MARKUS SENFT!|S INTERVIEW WITH GREAT GRANDMASTER LEUNG TING
Mr Markus Senft is a free-lance martial arts journalist in Germany. Below is the special interview given by the Great Grandmaster Leung Ting while he was in Germany.
For many years there is a "Head-changing Photo" circulated on a number of web sites. It is so said that "in the mid 70s, Leung Ting used a photograph in one of his books, which was originally a photo taken by a reporter during an interview of the late Great Grandmaster Yip Man showing the chief editor of the New Martial Heroes standing beside the seated Grandmaster in his own house. Employing some cut and past technique, Leung Ting substituted the head of the chief editor with his own and made people believe that it was him who was standing beside the late Grandmaster."
The story and the photo have spread far and wide for years. Despite that, however, it seemed that the Great Grandmaster Leung Ting was never concerned about such an accusation. He did not even respond formally!
This had made more people believe that it might not be a rumor at all. Nevertheless, each time he was asked, the Great Grandmaster only smiled and said: "Look at the head in each photo and see which one looks much bigger and which one looks more vague. Ha, Ha...". That was all the response.
If we look back over the last 30 years of the history of WingTsun (Wing Chun) since Prof Leung started it all the late 60s, we can surely find certain similarity in his character and that of the late Great Grandmaster Yip Man. The late Great Grandmaster Yip Man was never concerned about any ulterior accusations made against him. So was Prof Leung Ting.
Again if we look back to the mid 70s at an incident in which a number of senior students of the late Great Grandmaster Yip Man were misled to attack Prof Leung in Hong Kong concerning a report in a newspaper headlined "Leader of the WingTsun Style Became the Planner of the Real Kung Fu TV Program". Though Prof Leung knew that this was actually a plot set-up by four evil guys who intended to take over the control of the "Real Kung Fu" TV series, his only response was made on a press conference held by the RTV station, in which he simply said "I had never told the reporters that I was the Leader of the Whole WC family". He won the war easily, and the result was that the Real Kung Fu TV program became the hottest TV series of the RTV at that time.
Then for a number of years in the early 80s, Prof Leung was continuously attacked by a Wing Chun instructor in many martial-art magazines. If we check those magazines, we can certainly find that there was not even one article or one interview given by Prof Leung in response to these non-stop attacks. It was not until this WC instructor was himself beaten up in a fight that the whole event became history.
As a reporter, I had more than once mentioned to Grandmaster Keith Kernspecht seeking an arrangement to interview the GGM about answering the rumors spread on the internet by his enemies, so that the readers could have a chance to learn "the story from the other-side!‥. Unfortunately, each time the answer was that GGM Leung Ting was not so much interested in responding to these kinds of !§stupid and ridiculous rumors spread by idiots"!
(Once he even said: "My time is very valuable. If I waste so much time to answer all these kinds of nonsensical rumors, I would become one of these idiots".)
Anyhow, I finally got a chance to sit down with the GGM over dinner in a restaurant. When GM Kernspecht told me that he would see me in that restaurant and the GGM would also be there, I was more than happy to grasp the opportunity to ask the GGM questions which I had longed to ask him for years. Below were our main conversations:
M:(as the reporter)
L: (as GGM Leung)
M: Dear GGM, I know you don't care about what others think of you. However, I think all your followers and fans all-over-the-world would be very happy if you can clear up some of the rumors spread by your enemies.
L: (Smiling) First of all, let me clarify one thing. In my mind, no one is my enemy. That's why I am always so happy and relaxed. I do feel deep sympathy on those people who always make enemies with the others. I wonder how can they sleep well and live long?
M: How about those people who treat you as their enemies?
L: Don't you know why they treat me as their "enemy"? It's because they are so jealous of my success. They feel my existence is all the time in their way of their monkey business. You would not treat a beggar your enemy, wouldn't you? Since they "think" they are my "enemies". Have you ever heard of any enemies of yours saying good things for you?
M: Yes, you're right. However, I don't know if you have read any article on the internet attacking you about a so-called "head-doctored photo" of yours?
L: It's not any news at all. This photo incident had happened since the early 90s. But what is the big deal? Have you ever seen my students leaving me just because of this photo spread by the idiots?
M: Absolutely not. As what I've known, your association is even 10 times bigger than in the late 80s.
L: You see, this is the strongest proof that one photo cannot ruin my big WT business. People learn my WT techniques; they don!|t learn my "photos". By the way, I have over 60 more photos with the late Great Grandmaster Yip Man together. Most of them were taken in public. Most of the senior martial artists, both from the WC family or from the other styles in Hong Kong, can still tell you that I was with the late Grandmaster Yip Man all the time in many open functions. This is history. No one can deny it. That's why I took no care of what the idiots say.
Just think that all they could attack me is by using such a vague photo again, again and again for over 10 years trying to prove that I had never learnt from Grandmaster Yip Man; let me emphasize, "with ONE PHOTO ONLY" and that's all they want to prove! What a stupid action!
Let me teach those idiots how to attack me on some better causes; say, why not attack me by calling me the "only phony who can cheat lots of great fighters from the other styles and made them become his students"? How about saying that "Leung Ting does not even know Wing Chun, all the fighting techniques he taught were founded by him. Unfortunately even the special police, armed forces and world-champions believe in him but not our Original Wing Chun techniques"?
Even much better, I would like to see any idiot stand out and prove that all the photos I have taken with the late Great Grandmaster Yip Man together are "fakes"!
