Pak Mei Pai Grandmaster Cheung Lai Chuen 張禮泉

Cheung Lai Chuen


Cheung Lai Chuen (張禮泉 pinyin: Zhang Liquan & Hakka: Chong Li Tsang)

In May 1882 Cheung Lai Chuen was born in a merchant family in WaiYang County (惠阳) now WaiChow City, East Bridge Street (今惠州市橋東街). His father died when Cheung Lai Chuen was still a baby and he was raised by his mother. His fathers younger brother had no occupation and gambled. Once when he asked Cheung Lai Chuen's mother for money he went into a rage and threw the young Cheung Lai Chuen around. The fall broke his left arm. He was four years old. His mother took him to the village chief instructor and traditional doctor/bone setter (中醫學) Lam Shek (林石 Lin Shi 1831-1908) for treatment. Lam Shek healed Cheung Lai Chuen's arm and three years later he accepted him as his student.

*Note: There are several years (1880, 1882, 1884 and 1889, mentioned as the birth year of Cheung Lai Chuen. The year 1882 is the most mentioned. We know that Chung Lai Chun joined the Hing Zung Wui Society (興中會) in 1900. Looking at the birth years 1884 and 1889 they are more unlikely due to his young age.


Lo Man Gaau (Liuminjiao 流浪教) or Lo Man Pai 流浪派

At age seven sifu Lam Shek taught him a most secretive Hakka Boxing style by the name of Lo Man Gaau (流浪教 Liuminjiao) or Wanders/Beggars style. Lo Man Gaau is a very rare and old style. Even in those days not often taught or seen. It is most probably the oldest style of Hakka boxing. The Wanders or Beggars style has aspect of Daoism (道教), specially the occult practises. The art is pure for self-defence and has no fancy moves, some will compare it to street-fighting. It’s on-guard posture “beggar asking for rise” is found in many other styles. From Lo Man Gaau Cheung Lai Chuen took into his Pak Mei the forms Sap Zi Kyun (十字拳) and Sam Cha Tai Pah (三叉大扒).


Wai Chow Li Ga Cyun (惠州李家拳 Huizhou Lijiaquan-Wai Chow Li Family boxing)

Later, at the age of 13, he was accepted at the school of master Li Meng (李矇). This famous Wai Chow Li Ga Cyun (Huizhou Lijiaquan 惠州李家拳) was founded master Li Yi (李義 1794-1884). Li Yi first had learned Southern Shaolin Style from his father Li Gau (1744-1828 Li Jiu 李玖) who was said to be a student at the Fuijian Shaolin Temple (福建南少林寺) and from his father’s younger martial brother Juk Lung (Yu Long 玉龍禪師) on Lau Fu mountain (羅浮山). Li Gau and Juk Lung were members of the Heaven and Earth Society (天地會) and were shot dead by Qing troops. Cheung Lai Chuen with staff Li Yi was rescued and taken to his home by Northern Style (北派拳) master Chan Gau Sik (Chen Gouxi 陳苟息). Later on he married the daughter of Chan Gau Sik old friend Fung Yang (Fengyang 鳳陽) and trained for eight years under Chan Gau Sik. After that he returned home to Wai Chow Fo Dei village (Huizhou's huodi village 惠州郊區火地村) where he started teaching. One day he saw, during practise, a snake and crane in battle. After seeing this he created his own style based on the teaching of his masters and the character of the snake and crane.

* Note: There are several styles of Li Ga Boxing. Do not confuse Wai Chow Li family Boxing with San Wui Li Ga Cyun (新會李家拳 Xinhui Lijiaquan) of Li Jau San (李友山 Li Youshan)


Hing Zing Wui (興中會 Xingzhonghui Society)

