A short time ago, a couple of students referred me to a cable program broadcast out of a western city in Canada. Apparently, these misguided individuals in the program were making claims about my style that had no basis in fact.
According to their “white something-or-other” history, their ancestor killed Pak Mei. They went further with their story to include the statement that Pak Mei was a traitor. Who was Pak Mei you may ask? He is the source of our Gung Fu and that is sufficient! He was also a taoist priest that died of old age.
We decided to do some research on this group with our contacts in the west. Years ago, students of this group were asked to bring their teacher to a tournament at the University of British Columbia. The purpose of this was to verify their claims. There was no sign of them after that. In the magazines, they had claimed to be a cousin style of Pak Mei and when that was disproved, they became reasonably quiet.
Now, however, with their recent claim to “ride on the back” of our style, we have no choice but to speak out. Mr. Woo, a well known teacher in Vancouver’s Chinatown, remembers a student by the name of Lee Ying Kit who was a student at his club for three or four months. Lee Ying Kit is remembered as one who left because it was too hard!!! Lee Ying Kit resurfaced under another name, south of the border, claiming to be the “grandmaster of White Something-or-other”.
Has it never occurred to students of this person that he cannot produce a classmate, junior or senior of this style, much less a teacher? What about another club anywhere in the world not originating from this person? Be very careful of people claiming to come from a monk with no one learning in between for a couple of hundred years and some great knowledge dropped in the hands of someone today.
As for the claim that Pak Mei was a traitor … well, it is true that he taught the Manchurians, but what is not explained is the fact that he was also a spy. It is also well known that Yang, a real tai chi teacher, taught the Manchurians as well. When he was questioned as to why their soldiers moved so slow, he explained that this was how he learned. Since his reputation as a fighter was well known, this explanation was accepted. As a result of their teaching methods, these great men kept their lives and taught very little of anything significant.
Cheung Sui-man, Lee Pai, Wilkie Woo, Ming Chan and many others, related to the greats, are alive and well. Some are actively teaching in schools or in private.
It is my hope that this article will clear up some of the confusion surrounding Pak Mei.
It seems that every month, some new “marvel” pops up in a magazine somewhere, backed by some North American who has never seen it before, but it must be real because, by gosh, “he’s Chinese and he can move faster than me”! With that kind of thinking, the reality is simply that these types are gulllible and probably very slow. As for all the real ones that we hear from…in the words of Lee Pai “theirs will continue and the others will eventually be forgotten.”