|News & Events
is now nearly twenty-five
years since I
began my training with my first teacher Lee Kam Wing and nearly sixteen
years since I left his school for the last time. Sixteen years. During
the years since I left I have heard many stories and opinions about
myself and my time at Lee Kam Wing's school. Most of these stories come
from people who hadn't joined Lee Kam Wing, or sometimes hadn't even
started training kung fu, by the time I'd left there as an inheritor of
the school system.
new school in
Shanghai and have studied with Master Koh Kim Kok (Singapore) in our
Lin Bo Yan lineage. It is time to make my statement of facts in this
story. I will only make statements of fact and actual events. I have
two intentions: to tell the basic facts about my time with Lee Kam Wing
and to expose the nature of the empire he has built since that time.
to talk about
respect, manners, negativity or personal attacks. I am just presenting
the events as they happened and the related issues. If any reader
thinks that the events presented here are untrue or didn't happen – you
can state this clearly, if you are certain, then we can see the
photographic evidence and the documents that are hand signed by the
and it is my right to tell my story.
a teenager desperate to
learn Chinese Kung
Fu I wrote letters to many Chinese Martial Arts schools in Hong Kong.
It was the end of the 1970's and the Chinese mainland was not yet open
to the general public. From the many letters and enquiries I sent out
only one was replied to. I had my personal letter written by Lee Kam
Wing himself and we set a date for me to go over to Hong Kong for study
his student Kai Uwe Pel
was a simple
school. There was a large system to learn and we just went about our
training. There were no belts or ranks, only teacher and student. We
referred to each other using the traditional family way: kung fu
brothers and sisters called by the correct Cantonese terms. Our
'Sigung' Chiu Chi Man had retired from teaching in 1976 and from his
students that had stayed in Hong Kong it was Lee Kam Wing who had the
resources to open a school (Open from 1972).
1983 I had become the
standout student in
the school and I was allowed to make the ritual of 'Baishi' to my
teacher. This means that I was accepted as an advanced student and
close follower of my teacher. It was earned after 3 years of training
and achievement. After this I continued working to master the system
and prove my worth. The next year, 1984, I took Lee Kam Wing to my home
country of Germany for the first time.
first early signs of
what we can call 'the beginning of the end' – even though it was still
four years away.
ASSOCIATION - Honour Celebration to Kai Uwe Pel Sifu - 1985
1985 I was in Hong Kong
for Chinese New
Year and training - I was taken for my first visit to see my Sigung
Chiu Chi Man. After the first meeting I went back many times as his
private guest, without my teacher to accompany me. His son translated
during those visits. Master Chiu Chi Man accepted me and was eager to
tell me more about our kung fu family. That was when I heard of his
students Raymond Ly Ming Loy and Chiu Luen for the first time. He
showed me many pictures of his students and I saw a picture of a young
Chiu Luen standing behind his teacher. Chiu Luen was bare chested
wearing the traditional studded belt and armbands and looked very
strong and proud. Master Chiu Chi Man advised me to visit him in the
USA and also to see Raymond Ly, “one of the best”, while I was there.
Kai Uwe Pel in New York Chinatown
took the advice and got a
ticket to New York
City. I was excited to meet these great masters who were the top
students in our own family. But this is where the trouble started. To
my surprise, Lee Kam Wing was angry and hostile about the upcoming
visits. He did not want me to see other members within our family.
Later he would forbid such visits completely.
the end of 1985 I made my
first visit to
New York and got a chance to meet both Chiu Luen and Raymond Ly. It was
educational and I saw a lot of things that made me think. I noticed
that there were many differences even within our own close family – not
only in the amount of forms and knowledge but in the general execution
of techniques too. The most obvious was that only Lee Kam Wing used his
trademark mantis fist with the fingers curled under.
notice many things.
For example, the hand written and signed forms list given to me by my
teacher had not included any third 'Zhai Yao' form. But the other
schools had it and later, in 1987, he suddenly started teaching it
having never left anywhere for extra training. The form we then learned
seemed like the style of other schools from the Wong Hon Fun family.
