Gwok Seoi Hin Martial Arts Store has rooted in Sham Shui Po for forty years since Mr Cheung Wing Hung took over it from his father-in-law, Wongbak. It mainly sells various martial arts’ products like Tai Chi sword, hand fan and martial arts’ DVD. Wongbak started this store because he found that there are lack of martial arts’ products in Hong Kong. At the beginning, he went to Guangzhou to order and then store them in his house. If other Tai Chi masters need them, Wongbak will order those products for them. When more and more masters came to Wongbak, he decided to start the business and open a store.
Sixty years old Mr Cheung was influenced by Bruce Lee and has learned martial art for forty years. ‘Honestly Chinese Kung Fu was spread by Bruce Lee. Before him, the foreigners thought Kung Fu is fist and footwork with fancy and impractical style. It is him spreading Kung Fu to foreign countries. He is the first one to open a Kung Fu school in foreign countries. He made it viral in his time and brought honour for Hong Kong and China. Only he achieved that so I really admire him.’
In 2002, Mr Cheung started to learn about Tai Chi because of taking over the martial arts store. Originally, he learned it because that kind of knowledge was needed in order to serve the customers. He started in learning Yan-style Tai Chi Chuan. Later, he was thinking how to make himself outstanding among those who learn Tai Chi because many old people practice Yang-style better than him. Under this reason, he decided to learn another style which was less popular in Hong Kong. In coincidence, he met Li Fa Jun Taoist priest who is the 29th head of the Taoist Dragon Gate Tai Chi Chuan. Then, in 2003, he began to learned Taoist Dragon Gate Tai Chi Chuan with him. ‘When I practice Tai Chi in a park, people asked me “Mr Cheung, what style of Tai Chi Chuan are you practicing? It’s special”. But if I practice Yang-style, they will not stop and watch me practice it. When more and more people know this style of Tai Chi, it is spread in Hong Kong. I am the first one who introduces this style of Tai Chi into Hong Kong. Other masters also contacted my teacher to learn this style.’
‘Of course the business was running better in the past, like 10 years ago’ When we asked how is the business compared to the past and present, Mr Cheung mentioned that the store was originally at Yen Chow Street of Sham Shui Po. It was moved to here because the rent at Yen Chow Street was too high. Although the size of current store is larger, the business is not good as before. This new location makes some old customers do not know how to come and even counterparts in the same industry say the store is already closed.
In addition, more people tend to buy things on Taobao (the biggest Chinese version of Amazon) and some masters buy the martial arts products directly in mainland China. Therefore, the store only have purchases from individual customers. Given that ordering products directly in mainland China is cheaper, Mr Cheung pointed out that the products may not up to standard as required by the customers.
Asking whether martial art is an industry or art, Mr Cheung hit the nail on the head by pointing out ‘It is an industry and an art at the same time. First, a martial art school has to attract more students in order to survive. It becomes a business when number of students grow and the martial art will spread. It is a win-win situation and also the best scenario. The master needs to train the next generation well so that they can help him and nurture and attract their own students. There are even some foreigners coming to learn it. Then, students can translate English for the master and teach what the master teach them to the foreigners. They will call the students master and their teacher master’s master. The Kung Fu is inherited and sustained.
He mentioned that if one only practices Kung Fu but not teach it, one will easily forget it. The way to keep the level of one’s Kung Fu is to teach it. ‘It is good to teach other your Kung Fu by charging really small amount of fee and keep the level of it for yourself at the same time.’ Sixty years old Mr Cheung is still strong and persists to teach others the Dragon Gate Tai Chi Chuan.
Normally we think Tai Chi is easy because its movements are so slow but it is actually not the case. ‘Actually the slower the better. It is because it is training/strengthening your internal organs. That is why we said “internal works manifest through external forms”. There are inside and outside parts. It is still superficially but there are activities inside the body. It is practicing a “internal Qi (energy)”. Only masters with long time of practicing can have this “Qi”. You can see it if you understand and you can’t when you don’t.’ Mr Cheung further mentioned that people learn Tai Chi because there are some problems with their bodies and those problems do not improve after going to doctors. Their health improve after practicing Tai Chi and it helps “tune” the bodies. Therefore, he thinks Tai Chi should be popularized among the ordinaries.
At last, Mr Cheung advised Hong Kong people ‘No matter what, we Hong Kong people are too busy with work and face great pressure. How can we address it? We need to spend times on sports. It does not matter which type of sports as long as it suits you the most. Actually Tai Chi is really a good choice as it can “tune” your body to a healthier state. How can you participate in intense sports if your bodies are not well-prepared? How can you improve your body when you even wheeze for walking a distance of two steps? Tai Chi can do that.’
最後張會長勤勉香港人:「 無論如何，我們香港人的工作真的太繁忙，壓力又多，我們怎樣去減壓? 能夠抽時間出來運動，什麼運動都不要緊，最好找到適合自己的運動。其實太極是好的，它真真正正調理你的身體，這是最好的。甚至有時候你想玩激烈的運動，但你的身體出了問題，你怎麼能玩呢? 走兩步也氣喘的話，那你怎麼能調理好呢? 太極可以做到這件事。 」
Written by Kelvin Wong
- Martial Art: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martial_arts
(Reading)Ultimate Hong Kong kung fu tour: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/01/18/travel/hong-kong-kung-fu/
- The four periods of martial arts development in Hong Kong(Chinese version): http://www.hkobserver.com/index.php/2016-08-03-09-22-55/564-2016-09-16-07-36-46
- (Archive) Hong Kong Martial Arts Living: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBE2A8WDjvs
- (Archive) Tang Lang Quan (The Mantis Art): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jpTp7yJdUA