Master David Chan studied Shaolin Wu Tang Taoist Hard Style when he was 10 to 12 years old. He would have stayed there if not for his elder brother in the school who insisted that he study internal arts and transfer to Lau Saam Mok’s school “Hong Kong Hwa Yu Xinyi Liuhebafa Association”. Master David was not interested at first, because he considered the soft looking movements as ‘old man’ movements, but when his friend could easily beat him in fighting, Master David tried it out. In a short time six months had passed, and every time he wanted to quit his friend would pull him back by proving that the fighting skills of Lau Saam Mok’s school were far superior to other arts, at first he stayed because of the fighting skills of his friend. though his friend always repeated “this is the way of the mind it is good” and he always defeated Master David when free sparring. Eventually, the longer Master David stayed the more he loved it, and after several more years he even became their number one student.
Chan Yik Yan’s school was called “Hong Kong Hwa Yu Xinyi Liuhebafa Headquarters”, and Lau Saam Mok’s school was “Hong Kong Hwa Yu Xinyi Liuhebafa Association”. Lau Saam Mok was a Mantis fighter before he studied Liuhebafa. He met Chan Yik Yan, learned from him, and almost became a disciple. Lau Saam Mok’s fighting skills were very good, but according to Master David he was ranked about 8th among the fighters of Chan Yik Yan. Although Lau Saam Mok was not the best fighter, he had the best looking movement, beaten only by Chan Yik Yan himself. Master David recollects that unless you perfect the moves given to you during the last lesson, the teachers will not give you any new moves. Lau Saam Mok was also a good writer, and was very good when speaking about Xinyi Liuhebafa. It was no secret that Lau Saam Mok was 2nd only to Chan Yik Yan, and was trained as a disciple at a time when there were still no discipleships. Lau Saam Mok was supposed to be one of the acknowledged disciples of Chan Yik Yan but he made a mistake by publicly announcing, when Chan Yik Yan dies he (Lau Saam Mok) will be the official lineage holder of Liuhebafa. Chan Yik Yan didn’t like that because he was still alive and strong, and was very much insulted by Lau Saam Mok’s statement. There was a fallout between the two Masters, and Lau Saam Mok was never officially recognized by Chan Yik Yan as a disciple.
The best fighter of Hong Kong Hwa Yu Xinyi Liuhebafa Association was Yin T’ien Hsiung, who Master David called the Lu Hong Master. Yin T’ien Hsiung was a disciple of Wu Yi Hui, he was a brother in the arts of Chan Yik Yan, and chose to specialize in the Lu Hong Eight Postures Style (Lu Hong Ba Tsu Quan, or Lu Hong Pa Shih). When other Kung Fu schools challenged Lau Saam Mok’s school, it is usually Master David who first faces the opponent, being the best fighting student during his time, but it is Yin T’ien Hsiung the Lu Hong Master who is really the official fighter of the school. Yin T’ien Hsiung was a small man, as Master David would repeatedly tell us when we enter history mode, but a very crazy and formidable fighter. Master David would describe a typical day when he arrived in his school, Lau Saam Mok will be Standing in Meditation at one area, senior students teaching other students dance moves of Liuhebafa, Xingyi, BaGua, etc., and on another area Yin T’ien Hsiung will be practicing the Lu Hong Eight Postures Style, and when Yin T’ien Hsiung sees Master David he would call him over to practice with, teaching Master David applications and how to comprehensively use Lu Hong. Master David was a disciple of Lau Saam Mok, but he was also the favorite sparring partner and learner of Yin T’ien Hsiung. The Lu Hong Master loved teaching Master David how to fight using Lu Hong. Even when Master David was with Lau Saam Mok, the Lu Hong Master would call him to come over and start talking and teaching Lu Hong Pa Shih. In essence Master David was like a disciple of Yin T’ien Hsiung, and their relationship was an influence that contributed a lot to our Xinyi Meditation fighting style.
Master David was an Ophthalmologist, and on his way to work one of the places he would pass through was a small canteen in Victoria Park. One morning passing the canteen, two people put their arms around his shoulders and asked for some money. If it happened today, he said that he would talk his way out of it and maybe even give his money, but his reaction as a teenager was far from it. Without saying a word he alternately and simultaneously elbowed and back fisted eash person making them fall back. Suddenly a customer stood up and shouted “KILL HIM!” then eight men stood up and all of them simultaneously attacked Master David! Some used knives, some used forks, some used broken bottles, and Master David fought with all his knowledge and strength. Having no power yet that time, he was lucky that he was very strong and muscular, since he had the body of Bruce Lee. After the encounter, every piece of clothing on his body was torn and bloody, his tie was halved and shredded, even his shoes were damaged. Blood was oozing from his head when he went home to clean up. He called his work informing that he will take the day-off while he patched himself up and tried to process what happened. Everything was like a blur, he recalled, and he can barely remember much except that he fought for his life and couldn’t afford to be knocked out or knocked down, lest they gang up on him and that’s the end of him. He remembers the gang members running away one at a time, until someone left shouted “Let’s go!”, and they all ran away from Master David! The next day Master David decided to take the same route, because the long way around is about 4 times farther and it is not something he would like to do everyday. He started bringing a stick wrapped in a newspaper the day after, and kept on looking around, awareness full blast, just in case they decide to jump him. He never saw any of the gang’s members the next day, and none of them ever showed their faces any day afterwards.
