hometown Shunde, where he stayed for a short time. Meanwhile, most of Feng Xiaoqing’s friends were residing in Fushan.

Situated at the lower stream of Xijian (West River), Fushan was one of the four largest cities in Canton (Guang Tung Province). As Fushan had good business ties with Guangzhou, Feng Xiaoqing decided to go there to try his luck. After bidding farewell to his family, Feng Xiaoqing went to Fushan and first visited his best friend Dong Weng (Tung Yung – Yung here describes a wealthy man). Dong Weng was from Nanhai.He had been keeping a flower shop at Huahong (Fa Hung – flower red which means red flower) Street in Fushan and the business was doing quite well. Even though Dong was older than Feng, they had become very close friends when Feng was still working in Long Feng Tailor shop. So once Feng arrived at Fushan, the first thing he did was to go to the flower shop to visit Dong. Feng and Dong had not seen each other for over ten years, and when Feng first appeared at the shop, Dong was very happy and introduced Feng to his two sons right away. His two sons, Dong Zhi (Tung Jik) and Dong An (Tung On) were both in their teens. Dong Zhi was the older one at eighteen whereas Dong An was sixteen. The two brothers had already finished school and were now working at the flower shop. In fact, Dong wanted his two sons to start taking care of his business as he wished to retire at an early age. The house of Dong Weng was located at Bao Guo Xuan in Daji. Bao Guo Xuan is a village town where hundreds of buildings were built in the area. The buildings were tall and spacious and Dong Weng’s family resided in Bao Gou Xuan too. Every morning Dong left his house for work, and would not return and rest until late at night. Since Dong wanted his two sons to start learning about doing business, every day he would take them to the shop to do some hands-on training. Dong Zhi and Dong An had already met Feng Xiaoqing before, but it occurred when they were still little boys and they could hardly recognize Feng now.

When Feng Xiaoqing arrived at the flower shop that day, Dong Weng instantly introduced his two sons to him. Dong then started to tell his sons the remarkable story of Feng, being a student of the famous kung fu actor Xinjin on the red boat since he was a kid, and that his kung fu skills was brilliant. The brothers became very excited when they heard this, and both claimed that they had always had a love for kung fu. Back then when they were still in school, they would always make time to learn the Hong kung fu (Hung Kuen or Hung Gar) from a master Zhang (Cheung) at Yu Long Qiao every evening. That lasted for four years. Since Uncle Feng was such an experienced kung fu master, it would be a great opportunity for them to learn kung fu from him.

Though Feng Xiaoqing was still a young lad at that time, the fact that he was Dong Weng’s friend made it acceptable for the brothers to greet him as their Uncle. As the brothers wished Feng Xiaoqing to show them some kung fu moves, Feng decided to make use of this chance to see what the brothers had learnt throughout the four years under master Zhang. Feng asked Dong Zhi and Dong An to demonstrate the Hong kung fu to him. Between the two, Dong Zhi’s kung fu was better and he was ready to show his kung fu to Feng. Having his fists firmly clutched, Dong Zhi responded, “Since this’s Uncle Feng’s command, I’d just show you a few of my young moves then.” Having said that, Dong Zhi made a big, wide stance at the lounge of the flower shop and showed Feng the Hong kung fu skills he had acquired. Though Dong Zhi’s stance, chang qiao da ma (long Kiu and wide stance, was quite sturdy and firm, it was still not powerful enough for combat. After careful observation, Feng smiled at Dong Zhi and commented, “My dear boy, I believe it must have taken at least four years of endless practices to build up such a solid stance like yours; however I must say the ways you attack are still rather stiff and rigid. I am afraid those moves are probably good to look at, but not practical or feasible enough.”

