|Grandmaster Ark Yuey Wong
January 11, 1900 - January 11, 1987
|Grandmaster Ark Yuey Wong (Wong Ark-Yuey) was born in the large village of Toysun Tien Sum Chien, Canton, Southern China, in
1899/1900 into a moderately wealthy family. Early on, he was exposed to the ancient fighting arts as a need to defend himself from
articulated or actual threats of harm. In those days bandits roamed the countryside and Wong's grandfather made all males in the Wong
family study kung fu, if they were to receive any inheritance. A younger jealous brother, in order to weaken the older man and obtain his
wealth, attacked his great-grandfather. Upon recovering from the attack, the old man decreed that all his male descendants were obligated to
learn Kung Fu when they started school at the age of seven.
It was at that age that Ark Wong began his training under 14 masters within a Shao Lin Temple (Sifu Wong explained that the Cantonese
pronunciation of "Siu Lam", sometimes seen as Sil Lum is the same as the more popular term Shao Lin). His first Shifu was the well-
respected master, Lam Ark Fun. Master Lam was rather old at this time but still highly revered as a great teacher of the art of Choy Li Fut.
At the age of twelve, Ark Wong was taught the art of Chinese Herbal Medicine, a skill that he would employ extensively later in life from
Master Lam. Ark Wong studied under another well-respected master, Ho Ark Yeng from whom he learned Mawk Gar Kung Fu. Both
Master Lam and Master Ho were hired by a representative of the great-grandfather to teach the Wong family exclusively. In his later teens,
Ark Wong went to college and gave private Kung-fu lessons in Canton. It was during this time that he met Pung/Pang, the chief monk of the
Canton area and one of the greatest Kung-fu fighters in China. He studied under this master for a year and a half. Previously, all of Wong's
training was of the external aspects of Kung Fu. It was from Pung that he began to learn the internal aspects. Master Pung invited Wong to
his ascetic quarters and told him to place a lighted candle at the end of the room. According to Wong, Pung was able to chop the candle in
half from yards away, merely with a flick of the finger. “I had heard of power like that, but I had never seen it demonstrated”, Wong recalled
years ago. When civil unrest occurred in Canton, Wong returned to his village.
Here in Lin Chuan Yuan, Putien County, he opened a Kung Fu school for his family and the younger children of the area. One New Year's,
as was the custom, all the Kung Fu schools gathered to put on the "Lion Dancing" demonstration. On the basis of these demonstrations by
the different schools the masters were chosen. Only the best demonstrators would receive the title "Master." At the remarkable age, of
nineteen, Wong Ark Yuey was made Master.
Master Wong immigrated to the United States in his early twenties, around 1921. His uncle taught him Chinese herbal healing and
acupuncture. At that time, kung fu was taught among Chinese and mostly in Chinese tongs and associations. Since Chinese have many
festivities and cultural beliefs, the art of lion and dragon dance were taught to accommodate the celebration ritual. Many Chinese benefited
from Wong's martial art lessons during the 40's and 50's when he stayed in San Francisco, Stockton and Oakland. This was the birth of Ng
Ga Kin and Ng Ying Ga in the United States. In 1929, he moved to the Los Angeles area, where he taught exclusively for the Wong family
the first two years. He then opened his Chinese Herb shop and Kung Fu school, called War Que (War Kyu) or Overseas Chinese Martial
Arts Association. In 1931, Wong went to china to instruct the Wong family in the Martial Arts. In 1934, he returned to Los Angeles and
resumed his teaching. At the young age of 31, Master Wong was given the title of Grandmaster. In 1965, Wong opened his doors to the
public, to any sincere student who wanted to learn from a Master. Previously, as mentioned, all Chinese Kung Fu was taught to Chinese
only, as it was kept a secret. He taught the Five Family styles of Cho Li, Fut, Mok, and Hung and the five animals of the Tiger, Dragon,
Crane, Leopard and Snake. Master Wong taught Tai Chi Chuan, five element fist, natural fist and the Hop Gar Lama fist. He also taught the
18 traditional Shao Lin weapons, Lion and Dragon dancing, Chinese Acupuncture, Massage, and Herbal medicine. During his last 30 years
profession, many people entered the school. Especially during and after the Bruce Lee kung fu movie era. But only very few had completed
the entire course.
Master Wong was also a traditional Chinese herb doctor and helped many people with arthritis because of his special herb liniment called
Dit Da Jow, a special Shao Lin temple recipe handed down to only those students who were loyal and sincere.
Master Wong was in the original pilot movie of the television series "Kung Fu", with the actor David Carridine, who played the part of
"Kuai Chang Caine", (Grasshopper). Master Wong was the greatest Master of our century and the true "Pioneer" of Chinese Kung Fu in
America. Master Wong was on the front cover of the 1965 issue of "Black Belt Magazine" and has had numerous articles about him in the
"Inside Kung Fu Magazine". Combining all the styles he had learned, Wong counted among his students Bruce Lee, David Carradine and
Jimmy H. Woo.
Master Wong passed away on his birthday in January of 1987 at the age of 88 (1986 age 89). Up until his death, Wong’s speed and agility
continued to impress students one-third his age. In demonstrating the tiger form, Wong, in his late 80’s, included a dragon drop “so fast, he
was down in the floor and back up in a split second”, Holub notes. He was always helping people and devoted his whole life to Kung Fu
and Chinese medicine. He was the last of the old Masters but his legacy and his Association is still being carried on today. Grandmaster
Wong had achieved many accomplishments including being pioneer kung fu instructor to America and contributed to society with his
Chinese medicine. Because of his efforts, the Five Family/Animal Style has prospered worldwide. His grandson Seming Ma is now
continuing the tradition.
Due to the history, including the destruction of the Temple and all of its artist, to the highly selective process in which only a small handful
of students in a generation actually inherit a system with its complete information. It is a fact that Grandmaster Wong was the only man in
this country with the entire Five Family Fist Southern Shao Lin system. After the destruction of the temple only a few survived and
migrated to Hong Kong and are now deceased. It is an unfortunate fact that this system almost died with the destruction of the temple and
its martial artist in 1927. Were it not for Grandmaster Wong Ark-Yueh the system would probably not exist today. Fortunately for
Southern Shao Lin advocates the complete system is still alive today in the surviving two inheritors of Ma Se Ming and Richard Vera.
Because Master Wong was very frugal about time and believed in using time and not measuring it; he did not waste his time with people
who were not truly dedicated. This is why only a handful of students would learn the real secrets and go on to become masters. Students
were (and still are) divided into two major catagories. The first category is the public students. These students were the general public who
came to learn kung fu for health and self-defense. These students would learn basic fundamentals including forms, stances, hand movements,
and basic weapons, which would empower them enough to be considered very formidable in a personal combat situation. The second
category of students was the secret or advanced students. These select few students are chosen from the public students who exhibited
exceptional behavioral attributes, timely tuition payments, and consistent attendance of classes. These students would be shown advanced
skills based upon their individual achievements. From these were chosen the inheritors and direct inheritors of the system