Monday, July 20, 2009


15 years passed after he left, perhaps Master Yu Jim Yuen never imagined that a trip to the U.S. would change his life. His daughter Yuen Yu defends her old father, Master Yu liked this big nation of America too much. He liked the better air quality here so he settled here. Yet Master Yu's "departure" ultimately had drips of homesickness.

The U.S. disbanding has always been on Master Yu's mind. It became the regret of his life and shame when he faced his disciples. Back then Master Yu decided to cultivate Beijing Opera roots in Hong Kong, the effort of which he spent was immeasurable. The years of operating the school left a permanent mark on his heart, he remembered his daughter Yu So Chau's brilliance; Sammo Hung Kam Bo's cleverness; Jackie Chan's irritations; Yuen Wah's mischiefs; the fun times at Man Wai building; theapplause at the Lai Chi Kok Amusement Park......everything remained in his mind without fading despite being in the New World of America, instead they became more colorful as times passed.

Alzheimer's, Humorous Personality

Master Yu settled in the U.S. in 1973. 15 years later, his disciples invited him to return to Hong Kong for a birthday banquet. Returning home to Hong Kong, the then 86 year old Master Yu saw the fruit of his labor branching out and felt comforted in his old age. At the time he said, "After 15 years away from Hong Kong, this time I stay in Hong Kong for three weeks and realize that a lot have changed in Hong Kong. The most memorable for me was when I arrived in Hong Kong that night, although it was late at night, still a dozen or so disciples came to pick me up. Witnessing most of them grown and made something of themselves, and with children of their own, I was so happy at that moment that I cried."

Three weeks later, Master Yu bid farewell to Hong Kong with a wipe of his old tears. As Yu Kwang-chung's poem NOSTALGIA FOR MY HOMETOWN went, "Now nostalgia for my hometown is a shallow strait, I am here and Mainland is there."

After years in the U.S. and very advanced in age, Master Yu's temper has eased a lot already. In old age he suffered from Alzheimer's disease, as if he has returned to childhood. Always particular about food before, he fell for the fast food culture; when in Rome do as the Roman do he fell in love with McDonald's; Master Yu was discreet in his speech and manner before, but in old age he became of master of humor.

Yuen Yu recalls, "Back then when Papa went to the U.S., he always accepted disciples. He never gave up his passion for Beijing Opera. Later he suffered from Alzheimer's, many brothers came to visit him. Papa already enjoyed joking with his disciples and became very humorous. He also liked to play mahjong, even though he obviously had a false victory he still said 'You lost' and made people submit. He was very lovable."

Gap Vanished, Became One

Master Yu's personality change to Seven Little Fortunes who have always only feared him was particularly emotional. Yuen Ju says, "In 1988 when Master came back, his personality was very different from before, much milder than before. I finally had the guts to talk to him and joked around with him." Even so, god son Jackie Chan was still very respectful to Master Yu and did not dare to forget his manners. He says, "Back then I went to the U.S. to visit master. He saw me prop my foot up and said, 'Take a look at yourself', my chest skipped a beat. Maybe I was habitually afraid of him!" (31)

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