Over 12 years from learning Liuhebafa, Master David seeked Chan Yik Yan to ask him to finish his learning. Chan Yik Yan refused to teach him, telling Master David to go back to Lau Saam Mok. Master David never accepted NO for an answer, he insisted that Chan Yik Yan watch him perform some of the dances, after which Chan Yik Yan said that there is still a lot to correct in Master David’s form, but even then he does not want to teach him.
According to Master Davic, Chan Yik Yan was feared by all around him. Nobody every crossed Chan Yik Yan. His friends feared him, his students feared him, all his acquaintances feared him. Master David also said that Chan Yik Yan loved paintings, and his 3rd wife loved jewelry. Master David’s first wife worked as a jeweler, and his best friend was the number one artist in their school, and he is today like a national artist of China. Master David asked that friend to make him a very beautiful painting of a Tiger, which his friend did for him, and Master David’s first wife became close to Chan Yik Yan’s wife because of jewelry. Master David framed the painting and presented it as a gift, which Chan Yik Yan loved and made it the centerpiece in his living room. Master David regularly visited them because his wife started to become close to Chan Yik Yan’s wife, eventually it was really Chan Yik Yan’s wife who convinced her husband to accept Master David as a student.
Chan Yik Yan introduced Master David to several of his student groups, like an ‘old men’ group, an ‘actors’ group with Kam Tung or Cliff Lok, etc. Master David learned from Chan Yik Yan for several years, during this time Chan Yik Yan completed and perfected Master David’s Liuhebafa forms and dances. Master David’s personal focus was to master the complete fighting applications of all Liuhebafa’s forms, Chan Yik Yan knew this and thus taught him comprehensively. Eventually, Master David’s form became a mirror of Chan Yik Yan’s himself. A few years after, Chan Yik Yan asked if Master David can become his Assistant Instructor, but Master David declined the offer. He would tell us today that he did not need the acknowledgement of being the official assistant of Chan Yik Yan, and he would rather learn than teach. He also told us the way he said it to Chan Yik Yan, “I’m paying you to teach for you? Nevermind! I’m paying you to teach me, and not to teach for you!” then he would laugh. Today he realized that Chan Yik Yan was trying to tell him that if he wants to improve even more, he had to start teaching. “How To Teach” was the lesson that Chan Yik Yan probably wanted him to learn.
After 16 years of continuously being with the Liuhebafa family, Master David was considered the best fighter of the school. He was featured in several articles and became sort of a celebrity representing Liuhebafa. Bruce Lee was very famous during that time but he was an External Master, and Master David was considered the counterpart of Bruce Lee but on the Internal side of the arts. There was a time when Bruce Lee wanted to learn Xinyi from Chan Yik Yan, but he was refused unless he drops everything he knows. Bruce Lee refused, but he was allowed to watch and listen to their lessons. Chan Yik Yan taught from his home and Bruce Lee wasn’t allowed there, so Master David would see him regularly in Lau Saam Mok’s school, and Bruce Lee would just watch and listen all day to their lessons.
Around 2 years before he left for the Philippines, Master David ranted to the editor of Inside Kung Fu magazine about having nothing new to learn. He told the editor that if there was anyone who can teach him more, or beat him, he will want to learn from that person. What he did not know was that the Editor of Inside Kung Fu was the best friend of Wu Chi Chih, a Yang Tai Chi and Yiquan Master through the lineage of You Peng Xi. When Master David heard that Wu Chi Chih was a Tai Chi practitioner, he thought that he wouldn’t learn much from the person. They soon met, and Wu Chi Chih immediately liked Master David and wanted to teach the “Bruce Lee” of Internal arts. Master David was surprised during that first encounter, he admittedly compared that he had only 50% of Wu Chi Chih’s fighting skill, and at first he didn’t understand why, but a major reason that Wu Chi Chih was very formidable was because he had true Chi power!
