Master Gong Hing - Hong Kong 1968The initial stage (first few weeks) of training were the toughest, but once the aches and pain subsided Dave was able to more fully appreciate what he was learning and began to spend more of his leisure time on his martial arts training to improve the skills he acquired from his Sifu.

Master Kong Hing

In the few months that followed was to see another turning point in Dave's life. Master Lai Hung told Dave he could no longer give him private tuition during the day because of a change in his work shift with the Bus Company he was working for. Realizing that Dave was not allowed out during weekday nights to attend kung fu classes in the evenings at his school, Master Lai Hung made arrangements for him to continue private training under a close Choy Lay Fut colleague of his, a reputable fighter by the name of Kong Hing. Thus, began another chapter in Dave's life as he began training under his new instructor whose teachings and prowess as a kung fu fighter inspired and made Dave even more determined to excel in Choy Lay Fut. The mutual liking and respect they had for each other and Choy Lay Fut formed a very close bond of friendship between the two- they became like blood brothers. Whenever Dave was engaged in a challenge fight match with guys from street gangs or rival martial arts schools, Kong Hing was always there to watch the fights.

The Choy Lay Fut fighting techniques of Lai Hung and Kong Hing were unique as both were from the Buck Sing branch of Choy Lay Fut, a more dominantly combat oriented fighting arts developed by the famous fighter and innovator of Choy Lay Fut, Master Tarm Sarm. His experience in dueling matches with fighters of other kung fu styles enabled Tarm to develop new fighting techniques using the "charp chui" (panther fist) punch, which became a trademark of Tarm Sarm and helped the name of Choy Lay Fut to thunder throughout the whole middle of Southern China. Out of the great respect they had for him, Tarm's students refer to his innovative fighting art of Choy Lay Fut as "Buck Sing Choy Lay Fut" as a tribute to his great reputation and that of his school the Buck Sing Gwoon.

Learning Choy Lay Fut became a great passion for Dave and he devoted much of his spare time on mastering the exciting and dynamic moves and techniques Kong Hing had taught him. Though Kong Hing was not officially his "Sifu", Dave looked up to him as his new teacher and mentor. Kong Hing not only passed on his superb martial arts skills to Dave but also his martial arts philosphy and wisdom. As a martial arts instructor and spiritual mentor, Kong Hing was instrumental in molding Dave into one of the world's most famous and respected Choy Lay Fut masters of the past five decades.

Although Dave was never really able to "officially" call Kong Hing his Sifu, his overwhelming feeling of respect and gratitude for his teacher and mentor compelled him to later (1963) officially acknowledge Kong Hing as his Sifu for having been the one responsible for teaching him most of his martial arts knowledge and fighting skills. For Dave, it was a debt to Kong Hing that he felt was long overdue.

Hong Kong's Street Gangs and Martial Arts Feuds

Sparring on rooftop 1959 - Master Dave Lacey on RightPeople take up martial arts for various reasons but for Dave it was predominantly for self defense. Growing up as a teenager in the 1950's in Hong Kong in an enviornment of antisocial tension he found himself a favorite target for street confrontations and fights with hostile street gang members or other individuals seeking a reputation for themselves as tough guys. As he didn't belong to any street gang, Dave realized that his only option was to learn the dynamic fighting art of Choy Lay Fut, a style originally developed for warfare and therefore had to be both practical and effective. It was not surprising that in the early 1960's Bruce Lee told his students "Choy Lay Fut is the most effective system I've seen for fighting more than one person and is one of the most difficult styles to attack and to defend against" (quoted in the book "Bruce Lee" by Jesse Glover in 1976). These and other comments Bruce made back in 1958 in Hong Kong incited Dave to learn Choy Lay Fut in early 1959.

After the Communist takeover of China in 1949, many kung fu masters were among the thousands of Nationalists who fled the mainland to start a new life in the British Colony of Hong Kong. With the surgence of many Chinese Martial Arts schools in the 1950's it was inevitable that challenges erupted between rival fueding Kung Fu schools. As martial arts tournaments were outlawed in the British Colony in the 50's and 60's, many young kung fu students who were eager to test their fighting skills and defend the name of their school and kung fu style engaged in secretly held "challenge" or "grudge" matches against martial artists of rival kung fu schools.

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