It was probably not the best comments Dong Zhi could get from Feng Xiaoqing, at first he did not take it that serious. Since Dong Zhi had been learning kung fu for four, five years, before he was really confident that Xiaoqing would give him compliments for his great kung fu skills. But now the comments he received turned out to be a bit of both good and bad, and that started to upset him greatly, as he believed Feng Xiaoqing had misjudged his kung fu badly. Even though Dong Zhi’s father was just sitting right beside him, Feng’s criticisms in regards to his kung fu skills really irritated him, after all Dong Zhi was still a young, inexperienced kid. Feeling agitated, Dong Zhi asked Feng quite conceitedly, “If that’s the case, well Uncle Feng, perhaps you can enlighten me with a few of your kung fu moves?” In fact, Dong Zhi’s enlightenment was implying a contest with Feng Xiaoqing. However since Dong Weng did not belong to the kung fu scenes, he was not aware of the connotations underneath. Dong Weng thought his son was just pleading for some guidance from Feng Xiaoqing, so he intercepted innocently, “Brother Feng, I guess you wouldn’t mind sparing him a few moves, right?” Yet Feng Xiaoqing was fully aware of Dong Zhi’s intention of putting up a “fight” with him. And this made him feel like taking the chance to teach the young kid a good, valuable lesson; such that Dong Zhi would finally come to terms and be truly appreciative of his kung fu. Feng responded, “kid, I didn’t just randomly make up stuff to make you feel bad, but if you can’t take my words, what I’d do is simply stand here and wait for your attacks. Let’s see if you can get me.” Upon finishing his words, Feng Xiaoqing stood firmly there and made a powerful stance that could possibly even restrain a great horse. Facing Dong Zhi, Feng Xiaoqing shouted, “kid, just come and attack me, be it from the side, from the front, or from afar briskly, I don’t care. Just watch out or you yourself may end up being knocked out!”

Considering it as a lame joke, Dong Zhi became more aggravated, “Well, Uncle Feng, I guess you might have to teach me some real kung fu then.” Dong Zhi exercised the Hong kung fu moves and proceeded to attack Feng vigorously. Having a strong body and endless strength, Dong Zhi thought Feng would just collapse abruptly once he struck him with his strong fists. But things were not quite what he had expected. The stance that Feng Xiaoqing was positioning, though rather slim and narrow, was very pliable in fact. No matter which direction Dong Zhi tried to attack him, Feng Xiaoqing would not fall, and he was actually capable of striking him back and beating him down mercilessly. Even though Dong Zhi had no idea how Feng had crushed him, he was completely convinced of Feng Xiaoqing’s exceptional kung fu skills and pleaded for Feng to be his kung fu master. Even his father Dong Weng cut in, “Brother Feng, you may as well introduce and promote Yong Chun (Weng Chun) in Fushan. I think my place’s still big enough to hold kung fu classes.”

Feng Xiaoqing was very pleased with Dong Weng’s suggestion, “Brother Dong, I’d be more than happy to teach your sons kung fu as they seem to have a genuine interest in kung fu. But there’s one thing I’m worried about… if I’m to run kung fu classes at your place, would it bring you any trouble?” “My place is at Bao Guo Xuan, which is quite remote from the city. The village area is fairly spacious too. My family is living in one building and my sons are using the other building for study and kung fu practices. I think we can put the kung fu equipment in my sons’ building and run classes there. I’m sure everything will be fine.” It sounded like an excellent plan for Feng Xiaoqing, so he promised to stay in Fushan and teach Yong Chun to the boys. Learning of the great news, the Dong brothers were filled with excitement. They even asked their father to organize a formal ceremony to celebrate their new master-student relationship with Feng Xiaoqing. Since Dong Weng also agreed that the event was quite significant to the family, he brought Feng to his house at once, and then started preparing things for the big night. On his way home, Dong Weng walked past the Gui (turtle) Market where he had ordered some fine dishes at Zhen Wei Gu Su restaurant to his house as he was going to have two banquet tables at home that night. Dong Weng also told his sons to inform a few friends of his and invite them to come over for the ceremony dinner.

Dong Zhi had an old classmate called Deng Suan who was born in Shishan (Lion Hill) in Nanhai (Nam Hoi). Deng Suan was close friends with Dong Zhi as they both liked kung fu very much. So once Dong Zhi had the chance to learn kung fu from such an experienced kung fu master, he went to Deng Suan’s and shared the great news with him. Not even knowing if Feng Xiaoqing would agree to take him as a student, Deng Suan went to Bao Guo Xuan with his friend Dong Zhi. By the time they arrived at Bao Guo Xuan, Feng Xiaoqing and Dong Weng were already there. Since Deng Suan had been a frequent visitor of Dong’s family, the relation between Deng Suan and Dong Weng was almost as close as a family. Deng Suan would even greet Dong Weng as his uncle whereas Dong Weng would treat him like his own nephew. Since Deng Suan desperately wished to be Feng Xiaoqing’s student, he asked Dong Weng to say a few words for him and express his wish of learning Yong Chun from Feng. Dong Weng was quite keen to be the middleman for Deng Suan as on one hand, he did hope to get Feng more kung fu students, on the other hand he would love to find a kung fu partner for Dong Zhi, and Deng Suan would be perfect as he and Deng Suan were of similar age, while Dong An was a bit younger. With this in mind, Dong Weng indicated Deng Suan’s wish to Feng Xiaoqing, and he described Deng Suan as a close brother to him whom had a zest for kung fu as well. Deng Suan had already prepared thank you gifts to express his gratitude to Feng if he would let him be his kung fu student.