Wu Chi Chih said that he will teach Master David the real power as taught by Wang Xiangzhai. Master David at first didn’t want to learn Zhanzhuang because he said that it was for old people. Only oldies like Lau Saam Mok and Chan Yik Yan practiced Zhanzhuang in their school. Wu Chi Chih explained that Zhanzhuang is an integral part of the Liuhebafa curriculum. In fact, it’s part of the full name of each dance, everything Lau Saam Mok offered had “…Hun Yuan Chan Chuang Kung” as a suffix, like Liuhebafa Hun Yuan Chan Chuang Kung classes on Monday, Xingyi Hun Yuan Chan Chuang Kung on Tuesdays, etc… Wu Chi Chih told Master David to return to the school and re-read all the descriptions of the forms, and at the end of each form name were the words Zhanzhuang Gong! Master David returned to his school and asked Lau Saam Mok (and Chan Yik Yan) why they didn’t teach him Zhanzhuang, and they couldn’t answer him properly, sometimes trying to explain about loyalty, and Master David argued that if 16 years didn’t prove he was loyal, what would?
Master David returned to Wu Chi Chih and learned the complete Yang Tai Chi and Yiquan systems. In return he taught Wu Chi Chih the Liuhebafa dance forms. After two years Wu Chi Chih said that Master David has completed all the lessons, and during sparring and power testing he could sometimes beat Wu Chi Chih. Master David returned to Lau Saam Mok’s school and everyone there couldn’t beat him. His classmates and his teachers couldn’t beat him. The classmates blamed him for using strength since they didn’t understand internal power. Master David said to them, “Yes this is strength, so use your technique to beat my strength!”, but nobody could defeat him. His teachers said, “It’s good you were able to learn the true ‘things’, therefore you don’t need to learn it anymore.” Master David then realized that his classmates might never learn the true power even though his teachers had the knowledge. He left the school and never came back, but always had respect for them as they were his family. In fact he has had several students who seeked him from the same school. Some even mirrored his route, learning true power from Wu Chi Chih too.
Bruce Lee died around the time that Master David completed his learnings from Wu Chi Chih. Master David auditioned as Bruce Lee’s double needed to complete the movie Game Of Death. After over a thousand applicants, Master David was accepted in the top 100, then in the top 4, then he became the chosen double. Unfortunately, he couldn’t finish the movie because he was leaving for the Philippines in about 2 weeks from the start of filming, so they used the 2nd in line to finish it, and I think that was Yuen Biao. His proof is in his personal photo collection, and we have all seen them.
On the eve of Master David’s flight to the Philipines, Wu Chi Chih gave him a parting gift, and that was the gift of humility. Wu Chi Chih called Master David over to receive the parting gift, and when he arrived in Wu Chi Chih’s home, there was a really thin and small man waiting with his ‘Friend Master’. “He was probably about a hundred pounds”, according to Master David. Wu Chi Chih said that all he needed to do was to push the guy. Master David sneered, “This is too easy!” he said. Several minutes later, Master David still could not budge the small man. He tried everything, pushing, pulling, coming from all directions, sudden changes, sudden moves, in the end Master David was able to put the guy on the ground using more than all the internal forces, even including brute force. He was out of breath and breathing hard, then Wu Chi Chih just smiled while nodding his head, and led Master David out of his door.
Chan Yik Yan with his Liuhebafa Brothers
Back Row (Left to Right): Chan Yik Yan (Liuhebafa Wu Yi Hui Disciple & Lineage Holder), Han Hsing-Ch’iao, Yin T’ien-Hsiung (Liuhebafa Wu Yi Hui Disciple & Lu Hong Master)
Chan Yik Yan with his Yiquan Brothers
Front Row (Left to Right): Chiang Jung-Ch’aio, Wu Yi Hui (Liuhebafa Founder), Chang Chih-Chiang, Ch’u Kuei-Ting
Master David migrated to the Philippines in 1976.
His father and grandfather both lived and died in the Philippines, and he still has family in Hong Kong and China. Three of his four children were born in the Philippines, the eldest who was born in Hong Kong in 1974 came to the Philippines before he was 2 years old.
Master David was the youngest Vice President of an optical company in Hong Kong, and during his mid-20’s he was starting to live comfortably. When he arrived in the Philippines he received a monthly allowance of P200 from his father. He tried to enter the film industry with being the one chosen to be Bruce Lee’s double as part of his resume, one can only imagine the offers he must have received. The money he would have earned from the movie and showbiz industry did not attract him though, because it was quite small compared to Hong Kong’s rates.
He decided to help in his father’s cloth business, and soon after the local Tai Chi practitioners started to hear of him and his skills. One by one they met up with him and tested his skills. Some only wanted to test Push Hands, some wanted to see if he could Fajing. They would come over his house and test him, then give him tips before leaving. Feeling that he was being used, he did not like the visits, but because he started earning over P1,000 a week from those visits, he patiently accepted them. These Tai Chi masters were aged, and they became his first batch of students last 1976.
After over 36 years of teaching Xinyi Meditation in the Philippines, Master David has had hundreds of students from all over the world.
Always and forever a devout Buddhist, Master David entered Nirvana last December 25, 2012. The world lost one of its greatest martial treasures that day. We will miss you Master David…