Born Dec. 1949
Arrived in America 1961 (12 yrs old)
Went to Erasmus HS Brooklyn, NY
Joined LoHan Kuen School in HK, 1957-1960
Joined Russell Kozuki Kempo School in 1963-1970
Studied with Gin Foon Mark as live in student from 1967-1970
Taught for Jerome Mackey Studios 1970-1973
Joined Moy Yat in 1973
Opened his first VT school in 1974 on 23 St. Manhattan, NY
Authored the book: Kung Fu For Young People 1975 Sterling Press
Interviewed by: Darrell Jordan
Q- Who were the first disciples in the U.S. of Moy Yat?
Moy One and Moy Two were Italian guys, they came for one class and they couldn’t learn the 1st section too good and never came back after that. The kung fu names were already given out and Sifu had to replace them. At that time, Moy Yat made everyone become a disciple first, you have to remember he had no money, later on he changed that. Yip Man didn’t do it like that, but when he first came over he needed money. At that time I was teaching praying mantis and I was kind of famous.
Q-in 1972, You were teaching VT?
No way, before that I taught praying mantis for Jerome Mackey.
Q-Oh yeah, I saw you doing the praying mantis commercial on TV back around 1970!
Yes, so many people wanted to learn from me and they wanted to make movies with me, channel 5 calls up to interview me, they never seen anything like that in a commercial and I performed a lot of demonstrations. Then I met a close cousin of Moy Yat and he mentioned Ving Tsun and I wanted to learn more, you know, I always was interested in the martial arts. And Moy Four was teaching with me at that time, because I couldn’t handle the class anymore there were so many students.
Q– So SiSuk John was mantis as well?
No, John was helping me with students; he was helping me in that area. John and I were very good friends and he had his black belt with Russell Kozuki and I together. When I finished with Kozuki, and I stopped teaching, people wanted praying mantis at that time, so I do praying mantis. All of sudden, wow, you have no idea there were so many people. Mak Foon, he was my Sifu too. We worked in the same restaurant, from 1967-1970. Every weekend I would learn praying mantis. Mak Foon school was not too far from Moy Yats School on East Broadway. Mak Foon was so busy working he didn’t have any time to teach. I lived with him over the weekends, Saturday and sunday we worked in the same place, he was a chef and I took care of the front in the restaurant. The hours were 11-2, I would learn from him on Saturday and Sunday for close to 3 years. So I know a whole lot of martial arts so when I came to vt it was so easy for me to understand, I had a good foundation already. My body was so flexible, what I learned in one year of vt is what most people would learn in 5 years. Because I don’t need power training or anything else, all that I already had, so I just had to concentrate on the details of vt. Then I compared it to every other martial art that I had learned. I said wow, if I do this, It capture it, I do this, It capture it, so I always in my mind go back and forth comparing. Sifu said every movement of other style, vt on top of them. One year later I asked him, you know sifu, I have a very good understanding of what the system is, but what other system out there can over throw this one. He looked at me like I was so greedy, but he said to me, yes there is another system that can beat vt, its vt. At that time, I don’t know what to say , how can vt beat vt? Years later more experience, wow, and then I learn all of the Zen teaching method. You say an action, stop, and let the students figure it out, in time, when the student figures it out in time, they will learn definitely better than I could teach, that’s how it goes.
Q- When were you studying with Kozuki, what was it Kempo? Yes, Kempo, it mean Tang Sao, Chinese Hand. We fought a lot of tournaments and I also broke many of my High School physical fitness records for close to 30 years, in one minute I did 160 sit-ups, in one minute 90 push-ups on the bars, this was in Erasmus High School. Russell Kozuki school from 1963 to 1970 I did karate, from 1967 to 1971 in Tong Long , 1957 to 1960 I did LoHan Kuen in Hong Kong, it is very similar to Kempo but more acrobatic, that’s why I was very good in acrobatics. I learned Tan Long and Kempo together, one after school and the other on weekends. All my life I admired martial arts. I don’t remember who my Sifu was in Hong Kong, it was a local Sifu.
I was in a regular school after my mother sneaked into HK, we were in a refugee camp and she met one of my cousins daughters who visited the refugee camp and my mother just happened to recognize her. The daughter made a phone call to America and got in touch with my father to let him know that we were alive and were in HK, so my father started sending money. We were in there 3 months and when we started to receive money, they let us out because we didn’t belong to China as my father proved to the US Hong Kong embassy that he was married to my mother and that we were American citizens. My mother went to the U.S. for vacation and they had gotten married there and my mother lost her passport and later we found out that her passport was stolen by my father’s brother for money and we lived in misery for 12 years. A passport from the US was worth a lot of money at that time in China before the communists took over. So, my mother and I lived in a bad place in HK, at that time it was really terrible. My mother and I had a bunk bed and I sleep on top and my mother slept with grandma on the bottom and we had a little table to put food and that was it.
