Hong Kong: D-Day 79th Anniversary (1944-2023) – Remembering Master Chan Tin Sang (陳天生) During WWII! (6.6.2023)
Our Chinese grandfather - Chan Tin Sang (1924-1993) fought as part of the 'People's Militia' (with his Section also known as the 'Hakka Resistance') in the Hong Kong and New Territories region. When he recalled these events years later – he often described this time period (1941-1945) as ‘The years covered in blood.’ - as there was never a time that he was not covered in his own blood or the blood of his enemies. Hong Kong had been under the imperialist rule of the British from 1841-1941 - when the Imperial Japanese Army successfully overran the area - killing thousands of ethnic Chinese POWs and civilians in the process! Thousands of ethnic Indian and 'White' British soldiers were killed in combat, wounded and taken into captivity (where many were tortured). What follows is description of what the ethnic Chinese people experienced throughout Hong Kong and the New Territories – a reality either deliberately ignored or simply not known by Western historians and biographers. Part of the problem is not simply political bias or historical preference (although these two issues undoubtedly play their part) - but rather that not ALL ethnic Chinese people understood fully what was happening! The ‘White’ British Administration did not trust the ethnic Chinese population – as they were afraid of homegrown uprisings – but positively detested the Imperial Japanese! This is why the British Authorities ‘refused’ to arm the ethnic Chinese population at the beginning of the Japanese troubles! Rumours of a fifth column in Kowloon turned out not to be true (these groups were comprised of Japanese sleeper cells activated to meet and assist the incoming Japanese troops).
As the British Authorities did not arm the local ethnic Chinese populations with modern firearms – these people (comprised of the Cantonese, Hakka, Hokkien and Teochew ethnic groups amongst others) had to rely upon their traditional martial arts skills to fight the Japanese invaders. This was NOT a problem as the ethnic Chinese attitudes were still very ‘feudalistic’ at the time and the martial arts incredibly effective on the battlefield and in self-defence encounters! How did (modern) British arms enter the area? This seems to have been through a behind-the-scenes agreement between the CPC and the British government. The People's Militia was organised by the Communist Party of China (CPC) - as the Nationalist government had no interest in Hong Kong being part of a united China again (for the British this must have been a tricky business as the CPC was not formally in power in China - nor was it ‘recognised’ by any ruling government outside the USSR). It is remarkable that given CPC troubles being experienced in Central and Northern China at the time (fighting the Nationalists and the Japanese) that it was able to 'project' its power into what was then a very distant and remote area – but the understanding that had been reached between the CPC and the British allowed a small trickle of UK arms into the region to be used by the local Chinese people! This 'Resistance' movement against the Imperial Japanese was permitted providing the CPC power structure (together with the British arms) be 'withdrawn' from the region following the eventual defeat of the Imperial Japanese!
Our Hakka Chinese family clan in Sai Kung suffered terribly at the hands of the brutal Japanese - with women and girls routinely 'raped', 'tortured' and 'murdered'! Not only do we possess eye-witness accounts of this barbarism - but long before the internet the Japanese liked to 'photograph' (and sometimes 'film') their crimes for all to see! These are crimes that the Japanese committed all over China and Asia - and which the Japanese government has yet to properly acknowledge and apologise for! Chan Tin Sang was 17-years old in 1941 and 21-years old in 1945 - when the war ended. During that time, he lost most of his immediate relatives and was accustomed to fighting ‘hand-to-hand' with the fanatical Japanese soldiers - using his Hakka martial arts skills to survive (his father died fighting in this manner in 1944). Later, in search of a better life - Chan Tin Sang came to England in 1956 when he was 32-years old. He worked hard for 10-years in what became London's 'new' Chinatown and finally saved up enough money to bring his wife and daughters to the UK (as they already possessed 'British Citizenship') in 1966 (when he was 42-years old). He passed away in 1993 when he was 69-years old - which was quite old at the time - but many believe that the years of deprivation (and continuous violence) he experienced between 1941-1945 definitely shortened his lifespan. Sometimes - as individuals and groups - we possess no choice. By the time the Western allies were landing on Normandy 79-years ago – the Japanese Occupiers were still strong and effective throughout Hong Kong and the New Territories! It would be with the entry of the Soviet Red Army (during late 1945) into Manchuria that begin the demise of the Imperial Japanese Army and signal the return of the British to Hong Kong!
The official Karate-Do class was held by Master Mekura Kenichi (铭苅拳一) (b. 1947) in Shanghai during 1988 – after he had respectfully approached the government of Mainland China with diplomatic support from Japan and Brazil! He stayed in China for twenty-five years teaching the Kobayashi lineage of the Shorin Ryu Karate-Do style. After spending a quarter of a century moving around and teaching throughout China – he retired aged 66 years and left China in 2013 leaving behind a great reputation amongst the Chinese people!
