Grandmaster Wong Ark Yuey was born in Canton. His home village was Toysun Tien Cum Chien.
His grandfather, the head of the family, wanted all males learn Kung Fu. His well-to-do family was worried by the persistent threat of bandits in the area. A family dispute had precipitated the rule that each Wong member would start Kung Fu training the same time they began their schooling. Young Ark Yuey took to this immediately and started training at the local Siu Lum (Southern for Shaolin) Temple. He began with Lam Ark Fun, an elder teacher in Choy Lai Fut. Not only Kung Fu but herbal medicine was also learned with this teacher and Wong used this medical knowledge for the remainder of his life. Another teacher was Ho Ark Yeng, a leading Mok Gar instructor. Both these men had been hired to teach Wong family members.
When Ark Yuey attended college he taught Kung Fu privately. At this time he met Pang, chief monk of Canton and esteemed as one of China's top fighters. He spent a year and half with Pang. It was now that Pang demonstrated more internal powers such as action at a distance. This was Wong's first exposure to Nei Gong. Due to civil strife Wong was forced at this point to return to his village.
Next Wong Ark Yuey decided to open a local Kung Fu school. When his fellow teachers saw his Lion Dance demonstration ( a favorite of Wong's) at a festival he was elected to be a "Master", all at the age of 19.
In 1921 Wong arrived in the United States. He learned acupuncture and herbs from his uncle there. He doctored many people and along with teaching Lion and Dragon dancing to the Chinese community Wong made quite a name for himself in the time during and after World War 2 within the California Chinese community; in Oakland, San Francisco and Stockton. He also taught the Five Ancestors Boxing . Finally he ended up in Los Angeles, initially teaching his fighting art only to Wong family members. After a couple of years he opened his War Que or overseas Chinese Martial Arts kwoon. In 1931 he returned to China to teach his family members. Then, in 1934, he returned to L. A. and began a long attendance at his school. In fact, when he opened his school to ALL people interested in Kung Fu in 1965, he was one of the first teachers in the world to offer Kung Fu outside the Chinese community.
Master Wong's curriculum was large. He taught the Five Ancestors style composed of teaching from
FUT (Palm arts0
LI (Strong, quick blocking)
and MOK (Kicking).
He also showed numerous animal arts: Tiger, Dragon, Crane, Leopard and Snake; along with more obscure animals such as Chicken, Rat and others. He taught Tai Chi Chuan, Five Element Boxing, Hop Gar (White Crane), 18 traditional weapons and Lion/Dragon dancing,. He also treated clients with Chinese acupuncture, herbs (his Di Da Jow was famous) and massage.
Personally, we once had an old 8mm film of Master Wong demonstrating his favored Tiger Form at a very early session of Ed Parker's Internationals (possibly the first ). He performed beautifully then, toward the end of the form, fell right down in a "dragon drop"; calves splayed to the sides, butt on the ground. Next he raised himself up effortlessly and finished the form. A great performane. Many famous people studied with Ark Yuey Wong and for many years he was most of the Kung Fu available in this country.
Some people believe that the destruction of the Southern Temple in 1927 pretty much ended the complete Five Ancestors System, Wong being one of the few holders of the entire curriculum and certainly the highest in the U.S. .
Master Wong's grandson, Se Ming Ma, continues to advance the art into the 21st century.
See Se Ming Ma's DVD of Five Family Fist.