Leung Jan, the “king of Wing Tsun”
At an advanced age Leung Yee Tei passed the art of Wing Tsun Kuen – boxing techniques and pole techniques etc., to Leung Jan, a famous physician of Fatshan, one of the four famous towns of Kwangtung Province of Southern China.
Fatshan, being located at the junction of many busy travelling routes near the Pearl River, is a famous commercial centre, densely populated – a place where government officials, wealthy merchants, workers and common folks gather together. Leung Jan, the owner of a herbal pharmacy there, was brought up in a good family, being well-cultured, gentle and polite. Besides keeping his Jan Sang Pharmacy in “Chopstick Street” in Fatshan, he also offered medical services to the residents of Fatshan. He was skilled in his profession and was in fact flourishing. In his spare time, he enjoyed literature, and suprisingly enough, the art of fighting. In the art of fighting however, he was particular about choosing his mentor. Besides, he did not like the “long bridges” and “wide stances” that looked fierce and powerful. Systems that emphasised physical power and brutal force were not to his liking. Nor were those which consisted of good-looking, graceful but impractical movements. What he wanted to learn was a system that insisted on practical skill and wise application under the cover of its simple appearance.
Years passed as he waited for his ideal instructor and the ideal system, eventually his chance came when he met Leung Yee Tei and learnt from him the Wing Tsun System.
Soon Leung Jan’s skill earned him the title of “Kung-fu King of Wing Tsun”. His fame brought him many challenges. Ambitious people forced him to defend his title, but were all quickly defeated. Whenever people heard his name, they all remember his title – “Kung-fu King of Wing Tsun”, and the incidents when he defeated all challengers. Nowadays, people of the older generation still talk about his exploits with great enthusiasm.
“Wah the wooden man”, Leung Tsun & “Wah the money changer”
Leung Jan did not regard teaching Wing Tsun Kung-fu as his profession, but his own interest in the art of fighting urged him to adopt a few disciples, including his two sons, Leung Tsun and Leung Bik. He taught each of them Wing Tsun Kung-fu every day after the close of his pharmacy.
Among his disciples there was one by the nickname of “Wah the Wooden Man”. He earned the nickname because he had a pair of strong arms, which were as hard as wood and he would often break the thick arms of the wooden dummy during practices. Every evening, after the close of the Jan Sang Pharmacy, he used to practise Wing Tsun techniques with his co-students, under the guidance of their mentor Leung Jan.
Next to the pharmacy of Leung Jan there was a money-changers stall, of which the owner was Chan Wah Shun. People used to call him “Wah the Money Changer”. He had a yearning to learn kung-fu and was determined to follow a famous kung-fu master. As his stall was neighbouring the pharmacy of Leung Jan, whose behaviour and kung-fu skills he had admired for a long time, he was eager to request Leung Jan to accept him as his disciple. But owing to the fact that Leung Jan was a respected gentleman of a famous family and at the same time a walthy shop owner, Wah the Money Changer felt humiliated in making such a request. Besides, he did not know whether Leung Jan would accept him or not. Anyway, his determination to learn kung-fu and his respect for Leung Jan gave him much hope.
Every day, when work was over and the streets were quiet, Wah the Money Changer used to tip-toe to the door of Leung Jan’s parmacy, to peep through the crack of the door, to watch Leung Jan teaching kung-fu. Mr. Leung Jan became his idol. Each move of Leung Jan’s hand of foot he studied carefully, and made a deep impression on him. Day after day his eagerness to learn kung-fu grew stronger and stronger.
So one day, he thought ist was time to make his request. he gathered all his courage and spoke to Leung Jan. Leung Jan refused his request, as he had expected, with kind words. This made him feel naturally disappointed, but not hopeless. He thought of another way to fullfil his wish.
One day, when Leung Jan was out, Wah the Wooden Man brought to Leung Jan’s pharmacy a strong man, when only the elder son Leung Tsun was there. It turned out that the stranger was in fact Wah the Money Changer, who had for a long time been learning Wing Tsun Kung-fu by peeping through the crack of the door. A feeling of superiority prevailed at the back of the pharmacy. So Leung Tsun suggested having a fighting practice with the intruder to test how much he had learnt through his illicit lessons.
Leung Tsun had never worked hard as his co-student Wah the Money Changer. At the first contact of their Arms-clinging, Wah the Money Changer at once felt that his opponent was not as powerful and skilful as he had expected. By mistake Wah the Money Changer launched a palm at Leung Tsun. So heavily that Leung Tsun fell helplessly on the much valued armchair of his father Leung Jan, and broke one of its legs. This surprised all of them in the first place, and in the second place, worried them in case they should be punished by Leung Jan for breaking his valuable armchair. So they quickly attempted to conceal the damage to the chair.
Wah the Money Changer’s final adoption as Leung Jan’s disciple
That night, when Leung Jan returned to his pharmacy, he, as usual, tried to rest himself on his beloved armchair after his meal. To his surprise the armchair collapsed to one side and he nearly fell to the ground. On inquiring into the matter Leung Jan was informed by his elder son of the full details of the visit of the stranger and the fighting practice.
Leung Jan, on hearing this report, summoned his disciple Wah the Wooden Man and made further inquiries, particularly about how his friend the Money Changer had acquired kung-fu to his friend the Money Changer and that the Money Changer had surreptitiously been peeping through the crack of his door to watch him teach Wing Tsun Kung-fu every day after the close of business at the pharmacy. Leung Jan then immediately asked Wah the Wooden Man to send for his friend. It was then that his disciple Wah remembered that it was wrong to teach kung-fu to others without the permission of one’s instructor.
Thinking that his Master Leung Jan might punish him for this, Wah the Wooden Man told his friend to run away to his native town, instead of asking him to see his Master.
When Wah the Wooden Man did not return with his friend, Leung Jan asked for the reason. On hearing it, he realised that his disciple had misunderstood him. He then told his disciple that he wanted to see how much knowledge his friend had acquired in Wing Tsun Kung-fu, and how talented he was. Wah the Wooden Man, over-joyed on hearing this, rushed to his friend and brought him back at once. After watching this young man, Leung Jan immediately adopted him as his disciple.