Around 1900 at the age of 18 Cheung Lai Chuen joined his first secret society the Hing Zing Wui (興中會 Xingzhonghui). Cheng Shi Leung This “Society for Regenerating China” of one of the many secret societies part of the Hung Moon League (洪門會 Hongmenhui). The Hing Zing Wui was led and established in November 24 1894 by Dr. Sun Yat-Sen (孫逸仙) a Hakka Chinese born in the village of Choy Hang (翠亨村 Cuiheng) in Guangzhou province. Cheung Lai Chuen took part in the Wai Chow rebellion (惠州起義) let by Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Triad brother Cheng Shi Leung (鄭士良 Zheng Shiliang) also a Hakka born in WaiYang (惠阳 Huiyang) country where Cheung Lai Chuen also came from. After training and hiding in the secret mountain fort in San Chow Tien (三洲田 Sanzhoutian) the revolt started on of October 8 1900. In the beginning the revolt was a success, but due to problems of supply of weapons, ammunition and food the army was send home to their villages and ended on October 23. After about one year, due to the loss of the rebellion, Cheung Lai Chuen returned to his family in Wai Chow village. Beside that this was Cheung Lai Chuen's first secret society experience and was also his first combat experience.


Nam Siu Lam Lam Family Dragon Sign Boxing (南少林林家龍形拳)

Lam Hap

After his return to Wai Chow Cheung Lai Chuen joined the school of Lam Hap. Lam Hap (1831-1908 林合 Lin He) was a native Wai Yeung. For Chinese standard he started late (at age 10) in training boxing in the family martial arts of Lam Ga (林家拳 Linjiaquan). From age 17 he followed the famous master by the name of Wong Lin Kiu (黄連矯 Huang Lianjiao) who came from Hoi Fung (海豐). His master was also called by his alias “Hoi Fung Monk”( 海豐禪師 Hai Feng Sin Shi). Wong Lin Kiu was a Fujian Shaolin Temple (福建少林寺) monk for 28 years who came to the Waa Sau Toi Temple (華首臺 Hua Shou Tai) on Lau Fu mountain (罗浮山) around 1850 and opened there his martial school. After Lam Hap saw Wong Lin Kiu win in a contest of a local martial artist Chow Sou Lam (周蘇林 Zhou Sulin) he knew that his martial skills were astonishing. One of the famous methods Wong Lin Kiu taught was “3 contacts” (三通). Of all of Wong Lin Kiu’s student the most outstanding were Lam Hap and Lam Qing Jyun (林慶元 Lin Qingyuan, father of Lam Yiu Quai). Lam Hap changed the famous “3 moves”( 三通) into “9 step push”( 九步推) and Lam Qing Jyun changed it into “16 step push”( 十六步推).

In 1862 Lam Hap started his own famous Boxing school “Wai Joeng Lam Ga Mou Gwun” (惠陽林家武館 Huiyang Lin Jia Martial School) in “Wai Joeng Loeng Fa Heoi” (惠陽梁化墟 Huiyang Liang Huaxu). Later on he was a government official of the SingTungMun in WaiChow (惠州城東門之守城官). Once during the practise of basic skills like straight step (直步) and Cross Form (十字) at Luo Fu (罗浮山) mountain he was watched by a monk. The monk then asked him: "You practise the same skills as I do, who is your master?". It turned out that this master was Gwong Zeon (廣進禅师Guang Jin), the sihing (师兄 elder martial brother) of Wong Lin Kiu. Gwong Zeon was the abbot on the SiuSat mountain (福建省少室山) Fuijian province. To refine and complete his skills he studied for 3 more years with Gwong Zeon. Among the students were Cheung Lai Chuen, his younger brother Lam Qing Yuan (林慶元 Lin Qingyuan), his nephew Lam Yiu Quai (林耀桂 Lin Yaogui), Lam Wun Sin (林煥先 Lin Huanxian), Lam Caan Gwong (林燦光 Lin Canguang), Ceon Cing Gau(秦程九 Qin Chengjiu ), Lam Zin Hung (林展雄 Lin Zhanxiong- who was a schoolmate of Chiang Kai Shek) and so on.

House of Lam Hap

The curriculum of Lam Hap’s Dragon Style consists of: Dragon Sign 18 rubbings (龍形十八摩), Dragon Sign 24 broken bridge hands (龍形二十四度斷橋手), Fierce Tiger jumping wall (猛虎跳墙), Eagle Claw (鹰抓), 4 doors provoke hitting (四門挑打), Lively Dragon Living Tiger (生龙活虎), rigid bridge (嚴橋), Siu Lam Double leading staff (少林双头棍), 9 starting staff (九下手棍), Long Staff (長棍), Big Sword (大刀), Double sword (双刀), Single Sword (單刀), etc. Of the teaching of his master Lam Hap, Cheung Lai Chuen took into his Pak Mei the form of Ying Jow Nim Kiu (鷹爪黏橋). Later on Cheung Lai Chuen was assisting in teaching in Waidung Loeng Fa Lam Family Martial School of Lam Hap.


