Throughout history, true martial artists were akin to military generals. They amassed legions of followers and developed the leadership traits necessary to minister the growth and development needs of their practitioners. In essence, they needed to be scholars, teachers, warriors, healers, and artists. This is the picture history has painted of the “traditional” martial artist. Grand Master Moy Yat is one of the traditional martial artists alive today worthy of depiction on that same historical canvas. In the world of Ving Tsun Kung Fu he has amassed thousands of students and grand students whose skills attest daily to his leadership as a scholar, a teacher, a warrior, a healer, and an artist.
Moy Yat the Scholar
Moy Yat is widely recognized as one of the most knowledgeable men alive on the nature of Ving Tsun and the scientific system of instruction that surrounds it. Moy Yat’s dream as a young man was to become a teacher of Ving Tsun. The lessons of history on generalship were not lost to him. He recognized that scholarly study into the nature of man and the cultures surrounding him represented essential tools for an exercise in leadership. He carried this same wisdom into his study of Ving Tsun Kung Fu. He surrounded himself with in-depth study of the principles and concepts of Ving Tsun. He then spent forty years examining the nature of every technique and training method of the system in relation to those same principles and concepts. Few alive today understand those relationships as deeply as Moy Yat.
Yip Man recognized young Moy Yat’s vent for scholarship and commissioned him to carve the tenets and history of the artform in stone for universal preservation. Instead of jumping right into the stone carving, Moy Yat recognized the historic significance of the task given him. He began by expending five years researching fifty-one centuries of chop making. He examined styles and stones alike. The masterpiece he ultimately created gave a new dimension to universality by incorporating the progress of chop-making over the centuries in the priceless “Ving Tsun Chops.”
The Scholar at work
Today, as a “General” of the Ving Tsun artform, Moy Yat the Scholar travels the world giving seminars centered around question and answer sessions designed to trigger scholarly endeavors in all participants. His students and grand students have authored books, video tapes, seminars, historical treatises, and technical magazine articles far too numerous to list in this brief essay.
Moy Yat the Teacher
Many have purported that the best measure of a teacher is in the degree of leadership shown by his students. Against such a yardstick, Moy Yat qualifies as a teacher with few equals. The majority of his students have become leaders in whatever course they have chosen in their lives. In fact, throughout his years of teaching, Moy Yat has always avidly asserted that a real Ving Tsun practitioner will live the artform, thereby succeeding in all that he pursues. A quick look at the martial arts leadership shown by his more famous students bears this out.
Master Jeffrey Chan, current Dai Sihing and renowned fighter of the Moy Yat family, is also the Chairman of the International Moy Yat Ving Tsun Federation. Samuel Lau, a senior student from Moy Yat’s Hong Kong School, is the current Chairman of the Yip Man Athletic Association in Hong Kong. Master Sunny Tang is the founder of the Chinese Kuo Shu Federation and currently President of the United Wushu Federation of Canada. Master Henry Moy has trained many of the top Sifus in New York City’s prestigious Chinatown. Master Mickey Chan is the American Dai Sihing of the Moy Yat family. Renowned for both his skill and knowledge, he has spent over 20 years assisting the growth and development of his younger martial arts brothers and sisters. Master Pete Pajil is recognized as the most knowledgeable herbal healer in the Moy Yat family. Master William Moy runs the Moy Yat Family headquarters in New York City and is Chairman of the Moy Yat Special Student Association. Master Miguel Hernandez, a renowned teacher and Ving Tsun author, specializes in training world class fighters. Master Javier Ramirez, a recognized television producer and broadcaster, heads the Mexican Branch of the International Moy Yat Ving Tsun Federation. Master Benny Meng, also a renowned fighter, teacher, and author, founded the Ving Tsun Museum and serves as its Chairman. As a central figure in preserving the artform for all time, he has traveled throughout Hong Kong, China, and the Western Hemisphere with Grand Master Moy Yat to research and document the history of Ving Tsun for future generations. Master Leo Imamura is President of the Sao Paulo State Kung Fu Federation in Brazil, and a full Professor of Martial Arts at Santo Andre Physical Education College. He, too, has authored several definitive books on Ving Tsun.
Together, the above leaders have trained tens of thousands of Ving Tsun students and grand students, while devoting the time and energy necessary to hold positions of international leadership as well. Their academic endeavors continue to produce scholarly treatises, books, instructional tapes, documentaries, and seminars that open the artform to practitioners around the world. Their accomplishments, along with those of thousands of business and professional leaders of the Moy Yat family, are the real measure of Moy Yat as a teacher.
