Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong Interview

Fighting Stars Magazine

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Grandmaster Wong demonstrates the fighting application of Tai Ji Quan's, roll-back.

Fighting Stars: Its funny you should say that because about twenty years ago I was visiting San Francisco's Chinatown and I was able to observe you at your school. I was honored that you allowed me to observe you perform a highly advanced spear set as well as other forms and techniques. This was unlike many other schools that I happened upon in Chinatown where I was told I was unwelcome because I was not Chinese. In fact, one school had several senior students escort me to the outside where I was told I was not welcome because I was not Chinese.

Doc-Fai Wong: Thatís too bad. To me it is very important that I teach students with good character because they are going to be the ones that are going to carry on my name.

Fighting Stars: Previously you mentioned Master Lau Bun. I had heard that he did not like to teach non-Chinese students. Was there any truth to this rumor?

Doc-Fai Wong: It was not that he didnít want to teach non-Chinese, but you have to understand that in those days in Chinatown there were different associations with many members. Those associations would put pressure on anyone that didnít go along with their wishes. So, Lau Bun himself didnít have any trouble teaching outsiders, but the Chinatown association at that time did not want outsiders learning Kung Fu. He did have one Hawaiian student in the old days, who was referred by someone of good character, but he did not have any White or African American students in those days. Unfortunately, he died before he was really able to have the opportunity to teach Choy Li Fut to non-Chinese students.

Fighting Stars: Did you encounter any hostility for teaching non-Chinese students from the Chinatown associations.

Doc-Fai Wong: No, when I began teaching in 1960s I didnít belong to any associations and I felt free to teach whomever I wanted.

Doc-Fai Wong (center) training with Master Lau Bun in 1965.

Fighting Stars: Grandmaster, Choy Li Fut is a very dynamic system, and looks very challenging. Can older people, say 50+ begin to learn the system? And if so, what concessions are necessary for the more senior student?

Doc-Fai Wong: I would say that anyone who is 50 or older could learn Choy Li Fut as a health system. But unless they had some physical training or martial arts training earlier in their life it would be very difficult to learn Choy Li Fut as a fighting art. Also, for someone of more senior age if they were to get hurt it generally takes longer to recover from injuries than someone who is much younger.

Fighting Stars: Do you direct the more senior students into Tai Chi.

Doc-Fai Wong: No, I give them the choice of which direction they want to go. But, if I feel they are not physically strong enough I will tell them not to push too hard so as to minimize any potential health risk.

Fighting Stars: Do you consider weapons training to be a necessary skill for individual advancement in the martial arts? If so, why?

Doc-Fai Wong: Yes, because the weapons training is good for developing the Jing and also for example; the Gim or sword movements help to develop the strength in the wrists. The staff helps to develop strength in the forearms. Different weapons have different body parts that they help to strengthen. Also, the weapons training preserves the traditional aspects of the art. Ultimately, it helps to bring your skill to another level. If you really like the martial arts then I think you will enjoy weapons training. It makes the art more complete.

Fighting Stars: What is your favorite weapon?

Doc-Fai Wong: The straight sword, also known as the Gim.

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