To Guangzhou to seek fortune

In 1908 Cheung Lai Chuen went to Guangzhou (廣州) to seek fortune. In the beginning when he had not yet a home he stayed with an uncle. Like lots of Chinese people Cheung Lai Chuen would go out every morning to have breakfast in a teahouse in Guangzhou. On one of these mornings he noticed a young monk sitting on one of the tables. Under the visitors of the teahouse were many Manchu's, including some officers from the army. These Manchu officers behaved very rude against the Chinese (Han) visitors and harassed them at their tables. Cheung Lai Chuen noticed that they always avoided the young monk, although he was not build very strong or looking dangerous. Even on busy day's no one dared to sit at the monk's table. Cheung Lai Chuen realised that this monk must be someone very special.

Cheung Lai Chuen as Buddist monk

On a quiet day Cheung Lai Chuen decided to make acquaintance with the young monk and he sat down at the table of the monk. At the moment that Cheung Lai Chuen was sitting down, the young monk stood up and sat somewhere else. Cheung Lai Chuen wasn't giving up his attempt and sat again down at the table of the young monk. This ritual went on a couple of days. One day the monk stood up again and Cheung Lai Chuen said to him: 'Sifu I do not have an disease, why do you walk away every time? Aren't we both Chinese? (meaning both not being Manchu)'. The young monk thought a little moment and then sat down again. So after all the two men began speaking and after some weeks they even became friends. One day, on the birthday of a certain god, Cheung Lai Chuen prepared some food and invited the young monk to be his guest. They also drank and the young monk became a little tipsy. Cheung Lai Chuen tried to talk to him about Chinese Boxing. But the young monk just kept on eating and said nothing. At length, Cheung Lai Chuen spoke. 'Sifu, may I give a performance of my Chinese Boxing knowledge?' Then Cheung Lai Chuen performed a certain form. 'Do you think that it is good enough for real fighting?' he asked the monk.

The monk replied noncommittally, 'It depends.' Cheung Lai Chuen said, ' Ah, Sifu, you know Chinese Boxing, otherwise you would not talk to me like this. Will you please give a demonstration so we can see something?' The young monk was still tipsy. He stood up and gave a performance of three movements. He showed darting fingers (鏢指biu tze), one “phoenix eye” (鳳眼 fong ngaan) punch and one “monk disrobing technique” (迫馬羅漢脫袈裟 baak ma lo hon tyut gaa saa). Cheung Lai Chuen criticized him unfavourably. 'Sifu, your kungfu is not useful, you just stood there, How can you hit your opponent like that?' The young monk said: 'It depends'. He meant that it depends on what sort of opponent you met. Then Cheung Lai Chuen said, 'Maybe we can have a private contest?'. The young monk said nothing but just stood there. Reluctantly Cheung Lai Chuen asked him to put himself on guard. The monk just shook his head. Cheung Lai Chuen rushed forward and used an arrow fist from the Li family Boxing to attack him. Then he retreated and tried to slip to the right hand side of the monk. But the monk blocked his arm and stopped him. Cheung Lai Chuen tried to use some other techniques but could not make any headway.

Gwong How Temple in 1905

Then he said: 'Let's try again, I still have some other movements left'. Soon after he told me he used a technique of the Dragon Sign Style, rushed, deflected and tried to make the monk block him. Then he used the close ear and shoulder movement to make him fall. Unfortunately for Cheung Lai Chuen the young monk used the technique he had shown earlier: monk takes of robe. He turned at waist, blocked and pushed.

Then Cheung Lai Chuen flew of like an airplane. As he flew down he landed on a fish tank and broke it. He was cut on the chin by broken glass and seriously shocked. He got up, not understanding why he had been flung away by this little monk so easily. Blood came from his chin. He sighed and spoke with the monk. 'Ah great monk, if you had shown me your real art I would have not dared to challenge you. May I have the honour of becoming your student?' The monk waved his hands and said: 'I could never do this; if my sifu hears this he would think that I was showing off here, there and everywhere and I would be punished.' Cheung Lai Chuen felt astonished. 'My lord, your kungfu is so marvellous, your sifu must be very, very good. Come on introduce me to him'. This request made the young monk nervous. He said: 'Please be kind enough not to try to see my sifu?' He went on: 'If he knew that I had showed somebody my Chinese Boxing he would half kill me.' At that time Cheung Lai Chuen did not insist seeing this sifu. He just made friends with this young monk and invited him out to meals as usual.

