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About Ark Y. Wong

 

The history of Grandmaster Wong was explained by Gary:

 

Ark Yuey Wong was born in Canton, China January 11, 1900, in the village of Toysun Tien Sum Chien, to a moderately wealthy family. He lived as a boy in his grandfather’s farm, near Canton, where an eventful attack on the elderly man by his own younger brother seeking ownership of the family’s properties and assets, sparked what would become Ark Yuey’s career in martial arts.

 

Surviving the attack, the patriarch informed his family that from now on he would only include them in his will on the condition that all males would begin learning martial arts at the age of 7, so they could defend themselves should the need arise to protect the family and its assets. Subsequently, upon reaching age 7, Wong began attending Kung Fu lessons at a Shaolin temple with most of his relatives after school, every day for at least two hours, under the revered master Lam Ark Fun, an old teacher of Choy Lay Fut. Some years into his training, at age 12, Wong was also taught Chinese Herbal Medicine by his Sifu, a valued skill that he would come to utilize later on in life.

 

He then met and trained under another respected master, Ho Ark Yeung, who taught Mok Gar Kung Fu to Wong, having been hired along with Lam Ark Fun by the boy’s grandfather to teach all the Wong family.

 

At 17, Ark Y. Wong attended college in downtown Canton, and started giving private Kung Fu lessons. During this time, Wong met the legendary Pung, the Chief Monk of Canton and learned under him the internal areas of Kung Fu, having previously only studied the external aspects of the arts.

 

After civil unrest erupted in Canton, he was asked by his family to return to his village, and he complied, teaching by day at a local grade school, and by night giving Kung Fu classes. It was during an eventful new year’s eve that Ark Y. Wong made a demonstration of the “Lion Dance” which would award the best demonstrators with the title of Master; with his demonstration earning him said distinction at the remarkable age of 19.

 

Master Wong immigrated to the United States of America during his early 20’s in 1921 with some of his relatives, with his uncle further teaching him the ways of herbal healing and acupuncture. He stayed in San Francisco, Oakland and Stockton, where he taught many Chinese students, since at the time the Chinese community was still very secretive about their martial arts.

 

He finally moved to Los Angeles in 1929 where he taught only to his relatives for two years. He then opened a Chinese Herb Shop and a Kung Fu school by the name of Wah Que. He returnied to China in 1931 to teach the Wong family, and came back to Los Angeles again in 1934, receiving the title of Grandmaster at 31.

 

Later on in 1960, Wong would become one of the first genuine Kung Fu masters to open the doors of his school to any sincere student who wanted to learn Chinese martial arts, finally helping in breaking the Chinese-only rule in martial arts enforced for so long by the Chinese community and having a very important role in introducing Kung Fu to America.

 

In his school, Master Wong taught in the style of the Five Families; Choy, Li, Fut, Mok and Hung styles, and in those of the traditional Shaolin Five Animals: The Snake, the Tiger, the Dragon, the Leopard and the Crane. He also taught Tai Chi Quan, Five element fist, and Hop Gar Lama, along with 18 traditional Shaolin weapons, and even instructing in Lion and Dragon dancing for their role in the Chinese festivities.

 

During this time, he exercised  his knowledge of Chinese medicine, relying on it for economical support and schooling other people in the medicinal arts of herbal medicine, massage and acupuncture. During his time teaching in the United States he taught many students, and his teachings influenced legends of martial arts, the most famous being Bruce Lee (who included aspects of it in his Jun Fan Gung Fu and later on JKD), Dan Inosanto and Ed Parker, as well as others. He was covered by several martial arts publications such as an article on him by the magazine Black Belt in 1965, and numerous articles in the “Inside Kung Fu Magazine”, as well as other publications.

 

Master Wong died on his birthday January 11, 1987, although even with his advanced age, his martial ability, speed and agility before his death continued to astonish his students and colleagues alike.

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