Sam Lau is a first-generation disciple of Ip Man, the legendary Wing Chun master and instructor of Bruce Lee. ‘‘When you know kung fu, you can speak louder than other people. They may be better at something else. But when it comes to kung fu, they can only listen to me.’’ I grew up in Mong Kok and when I was a teenager, my neighbors told me there was a new kind of kung fu which you could learn in half a year. I didn’t believe it. I was getting a haircut in a barbershop one day, and there was a bald man wearing a traditional Tang suit and kung fu shoes. The owner said, “This is Ip Man, the master behind the new kung fu.” Ip spoke with a Foshan accent, and I asked if I could learn from him. It turned out he and I lived at 149 and 192 Tung Choi Street, respectively. He let me learn from his six-foot-tall disciple Moy Yat. After several months, I wanted to test out my strength—was Wing Chun as amazing as people said? I picked fights with people who looked like they were in street gangs. They couldn’t fight back at all and their faces and noses would be all swollen afterwards. I feel really cruel for bullying them now. I received a call from Ip Man one day, and he said, “Come and be my disciple.” To this day, I feel grateful that he recognized my talent and potential. Ip Man never told me not to fight. That’s because he had to face a lot of similar challenges as well, seeing as he introduced Wing Chun, a brand new kung fu, to Hong Kong. Other kung fu people saw his small physique and would often challenge him. To prove Wing Chun’s worth, he never declined the requests. From what I remember, sifu Ip never lost a single challenge. A nun invented Wing Chun. She realized that she could never be stronger than men, so she came up with a set of skills designed to do the most damage at the closest range. That’s why it’s ideal for people with smaller figures, like Master Ip and me. When you know kung fu, you can speak louder than other people. Wing Chun and sifu Ip have given me a lot of confidence. You’re not afraid of others. Even when I met with government ministers in the mainland, I wasn’t scared because I knew that I was much better than them at kung fu. They may be better at something else. But when it comes to kung fu, they can only listen to me. The latest movie about Ip Man, “The Grandmaster” by Wong Kar-wai, has helped Wing Chun a lot. More people have signed up for our classes, though a good chunk dropped out after a while. Two-thirds of the film isn’t accurate. No way would sifu Ip fall in love with that woman. We don’t really approve of the Wing Chun shown in the film as well. They have to make it more visually compelling. In real life, Wing Chun is very quick—long fights such as those in the movies are bad Wing Chun. If someone gave me a hundred million dollars to stop practicing Wing Chun, I would decline immediately. Wing Chun cannot be bought with money. Each reaction and technique comes from decades of experience and they live inside me now. Lau teaches at the Yip Man Martial Arts Athletic Association, Flat A, 4/F, Alpha House, 27-33 Nathan Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, 2723-2306, www.samlau-wingchun.com . A Dummy's Guide to Martial Arts A quick guide to popular martial arts forms in Hong Kong and where to learn them. A Kung Fu Tour of Hong Kong Chinese martial arts may not have originated in Hong Kong, but the city is where kung fu became a part of global culture. Take yourself on a kung fu tour of the city and retrace the steps of Hong Kong’s kung fu masters. See it Live Want to see some martial arts in action? Here’s where to catch a fight. Lam Kwok-wing is a fourth-generation successor of the Tibetan White Crane Style. He has been a bonesetter for 25 years. ‘‘Kung fu is special in that you can only learn it with your heart.’’ As a saying goes, “Before studying kung fu, learn Chinese bonesetting.” When we practiced kung fu, we easily got hurt. I witnessed one person who fell on his neck: He passed away. It’s important to know the basics of bonesetting so that we can help each other. Kung fu was very popular in the late 70s. The sifus were like celebrities. There weren’t many entertainment options and Hennessy Road was lined with different martial arts places. I saw a sifu sitting outside the White Crane Style kung fu school and he looked so cool. So I walked in and became his follower. Back then, most martial arts places were also bonesetting clinics, a side business to pay the bills. Bonesetting is a type of kung fu. It takes finger technique. The essence is to manipulate muscles and bones back to their original positions. It is very fun and satisfying when you get the abstract concepts right! It’s an important aspect in fights as well. During combat, one tactic is to displace your opponent’s bones and muscles. Bonesetting can cure people, but it can also hurt others. In the 80s people went to these clinics first and we decided if we would refer them to the hospital. But now, you can’t claim insurance unless you go to a hospital. The system is against bonesetting. I decided to become a bonesetter because I had to earn a living. There are not many career options for kung fu people. I still practice kung fu in this clinic after opening hours. Without good kung fu, you can’t be a very good bonesetting sifu. It takes skills to lift people and pull muscles into place! I learned to differentiate between those who believe and those who do not. I won’t talk much with those who obviously have no faith in bonesetting. Some people come in and say they don’t want to use my ointments, which is a key part of my treatment. I turn them away. I have my own medical ideologies and if you come into my shop, you do it my way. Principles come first for kung fu people. Kung fu is special in that you can only learn it with your heart. Some concepts in kung fu, such as qi, are very abstract. There’s no way you can put them properly into words. Society has changed. When I first started, no one came in for neck and back problems. Nowadays, nine out of 10 clients see me for those. Many people now suffer from spinal dislocations. My kung fu has evolved with time, and I’m now a specialist for spinal problems. Lam receives patients Mon-Sat, 10:30am-1pm; 3-7pm. 22 Wing Cheung St., Wan Chai, 2572-7735. Call ahead. Rita Yeung Ching-ching has been an action choreographer and stuntwoman for 25 years. She’s worked in countless Hong Kong movies and is a committee member of the Hong Kong Stuntmen Association. "Kung fu appears much, much more beautiful on the silver screen. I love being part of that artistic process.’’ I was born in the mainland and went to a martial arts school. I came to Hong Kong in 1979 with my family when I was 15 years old. My cousin, who did makeup for movies, arranged an audition for me with famous martial arts choreographer Lau Kar-leung at the Shaw Brothers Studio. I was good at kung fu, but I was horrible at first at making kung fu look aesthetically pleasing on camera. I looked very hostile. Sifu Lau showed me how to work with the camera and use my kung fu flexibly. I was awed when I first saw my kung fu on screen. Ten years later, filmmaker Tony Ching Siu-tung hired me as an action choreographer and stuntwoman. We designed sequences on set—not only for fighting scenes, but for anything involving action, even playing Chinese chess. During that time, I also became Brigitte Lin Ching-hsia’s exclusive stunt double, in films such as “The Bride with White Hair” and “Royal Tramp.” Lin was a perfectionist—she used her own money to make sure my costume was fitted so that we looked identical on screen. After I performed a more challenging stunt, she would treat me to a meal. Rita Yeung and... Tony Leung! I was doing a wire-flying scene, and a big crane truck was holding my wire. It suddenly started raining. I was completely wet and was still connected to the metal wire. A bolt of lightning struck the crane truck, and the crew said they saw electricity traveling from the top of the wire to my back. I convulsed and my back felt like it was burning! People rushed to save me. Miraculously, I was fine after a colleague applied ointment to my back. I can’t believe it didn’t kill me. I was known in the industry as the woman who was struck by lightning and didn’t die. Part of my legacy, I guess, is that now people quickly cut the wires when it rains. You have to accept that your life depends on the people holding the wires. One time, I had to do a mid-air flip while jumping to the ground from a cabinet. The stuntmen forgot to release the wires after I completed my flip and I crashed into the ground head on. I broke my collarbone and my shoulder joint was dislocated. I was dragged back to work after a week in the hospital. My joint never fully healed. My shoulder joints dislocated three times yesterday during a basketball match! Kung fu in real life is very different to what you see in the movies. An imperfect kick can look flawless because of the camera’s positioning. Kung fu appears much, much more beautiful on the silver screen. I love being part of that artistic process. Without kung fu, I would never have accomplished what I’ve managed today. It’s given me a chance to turn martial arts into art, every day. No matter how good the cinematography and digital effects are, you need a person to plan and perform the moves. It may not be authentic to traditional styles, but I like that whatever you see on screen, it is real and excellently performed kung fu. Michelle Mak “Shi Xu” is a 15th-generation successor of Wudang Sanfeng kung fu and a 20th-generation successor of Chen-style Tai Chi. She holds national qualifications in practicing and teaching martial arts. ‘‘I am an accountant and I’m always trying to explain kung fu with science and statistics.’’ When I was around 40, I really wanted to get back into kung fu. I’ve always loved Bruce Lee. I decided to quit my job as a Chief Financial Officer and leave my family behind. I went to China to learn from the kung fu masters. I traveled to the Wudang Mountains. It really felt like a wuxia movie. My sifu, the 14th-generation master of Wudang, was just returning from practicing his kung fu for several years in a stone cave without electricity and water. A meter outside the cave, there’s a 100,000-foot cliff. I was like, “Modern men still do this?” Wudang came from the Taoists and it’s a very complete system of training your muscles and body on the outside; and your energy and your spiritual mind on the inside. The character “wu” itself means “stopping conflicts with physical strength.” In Wudang martial arts, the idea is to dissolve any force directed at you, rather than confronting it head-on. You have to be zen on the inside. It has taught me to let go. One of the first moves my sifu asked me to do is to stand with my knees bent and my arms in front of my chest. I didn’t understand at all how it could train my internal kung fu and the way these sifus teach, they don’t explain anything. They just say, “Do it and you’ll get it.” After three months of practicing the same move, I could feel the way my blood and qi flowed in my body. My conception and governing vessels [which are said to control the flow of Yin and Yang energy] were opened up. I could do kung fu moves not just with muscle strength, but with power from my qi as well. In the Wudang Mountains, you can’t tell men and women apart from behind. All dress in Taoist robes and wear their hair in a bun, because they believe it’s nature’s rule that your hair grows. I am an accountant and I’m always trying to explain kung fu with science and statistics. I’m not joking—my fingernails, toenails and hair have grown faster since I started practicing internal kung fu. I returned to Hong Kong after four years, because my husband really wanted me to. I had a better temper after practicing kung fu, but his has