Cheung Lai Chuen does Kiu Bo Tui

After several weeks he had gleaned that the old sifu of the young monk was Chuk Fat Wan (竺法雲禪師 Du Fa Yun). His favourite and almost exclusive food was eggs. He was on a pilgrimage and temporary living in Gwong How Temple (光孝寺 Guang Xiao Si), Guangzhou. It turned out that old Chuk Fat Wan had been a disciple at a temple where Pak Mei had taught his students in a temple on O Mei (峨嵋山 Emei shan) mountain of Sze Chuan (四川 Sichuan) Province. When Chuk Fat Wan had completed his training he had brought his disciple Lin Sang (蓮生Lian Sheng) to visit some other provinces of China. When he arrived in Guangzhou he had taken up residence in Gwong How temple. He was then 92 years old. Cheung Lai Chuen had thought that he was an excellent boxer, and was trying his luck in Guangzhou. Having been beaten by the young monk his confidence had been shown to be ill founded. One day he had bought two large baskets of eggs and followed the young monk Lin Sang (蓮生) to the Gwong How temple. This quite annoyed the young monk, but Cheung Lai Chuen ignored his displeasure. When they met Chuk Fat Wan, the old Master was angry. The young monk knelt down on the floor and bowed to his master. Cheung Lai Chuen explained that he was looking for the true martial arts. Sincerely he wanted to become a disciple. Old sifu Chuk Fat Wan refused him. He told Cheung Lai Chuen that he would leave Guangzhou and go to another place, but Cheung Lai Chuen said that he would follow him. At last he was accepted and he sold some fields and other property and followed the old sifu. After three years the old sifu taught him Kou Pu Toi (九步推), Sip Pat Mo Kjauw (十八摩橋), Mang Fu Tjoe Lin ( 猛虎出林) and other forms. He did not only learn martial art, but also meditation techniques like "Dharma Internal Strenght (更精達摩内功打坐法)", escape techniques (遁術易數) and Dit Da expertise (跌打專科). Cheung Lai Chuen then became the first man to introduce the Pak Mei style into South China. Cheung Lai Chuen not only excelled in kungfu but also in Chinese herbal medicine, bone setting and such, meditation, making the body impervious to pain. When Cheung Lai Chuen travelled with his sifu Chuk Fat Wan he also learned Buddhism, beside the Pak Mei style. They were monks and travelled from temple to temple.


Wong War Shun uprise (黃花崗起 Huanghuagang Park uprise)

In early 1911 after studing 3 years of Pak Mei with Chuk Fat Wan Cheung Lau Chun returned to his mother in WaiChow village. Not long after his arrival in WaiChow he (re)joined the Tong Mang Wui (Tongmenghui 中國同盟會 United Allegiance Society). This society was formely know as the Hing Zung Wui. Wong War Mausoleum On April 27, 1911 (March 29, Lunar year Xinhai), this society led by Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, Ziu Seng (趙聲 Zhao Sheng) as the commanding officer and Wong Hing (黄興 Huang Xing a.k.a. Eight Fingered General) as his vice-commander started the uprise. With around 500 volunteers Cheung Lai Chuen took part of the Wong War Shun uprise (a.k.a. "3.29" Guangzhou Uprise). The revolutionaries were soon outnumbered as they desperately fought the Qing Army in the streets. This unsuccessful uprise ended up in disastrous failure and costed 72 men their life on the Wong War Hill (Yellow Flowers Hill). After this uprise Cheung Lai Chuen returned again to his hometown WaiChow. This bloody unsuccesfull uprise must have marked him in his attitude to combat and training.