Feng Xiaoqing could tell that Deng Suan was a smart, bright kid; and since he was Dong Zhi’s classmate, Feng agreed to accept his gifts and have him as his student. It was evening time, Dong’s friends started to show up at the ceremony. Feng Xiaoqing exhorted Dong Weng to place the statue of Buddhist Master Bodhidharma at the kung fu ring with a streamer on top of the statue reading “The lights of Buddha shine to the world”, and an antithetical couplet on both sides of the hall reading “Nine years of Meditation in Shaolin, Buddhist Master Bodhidharma founded the Zen school of Buddhism”; “Away from worldly entities, Bodhidharma established the Three-Vehicle under the faith of One Buddha”. Feng Xiaoqing also explained to the Dong brothers and Deng Suan that Master Bodhidharma was the Great Worshipping Master of Yong Chun, as during the times when Abbot Zhi Shan (Chi Sin) was preaching at Yong Chun Hall in Shaolin, he used the same antithetical couplet too. After paying tributes to Master Bodhidharma, the ceremony began. The Dong brothers and Deng Suan formally became the kung fu students of Feng Xiaoqing. From then on, Feng started to promote Yong Chun in Fushan.

Deng Suan’s kung fu classes in Guangdong and Hong Kong

There were four Yong Chun Schools of kung fu in Fushan, the biggest school was the one which was passed on to Chen Huagong (Chan Wah Kung) by Liang Zan (Leung Chan), followed by Feng Xiaoqing’s and Qu Kang’s (Au Hong). There was also another school by Pao Hua Lian (Pau Fa Lin), but he was a merchant and primarily sold cosmetics to women, and products like hair oil and hair gel in Lian Hua Tei. Pao Hua Lian had been leading a quiet life in Fushan for years.

There are still some classes in Hong Kong which introduce Yong Chun handed down by Feng Xiaoqing. These kung fu teachers are Zhu Songmin, Deng Yi and Luo Chaohuan, whom are students of Feng Xiaoqing’s students. Zhu Songmin learnt from Dong Zhi, Tang Yick’s father was Tang Suen and Law Chiu Woon’s father is Law Yum Nam. They all learnt from Feng Xiaoqing’s kung fu. But once they acquired it, they were reluctant to pass it on as they wanted to keep it to themselves.

The kung fu successor of Luo Yin’nan (Law Yum Nam) was his son Luo Chaohuan whilst Dong Zhi’s student Zhu Songmin was his close friend’s son. Deng Suan was the only one who ran kung fu classes in Fushan to teach it to the common people. He also ran classes in Hong Kong too. During the early years of the Republic of China, Deng Suan was hired by Guangzhou Police Commissioner Chen Jinghua (Chan King Wah) to train the police officers at the police station. Unfortunately, the training camp only lasted for a very short time and it failed to bring about much effects at all.

Nevertheless all these happened throughout the difficult years of Xuan Tong (name of one of Ching Dynasty regime), so Deng Suan’s classes in Guangzhou should be considered as quite long already. Deng Suan first came and started classes in Hong Kong because he was invited by a relative from Fushan, who was in charge of the famous Chinese Herb Store Nan Bei Hang (Nam Buk Hong – South and north company) in Hong Kong, and he wanted his partners and employees to learn Yong Chun. This old relative from Fushan, Mr. Zhao was highly respected in Hong Kong for his excellent work ethics. Mr. Zhao wished to raise the defense and security level of his shop, and since he considered Yong Chun a more “gentle” kind of kung fu, and the fact that Yong Chun can be practised in a confined area, it seemed ideal for business people. That was the reason why Mr. Zhao hired Deng Suan to teach his business partners and staff Yong Chun. The class was barely marking its second year when the Birthday of the Wen Wu Temple arrived. One business Yu Ye Hang successfully hired the Dragon Dance of Feng Gangchang from Heshan as a celebration performance, but the Dragon Dance team ended up having a big fight with several other big Dragon Dance teams in Hong Kong. Quite a number of people died and were wounded in the incident. Since then the Hong Kong government started to watch the kung fu schools closely. Mr. Zhao had always been a law-abiding businessman, he decided not to let Deng Suan teach kung fu in his warehouse anymore as he did not want to get into trouble. Deng Suan then left Hong Kong and went back to Guangzhou. Deng Suan was the person to introduce Yong Chun into Hong Kong, however his stay was too short that his students were not able to learn many kung fu techniques from him. As a result, Yong Chun fail to get much attention in Hong Kong and only a handful of people are taking Yong Chun classes.

