Cantonese martial art Master Mr.Wong Fei Hung (黃飛洪), among his inheritors, there were two famous names, one being verified as Leung Fun (梁寛), and the next was apparently Mr. Lau Jaam (劉湛). They both as known-brave and skillful in fighting, outstanding in the Wong Feihung. Leung Fun died early, and Lau Jaam (劉湛) healthy and still alive. In martial art Lau was in no way weaker than Leung. They treated Lau as junior to Leung. But actually Lau was not learning from Wong Fei Hung, instead he was the pupil of Lam Sai Wing (林世榮).
At the age of 16, he followed his father to Hong Kong and worked at Daai Sing Gold-Smith Shop (大成金舖) located at Queen’s Road West (大馬路 ) as apprentice at a monthly salary of 50 cents Sterling coin. To add clothes or blanket, it ought to be saving 3 months salary at least. It was a hard time. He realized this job could not bring him standard living, and he was compelled to wait.
Six months later, people say at String Lane (弓紜巷) close to Bamboo Hillside (竹樹坡), a boxer was teaching there, and this boxer is not nobody, but the beloved disciple of Wong Fei Hung known as Lam Sai Wing. Before he came to Hong Kong, he was a fight-instructor in the military. Both names,Fei Hung and Sai Wing were not new to Lau Jaam. Now, as he was right there teaching, surely he went to see how good his kung-fu really was. When Lau still was in his village, he already learnt Kung-Fu from his uncle Lau Bou Sing (劉保勝) who belonged to the short-bridge branch of Hung Kyun (短橋派/洪拳一派).
His uncle saw that Lau was diligent so he taught him as much as he had. Lau was well-phased in martial arts, and now he went to Sai Wing’s gym standing by the door-entrance. The whole evening until they finished. Lam Sai Wing did not notice anything special, but evening by evening, Lau was there, and would not leave unless got scolded. Then he found Lau was so concentrating during his students were practising, and this is so rare , a young man like him loving kung-fu so much. Then Lam laughed at him, saying: „Hey young man, why you stood there every evening watching me teaching?“
Lau very shy answered: „I did learn kung-fu too, and now I want to compare if it is the same as yours.“
„You learned kung-fu, then how different you find it now after standing here watching many evenings?“
Lau, shaked head : “Not the same“ and he continued: „Can you teach me too?“
“I opened this gym here, and everyone who may obey the rules and pay fee can learn“
“How much is the fee?“
“3 dollars per month.“
Lau spread his tongue and said: „I earned only 50 cents a month, and for 1 month fee, I need to work for 6 months, cannot afford it even I love learning.“
Lam, fond of his childlike, said: „If I teach you free of charge, how you may reinburse me?“
„I got nothing valuable, but what I have is just the physical ability.“
Lam said:“I live here alone, and no-one take care of my living like washing clothes etc, so can you do it for me? If you can, I teach you.“
Lau said: „Yes, yes, yes!. When I can come to Baai Si?“ (Note: Baai Si is the ceremony to affirm the relationship of master and disciple).
…to be continued!
Note: “Biography of Mr. Lau Jaam” (劉湛) from the book on Ling Naam Masters, translated by Mr. Tony Ma and rewritten by Frank Bolte sifu.