Kong Mun Town (新會江門)

Cheung Lai Chuen left for Kong Mun Town (江門市 Jiangmen) in the San Wui ((新會 Xin Hui) District where he assisted a Detective and Choy Li Fut master by the name of Leoi Can (雷燦 Lei Can) in investigating salt smugglers. Leoi Caan, a second generation master who learned in Foshan from the famous Choy Li Fut master Cheung Jim 張炎 (Zhang Yan 1824-1893) who established the Foshan Hung Sing (佛山鴻勝) branch. Later Leoi Caan set up is own school in Guangzhou (廣州市惠愛西路設鴻勝支館).In a confrontation with the smugglers Cheung Lai Chuen broke the arm of the leader so that he could be arrested. After this Cheung Lai Chuen was asked to teach there. Soon after he started teaching he was challenged by a kungfu master with the name Chan Sau (陳壽 Chen Shou). Cheung Lai Chuen won the battle, which increased his fame. Later on, due to some trouble after a fight, he was forced to leave Kong Mun Town. After Kong Mun Town he went to Toishan (台山縣廣海城) on the southwest of Kong Mun Town and taught there for two years before he finally left for Guangzhou.

1921 - 1922

Tigers of the East River (東江二虎)

When Cheung Lai Chuen left for Guangzhou in 1920’s he left with his good friend Lam Yiu Quai (son of Lam Qing Yuan) to seek a new future there. Although Lam Yiu Quai learned most of his father and grandfather Lam Ching Chun (林鏡泉 Lin Jing Quan), he also trained at the school of Lam Haap (his fathers older classmate). Lam Yiu Quai became famous in Guangzhou when he in 1925 defeated a Russian nationality heavyweight world boxing champion. It was a tough fight and Lam Yiu Quai at last defeated the Russian with a technique called “turn body pull hammer” (轉身扳槌). This very strong same background in boxing has made that their eventually own styles (Pak Mei and Dragon Sign Style) share many similarities and are called “sister styles”. They (Cheung Lai Chuen and Lam Yiu Quai) were in the region of Tung Kong known as the best boxers of that time and were called the “two tigers of east river” (Tung Gong Ji Fu 東江二虎).

Three tigers of East River (Tung Gong Sam Fu 東江三虎)

In some stories they were called with Lau Sing Co (劉誠初 Liu Cheng Chu) a.k.a Lau Sui 劉水 (master of Chu Ga Tong Long ) the “three tigers of east river” (Tung Gong Sam Fu 東江三虎). But in other stories Mok Ga (莫家) master Lam Jan Tong (林廕堂) was mentioned as the third Tiger, also because he came from the East River area and was an exponent in kungfu.

  • Cheung Lai Chuen one of the three tigers
  • Lam Yiu Quai one of the three tigers
  • Lao Sui one of the three tigers
  • Lam Jan Tong one of the three tigers

First Pak Mei school

In Guangzhou Cheung Lai Chuen sets up his firsts school in Pak Mei Boxing. The first school he sets up is the `Dai Tung Wui Mo Gun` (大同會武馆 Datong Kuai Wuguan). And the Lai Cuyn Gwok Soei Se (勵存國術社 Li Cun Guoshushe) at Guangzhou "Four Shops" (廣州的四間店舖). This school was original located at Guangzhou "Sui Jut"((廣州水月宫). Through the years the amount of schools would grow up to 18 schools in Guangzhou. Some under his personal attention and some let by senior apprentices. In old China it was common for a master to be challenged by other martial artist. This could be just to see who was the best of the two or to put a master out of business by beating him. In the first half of the 1920’s a famous Cai Li Fo (蔡李佛拳) and Black Dragon Chi Kung (青龍內氣功) master by the name of Zang Wai Bok (曾惠博 Zeng Huibo 1906-1958) challenged and won of many masters in Guangzhou. This was called "Kicking the Hall" (踢馆). One day on his way home after visiting his mother the young Zang Wai Bok (at that time aged 19) passed the school of Cheung Lai Chuen. And a match was set up between the two because Zang Wai Bok wanted to see who of the two was the Brave Tiger Guangdong (廣東猛虎). Guangzhou was then shocked that Cheung Lai Chuen was able to win of this young powerfull champion. After his loss Zang Wai Bok became one of the first apprentice of Cheung Lai Chuen.

