I grew up in NYC, Chinatown. My next door neighbor was a Shaolin Kung Fu Sifu and I used to play with his children. He started teaching us Shaolin kung fu. I used to play animal kung fu games with his kids. He trained us from the time I was four until I was 13 years old. He went back to China, so that was the end of that. When Bruce Lee came on the scene, everything was about Wing Chun. My old Sifu, Lee Wuen, introduced me to Duncan Leung’s school when I was a young boy and that’s how I got hooked on Wing Chun, but all Duncan did was talk about the great deeds of William Cheung. When Duncan left NYC in 1976, I still trained with two of his senior students, the Young brothers. Then in 1983, they invited William Cheung to New York and by coincidence, I’d just read an article about him being awarded the Black Belt Hall of Fame Kung Fu Artist of the Year.
The most important lesson I’ve learned is accountability. You have to be accountable to your teacher and your students. As Grandmaster Cheung instructed me from an old Chinese saying: “When you drink the tea, never forget where the water came from.” This means that you should always respect your teacher, because he’s the one who gave you your skills.
I have competed in full-contact and no-holds-barred (NHB) fighting and I think being a professional fighter really teaches you a lot about yourself. It helps you develop your heart and teaches you to go beyond normal limitations.
I fought for Extreme Fighting and won each of the three times I competed. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to fight any really notable competitors. I also won my qualification fights for UFC. I had signed a contract with Extreme so there was some politics at that time over fighting in both. Then Art Davie, who then owned UFC, was going to put a show together: Team Wing Chun Vs Team Gracie. But unfortunately that never came to fruition. I feel tournaments help students to develop confidence. It helps to bring out their courage and it also gives them a chance to test their skills.
The DAOS Convention, held in NYC, is 11 Days away.