Wednesday, February 19, 2014


When I was little my mother made me try at age 6.  Mother would hit me when I couldn't achieve her goal
From all the training I had muscles after I grew up and my kung fu was also at a certain level
courtesy of

My father Yen Wan Lung was an editor of Boston's Sing Tao Daily, my mother Mak Bo Sim was a Tai Chi master who founded the China Wu Shu Research Center in Boston. I was born in Guangzhou, at age 2 my father brought me to Hong Kong. Then he applied for Mother to come, which unexpectedly took 8 years. Father once worked at a San Po Kong clothing factory. At the time we lived in Kwun Tong. Father in order to make a living could not constantly keep me company, mainly Grandma raised me. However every Saturday and Sunday they would definitely be family days. Father would take me to Kai Tak Amusement Park and Lai Chi Kok Amusement Park to play, to Sha Tin Treasure Floating Restaurant for seafood, to Lung Wah for squab, to the movies, ONE ARMED SWORDSMAN (DIK BEI DOH), RAGE OF THE WIND (MAN FU HA SAN) and Bruce Lee's movies.

At age 11 my entire family immigrated to the U.S. At the time due to poor economic conditions and we did not know any English, at first we stayed with relatives. Half a year later we moved to a small unit in Chinatown but still needed financial assistance from the U.S. government. I still remember at the time we went to get food with food stamps, I could pocket the charge for myself and I was very happy. Under a difficult environment, Mother began to operate a Chinese wushu research center in Chinatown.

Actually when Mother was in Hong Kong, she taught wushu at parks and had many disciples. So she had a little fame. After the school opened came because of that, people of different skins too and many university students. Father was the strongest backer of Mother's school opening, as Father was responsible for its administration and management. Mother meanwhile focused on accepting students. She would begin teaching students from 6AM and would not return home until very late. Since age 10 Mother would make me get up every morning at 6AM to train. Looking back now if I did not have those days, I could not have possibly become one of the representative figures of Hong Kong martial art films. Now Mother is in semi retirement, but the school is still in operation. She has many students that are like family.

Although the school was in Chinatown too and not far from home, because my parents had to make a living they were rarely at home. If I did not have lunch at school, I would either have fast food outside or open canned food at home. Dinner was the same way. Mother was quite thrifty, she bought an electric rice cooker for the school. She would steam a sausage or a piece of fish, which would make her meals for the day. The family had very few days that they were able to sit down and eat together, which was the environment that I grew up in.

After immigrating to the U.S. I often complained, feeling that other people's families often dined together and had family warmth. Later I finally understood how much my parents gave, especially after I became a father. I looked back at how difficult and tough the environment was back then, my parents actually was still able to provide me with ample education and encouragement. Otherwise I would not be here today. - DONNIE YEN CHI TAN

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