In this article we have translated a text first appeared in the 2001 book published on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Futsan’s Hung Sing Kwoon. It chronicles the life of Sifu Ho Yi, who taught Choy Lee Fut to many of the temple’s current Masters and whose lineage is one of the most enduring today in Futsan. Among his students was Sifu Wong Zam Gong (the one in the center in the photo above) , current Headmaster of Hung Sing Kwoon and the author of this text.
Because the article contains quite a lot of cultural, social and political references, we have marked them with an asterisk and explained them at the end of the text.
MY MASTER, THE THIRD GENERATION INHERITOR OF THE HUNG SING KWOON HO YI (First part)
Ho Yi (1990-1976) was from Shishan, Nanhai, the people of that place are honest. As a teenager, Ho Yi made the “bai shi“* to the second-generation master Wong Sai, and learned Choy Lee Fut’s fist and weapons from the Hung Sing Kwoon.
Regarding Wong Sai, he took care of him in life and honored him in death (because Wong Sai never married) and tried his best to be a good disciple.
After Wong Sai’s death every year on the “Qing Ming” holiday, Master Ho Yi and his martial brother Fuo Hong went to Shiwan Cemetery to pay their respects to the master and ancestors of the Hung Sing Kwoon. His younger son, Ho Gam Wah, was quite sensible, so he took him with him to visit the tomb until the Cultural Revolution, when the cemetery was destroyed.
Throughout his life Master Ho Yi, spared no effort in teaching the Hung Sing Choy Lee Fut, weapons and empty hand,he taught countless disciples, who were deeply praised by their own peers and by the following generations of students.
In the early twentieth century, Master Wong Sai’s brother Chan Sing, the Headmaster of the Hung Sing Kwoon, disagreed with the “Yi Zi“* schools that followed the official government at the time, Whenever the Hung Sing Kwoon Lion Dance team and the lion team from the “Yi Zi” schools met at any holiday, a birthday, New Year’s Eve, the spring festival… fore sure they were engaged in a good fight.
Master Wong Sai thought that a martial arts kwoon could not be without learning Lion Dance, so he created the “Luo Chong” association to teach there and took Ho Yi as his apprentice.
Not long after, in the main Kwoon the lion dance activities resumed, thus allowing the hung Sing Kwoon lion team to continue devoloping.
In the 1920s and 1930s, in addition to helping sigung Wong Sai’s disciples, Master Ho Yi also held the position of head coach in the “Futsan Sheng Gong”, the “Xing Tai Gong” and the “Luo Chong” association, teaching numerous disciples.
On April 12, 1927, the Kuomintang assassinated several members of the Communist Party in Shanghai and founded a counterrevolutionary party in Shanghai to wipe out the Communists*. On April 15, the Kuomintang authorities came to Futsan to investigate the city workers’ congress, the Peasants’ Association, the Hung Sing Kwoon and other associations, and Master Ho Yi was forced to stop his activities and return to the countryside to continue teaching Choy Li Fut on Nanhai Shishan Mountain, later at the invitation of the village itself, he went to Nanhai to teach, there he had more than ninety disciples.
The Wushu Provincial Association was in operation, and Chan Sing’s disciple Chan Ngai Lam brought official letters to Sifu Ho Yi’s gate three times. But because at that time he had to take care of his family, it was very difficult for him to travel alone so he refused the invitation.
My maternal grandfather and Master Wong Sai were old friends, my grandfather was almost thirty years younger than Master Wong Sai so he also had a deep relationship with Master Ho Yi and Master Fok Hong.
At the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in 1967, through the relationship with my maternal grandfather, I first became a student of Fok Hong* together with Wong Man Kai, we studied the biu ma che kyun* of the Hung Sing Choy Li Fut, in my house, then came Fok Hong’s son Fok Hou Lam, his adopted son Sam Zyu, Ng Bak Kyun and Tam Tim Gaa and we studied all together.
There were a lot of people and the place was really narrow, so we took advantage of the night shift at the Pujun market of Master Fok Hong and in the evening we went there to continue our learning. .After we finished learning the biu ma che kyun, Master Fok Hong’s martial brother Ho Yi came to my house with his son Ho Gam Wak, so Wong Man Kai, Ng Bak Kyun and I did the baishi to Master Ho Yi, and together with Ho Gam Wak, we began to systematically learn the traditional technique of Hung Sing Choy Li Fut.
* The Lugou Bridge Incident (also known as the Marco Polo Bridge Incident) is the event that marks the beginning of the total invasion of China by the Japanese. This meant a truce between the Communists and the Kuomitang to fight a common enemy.
* “Pi Dan Mian” 皮蛋面 (Literally, preserved egg noodles), was the nickname of this master, in China it´s quite usual to be known by different names and during the war, not giving the real one could help not to be caught and not to endanger others.
* Refers to the victory of the Communist Party over the Kuomitang.
* Fok Hong 霍康 was Master Wong Sai´s disciple and therefore a “younger martial brother” (si dai 师弟) of Ho Yi
* “Biu Ma Che Kyun” is the basic form of Hung Sing Choy Li Fut and the first to be learned in Futsan
Translated by María Arias