Club History – Pak Mei Kung Fu – UK
Brief history of the early days (1970’s through to early 2000) of Pak Mei Kung Fu in London:
The early days of Pak Mei Kung fu in the United Kingdom was under the name of Sifu Tang Cho Tak the UK’s representative for the system from Cheung Bing Faat lineage – 3rd son of Sijo Cheung Lai Chuen.
Sifu Tang came to London during the 70’s with his wife and began teaching a small Chinese group whom approached Sifu Tang to teach the traditional, authentic art of Pak Mei (White Eyebrow) Kung Fu. Originally in those days the training sessions were held in the basement of the Lee Ho Fook restaurant in London’s Chinatown. According to Sifu Tang and my daih si hings (senior kung fu brothers – Malcolm Man, the late Ivor Lochran, Yau Nin Man, Robert Tsang, Richard Foong, Chan Honfan, Jim Gordon, Si Jeh Peko McKweown to name but a few) who trained during that time, the training was intense and took a very no-nonsense approach to training.
From the mid to late 80’s, the classes started to open up to accepting western students to learning kung fu and Chinese lion dance. Those westerner’s that were lucky enough to have been introduced or even have stumbled on the system were indeed, very lucky as during this period most martial arts being taught or trained was either Judo or Karate. Within London’s Chinatown, Sifu Tang’s reputation grew as being known as one of the few highly skilled teachers openly instructing people in the art of Pak Mei (White Eyebrow) Kung Fu.
During the 90’s, Sifu Tangs school grew into quite a few clubs being taught around London (Covent Garden, South Kensington, Euston, Hackney) and out as far as Dartford, Sidcup and Brighton. It was at this point around the mid 90’s, Sifu Tang started his full time kwoon in Balham, south London where he and his appointed instructors were teaching 4 – 5 days a week including Chinese lion dancing classes.
Sifu Tang retired from teaching kung fu towards the late 90’s and returned to Hong Kong. During this only a few of the classes remained and continued to practice without the watchful eye of Sifu Tang and eventually the classes began to close and only the remaining, ardent students practiced together when ever they could meet up and/or when the school/members gathered for various official dinners.
Pak Mei (White Eyebrow) Kung Fu from 2005 to present day in UK and Europe:
In May 2005, Sifu Dave Stevens opened his first class in Pak Mei (White Eyebrow) Kung Fu in the heart of London’s Covent Garden after receiving the permissions to teach authentic Pak Mei Kung Fu from Sifu Tang Cho Tak and the late Si Bak Gung Cheung Bing Lum – 2nd son of Cheung Lai Chuen in Hong Kong.
Through the years from 2005 - 2008, the classes have grown steadily with students from the first three students that joined with many of the originally students still continuing their advancement in the art of Pak Mei Kung Fu. This is a true testament to the Pak Mei system that everyone that walks through the door, comes for a reason and though many students have came to the classes it is those that have stayed, who have seen an insight into what an authentic traditional style has to offer.
During one of Sifu Stevens’ trips to Hong Kong and China in 2008 while meeting Sifu Huang Zhi Jun in Chow Qing along with Sifu Tang. Sifu Tang explained his wish to Sifu Stevens, that he should look at spreading the Cheung Bing Faat/Tang Cho Tak lineage into Europe to all those that are genuinely interested in learning this unique and rare art of traditional, authentic Chinese martial art.
In early 2009, Sifu Stevens was invited by David Oliver Bermudez who lived in Huelva, a costal town on the south west coast of Spain near to the border of Portugal to come and teach Pak Mei Kung Fu in Huelva. David Oliver Bermudez having first learnt his Pak Mei originally from Sifu YC Wong in Chattanooga, Tennessee who unfortunately passed away in 2010, now learns directly from Sifu Stevens after establishing a firm foundation in the basic principles and concepts of Pak Mei Kung Fu.
It is now in 2011, Sifu Stevens has officially opened his first club representing his lineage in Huelva, Spain.
From the beginning the class opening in 2005 to the present day, Sifu Dave Stevens has worked tirelessly in keeping his promise to Sifu Tang and the Elders of Pak Mei clan in promoting, developing and preserving the authentic art and teaching that has been passed down to him along with the help of some of his kung fu brothers (late Ivor Lochran and Chris Tappenden) and his senior students to ensure that Pak Mei (White Eyebrow) is kept alive and kicking in the UK and Europe.
Each club whether in London or Huelva, welcomes all interested parties who are genuinely looking to learn this rare art and help go on to preserve, promote and develop the system further for future generations.