Also, In 1986 we had established our business in my hometown back in
Germany – and he suddenly came to me with a complete plan for a 'belt
system' that included examinations – and payments. This was unheard of
in his organization before that time.
angry refusal of any more visits, I was committed to becoming a master
and I respected my teacher. I continued to train and in 1988 I
graduated as the inheritor of the complete system. This can be easily
checked in two places without even looking at my own hand signed
certificates. There is a 'Generation Board' that lists every single
form in the system, in the Hong Kong Chin Woo, and the inheritor from
each generation. My name is carved into the 8th line. Also, in the
first edition of Lee Kam Wing's book on Mantis Boxing there are
numerous photos of myself and a lineage page that states I am the
MANTIS STYLE - by Lee Kam Wing (First Edition, November 1985)
ASSOCIATION - Official generation board of the 7-Star Mantis
accompanied Lee Kam Wing on trips to other schools. During these trips
I had met many mantis teachers and students. I had been especially
impressed with the schools in Malaysia and Singapore. I told Lee Kam
Wing that I planned to visit them for training and exchange within our
Luo Guang Yu Seven Star System. As before with even his own kung fu
brothers, this was impossible for him. He didn't allow me to go – If I
went, I would be kicked out of his school forever. He was very bitter
and angry when telling me this as if our close relationship of the past
years meant nothing to him.
made my own decision and
quit the group in February 1989.
Master Kai Uwe Pel (Hongkong Chin Woo Athletic Association - 1987)
strange chapter in the
story. I found a great teacher in Singapore, Koh Kim Kok, and
discovered the lineage of Lin Bo Yan – an advanced student of Luo Guang
Yu from the original Shanghai Chin Woo. I was excited again to get the
chance to learn something new and increase my mastery of our system.
However, when I announced the change to my students in Germany it did
not go over well. Many of them were reaching an advanced level and had
their own dreams of teaching in their home towns – dreams that required
the credibility of Lee Kam Wing from Hong Kong and not of a little
known teacher in Singapore.
my surprise, Lee Kam Wing
advantage of this situation to create the model for his new
international empire. The students could join him themselves and become
teachers for him in Germany. It just required payment. Big payment. The
new teachers could train in two-week seminars and learn all the
remaining forms they needed for teaching. Then they were granted
permission to teach and the belt system was adopted including different
levels of teacher for example “Chief Instructor”. Lee Kam Wing got the
money, and they got the credentials they needed to open a school.
around a few
countries he began to actively tell his clan that I had never graduated
as an inheritor and that I was a normal student who was 'kicked-out'
for disrespectful behaviour. I got my new nickname “Traitor”. Of
course, any of my photographs, certificates or a quick look at his own
book could let anyone see that he was telling lies! So, he instructed
his German representative to make court action against me to give back
all my photographs, certificates and books that he had given me. I
couldn't believe it. Of course, there was no legal ground or true
reason for this so they lost in court and I kept all my materials. The
lies are told still to this day, without a hint of shame.
degree to which his
new followers blindly took his word for it despite the glaring facts
and evidence. I suppose they can not imagine that their respected
teacher is lying directly to them. To this day Derek Frearson of the UK
keeps a letter from Lee Kam Wing published on his website stating these
lies that I was kicked out and it even states that the court action
will begin to get back my materials. That court action was decided more
than 10 years ago and the letter on Freason's site is in contempt of
the decision. Didn't he ever think to ask about the results? The man
has never even met me!
system has become so mean and unthinking that it makes a mockery of
kung fu traditions and the students he should be caring about. If you
pay the money you can jump over, and forget about, your teacher in an
instant. There are several interesting examples of this. In Germany,
Holger Heek was one of my best students and Lee Kam Wing his Sigung.