*** Moy Yat the Warrior
There is a saying in the Moy Yat family that best describes the prevailing attitude toward warriorship: “Let the hands do the talking.” If this becomes our measure of fighting skill, then the Moy Yat family is indeed blessed with great orators. Many Moy Yat practitioners have become renowned fighters. Jeffrey Chan, Moy Yat’s senior student, fought the last two legal Gong Sao (challenge matches-no holds barred) permitted in the martial arts community. In 1967 he represented the Yip Man family and the Ving Tsun style in a formal Gong Sao with a Pak Mei (White Eyebrow) master at Prince Edward Road in Kowloon and won handily. He repeated that success in another Gong Sao in 1969 with a Northern Shaolin master in Yuen Long, the New Territories of Hong Kong.
Another Moy Yat student, John Chen (Moy Four) proved his fighting skills to the well-known and renowned fighter and teacher, Master Dan Inosanto. While on business in California, John Chen quietly visited Master Inosanto’s school and introduced himself simply as “John Chen.” He was immediately recognized by Master Inosanto as a famous fighter over the course of several days against various other fighting styles. With Moy Yat’s concurrence, John faced several different challengers chosen by Master Inosanto. At the conclusion of these tests, Master Inosanto was so impressed that he invited Moy Yat and ten of his senior students to spend several weeks with his, at his expense, in Los Angeles. Despite his own personal fame as a fighter and teacher, he refers to Moy Yat as “Sifu.”
Today’s Moy Yat family practitioners (too numerous to name here) continue to capture distinctive honors in worked class tournaments throughout the Western Hemisphere. They literally dominated the Ving Tsun style in the 1998 Pan Am Wushu Competitions. Master Sunny Tang’s students and grand students have dozens of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place trophies in the Canadian Wushu Championships and earned the majority of trophies taken in the 1998 Pan Am Wushu Competitions. A student of master William Moy won 1st place in the heavy weight division for full-contact sparring at the 1998 Pan Am Wushu Competitions. Master Benny Meng, himself a competition champion, has also trained students that have captured dozens of national and international martial honors, including six additional 1998 Pan Am trophies (three of them 1st place honors). Master Miguel Hernandez specializes in training professional fighters and has trained national Kuoshu champions. Master Leo Imamura has trained champions who grew up in the ever-competitive Brazilian martial arts community.
While Grand Master Moy Yat strongly emphasizes that true martial artists are able to defend the meek without resorting to physical skills, the above tournament successes clearly demonstrate that the hands in his family can really do the talking.
*** Moy Yat the Healer
In conjunction with learning and teaching the art of warfare, martial artists have traditionally expanded their horizons (and lengthened their lives) by mastering various healing disciplines. Moy Yat has spent years developing skill and knowledge in the field of pressure point massage. These years of study and practice are readily apparent in a simple touch from the Grand Master. Today, many of New York City’s top massage therapists acknowledge learning their trade from Moy Yat.
Moy Yat the Artist
All of history’s great generals recognized the need to understand the people surrounding them and the need to communicate complex ideas and concepts in a manner that would not perish with time. Many were great philosophers and artists. Moy Yat springs from the same mold. He is a distinguished artist in virtually every medium known to man. His artwork consists of oils, watercolors, charcoals, woods, stone sculptures, plastics, and glass. They have been exhibited in the finest museums and galleries of England, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, Brazil, and the United States. A number of pieces are permanently on display at the Ving Tsun Museum in Dayton, Ohio.
Moy Yat is recognized as one of the foremost seal-makers in the world, and has been a consultant to both the Academy of Chinese Arts and the Museum of Natural History in New York City. His most famous works include the BLUSH STROKES, ingenious, simplistic abstractions, both fluid and subtle, that spawned an entire new way of artistic expression. A master with the brush, he is still making a profound impact on contemporary American art.
Moy Yat has spent most of his life living and teaching Ving Tsun Kung Fu. He has passed on his knowledge over the years employing his many talents not only as a Ving Tsun artist but also as an artist in general. Many of his most famous works of art have been given to or sold at materials cost alone to members of his Ving Tsun family as his means of communication the more complex aspects of Kung Fu life to them and their future students. His most priceless Ving Tsun art pieces can be found in the Ving Tsun Museum. That museum itself is a work of art he pursued for over 40 years. This may be the greatest testament to his life as a traditional martial artist. But then, such wisdom should be expected of a scholar, teacher, warrior, healer, and artist!
Grand Master Benny Meng