Deng Suan went back to Guangzhou and was the teacher of national martial arts to the police officers at the police training camps, but what he taught was Yong Chun kung fu essentially. Deng Suan was initially hired by Police Commissioner Chen Jinghua. Chen Jinghua was an open-minded man, and his original intent to have his officers trained and equipped with martial arts was a splendid idea. Yet he was not even in the office for two years before he was discovered by Provincial Military Governor Long Jiguang for having secret liaisons with Chen Jiongming and planning treasonous activities against the Republican President Yuan Shikai. Chen was then allured to a resort at Guangyin Shan to enjoy the moonlight one night and he was murdered.

After Chen’s incident, Deng Suan had no choice but to go back to Fushan. Chen Huagong was the best student of Liang Zang, and Chen’s students like Wu Zhongsu, Yuan Laozha and Huagong’s own son Chen Yumian, were teaching Yong Chun in Fushan. Wu Zhongsu, Yuan Laozha and Chen Yumian had always had great relationships with Deng Suan, they even called each other brothers and there was no borderline among them at all.

Deng Suan knew that Feng Xiaoqing’s students like Dong Zhi had already moved to Macau whereas Luo Yin’nan had gone to Hong Kong. Luo Yin’nan was a businessman, not a kung fu teacher; and he would only teach Yong Chun to his sons as a self-defence tool when he had spare time. As in Fushan, only Deng Suan himself practised Yong Chun. Since Deng Suan refused to see Yong Chun to be lost, he had picked a few shops in town and taught kung fu there every evening.

Deng Suan was now 30 something and had a wife. Although his wife did give him six kids, they turned out to be all girls. Since Deng Suan had no son to carry on the family traditions, many asked him to get a concubine to give it a try. Deng Suan hesitated. At this time, there was a girl from Wunan who had lived the life of an adventurer, working and drifting from town to town. She had been following her father Mr. Meng all her life, and they made a living by doing street performances. Her kung fu was known to be quite good too. Unfortunately, when the father and the girl arrived in Fushan, the father died from an old illness. The girl was then left homeless in the foreign town. Knowing that, Deng Suan was thinking about getting a concubine, the girl was approached and persuaded to marry to Deng Suan, and she agreed. Through the arrangement of the matchmaker, Ms. Meng was married to Deng Suan as his second wife. Deng Suan also started to teach her Yong Chun soon after their marriage.
Two years went by, and Ms. Meng gave Deng Suan a boy, who was named Deng Yi. In spite of the fact that Deng’s wife Ms. Meng was born in Wunan, she gradually got accustomed to the local dialect and customs of Fushan and was becoming more like a Fushaner, after all she had been living in Bao Guo Xuan during all those years and had had frequent contact with the Fushaners. Under Deng Suan’s constant guidance, Ms. Meng could now master Yong Chun very well. She even incorporated Yong Chun into her own Shengzhou ba zhang, which made her become an expert in Yong Chun kung fu.

At the age of five or six, Deng Yi was already learning kung fu from his mother after school. Since Deng Yi was trained by his mother that his kung fu was not just composed of Yong Chun, but also a bit of Ms. Meng’s Wunan kung fu techniques. Under his mother’s coaching, Deng Yi’s kung fu moves such as Yong Chun quan, san bai fu shou, da sha bao and mai zhuang had become more mature and advanced. Deng yi’s kung fu achievements were largely attributed to his mother’s hard work.

Since Deng Suan was the only one coaching Yong Chun in Funshan, he had quite a few kung fu teaching jobs at several big companies at the same time. Every night after dinner, Deng Suan would go and coach kung fu classes in these companies, where all kinds of kung fu poles were set, especially the ones for practising Yong Chun. What was normally absent could be found in these companies which made it possible for Deng Suan to teach gun zhuang (Kwun Chong) techniques to his students there. Though Deng Yi was only medium built, he was strong enough to practise liu dian ban gun and soon after he was able to master the move perfectly.