became worse with age. My passion for kung fu has definitely affected my marriage, but it’s a balance I have to work out. A bowl of wonton noodles went from around $13 to $30-something while I was gone. I have to make a living and so I teach Wudang, Tai Chi and Shaolin kung fu. I have national qualifications and I’ve won over 20 gold medals. I don’t charge those who can’t afford to pay. A student of mine is very fit and but he had trouble sleeping for over three years. Your outside can be well-trained but if your inside isn’t, you’re not truly healthy. I taught him Wudang sleeping kung fu, which nurtures your internal organs and your qi when you sleep. After two months or so, he was able to sleep for three to four hours straight. It feels great knowing your kung fu has helped another individual. Mak teaches at the Shi Xu Taichi and Nourishing Life Academy, Room A, 2/F, 1-4 Ferry St., Jordan, 9197-8302, www.wdgf.hk . Tang Chun-kin has been a student of Tai Chi for eight years. ‘‘I was very shy about practicing Tai Chi in public at first. Whenever people walked by, I would pretend that I wasn’t doing anything.’’ I am a construction worker. I realized one day that I was aging, fast. I used to have no problem jumping down heights of 8 or 10 feet at work. But later, my joints made such a loud noise it scared me. So I decided to practice Tai Chi. It’s good value: If you start doing Muay Tai or Wing Chun when you’re 40, you won’t have the strength to continue for much longer. I was very shy about practicing Tai Chi in public at first. Whenever people walked by, I would pretend that I wasn’t doing anything. I gradually gained more confidence in my skills and got past the shy phase. Now I don’t mind people watching. In Tai Chi, your emotions dictate your body and your moves. When you’re nervous or stressed, it’s very hard to calm down and practice with ease. When you’re feeling peaceful, your kung fu is much better. Depending on your mindset—whether you only want to tackle your opponent or kill them—the same move will play out differently. Both my sons are abroad, so it’s just my wife and I. We fought a lot because of Tai Chi at first. Around four years ago, I was very competitive and participated in a lot of competitions. I practiced Tai Chi every morning in Victoria Park. My wife felt like Tai Chi stole her husband away. Then, my wife began doing yoga. It’s a great thing for our marriage. I help her with some of her moves and she helps me with mine. We help each other stretch. We physically touch each other more and we’ve definitely grown closer. I’m still exploring what Tai Chi means other than as a form of fighting. Tai Chi emphasizes the balance of everything on Earth. I used to gamble and drink and I was obsessed with cars—normal stuff young men are into. After Tai Chi, I learned to look past material gains. It’s funny how your body affects your mind. Tang practices Tai Chi at the China Tai Chi Club, which holds classes in various public parks. www.chinataichiclub.com . “Jozev” Kiu Ching-fu is an author who specializes in wuxia (martial arts) novels. He’s best known for his bestselling “Sangre y Acero” [“Blood and Steel”] series. ‘‘Bruce Lee believed that to do kung fu is to honestly express yourself. Your thoughts, beliefs and the kind of person you are will be reflected in your kung fu and your writing, and you can’t hide.’’ I started practicing martial arts when I was 15 years old. I was obsessed with reading kung fu manuals with step-by-step illustrations on how to practice a style of kung fu. The gist of kung fu novels is to solve a problem quickly and directly. In real life, if someone wrongs you, you won’t fight him. You might aim to be his boss in 10 years. But that would read extremely unexcitingly. In a kung fu story, the male lead would learn from a renowned master and then take his revenge. It’s a reflection of people’s desires to prove their value through their own strength. My favorite character is the main character in “Blood and Steel.” He’s a kung fu fanatic and he learns from different masters in many countries. It came from my own experience. I think it also came from the Hong Kong spirit. There are no national boundaries of martial arts in my novels. The biggest challenge is how to create a type of kung fu novel that’s different and worthy. [Legendary wuxia novelist] Louis Cha was so popular that people have an expectation for kung fu novels. In previous kung fu novels, martial arts were a means to take revenge, protect the country or pursue a lover. My novels have a more purist take—the characters practice kung fu because they want to perfect the art. Modern kung fu practitioners are more like artists. They can’t exactly explain why they learn kung fu—they’re just obsessed. My expertise is eskrima, a Filipino martial art, and the chance of applying that in real life is close to zero, unless there are zombies or something. So why do I keep going? It’s the pursuit of art. It’s like making ceramics. Today’s technology can produce a perfect cup effortlessly. So why would you go and learn how to hand-make a cup? It’s the same deal with kung fu. Each martial arts form is embedded with wisdom and something spiritual, and I want to keep it alive. Bruce Lee’s kung fu philosophy had a huge impact on me. The core of his belief is to pursue what’s genuine. He believed that to do kung fu is to honestly express yourself. When you’re in a fight, you can no longer pretend. Your thoughts, beliefs and the kind of person you are will be reflected in your kung fu and your writing, and you can’t hide. My kung fu world view used to be all about myself. My goal was to perfect my kung fu skills. I wasn’t fond of teaching others—because that meant less practice time! But over the past couple of years, I’ve started to change my mind. If I don’t pass on what I have understood from kung fu, it feels like a bit of a waste. Follow Jozev at www.facebook.com/jozev1969 .