Not long after this Ha Ho Hung (夏漢雄 Xia Hanxiong 1892-1962), Zang Wai Bok Cai Li Fo brother, also joined the school of Cheung Lai Chuen. Due to his enormous combat experience Zang Wai Bok and Ha Ho Hung accompanied Cheung Lai Chuen in many battles. In this period Cheung Lai Chuen frequently had fights with challengers in his schools. A total of 11 fights of challengers who came to his school were all won by Cheung Lai Chuen. This supposably gave him the alias Guangdong Fierce Tiger (廣東猛虎). In Guangzhou he became famous for his skill in Pak Mei. Many famous men and masters came to study from him.

In the north there is Sun Yuk Fung, in the south there is Cheung Lai Chuen

In the ‘20 and ‘30 in Guangzhou there was a saying which said ' In the north there is Sun Yuk Fung, in the south there is Cheung Lai Chuen (南有張禮泉,北有孫玉峰). Sun Yuk Fung (孫玉峰 Sun Yufeng) was a very famous successor in Lo Hon Boxing (羅漢門宗師 Luo Hanmen Zongshi) from Lin Wo Jing County Hebei province (原籍河北省景縣蓮窩鎮人). In the 1920’s (up to 1945) Sun Yuk Fung taught in the Ching Wu (精武體育會) in Guangzhou. He had several masters like Baqua master Chang Chan Kuei (張占魁 Zhang Zhankui), nickname Big Saber Chang 大刀張, who taught him his saber skills. And the monkmaster Yuan Tung Sim (元通禪 Yuan Tongchan) who taught him Luo Han boxing.

Both masters also had other nicknames: Cheung Lai Chuen was knows as “Seven provinces Boxing Champion” (七省拳王美譽) and Sun Yuk Fung knows as “Seven Provinces King of Sword” (七省刀王) and “Five Provinces Champion” (五省拳王).



1924 - 1928

Whampoa Military Academy (黃埔軍校)

Because of this outstanding accomplishments in martial arts he was also asked to teach at Guangzhou Police Training School (廣州警察教練所), the Yin Tong Military Academy (燕堂軍校 Jantang Junxiao) and the Whampoa Military Academy (黃埔軍校 Huangpu Junxiao).

Whampoa Military Academy

The Whampoa Military Academy was established on June 16 1924 under the Kuomintang (中國國民黨) by General Chiang Kai Shek (蔣介石 Jiang Jieshi). The inauguration was on Chengzhou Island offshore from the Whampoa dock in Guangzhou and so got it’s name. Li Jishen The military academy Assistant Director Li Zai Sam (Li Jishen 李濟深), who established the “Guangdong and Guangxi Martial School (两廣國術館), knew Cheung Lai Chuen very well and invited Cheung Lai Chuen to teach there. Cheung Lai Chuen taught there until the Academy moved to Nanjing 1928. Cheung Lai Chuen was many times assisted in teaching by his senior students as Lee Sai Keung (李世強) and Ng Jiu (吳 耀). At Whampoa Military Academy Cheung Lai Chuen created several bayonet techniques. His famous techniques “encouraging stabbing rifle technique” (勵剌槍術) and the big swordtechnique (大刀術) were taught to the infantry that used these techniques in the Sino-Japanese war (1937-1945). At the Military Academy many officers became students of Cheung Lai Chuen like General Liu Chun Jat (廖俊一 Liao Junyi) and General Wai Chan Fuk (韋鎮福 Wei Zhenfu). One of these officers who became his apprentice was a Lieutenant-General Got Siu Wong (葛肇煌 Ge Zhaohuang), he was ordered in the late 1940’s to create “the intelligence and secret service” for the Nationalist Kuomintang Army in southern China.


Guangdong and Guangxi Martial School (两廣國術館)

In March 1929 the Guangdong Province Government President Li Zai Sam (李濟深 Li Jishen) established the “Guangdong and Guangxi Martial School" (两廣國術館 Liang Guang Guoshu Wuguan) in East Guangzhou to promote Chinese martial arts. In march 1929 the school had attracted 10 famous and masters of high quality. A selection was made of 5 Southern masters and 5 Northern masters. Among the masters that taught southern styles were Cheung Lai Chuen, Lam Yue Quai, Lam Jam Tong, Lai Seng Gei and Wong Siu Hap. Because of their exceptional in Southern Styles the were called "the 5 Southern Tiger Generals (南方五虎将)" (origin: Guangzhou Daily).