Two of Heek's students, Nicolai Schild and Jochen Wolfgramm, have since
paid to be 'Chief Instructors' and call Lee Kam Wing their Sifu. It
should be 'Daai Si Gung' under myself and Heek! Brunke Bast, student of
my student Heiko Klisch visited Hong Kong for the first time and came
back as 'master' after a 2-week seminar also. Lee Kam Wing simply
doesn't care who is representing him as long as the money comes in –
this is far away from masters like Luo Guang Yu who we all look up to.
the organization for more than 8 years. He made a business contract
with Lee Kam Wing to be the sole representative of the style in Italy.
All students had to be trained and graduated under Angelo D'Aria. One
day, two students who had recently attended Angelo's seminars – Sergio
Marzicchi and Pierluigi Barbieri - saw the Hong Kong school address in
a magazine article and went to visit Lee Kam Wing behind his back. When
they arrived Lee Kam Wing was happy to accept them and happy to accept
their money! He let them do a seminar, pay up and become Instructors on
the same level as Angelo D'Aria. This was all done behind his back –
despite an agreement that D'Aria should be the sole representative for
Italy and new teachers had to be graduated under him! In a later
meeting with myself, Angelo revealed to me that he was told he would be
kicked out of the organisation if he visited me for any reason! He
confessed that the incident with the students had humiliated him. When
Lee kam Wing casually announced the two new Chief Instructors to Angelo
and Angelo asked about the contract, Lee Kam Wing just said “well, it's
Guang Yu lineage) and Master Angelo D'Aria (Lin Jing Shan lineage) in
seems that you don't have
to work to be a
teacher these days. Sifu and Sigung are titles that can be bought by
anyone currently training who has enough money. Selling titles and
promoting students above their teachers behind their backs is
insulting. Insulting to our traditions and old masters – and insulting
to all of us who had to work hard for what we have.
Kam Wing only
cares about getting the pay off. The worst thing about this kind of
organisation is that it betrays the students. Teachers can teach after
a 2-week seminar or an 8-week course for 'higher masters'. It's
impossible. The quality of teachers is low and it shows the most in
their own students. The next generation are wasting years of training
only to later see they have nothing. Even in Germany, some of the
students who left me for Lee Kam Wing have already left themselves
after the same thing happened with their own students.
saddens me to see this
change. It's so
different from when I was a student under Lee Kam Wing in the early
80's. But, as time went by I saw that within in our family he was only
a middle level master who tried to hide the fact by forbidding me to
visit his kung fu brothers. Then he started his empire of money and
dirty tricks, trying to protect that by preventing his new followers
contacting me, poisoning their minds with lies about me and trying,
unsuccessfully, to take back the evidence through legal action.
Foremost, a teacher should take responsibility for his student's
education but Lee Kam Wing doesn't seem to care what his student's kung
fu looks like, as long as they pay. It's shameful.
should know now: Lee Kam Wing is one teacher of Mantis Boxing among
many, an average level teacher who has succeeded at exploiting foreign
interest in Chinese Kung Fu. It was not always that way, I am proof of
that and that's why I'm demonized in his clan. My door is always open
here in Shanghai for anyone who wants to see me about this or anything.
But please, as teachers – take responsibility for your student's
education not only for their money.
– they must be
earned. Ironically, I learned a Chinese saying about what Lee Kam Wing
is doing from the man himself during my training time there:
"Lee Kam Wing - Selling
Tradition Additional Material"
Lee Kam Wing's
organisation I still respected my first teacher. In fact, in April 1998
I took my students to a seminar by Lee Kam Wing to let them see him for
themselves. Before going I wrote directly to Lee Kam Wing dealing with
the bad feeling from when I left, assuming that we might not be
welcome. He accepted my letter and we attended the seminar.
included in our
statement for lack of evidence but we must thank Sifu Jochen Wolfgramm
and Sifu Brunke Bast, who have helped us by finding an original copy of
that chinese letter - and making it available in English, and German.
claims that I
was not the inheritor and such matters and the letter does not cover
that. It's another chapter in the story which you have read in the
Martial Art friends!