Lam Sai Wing

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Lam Sai-wing (traditional Chinese: 林世榮; simplified Chinese: 林世荣; Mandarin Pinyin: Lín Shìróng; Jyutping: Lam4 Sai3 Wing4) (1861 - 1942, or 1860 - 1943 depending on the source), was a student of the Cantonese martial artist, healer and folk hero Wong Fei-hung.

Early life

Lam was born in Nanhai district, Guangdong. He followed the customs of his ancestors and learned the traditional martial arts of his family, progressing to learning from Lin Fucheng, Wong Fei-hung and Wu Quanmei. He was eventually considered an expert in Hung Ga ("Hung family fist", a style originating from the Southern Shaolin Tiger style, known for its efficiency and widespread at the time in various secret societies), and may have also studied Fut Kuen ("Buddhist Fist", a style practiced by various Buddhist sects in Guangdong province).

He founded the Wu Ben Tang (Hall of Fundamental Study) in Guangzhou (Canton) where he taught his martial arts.

Towards the end of the Qing dynasty, Lam gained first place at a large martial arts competition that took place at the Dongjiao ground, receiving a silver medal from Sun Yat-sen as a token of recognition for his service and success.

Between 1917 and 1923, Lam served in the National Revolutionary Army of Fujian province as Chief Instructor in hand-to-hand combat.

Later life

Lam eventually moved to Hong Kong, where he started teaching martial arts. Together with his favorite students Zhu Yuzhai, Zhang Shibiao, Li Shihui, and others, he wrote three books on the three primary forms (taolu) of Hung Ga: gung ji fuk fu keun ("Taming the Tiger Fist"), fu hok seung ying keun ("Tiger Crane Paired Form Fist"), and tit sin keun ("Iron Wire Fist").

Although his exact age is not known, Lam was over 80 when he died during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong. Whilst conditions were difficult during the occupation, there has been no indication that the occupation contributed to his death.

Legacy

Lam and his students, which are said to have numbered over 10,000 during his life, are primarily responsible for popularizing the style in the 20th century. Some of his students became among the first actors and stunt people in the fledgling Hong Kong "kung fu" film industry in the 1940s. They included two men who would work as action directors on the Wong Fei-hung films that starred Kwan Tak-hing - Leong Wing-hang and Lau Cham, father of action director and star, Lau Kar-leung. Another student of Lam was Golden Harvest producer Raymond Chow.

Lam Sai-wing's kung fu legacy was mainly continued by his nephew & disciple Lam Jo until his recent death, who resided & taught in Hong Kong with his own sons Anthony Lam Chun Fai and Lam Chun Sing. Among Lam Jo's senior disciples, Tang Kwok Wah taught in Boston. Among his disciples are amongst others Winchell Ping Chiu Woo (Chiu Mo Kwoon, Boston), Yon Lee* (Harvard Tai Chi Tiger Crane Shaolin Cultural Foundation, Shaolin Institute, Quincy), Y.C. Wong (San Francisco), Buck Sam Kong (Kong's Siu Lum Pai Assn., Los Angeles).

Portrayal in the media

Lam has been portrayed in film, including the 1991 film "Wong Fei-hung" ("Once Upon a Time in China") (Lam was a butcher by trade, causing his name to be translated as "Porky" in the English version), and by Sammo Hung in the 1979 film "Lam Sai-wing" ("Magnificent Butcher"), as well as many of the (over 100) films made about Wong Fei-hung.

[*In 2007, Yon Lee was appointed International Shaolin Cultural Ambassador by the Municipal Government of Dengfeng (home to the Shaolin Temple) Henan Province, People's Republic of China. In collaboration with the Songshan Cultural Research Foundation of Dengfeng, Lee hosted an international conference focusing on kung fu and Shaolin medicine in 2010.]

References