Hu Yuen Chou

training for Life
Column by Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong
September 2002 Issue

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Great-Grandmaster Hu Yuen Chou (1906-1997) was a native of Fut San and was more well-known in Hong Kong by the name Woo Van Cheuk. He began his Chinese martial arts training at the age of 9 with an acquaintance, a master of Choy Li Fut from the city of Fut San in Guangdong, China, named Chan Ngau-Sing.

At 16 years old he moved to Guangzhou (Canton) for high school and college, eventually he graduated from a Western Medicine Academy sponsored by the Red Cross, one of the first schools in southern China to offer the program, and there he met a Choy Li Fut master, one of the masters of that time with a great deal of Martial Arts knowledge from Southern China, the grandson of the founder of the Choy Li Fut system, Chan Heung, he was Great-Grandmaster Chan Yiu-Chi. Great-Grandmaster Hu spent 20 years of his life studying with Chan Yiu-Chi, becoming one of his most advanced pupils, he, together with Three other pupils, were nicknamed "The Four Kings of Heaven" because of their abilities and their great level of Kung Fu.

In 1945, Dr. Hu Yuen Chou accepted a Russian Boxer's challenge for a full-contact match in Fut San. He was not just representing the Hung Sing studio at that time for the full-contact fight; he actually represented the entire Chinese martial arts community of Fut San in taking this challenge. He won the match during the second round with a TKO. He helped the kung fu artists of Fut San city to gain face and respect for Chinese Martial Arts. Everybody in Fut San knew the name of Woo Van Cheuk in those days.

Besides studying Choy Li Fut, Dr. Hu Yuen Chou also studied other systems of Kung Fu, which increased his knowledge of Chinese Martial Arts. He studied systems like Northern Shaolin, Hung Kuen, Hop Gar, Lung Ying Mor Kiu, Lohan Moon, Gee Yin Moon, Preying Mantis, Hsing-I Chuan and Pakua, etc. In 1929, his first Tai Chi Chuan instructor was Chen Wei-Ming who came to Canton to represent his teacher Yang Cheng-Fu in teaching Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan, After studying with Chen Wei-Ming for nearly 3 years, Hu had the privilege and the good fortune to become a closed-door student of the great Master Yang Cheng-Fu from 1932 to 1934.

While studying Chinese Martial Arts, Great-Grandmaster Hu also studied the many weapons of those systems, the straight-sword or Gim (Jian) being his favorite. In 1927, Hu Yuen-Chou met and studied with General Li Jing-Lin, one of the main experts in Wudang straight-sword of that time. In 1949 just before China turned Communist, he moved to Hong Kong. Later years, Dr. Hu further developed his ability with the straight-sword with Kuo Chi-Feng, companion and Wudang Sword brother of General Li Jing Lin. Both of Hu Yuen Chou's teachers were well-known exponents of the famous Wudang straight-sword system.

For decades, Great-Grandmaster Hu Yuen Chou promoted the Chinese Martial Arts in Canton and Hong Kong, being known inside of Kung Fu circles by the nickname "Mr. Gam Chou" of the Martial Arts (Gam Chou is a special herb used in Chinese herbal medicine mixtures in order to balance them), he was and has been considered one of the last and highest level Grandmasters of Choy Li Fut and Tai Chi Chuan.

Before Hong Kong was handed over to China, Great-Grandmaster Hu and his wife moved to Taiwan. He died on the 26th of August 1997 in Taipei, Taiwan, at the age of 91 years. Today, his teachings continue to live through his most outstanding senior student, Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong, who has extended his teachings all over the world.

Doc-Fai Wong writes a bi-monthly column for Inside Kung-Fu.

September 2002 Inside Kung-Fu