In 1928 First National Tournament was held in Nanjing. The majority of the 333 contestants were practisoners of the Northern styles. Among masters who made a very good impressing were Gang Dak Hoi (耿得海 Geng Dehai) who won the weapons competitions with a sword, Maan Laai Sing (萬籟聲 Wan Laisheng) for his fierce fighting and Ku Yu Cheong (顧汝章 Gu Ruzhang) who was one of the 15 winning Champions. in 1929 these 3 masters were invited to teach Northern Styles at the Guangdong and Guangxi Martial School. The other 2 masters who were invited were Wong Siu Zau (王少舟 Wang Shaozhou) and Fu Zhen Song (傅振嵩 Fu Zhensong) the last would also become the head teacher of the school. They were also known as the "Five Tigers going South“ (五虎下江南).

The 5 southern tiger generals (南方五虎将) of the Guangdong and Guangxi Martial School

  • Cheung Lai Chuen one of the five tigers
  • Lam Yiu Quai one of the five tigers
  • Lam Jan Tong one of the five tigers
  • Wong Siu Hap one of the five tigers
  • Lai Seng Gei one of the five tigers

The 5 Northern Masters (北五虎) of the Guangdong and Guangxi Martial School

  • Fu Zhen Song one of the five northern masters
  • Ku Yu Cheong one of the five northern masters
  • Maan Laai Sing one of the five northern masters
  • Gang Dak Hoi one of the five northern masters
  • Wong Siu Zau one of the five northern masters

The school very quickly had 20 classes up to 500 students. Because of the political change the school was closed in two months. An internal strife in the Kuomintang was lost by Li Zai Sam (李濟深 Li Jishen) of Chan Zai Tong (Chen Jitang (陳濟棠) (1890-1954) Guangdong's political leader and Li Zai Sam was imprisoned. Although the school was open for a short time it played a great role in the developement of the Guangdong martial arts. And in the development of the styles of the masters, because they compared notes and exchanges techniques and information with each other.


Guangzhou Chinese Martial Society (廣州國術社)

After the unfortunate closing of the Guangdong and Guangxi Martial School there was need for a new institute. In June 1929 “Guangzhou Chinese Martial Society (廣州國術社 Guangzhou GuoWuShe)” was established, the majority of masters like Cheung Lai Chuen and students of the “Guangdong and Guangxi Martial School” participated in this new school. The members raised quickly up to over 300 students.


Guangdong Province Boxing Competition Referee

In the period of 1935 to 1937 he lives regulary again in his home village Wai Chow Peach Garden (桃子园). The Peach Garden is situated in Sui Tung East Road old Wai Chow. (在橋東水東東路居住的老惠州). In 1937 at the start of the Sino-Japanese War he leaves his home village again.

Fong Juk Syu Wu Wan Coek

In February 1935 the Guangdong Province held its first boxing competition in East Guangdong. As referees in this competition were selected three outstanding masters; Cheung Lai Chuen (張禮泉), Lam Jam Tong (林蔭堂) and Fong Juk Syu (方玉书 Fang Yushu 1870 - 1953, a famous 3th generation Choi Li Fut 蔡李佛拳) master. Among the many participants were several wellknown kungfy masters like Fu Zan Sung (傅振嵩) a Baat Gwa (八卦掌) master, Wong Siu Haap (黄啸侠) and Wu Wan Coek (胡雲綽 Hu Yuchuo 1906-1997).

Wu Wan Coek (a.k.a. Woo Van Cheuk) was a Choi Li Fut master from Foshan (佛山) and in the West known for his student Doc-Fai Wong (黄德輝).


1937 - 1945

Second Sino-Japanese War (第二次中日战争/第二次中日戰爭)

Cheung Lai Chuen with staff In 1937 when the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out Cheung Lai Chuen joined the guerilla forces in his native area of the East Rivers (Tung Kong 東江). There he was most welcome due to his experience in martial arts and military combat training, which he had taught at the Whampoa Military Academy. For the next years to the end of the War he was active in training and participating in the guerilla force of Lieutenant Colonel Leung Gwai Ping ( 梁季平 Liang Jiping) born Bolo County (博囉县) near Wai Chow. Between 1938 to 1942 the guerilla force was able to conquer and defend Wai Chow three times on the Japanese army. Unfortenatly the 4th battle of Wai Chow was lost to the Japanese. In this period Cheung Lai Chuen did not have many students. One of the persons he did teach in this war-period was Chan Tai San (陳泰山 Chen Daishan). Later Chan Tai Chan would reach fame as a master in Lama Pai (喇嘛派).

