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Celebrating 50 Years of Wing Chun Kung Fu Teachings

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Grandmaster Chris Chan — founder, president and chief instructor of the U.S. Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy— celebrated his 65th birthday and the 50th golden anniversary of his martial-arts career last month in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Mastering his skills, power and teachings in Wing Chun kung fu, Chan has spent countless hours sharing with and teaching students who number in the thousands, from as far as Europe and China.

Arriving in San Francisco from Hong Kong in 1960, Chan along with his friend and training partner Bruce Lee, the late martial artist and film star, are credited as the first Chinese masters to teach non-Chinese Americans, at a time when it was considered prohibited among his peers. He also coined the term “one-inch power” to describe the “short distance” internal power techniques unique to the Wing Chun system.

The celebrations began with a tsunami benefit performance in the streets in front of the Far East Café Restaurant with Sifu Dino’s Hung Sing Choy Lay Fut kung fu students in lion dancing and kung fu demonstrations.

The evening opened with introductions of Chan’s longtime students including Sifu Joe Diaz, who started training in 1963; Sifu John Mikulin (1975 Northern California Full Contact Kung Fu Heavyweight Champion); Sifu Kevin Shea (1981 Northern California Full Contact Kung Fu versus Karate Heavyweight Champion); Sifu Gino Benetti (1998 U.S. Kuoshu Federation Full Contact Heavyweight Champion); and Sifu Ken Chun (1999 Foshan, China “Chi Sau” Street Fighting Champion). Sifu Ken, who is also executive vice president of the U.S. Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy, acted as the master of ceremonies along with Sifu Tito Pedruco and Sifu Darren Chan, Chan’s eldest son.

Local Bay Area martial-arts masters included Sifu Y.C. Wong, Sifu Gary Lo and Sifu John Nash. Also recognized was Honorary Sifu Jack Lincoln, a student of Chan’s, who is also the closest living male relative to President Abraham Lincoln. Demonstrations included specialized lion dancing, the traditional three Wing Chun forms (Siu Nihm Tao, Chum Kiu and Biu Jee), the wooden dummy (mook jong), butterfly swords (baat jahm do) and 6-1/2-point pole (luk dim boon gwun), sticking-hands exercise (chi sau), and a first-time performance of a secret Wing Chun long-range form custom-designed by Chan.

An exhibition competition was also held before the assembled audience, featuring Chan’s “kill without kill” fighting technique that centers on Wing Chun’s chi sau exercise. Chi sau is Wing Chun’s method to develop, test and gauge the progress of close-range fighting skills. “Kill without kill” takes the competitive side of chi sau to another level. The rules do not allow the competitor to attack an opponent.

Eight competitors took part in the first-ever public match-up, creating an electrifying energy. The audience also threw money at competitors as part of the traditional Chinese custom of giving good luck to the victor.

The title of “Grand Champion” of the competition was awarded to Sifu Hayato (Yodi) Nin, who received a specially framed $100 bill autographed by Chan and an all-expense-paid trip to Hong Kong and China that is hosted regularly for Wing Chun students.

As for the results of the benefit performance, $1,167 was collected for the Asian Tsunami Crisis Relief Fund, and Bank of America matched it, with donations divided equally between UNICEF and the American Red Cross.

Those who want to experience the many benefits and power of Wing Chun kung fu must visit his headquarters at 1267 20th Avenue. in San Francisco.

Further information about his system, school and affiliated schools can be obtained by calling (415) 935-1683, e-mailing or visiting his website:

Written by CarlaWilliamsNamboodiri · Filed Under Arts-Entertainment, Featured, Sports

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