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Grandmaster Lee Kwan Shan

Grandmaster Lee Kwan Shan was the founder of Shan Tung Wah Lum Tam Tui Kung Fu System. Since his death 50 some years ago, his disciple Chan Pui spread his style of martial art to various parts of United States and opened more than 30 Wah Lum Kung Fu schools.

Grandmaster Lee Kwan Shan (Lee) was born in Shan Tung Province Ping Dou Municipal. He loved to practice kung fu as his family was in the bodyguard business. When he was about 20 years old, he was sent to the famous Wah Lum Temple, where the Boxer rebels settled as monks, and were known to be excellent martial artists. Lee studied for 5 years. On a trip back home, Lee tried to settle a dispute between his kung fu brothers and some village bullies, and he accidentally killed a bully. Subsequently, he had to flee home and took refuge in the south. He went to Kwan Tung Province and visited the town of Sha Cheng twice. In his last visit in the summer of 1948, Lee got sick and died. Because Lee’s students were numerous and spread out, it took three days to complete the memorial service. Hundreds of his students attended his funeral and mourned the death of a great kung fu master. Lee was buried atop Sha Cheng Wan Lam Mountain.

The story of Grandmaster Lee Kwan Shan and Chan Pui dated back to the year of 1945. At the time, Chan’s oldest cousin Sin Ying Dang was an acquaintance of Lee and invited Lee to stay in his house at Sha Cheng. Every evening after dinner, Lee and Sin would drop by the Yu Hing Social Club next door. Though Lee was already in his 70s, the village elders urged him to stay and teach kung fu. Lee was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm. Despite of his old age, he decided to start a kung fu school there, but requested Sin Ying Dang as his assistant. In 1946, Chan’s fifth cousin Sin Ying Tim, formally inducted 6 year old Chan Pui, Chan Wan Ching, and several others into Lee’s kung fu school.

Of course, this arrangement was very convenient to Chan who lived next door to Yu Hing Social Club and Chung Sin Tong. Chan’s father, Chan Hin Man, was the president of Yu Hing Social Club, noticed that his son was very active and thought learning kung fu would be good for him. He took Chan Pui to meet Lee. Lee took a look at Chan, stroked his head, then asked him to bend down and touch his toes. Pleased with Chan, he took him as his student.

In the beginning, it was all learning the kung fu basics. The children practiced at noon and the adults in the evening, under the light of the gas lamp. Chan recalled one of the evening practices when Lee demonstrated the technique of Tam Hou Tui (high toe kick). His kick was so powerful that just the wind of the kick was strong enough to blow out the gas lamp. Lee also impressed many others with his Iron Arm technique. With a strike of his arm, he could split a granite slab into two. Everybody was fascinated by his inner strength and power.

Tragedy hit in 1948, in between April and May, when Lee was 80. He was stricken with severe food poisoning and died. Sad news spread to thousands of his students and they came from China and Hong Kong for the funeral. The memorial service lasted for three days and thousands mourned the loss of a great teacher.

Rumors had it that Lee taught mostly fighting skills in his later years. After his death, the communist liberated China and all his students scattered all over the country. One of his students, Leung Gun, nick named “the Shadow Kick of Kowloon City” had never lost a fight.


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