1945 - 1948

Tung Kong Sports Club (東江體育會)

Lieutenant Colonel Leung Gwai Ping (梁季平 Liang Jiping) was very active in giving education and sports. In 1945 after the Sino-Japanese War he opened the Tung Kong Sports Club (東江體育會) in Wai Chow's Zhongshan Park side (中山公園側). At this Sports Club you could practised Dragon Boat, Lion Dance and Martial Arts. Cheung Lai Chuen was asked by Leung Gwai Ping to teach Pak Mei there to his country men at the Tung Kong Sports Club.

1945 - 1949

Instructor of the Secret Agents (廣東省諜報組的)

Got Siu Wong After the Second World War China was political unstable and had the period of the Civil War. One of Cheung Lai Chuen's apprentice of the Whampoa Military Academy was a Lieutenant-General Got Siu Wong (葛肇煌 Ge Zhaohuang). Got Siu Wong was ordered by General Chiang Kai Shek in the late 1940's to create “the intelligence and secret service” for the Nationalist Kuomintang Army in Southern China. On Got Siu Wong's invitation Cheung Lai Chuen became the instructor of the Secret Agents Department in the Guangdong province (廣東省諜報組的). Got Siu Wong created his Secret Service by merging the existing secret societies and triads (三合會) in Guangzhou region to form into his own secret society with the name the ‘Hong Fa Shan the Loyalist party ‘(洪發山忠義堂) shorted in Hong Fa Shan. This had been done before the 1920’s by Chiang Kai Shek in Shanghai (上海) who used the triad Green Gang (青幫) of triad leader Tu Yueh Sheng (杜月笙 Du Yuesheng 1881-1951) to solve some problems. On April 12, 1927 the Green Gang helpt the Nationalist Army in a crackdown on the local Communist party organizers and labour activists.

Got Siu Wong his headquarters in Guangzhou was on 14, Baohua Road (寶華路 Po Wah road). After loss in the civil war in 1949 his secret society moved to Hong Kong and got more known with it's a.k.a. name "14K Triad (十四K)”. In the past many 14K members had because of this history some sort of link with Pak Mei as a student of Cheung Lai Chuen or as a master in Pak Mei.

1949 - 1964

Pak Mei to Hong Kong

In 1949, after the fall of the Guangzhou, Cheung Lai Chuen migrated to Hong Kong. He was accompanied by 3 (of his 6) children; Cheung Bing Sum (son #1 1923-1968 張炳森), Cheung Ping Lam (son #2 張炳林) and Cheung Bing Fat (son #3 1937-1989 張炳發). These 3 sons all studied Pak Mei under their father. His 4th son Cheung Bing Keung (張炳祥 Zhang Bingxiang) who was to young to train in Pak Mei stayed in his home village in China. Also the majority to the 5th generation masters followed their master. In Hong Kong Cheung Lai Cheung opend a pharmacy with the name Bo Wo Tong (保和堂 Bao Hetang). Although he was retired he still admitted some students to learn Pak Mei of him. Most of these students are already sifu's of other styles or had studied other styles before. One very famous sifu of Li Ga style in Sah Tou Kok Area, New Territories, invited Cheung Lai Chuen to teach him and his village men. Cheung Lai Chuen was highly respected for his knowledge in Li Ga because he had been a disciple from Li Ga master Li Yi. In these times Pak Mei Pai was not well known because Cheung Lai Chuen didn't let his disciples enter competitions or let them give demonstrations. During his live Cheung Lai Chuen passed on his martial creed (ethics) like "study kungfu to defend yourself, not deceiving people is heroic" (學習功夫能守己,英雄半點不欺人). And that the true meaning of martial arts is to win populairity by kindness.

In 1961 Cheung Lai Chuen still had no gray hairs and when he seldom demonstrated his kung fu all were astonished by his high standard. He kept smoking severely and he smoked more than 40 cigarettes a day. In the Autumn 1964 Cheung Lai Chuen got sick and passed away.

Cheung Lai Chuen Grave 張禮泉之墓

Grave of Cheung Lai Chuen