Sunday, June 21, 2009


A school could not have just one teacher. Although Yu Jim Yuen's ability was outstanding, he relied on his brother Yu Jim Sin for singing. Each member of Master Yu's teaching team served a purpose and advantage. Master Yu was responsible for acrobatic training; Si Mo was in charge of daily living and student order; teaching the students singing had to be the extremely talented Master Uncle.

High Pitch Noise Highly Damaging

Perhaps without Master Uncle, Jackie Chan would not have his Beijing opera singing voice today. Every one of Seven Little Fortunes are able to sing and fight completely because of their hellish training back then.

Master Yu's teaching attitude was strict, the cane against habitually mischievous disciples could take off the matter after several dozen lashes. Yet it was not match for Master Uncle's "spiritual torture". He carried with him a "explosively noisy" weapon erhu, the damage which it caused was no less than Old Evil Wong's jade flute song.

The erhu and Master Uncle were one and could not be separated. He only played erhu for Seven Little Fortunes' voice training. Yet students who were not occupied would always make noise and disturb Master Uncle's teaching. When he could tolerate no more, he would play noise on his erhu to shut everyone up.

Yuen Ju and Little Brother Yuen Lun recalled, "Master Uncle was very neurotic. Sometimes when we were amazingly loud, he would play the erhu by our ears so it sounds like thunder. It was quite a bother and scared us quiet."

Actually Master Uncle was so neurotic only because he cared so much about Seven Little Fortunes' learning progress. In order to train an opera player who would play both action and drama, martial art training alone was not enough. Yet training already took up most students' time. With education and performance who had time to sing? Master Uncle could only sacrifice his personal time and deliberately taught late at night. He indeed meant well.

Second sister Yuen Po said, "We spent seven full years performing at the Lai Chi Kok amusement park every night. Master Uncle taught all of the singing. We had no script either and relied on memorization for everything. So Master Uncle often woke us up to practice in the early mornings of 2 or 3."

Leaving Home, Contributing To Opera

"It takes ten years for tree to grown but a hundred years to bring up a generation of good men." In the life of Yu Jim Sin, perhaps helping the younger generation was more important than family. Back then, he was determined to leave his wife and child in the Mainland and came to Hong Kong alone to help his brother educate. Before the two, he chose to spend the energy of his life on contributing to opera.

Yuen Po said, "Actually Master Uncle was pretty tragic. Leaving his wife and kids and coming to Hong Kong alone, he had to face us screaming kids. He didn't even get to sleep."

Personal sacrifice for the big picture indeed was Yu Jim Sin's mantra. If time went backward, when Yu Jim Sin returned to the fork on the road then, would he choose to be with his family or educate Seven Little Fortunes? If Master Uncle Yu chose the former, Seven Little Fortunes' fate definitely would not be the same. (10)

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