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Five Black Panthers of Choy Lay Fut

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Choy Lay Fut vs Wing Chun

In the late 50’s and early 60’s, there were many secret “GONG SAU” grudge matches between various kung fu styles, especially between the Choy Lay Fut and Wing Chun schools. It became so intense, that in 1961, the elders of both factions met and decided to resolve the feud once and for all.
Both sides were to select five of their best fighters, and since these matches were illegal in Hong Kong, a British Colony, all participants had to sign a life and death waiver. The actual fight was to be held in a secret location outside the city, in an area known as the New Territories.

Five of the fighters were from the Buk Sing Choy Lay Fut style, and they were known as the “Five Black Panthers”. Among them were my two Masters, Sifu Kong Hing and Sifu Lai Hung, Chan Woo Leung, my brother Dave and myself.

On the Wing Chun side were Seung Fan Buk (Tsang Buk), Kwok Keung (Teet Da Jye), (Henry) Pang Kum Fat, Jeung Kwan and it was rumored they were going to send for Bruce Lee, to fly back from the United States. Upon hearing this, my Sifu, Lai Hung, commented to my brother and I, “One of you can take care of that young punk (referring to Bruce Lee), no trouble at all!”

Win or lose, it would have been a very sad and unfortunate experience having to fight against our good friend, Bruce. I doubt if he would have wanted to fight us either, and we knew very well that we could not go against our Sifu’s wishes.

Last, but certainly not least, Grandmaster Yip Man was to fight my Si Gung, Grandmaster Lai Chou, who was one of the top students of Tarm Sarm. Hui Tse Mun was to act as referee, but due to heavy commitments, he was unavailable.

Due to the many complications and the great risks involved, coupled with the publicity that had leaked out about this match, things soon died down. The Great Grudge Match of the Century never happened.

The following year, 1962, my family and I immigrated to Australia.chop

As told by Grandmaster Lay Wing Sung (Vince Lacey)

One of the “Gong Sau” matches that was to be part of this ongoing feud of the martial arts styles was between the Wing Chun Grandmaster Yeep Mun (Yip Man) on the left and the Choy Lay Fut Grandmaster Lai Chou, on the right. This match never came to pass, and this photo has been blended to show the two Grandmasters together. What a battle royal this match up would have been!