Having finished tutoring the kung fu classes in these companies, Deng Suan reached his retirement age and moved back to Shunde. This left only Luo Yin’nan teaching Yong Chun to his sons and his nephews in Hong Kong, and Dong Zhi to Zhu Songmin in Macau. Zhu Songmin came from a small town called Pu Jun Xu in Fushan, and he first took up kung fu as a means to build up his body when he was a child. His first teacher was Da Shan Shu but after practising kung fu for a certain period of time, Zhu turned to Dong Zhi and spent a couple of years learning kung fu from him. In seven, eight years’ time, people began to see Zhu as Florist Zhi’s (Dong Zhi) best student. Under his father’s command, Zhu Songmin traveled to Macau and started to learn about doing business there. Zhu specially invited Florist Zhi to stay in Macau and to teach him the advanced skills of Yong Chun. That was the reason why Zhu Songmin naturally became the kung fu successor of Florist Zhi in the later years.

Zhu Songmin was a very experienced kung fu practitioner, but he was primarily a business person who had no intention of building a career out of kung fu. Zhu Songmin was working as a medical practitioner in Macau who specialized in both surgery and physiology, which was different from regular doctors who usually majored in treating fractured bones, contusions and strains. Zhu had also opened his own clinic on Feng Lai Xin Street. In his free time, Zhu would teach his sons Yong Chun and his sons were getting quite good at it.

The development of Yong Chun in Hong Kong during the post-war period

In the 1950s, the only Yong Chun kung fu specialist was Luo Chaohuan, a businessman. Although Luo Chaohuan did not have a proper place to teach kung fu to the public, he did pass on the kung fu skills to the young business owner of Da Dei Poultry Market Wei An, who was drawn to kung fu for health benefits. That explained the setting up of the big wooden kung fu poles and sandbags at Da Dei Poultry Market. Wei An was devoted to learning kung fu and after practising kung fu for a substantial period of time, he passed on his kung fu skills to his colleagues.

Two years went by and Deng Suan’s son Deng Yi came to Hong Kong. Luo Chaohuan introduced Wei An to Deng Yi, who was then invited to teach kung fu at Da Dei Poultry Market. Deng Yi was glad to have a place to settle down that he agreed every night he would go and coach Wei An’s (Wai Yun) colleagues kung fu at Da Dei Poultry Market. Knowing that Deng Yi was particularly skilled at liu dian ban gun, Wei An had a Yong Chun kung fu pole fixed at his place and asked for Deng Yi’s guidance. Through diligent practices, Wei An became fairly proficient in applying the gun techniques.

Deng Yi had already spent a few years teaching Yong Chun at Da Dei Poultry Market. At this time, Zhu Songmin also moved to Hong Kong from Macau. He was hired by the Hong Kong-Kowloon Flower Association as the medical practitioner and had no plan to coach kung fu in Hong Kong. Deng Yi, Luo Chaohuan and Wei An became very good friends. Every year they would organize a celebration ceremony for the birthday of Buddhist Master Bodhidharma at Da Dei Poultry Market. They even proposed to set up a Yong Chun Sports Association together. However the plan did not work out as only a handful of people showed interest in joining the association. Up till now the plan is yet to be realized.

During the 1960s, Lin Jiasheng’s (Lam Ka Sing – a Chinese Opera actor) father Lin Xiangrong had an arts society on Nathan Road. Some of the performers there were admirers of Yong Chun and Deng Yi was hired to teach them kung fu after having a thorough discussion with Lin Xiangrong. Among all the students, Chen Kaixuan (Chan Hoi Suen) was the best performer, whose expertise was the Yong Chun gun. Again, Chen’s Yong Chun was chiefly used for self-defence as he had no desire to get into the kung fu career field. At the same time, Lin’s premise was rebuilt which left no place for the kung fu classes. The classes were thus suspended, and Deng Yi simply gave up teaching kung fu.

It is though that Deng Yi has no intention of passing on the Yong Chun kung fu secrets to the public, yet he does worry that Yong Chun would be lost one day. As Deng Yi inherits a very strong sense of family traditions, he has been training his two nephews, Deng Sen (Tang Chung Sum), a teacher and Deng Pa (that’s me!) the skills of Yong Chun. Deng Sen and Deng Pa had shown very positive initiatives about learning kung fu. That is why Deng Yi decided to teach them Yong Chun, in the hopes that they would bring forth the traditions of Yong Chun one day. Deng Yi had once lamented to me that, although he had been teaching Yong Chun in Hong Kong for almost 20 years and had had numerous kung fu students, it was a pity that very few of them had great achievements in the kung fu field: the good students always reluctant to pass on the kung fu skills to the others; while the ordinary students are always way too eager to teach kung fu classes. Of course Deng Yi would not let it happen. To Deng Yi, there does not seem to be a suitable candidate whom he would approve of running Yong Chun classes for now. Therefore his hopes of carrying forward the Yong Chun kung fu can only cast on his two nephews, Deng Sen and Deng Pa.

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