Biography Copyright © 1996 BAWC
Yip Man ->
Leung Sheung -> Ng Wah Sum
Leung Sheung was born in 1918 in the Canton Province. By the time of
his early youth, he was in the Macau area, a Portuguese Colony at the mouth of
Pearl River, located near Hong Kong. At 14, he started his formal martial arts
training in Choi Li Fut, White Eyebrow, and Dragon style.
By 1949, Leung Sheung had developed quite a reputation in several areas, one
as a restaurateur, another as a lion dance performer, and as a martial artist.
Leung Sheung was very, very fond of the Lion Dance. During this period in Hong
Kong, merchants would extend a collection of vegetables from their second floor
balcony for the Lion Dancers. Attached to the vegetable bundle would be a red
envelope containing "lucky money." Toward the conclusion of the Lion Dance, the
"lion" would take the vegetable bundle and money. The performers, usually a
three-man team, would be required to climb upon each other so that the "lion"
could take the money in his mouth. All the lion dancers wanted Leung Sheung, a
big man, probably 5'10" to 5'11" and weighing around 200 pounds, as the base.
As a restaurateur, by 1949, Leung Sheung had been in the restaurant business
for some time. In recognition of his abilities in the restaurant business, Leung
Sheung was selected as an officer in the Restaurant Association in Hong Kong.
The Association owned a flat in the city of Kowloon. They used the flat as an
office and for lodging for people coming from main land China, escaping the
Communist rule there. As an officer in the Restaurant Association, Leung Sheung
had some level of influence in the use of this flat. It is important to remember
that at this time, lodging in Hong Kong was extremely scarce. The massive influx
of people into Hong Kong was putting an extreme strain on the housing and job
market. Typically, the Restaurant Association would provide the flat as a place
to stay for their restaurant workers, cramming 40 to 50 people into this small,
one-room flat. So, typically, when bedtime rolled around, the back door would be
opened, and the "cots" brought out, and they would line up out the back door.
When daylight approached, the cots would be folded back up and moved against the
wall. Residents would then depart to their various restaurant jobs in and around
the city of Kowloon and Hong Kong.
As a martial artist, Leung Sheung was well respected for his proficiency in
Dragon Style. He taught White Eyebrow in the flat. As people "hot bunked" (slept
in shifts), there was room to teach and practice during the day and night. Leung
Sheung had heard about Wing Chun since he was quite young, but as Wing Chun was
quite secretive and well protected, he had never seen it; but, this martial art
intrigued him, as did the stories about one of its teachers, Yip Man. The
thought that he would take Wing Chun at his first opportunity was beginning to
emerge as a prominent thought in the back of his mind.
also an officer in the Restaurant Association, in 1949, found out that Yip Man
was currently in Hong Kong. Knowing Leung Sheung's interest in Wing Chun and Yip
Man, he informed Leung Sheung that Yip Man was in town. Leung Sheung urged Mr.
Lee to introduce him to Yip Man. By the time they met, Leung Sheung had already
decided that he wanted to learn Wing Chun from Yip Man. He would provide the
flat for Yip Man to teach in. In addition, Leung Sheung would turn over his
White Eyebrow class to Yip Man, and he would become a student again.
Sheung promptly introduced Lok Yiu and Tsui Sheung Tin to Yip Man, and the three
of them became the first batch of Wing Chun students in Hong Kong. Both Leung
Sheung and Lok Yiu resided at the Restaurant Association's flat during this
time. Yip Man would now live in the flat, having no place to stay, and from 1949
until 1955, Leung Sheung and Lok Yiu trained under Yip Man intensively.
In 1955 Leung Sheung returned to Macau, and taught Wing Chun during the one
year he was there, returning to Hong Kong in 1956.
In 1956, Leung Sheung began to teach Wing Chun publicly, along with Lok Yiu,
Tsui Sheung Tin, and Wong Sheung Leung. They formed the first generation of
teachers from Yip Man's class, and were widely recognized as the best students
Yip Man ever produced.
though 1978, Leung Sheung taught Wing Chun continuously. During his entire
teaching career, he maintained a very low profile, never advertising his school.
His famous saying from this period was, "You find me, you are lucky."
Leung Sheung's teaching philosophy in Wing Chun was to think of students as
drift wood. As a teacher, figuratively, he lived on the bank of a wide river,
and from time to time, driftwood came up on the bank in front of his house.
Occasionally he inspected the driftwood, and from time to time, he'd find a
piece that interested him. He'd drag the select piece up the bank a bit so it
wouldn't wash away. As the pieces accumulated higher on the bank, he would find
one piece that interested him enough to take it into his shop and begin to shape
it. As with all things, the external appearance does not always show what lies
beneath. Some driftwood will not be molded, either because of too many knotholes
or other various failings. However, he would keep the driftwood that molded at
the master's hand.
Deeming a student as appropriate, a piece of driftwood to be kept, Leung
Sheung would then become very demanding on that student. It was back into the
river for those students with "too many knots."
In 1968, when Bruce Lee returned to Hong Kong to shoot a movie, he attempted
to have a (daily) friendly dialog with Leung Sheung. Bruce Lee always payed him
"high respect" during their meetings. Both Bruce Lee and Tsui Sheung Tin
referred to Leung Sheung as their older brother.
Leung Sheung had a kidney stone removed. After the stone's removal, Leung
Sheung's health began to degrade steadily from that point onward. Leung Sheung
passed away in 1978.
Copyright © 1996 BAWC
Association. All rights reserved.