Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong’s First Tournament

Sifu Alan Hubbard
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When Doc-Fai Wong was 18 years old he and his friend went to one of the biggest local open tournaments in San Francisco run by Professors Ed Parker and Ralph Castro in the Civic Center of San Francisco in 1967. His friend Joe Chan came from Hong Kong and was a black belt in Shotokan Karate. Joe and Grandmaster Wong were the same age. Joe invited the young Doc-Fai Wong to the tournament to watch him compete. This was Grandmaster Wong’s first tournament in his life. Joe Chan was warming up and asked Doc-Fai Wong to workout with him in sparring. Doc-Fai Wong didn’t understand any of the fighting rules or restrictions in point sparring. Every time when Joe kicked him, he used a lau-kiu technique to scoop his foot up and follow up with a leg sweep to take Joe down. After Joe got up from the ground he said, “no no no, you don’t get points by doing that.“ Doc-Fai Wong said, “If that doesn’t get you a point, what is the use in anyone training like that? I have not trained for this kind of fighting, and I don’t see any reason to, I’m not going to compete in this kind of fighting for sure.“ However, the repeated take downs by the young Grandmaster Wong drew lots of other Kenpo and Kajukempo black belts to watch their practice. Grandmaster was so busy sparring his own way with other black belts and not one of the black belts could touch him, they just ended up falling all over the place with their arms and legs bruised with black and blue marks. By the time the actual tournament started the best show and lessons were over. From there on, Doc-Fai Wong kept going to other tournaments.

During that period of time, tournaments were very popular; almost every month someone from some school had sponsored one. Grandmaster Wong had never entered in the point sparring competition, however, he always made time for sparring workouts with the other black belts when they were warming up or finished fighting for their matches. It was fun practice for him, and always an eye opener for his tournament fighting partners. He of course continued to draw crowds of Black belts in a variety of karate styles impressed with his fighting abilities, soon after they gave him the nickname of “Gung-fu Doc“, this was long before kung fu became popular. He had so many black belts wanting to become his students and learn his fighting “secrets“, that in September 1968, he officially started his club in the Chinese Recreation Center on Mason and Clay Street of San Francisco.

After Joe Chan went to college, he no longer trained with Doc-Fai Wong. Currently, Mr. Chan is one of the owners of the KFC restaurants in San Francisco. To this day, every time he runs into any of Grandmaster Wong’s students, he always talks about this story from the good old days.


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