FONG YUK SHU
1870 - 1953
Fong Yuk Shu was born in Canton during the year 1870 to a wealthy gentlemen named Fong Kit Ting. Fong Kit Ting was a martial artist, and a scholar who earned his fortune through his entrepreneurship and many business endeavors. He was an herbalist, the founder of Canton’s Fong Bin Hospital, and the owner of the local water company. He was a renaissance man whose skills in both the martial and the academic arts were passed on to his son, Fong Yuk Shu.
To further his martial studies, Fong Yuk Shu sought scholarship under both Chan Koon Pak, and the martial monk named Jing Han who resided in the Nam Fook Temple located in Ho Nam.
At the age of eighteen, Fong Yuk Shu went to the country’s capital to compete in the Mo Jong Yuen competition (complete martial arts grand-championships) held by the Qing dynasty. The prize for winning was an opportunity to become an honorable officer in the Qing military. The championship consisted of five events. First was a contest of strength measured by the pulling of a heavy bow. The second was a demonstration of the Kwan Dao set. The third was a demonstration strength by lifting stone bars of increasing weight. The forth was traditional standing archery, and the final event was archery while riding horseback. Fong Yuk Shu had won the first five events but failed to do so in the last. By refusing to pay the bribe money asked for by the official in charge of the final event, Fong Yuk Shu was given a sick horse thus causing him to lose. He was angered by such corrupt practices.
Disturbed by the Qing’s corruption and moved by Dr. Sun Yat-San convictions, Fong Yuk Shu took initiative and joined the doctor in a revolt against the Qing government. When Fong Yuk Shu became a wanted man for his decision, Dr. Sun convinced him to escape to Singapore until the situation eased. When the revolution was over, Fong Yuk Shu returned to Canton and made a decision to stay away from politics. He began practicing medicine and teaching martial arts in the six schools he had established throughout the Canton area.
In 1925, a big dispute erupted between factions of the factory steel and wood workers that resulted in many violent encounters between the two groups. To remedy the situation, the steel workers union hired Fong Yuk Shu to act as the head instructor for all the local factory unions. Out of respect for Fong Yuk Shu as their teacher, the different fractions decided settle their dispute peacefully.
In 1933, the province of Canton organized a national martial arts championship where Fong Yuk Shu was invited to act as a judge. Of the many competitors, his students took both first and second place standings in both the spear and staff categories. Following the competition, Fong Yuk Shu attempted to consolidate the martial arts community by co-founding the National Chinese Martial Association based in Canton. He also acted as the organization’s technical advisor.
In 1937, Fong Yuk Shu relocated to Hong Kong and established both medical clinics and martial arts schools in the Wan Chai and Kowloon districts. Residents praised him for his generosity and charity as he set up free public medical clinics in Shum Shui Po’s Lung Hing temple and maintained public academic centers in Kowloon’s merchants association headquarters.
After living a life of many great accomplishments and charities, Fong Yuk Shu passed away in 1953.
Please see the Choy Lay Fut history section for more details.
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