Our Wing Chun lineage comes from one of the original, first-generation students of Great Grandmaster Ip Man, the late Master Kwok Fu of Foshan, China. Master Kwok Fu was privileged to learn in that initial group of students that late GGM Ip Man taught in the late 30’s – early 40’s, before he had to flee to Hong Kong. Sifu Wong was honoured to be accepted as a student of Master Kwok in 2007. Here’s a short biography of our late, revered Master, Kwok Fu.
In 1941, a factory stood not far from Grandmaster Ip Man’s residence in Foshan, China. It was the Luen Cheong Embroidery factory, of which the owner was a friend of Grandmaster Ip. Their friendship was such that the owner invited GM Ip to Wing Chun to his children in a warehouse at the back of the factory. There were eight students in that class, one of whom was Kwok Fu.
Kwok Fu was about 20 years old at the time; Grandmaster Ip, around 40, and the group would meet each evening, the Grandmaster teaching for free. Japanese forces had invaded China at this time, so the class met in secret and Grandmaster Ip told his students to call him “Man Sook”, or “Uncle Man”.
This class ran for three years, after which some of the members stayed in touch with Grandmaster Ip. GM Ip visited Kwok Fu many times at Kwok Fu’s family village home near Foshan, giving him books to copy and transcribe. Kwok Fu moved for a time to Guangzhou in 1948, at which time he also trained and exchanged with Sum Nung, famed student of Master Yuen Kay San, also a noted Wing Chun exponent from Foshan.
Master Lun Gai, one of the eight students who first trained with GM Ip at the Luen Cheong Embroidery factory, was known to say that Master Kwok Fu was “the best at this time”, saying “he was stronger and could use techniques better with more power”.
The teaching method at that first “unofficial” class of GM Ip’s was to teach the complete system in one year, as lessons were held every night. Siu Nim Tao, Chum Kiu, Biu Jee, Butterfly Swords, Long Pole and the Wooden Dummy were taught. There was no instruction in any other form of “sticking hands” (chi sao), apart from the two-handed Luk Sao (rolling hands).
During the Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976, the practice of martial arts was frowned upon by the Red Guards and many martial arts masters were persecuted during this time. Torture, imprisonment and sometimes death were the punishments if caught. Master Kwok Fu was one master who suffered at the hands of the Red Guards, who beat his legs with shovels, and his health suffered from that time until his death in 2011.
It’s been said that in Hong Kong, GM Ip , whenever he had students who did not understand, would tell them to go back to China and look up Kwok Fu; the implication, that Master Kwok Fu would have the answers that they sought.