Just nineteen years after the unconditional surrender of the Imperial Japanese in 1945 – the British Authorities of the colony of Hong Kong permitted a rich Japanese business man named ‘Mr Harada’ to open a ‘private’ Dojo in 1964 (teaching the Japanese Goju Kai style of Karate-Do) within an exclusive health club located along the coastline of Hong Kong Island! In other words, well within the living memory of Chinese (and other people) who were the victims of Imperial Japanese atrocities – the British Authorities in Hong Kong allowed a previous vehicle of Imperial Japanese atrocities (I.e. ‘Karate-Do’) to be ‘sold’ to the general public as a ‘leisure’ activity! Although the British Colonial Authorities operated a strict ‘racial’ and ‘cultural’ segregation policy throughout Hong Kong (with Chinese men used as labourers and Chinese women as prostitutes)! The way these exclusive health clubs operated was that ‘Members’ had the right to ‘invite’ any friend or colleague they wished providing the other Members did not protest. Therefore, the Goju Kai Dojo was intended for ethnic ‘Japanese’ only – but this principle was short-circuited by the fact that a young Chinese man named ‘Lin Jingfeng’ (林竞峰) [1947-2018] - was invited into the classes by a Japanese Member. As none of the Japanese Members protested – Lin Jingfeng was allowed to stay and over the decades became a highly skilled (Japanese) Goju Kai and then (Okinawan) Goju Ryu Karate-Do practitioner.
In 1979, the ‘International Okinawan Goju Ryo Karate-Do Federation’ (IOGKF) was founded in the UK. In 1980, the Head Instructor of the IOGKF – Higaonna Morio – appointed Lin Jingfeng the IOGKF Branch Supervisor of all Hong Kong AND Mainland China Dojos (registered with the IOGKF). As Lin Jingfeng was a Cantonese citizen of Hong Kong - and given that he was well-known as a high-ranking Goju Ryu practitioner amongst the many distinct Chinese ethnic groups that lived on Hong Kong island, the boats surrounding the Hong Kong coast (the Dan-Ka boat people), and all the different Chinese clans living throughout the New Territories – the idea that he was chosen as the official IOGKF Representative (or ‘Supervisor’) of all the IOGKF Dojos in and around the Hong Kong region that comprised the British colony and/or ‘Protectorate’ of Hong Kong was logical and legal. The IOGKF, however, possessed no political, cultural or legal right to appoint Lin Jingfeng as the IOGKF Representative of Mainland China! The British Authorities controlled Hong Kong only – and possessed no authority whatsoever anywhere in Mainland China! Placing Lin Jingfeng as the ‘Representative’ of Mainland China in 1980, then, was an ‘empty’ appointment that possessed no real substance. Lin Jingfeng only became (by default) the IOGKF Representative of Mainland China in 1997 – when the British Colonial Authorities ‘handed-back’ Hong Kong to direct Mainland Chinese control!
The 1964 Goju Kai Dojo was established upon Chinese soil, but it was a part of China that had been artificially and viciously excised from the direct political control of the Chinese Mainland because of British imperialist greed and militarism during the 19th century! Hong Kong was a part of Mainland China – but was not under the direct political control of the Chinese people in 1964 - and so the Goju Kai Dojo does not qualify as the ‘first official’ Karate-Do class established within a fully independent and functioning Mainland China! As modern Japan (which is a close ally of the US) refuses to acknowledge its atrocities and war crimes throughout China (and Asia) committed during the 1930s and 1940s – it is doubtful that any genuine Chinese government would permit Japanese businesses and Japanese ‘militarised’ leisure activities at any time throughout the 1960s! Foreign powers aggressive toward Chinese interests, however, (such as the British, the Japanese and the ‘Nationalist’ Chinese), then it is more likely that activities such as Karate-Do would be taught! The Japanese invaded and brutally suppressed the Chinese and aboriginal people of the island of Taiwan during 1895. This resistance fighting carried on for about five years before the invading Japanese managed to turn Taiwan into a Japanese-controlled Police State controlled through the use of regular ‘mass’ public executions through beheadings! Chinese language, religion and martial arts practice were outlawed – and replaced with a full Japanese education syllabus typical of that found throughout Mainland Japan!