M: You are totally right. I!|d also read the book "Roots of WingTsun" written by you. It is a great book. I've seen so many photos that you took with the late Great Grandmaster together, most of them were even in public functions. You were even sitting beside him with your beautiful bride in your wedding party. These photos are very strong proof. But...
L: (Cutting in) I know what you want to ask. It was true that the late Great Grandmaster Yip Man did not like to take photos together with his students. If you check all the books and magazines about Wing Chun carefully, you will find that even his own sons, the Yip Brothers, did not have too many chances to sit together and take so many photos with their own father.
According to what I know, it was only some of his senior and his favorite students, such as Leung Sheung, Lok Yiu, Tsui Shang Tin, Lee Wing, Wong Shun Leung, William Cheung, Bruce Lee, Siu Yuk Men, Ho Luen and Yip Ching could have chances to take photos with him alone or in some open events. That was probably why some of his other students were so jealous of the ones who had the luck to take a photo together with the late Great Grandmaster alone.
My situation at that time was quite different. Before I was accepted by him, I was already quite famous in Hong Kong. It was in the late 60s. Then I became his "closed-door student". I was the first one who ever started a big WT class in a university in HK. At that time, the Chinese community generally saw Chinese kungfu as "the fighting skills of the Tong-people". I was the first one to promote Chinese kungfu to the higher-class society and made people believe that that was merely their wrong idea on Chinese kungfu people.
By the way, don't you know who told the reporters !§I was his closed-door student"? It was the late Great Grandmaster he himself!
You can check this out from the "Roots of Wing Tsun". Inside you can see the original page copied from the New Martial Heroes about the first interview of GGM Yip Man that he himself had mentioned to the reporter Mok Pui On about "Leung Ting was the closed-door student of his". Please do not forget that this interview was published when the GGM was still alive. Don't you think that I could be so powerful as to force the reporter to add in his interview that "I was a closed-door student of Yip" and at the same time to cheat the late GGM Yip Man by NOT letting him read the magazine?
As a matter of fact, the so-called "Head-changing photo" was taken at that time.
A few months later, when the chief editor learnt that the issue with the interview on GGM Yip Man became the best seller, he soon asked Mok Pui On to ask me if I could arrange another interview for the late GGM. This would be a front-cover story, said by the chief editor. So I convinced the GGM to give the second interview. These were the only two interviews given by the late GGM. Both were arranged by me. No one else could ask the GGM to do that.
In fact, you are welcome to check the original articles with photos in both of these two interviews. You would not see any photo published by the New Martial Heroes with the chief editor standing beside the late Great Grandmaster Yip Man. If this photo were already taken at that time, why not he published it but waited until the death of the GGM?
L: (After a pause) The funny thing is: it was Mok Pui On who gave all the negatives back to me after the articles were published. This made me believe that it was him who took the photos as well.
Then in the 90s, two extremely jealous idiots of the WC family, one in New York and one in England, spread the so-called "Head-changing photo" rumor. The reason I did not answer was that I firmly believe that "rumors only run good amongst idiots". And this kind of rumors is "buzzing flies" to me only. They could not hurt me too much either. If I did care about this, I would have published all the photos that I had with the late Great Grandmaster at the very beginning. Why didn't I do so? It is because I believe a photo with the GGM Yip Man does not mean you are the best!
M: However, I think you should say something to clarify the whole matter. As a fan of yours, you may not know how painful we felt every time we see this kind of rumors and how much we hated those people, as what you said, those "idiots", who tried their best to ruin your reputation, though no one really believed what they put on the internet.
L: (Laughing) Ha, Ha, thanks a lot for your advice. I really have no idea that my silence would cause my fans and my followers upset!
If so, let say sorry to all my fans and my pugilists. By the way, it has just reminded me of something that happened just a few months ago... What a coincidence!
L: (Having a mouthful of tea, continued) Remember I have just told you that all the time I thought the one who took the photos for the late Great Grandmaster and for me during the interviews was Mok Pui On who was dead since the 90s? It happened just a little while longer I came back to Hong Kong from Italy this early summer. One day, I was chatting at lunch with Sifu Siu Yuk Men, a middle-period student of the late Great Grandmaster Yip Man. All of a sudden, a guy came to us and sat down. He was Master Chu Siu Kai.
Chu Siu Kai had been a martial-arts reporter for many years, nearly every senior kungfu master knows him. He had also been a Choi Lee Fat instructor in the late 70s, as well as a kungfu technical director in the early 80s. Then he practiced hard in Feng Shui Metaphysics. He is now a Feng Shui master.
Just after Chu had sat down, he started talking about his latest experience in Canada. He said that when he was in Toronto, a kungfu man of the Ching Wu Athletic Association told him that someone on the internet attacked Grandmaster Leung Ting about changing his head into a photo of someone. Chu argued: "This is bullshit. It was ME who took these photos during the interviews. Who else could be more clearer than me?"
When we heard what he said, not just Siu Yuk Men was surprised; I was even more surprised than any body else!
Soon I remembered that he was a photographer for the New Martial Heroes in the early 70s, and the whole picture came back to me.
M: So it was not Mok Pui On who took the photos but this Chu Siu Kai... Is this Master Chu still in Hong Kong?
L: Sure. You can contact him any minute if you want to.
M: Thank you very much.
L: You are welcome. Oh, by the way, I would like you to emphasize that this would be the first and the last time I respond to this kind of silly matter. No more next time, okay? Goodbye.
M: Yes, I will. Goodbye and thank you once more.