I was very playful but because of the war time I never had a basic education. We went from here to there and we never stayed put, we didn’t have church, kindergarten, grade 1, grade 2, I didn’t have any of that. The minute I was born I was in a middle of a war and my father didn’t exist, so that dragged on for 8 years. When we got to HK, it was like heaven to me, I never saw anything like that, it was so pretty, right. Even though we had a little room, it was a whole lot better than nothing. I was so playful I never seen basketball and I see basketball people playing and I kind of liked it. So I think how high is that hoop, so I climb up the steel beam and grab onto the basket and I'm hanging there and then some kid comes and starts pulling me and the guy didn’t let go so I let go, when I let go my head come down fast and I reached out and landed and my elbow bone shot out, oh man was it painful. I was so afraid to tell my mother, I was 8 years old then. When I went home, she took me to the dit da doctor with all the money she had. The doctor said don’t worry it just came out that’s all, a little displacement so he twist and turns and snaps it back and I was crying like crazy.
Then I saw people behind the dit da doctor who were playing kung fu, and I thought that was interesting. I looked and looked and the more I looked the more interested I got and every time after school I would stand there and watch because physical activity was so good to me. Every day I would say “ I'm going for treatment” and I would go to watch kung fu.
My father sent us American dollars and we were poor for so long my mother didn’t like to spend money. She see that I like kung fu everyday and my mother cannot find me and then she finds me in front of the school. I said I want to learn this too so my mother said Ill let you learn it, its better than looking all over for you at least I know where you are, that’s how I got started. I didn’t even know what that kung fu, but that kung fu school gave me very good basics, I did a lot of stretch a lot of physical work, a lot of kicks, it put me in very good shape. When I first came over to the US, and I first trained with Russell Kozuki, the minute he teach me, I could play it better than he teach me. He was shocked, John Cheng was there at the same time, we started there together. Kozuki would always use me as an example because at that time American kids didn’t even know what karate is and they weren’t doing it correctly. I could do it so beautifully because I had good basic training, the horse stance is easy, the foot work, all that stuff was very easy for me. So Kozuki gave me special attention and I learned a lot from him too.
Gin Foon Mark, I learned a lot from him and then I learned the most from Moy Yat because that was the time I understand all of these other things to understand this, it made my kung fu way in advance. I was fortunate, besides I was a physical champion in high school, I could do a whole lot of things ordinary people could not do. I used to have Vinny fly 6 – 7 feet over a rope, I demonstrate how to do it, he was never able to do the things that I was doing, he had his own character his character a very stable character. Richie Louie the same thing, his brother Robert, Nicky Carbone could not do the same things that I tell him to do. There was one little short guy called Orlando, Orlando could do a lot of things just as good as me but after a few months I have no idea where he went. There isn’t a single day that I miss my martial arts. I always use it one way or the other. Now I am content and now I want to give back. Gin Foon Mark and I work in the same place, we sleep in one room and after practice we were so tired. The praying mantis chi sao was so simple compared to vt. It’s the same action over and over again, and it does not have the flexibility and freedom that vt requires. I didn’t know it at the time, I thought it was the closest hand to hand combat at the time but once you compare it to vt, what a difference. I found out about Moy Yat coming from one of my very good friends and Betty’s cousin. Me and Moy Yat became very best friends like you and Steve except that at one time he had his way to do things and I knew they weren’t right for the me.
Q-You brought into the family Mickey Chan right?
Yeah and I brought John, I was kind of lonely after a while and then ah, I said to John because we were still teaching there, “Do you want to learn vt?” “What the hell is that?” he said. I said “You can come visit my Sifu if you want.” So he went two times, he was like; “This compared to Karate, nothing exciting.” After a while, he said “How do you do this, this is amazing,” he said, and he paid attention and captured the essence. After a year later, he said “Doug, thank you so much,” He never called me Sihing, because we were close like this (Holds up two fingers together) he said “This is so different, every move, Karate is going to lose” I said “Yeah, you have to catch it, you have to know the essence of it, you cannot make it pleasant, you have to do it.” Because all the things that I did, John could not do. Inside all the other martial arts all the physical activity I could do, he could not do. So I had to show him everything, I had to translate everything for him, so then he begins to capture the essence.
Q-So John Didn’t know Chinese? No, that’s why John and I were very close. It’s like, you lead me into vt, level one during the new year time, now all of a sudden, ah, how’d he put it, oh “This is life changing, now I help you train after 30 years, now all of a sudden you tell me something life changing, why didn’t you tell me this earlier.” I said “John, I am learning too, until I finish learning then I show you, if I don’t finish learning, what can I say to you?”
Q-When you were training with Moy Yat, did Mak Po ever come around when you were there? He would show us things, he would talk, but he was not like you and Steve, he was a independent guy, he don’t associate with people that well. He would come over for dinner, on his birthday he would talk but there wasn’t anything I have not heard in vt, but its enhancing because it come from another Sibok, so just enhance, that’s all. That’s why when he talk about the same thing as Moy Yat, and then I see all the other vt Sifu and what they do, some a little change here and there, some real good feeling some not so good feeling, but again, that’s an individual development. The only thing is I worry about my own development, I don’t look at someone elses development, because this is how they encounter vt at that moment. I will encounter with my vt in my moment, his moment and my moment are two different things although the same system. That’s why it’s so funny, ya know, you all learn vt, your moment and my moment are so different and yet our vt is different so we try not to criticize each other, we don’t say you right or you wrong. Nothing to do with right or wrong, it’s just that moment you capture, that moment you got it that way, that’s all. And vt only require, protect your inner gate, number one. You don’t have to worry about things in the outer gate, number two. Center line must be protected number three. Technique must involve smartly in attack and defend in its simplest manner and make sure that in one move you be able to control two hands with one hand and don’t be.
Copyright 2017-2018 WVTA