In 1901, the racist Japanese government changed the name of ‘Tang Hand’ (唐手 - Tang Shou) - referring to the various systems of ‘Chinese’ martial arts transmitted to (and preserved upon) the island of Okinawa - into ‘Empty Hand’ (空手 - Kong Shou) - a Japanese ‘joke’ which suggests a martial activity now ‘emptied’ of ALL Chinese historical influence and philosophical meaning! Later, the mediocre Okinawan Karate-Do practitioner Funakoshi Gichin (who was in the pay of the Imperial Japanese government) would invent the bizarre falsehood that this ‘empty hand’ Japanese art was somehow linked to the Heart Sutra – a text popular amongst a certain stratum of well-off Japanese people – which discusses the inherent ‘emptiness’ of all phenomena. As the Imperial Japanese Army had subdued the war-like Taiwanese (Chinese) people by 1900, and given that the mass atrocities had killed many of the most effective leaders and removed tens of thousands of Chinese militants, I suspect that the very first Japanese ‘Karate-Do’ class (albeit ‘enforced’) was held on the subjugated Chinese island of Taiwan at some point from 1901 onwards – the date that the Imperial Japanese government introduced Karate-Do training as a keep-fit sport into all Japanese schools! Certainly, photographic evidence suggests that the Japanese (colonial) social control mechanism not only involved the brutality of public executions (often using traditional martial arts to kill the condemned), but also mass exercise sessions in public – very similar to how Japanese business personnel still start their working shifts today! Although Japan controlled Taiwan for fifty brutal years – until 1945 – the criminality did not stop there as the brutality of the dregs of the ‘Nationalist’ regime ‘invaded’ Taiwan and started a massacre of ALL those Chinese people who supported the Revolutionary Forces that finally came to power in 1949! This is a further ‘Crime Against Humanity’ and a ‘War Crime’ similar in magnitude to anything the Japanese committed – who also paid so-called Karate-Do experts to ‘Reverse-Punch’ condemned people to death who were tied to posts! This is part of the ‘dark’ history of Japanese-controlled Karate-Do that requires exposing!
Chinese Language References:
Master Lin Jingfeng (林竞峰) [1947-2018]
Mr Lin Jingfeng (林竞峰) [1947-2018] is an ethnic Chinese man born in Hong Kong who committed his life to establishing and normalizing an Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate-Do club within Hong Kong – amongst ethnic Chinese people. At his death (on July 21st, 2018), Mr Lin Jingfeng was considered a ‘Grand Master’ (师范 - Shi Fan) - pronounced ‘Shihan’ in the Japanese language. Due to the behaviour of the Imperial Japanese Army throughout Northeast and Southern China between 1931-1945 – and the hundreds of thousands Chinese men, women and children throughout China (and the millions killed and wounded throughout Asia) - the ethnic Chinese people understandably possessed (and still possess) a ‘dim’ view of Japanese morality and martial arts ability! The Japanese military forces had routinely carried-out endless atrocities – often using traditional martial arts as a vehicle for hurting, maiming and killing, etc! My family, like millions of others in China, have a direct experience of this barbarity which brought endless lineages to an end. I will not go into the horror of the details here, but I am building the picture so that the average non-Chinese reader will begin to understand just a little of the problems Mr Lin Jingfeng faced whilst trying to popularise Karate-Do within the ethnic Chinese cultural milieu – where many older people had witnessed Chinese prisoners tied to posts and ‘reversed-punched’ (Gyaku-zuki - 逆突き) to death by Japanese soldiers lining-up to take their turn landing three punches each with their left-hand and then their right-hand – until a Senior Japanese NCO would pronounce the victim ‘dead’ and order the body took down and dumped into a pile – and the next prisoner brought out to take their turn!
Mr Lin Jingfeng (林竞峰) [1964-2018] understood Goju Ryu in much the same manner that I do. In the late mid to late 1980s in the UK, I walked into a Goju Ryu Dojo in the city of Hereford and was astonished by what I encountered! Whilst travelling around the UK participating in various education courses (at a time when such endeavours were still ‘free’), my Hakka Chinese gongfu Master – Chan Tin Sang (1924-1993) - suggested that whilst keeping my Chinese background ‘secret’ (I look Western), I should attend a number of local martial arts schools (all of which appeared ‘Japanese’) learn as much as I can about their teachings, and then when I returned home, I could make a full report about what I had found. All the styles I had encountered were all variants on a theme with blocks, punches and kicks all seemingly replicating the Japanese sword systems (although I respected the motivations behind the Wado Ryu philosophy). The techniques were aggressive, delivered in a straight line and designed to demonstrate dominance at the point of first contact.
Goju Ryu Karate-Do looks and feels nothing like the average ‘Japanese’ Karate style! Chinese language historical sources are unclear about how long the Ryukyu Islands were a tributary State of China – but this relationship ended in 1879 when the islands were annexed by the Imperial Japanese regime. Not long after this, Higaonna Kanryo returned to Okinawa bringing with him a number of White Crane fighting styles, together with a number of ‘Southern Fist’ fighting Forms all gathered from martial arts Master living in and around the Fuzhou region of Fujian province. As these typically ‘Chinese’ styles advocate a system of self-defence premised upon the smooth interaction of yin and yang – this combined fighting style became known in Okinawa as ‘Goju’ or the ‘Hard-Soft’ School! The blocks are ‘rounded’ whilst the attacks are straight or circular and the stances are regularly transitioned from deep, to medium and high! This is all held together with a very well-timed ‘body-shifting’ ability! These techniques work because of the arduous body conditioning which the Goju Ryu student must undergo as part of the mind-body preparation process. This is reflected in the ‘tension’ retained whilst performing the Sanchin and Tensho Katas, etc.
Mr Lin Jingfeng (林竞峰) was 17 years old (during February 1964) when he first encountered a Goju Ryu Karate-Do class being held in Hong Kong. At this time, Hong Kong was still a British ‘colony’ and Japanese businesses were given free access to the island. This led to leisure clubs being established that existed for certain ethnic groups only. For instance, there were leisure clubs for ‘White’ British (where all non-Europeans were excluded), and there were similar clubs permitted by the British Colonial Authorities for the Japanese business community living within the colony. A Japanese-only Goju Ryu Karate-Do class was established at the Causeway Bay World Fitness Club. To gain entry an individual had to be ethnically Japanese or the ‘guest’ of an ethnic Japanese person. This is how Mr Lin Jingfeng (林竞峰) gained access to this Goju Ryu Karate-Do class that was then being held by a ‘Sensei Harada’. Mr Harada was a rich and influential businessman who possessed the right connections with the British Colonial Authorities. It was his (private) Goju Ryu Karate-Do class which was the ‘first’ Japanese martial arts class to have been established upon any Chinese territory post-1945. It is said that Mr Lin Jingfeng (林竞峰) was amongst the very first students accepted into the class – with the implication being that despite the strict colonial regulations – Mr Harada may well have intended to establish a class open to all!
In 1965 due to work reasons, Mr Harada had to return to Japan for a time. This meant that control of the Dojo passed into the hands of Mr Masaru Suzuki (later the founder of Shobukan) with Mr Hange Uehara (founder of the Okinawa Gojo Ryu Uehara Hang Dojo) as second-in-command. By this time, Mr Lin Lingfeng (林竞峰) had been training for nearly three years and had taken and passed his 1st Dan Blackbelt Test during December 1966 (Sensei Suzuki had presided over the grading and awarded the 1st Dan qualification). In 1968, the British Colonial Authorities permitted the establishment of an official ‘Japan Goju Ryu Association’ (organised by Mr Harada but this time with official diplomatic ties to the Japanese government) - with its own recognised public ‘Dojo’ that could (in theory) allow people of all ethnic groups to train together! As Mr Lin Jingfeng (林竞峰) was not Japanese, had never trained in Japan and had never graded in Japan – he was required to take his 1st Dan Blackbelt grading once again. After the official ‘opening’ of the new Dojo - Mr Lin Jingfeng (林竞峰) was re-examined under stricter testing conditions designed to satisfy the government of Japan. After his successful ‘Passing’ of this new examination for the grade he already possessed - Mr Lin Jingfeng (林竞峰) was awarded his new Certificate by Yamaguchi Gogen – whilst the grading itself was presided over by the representatives of Yamamoto Atsuyuki. After this, Mr Lin Jingfeng (林竞峰) successively obtained his 2nd and 3rd Dan qualifications through the ‘Japan Goju Ryu Association’. (The 2nd and 3rd Dan grades were overseen by representatives of Yamamoto Kagura – whilst Tasaki Shuji acted as witness and Yamaguchi Gogen issued the Certificates).
林竞峰师范 1947年 5月5日 出生於香港。1964年2月， 林先生未满17岁时参加了日商原田注先生在香港铜锣湾世界健身会场地里开办的日本刚柔会空手道班。这是香港的第一个空手道班，林竞峰先生是该班的第一批学生。1965年间 因工作原因，原田注先生一度回日本，道场经营者让铃木正文先生（后来正武馆的创立人）与上原恒先生（冲绳刚柔流上原恒道场）来代课。 林先生在这个空手道班中坚持训练了接近三年，1966年12月取得初段资格（铃木正文主持考核颁发段位资格）。1968年 日本刚柔会 （原田先生的组织）正式成立道场后，林先生复考日本刚柔会初段资格 （山本权之兵衞主持考核，山口刚玄签发证书） ，之后林先生相续取得日本刚柔会的二段与三段资格（两次考核都由山本権之兵卫，田崎修司一起主持，由山口刚玄签发段位证书）。
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.