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The Ten Tigers of Canton [廣東十虎]

Many refer to the 1800’s as the Golden Age of Kung Fu [功夫] and during the mid 1800’s ten heroes arose in southern China that would become legends and patriots for their anti Qing [反清清朝] (Manchurian) beliefs. These ten Kung Fu masters 
[功夫大師] lived in Guangdong Province [廣東省] and so would assume the title of the Ten Tigers of Guangdong [廣東十虎], (can also be known as the Ten Tigers of Canton, or Kwangtung depending on the different dialects). Some of these ten martial artists were classed as Shaolin lay-disciples, meaning that although they were not monks, they were directly connected to the Shaolin Temple [少林寺]. 

Some studied at Shaolin [少林], while others were taught by Shaolin monks
[少林僧] that had escaped from the Southern Shaolin Temples [南少林寺] at
Putian [莆田] or Quanzhow [泉州] before their destruction or by these
monks lay disciples [俗家弟子].

It is known that many of the Ten Tigers of Guangdong [廣東十虎] were initially trained in the Tiger style [虎] that was in the process of being refined and developed into the style known as Hung Kuen [洪拳] at that time. Although these were originally taught the Hung Kuen [洪拳] style, they all had their own individual skills and specialties which made them unique. Some on these then went on to add in their own ideas and methods and so developing their own different style.

1. Wong Yan-Lam
(traditional Chinese: 王隱林; simplified Chinese: 王隐林; pinyin: Wang Yinlin)  
Wong Yan-Lam [王隱林] (sometimes spelt Wong Yein-Lam) was a student of the Tibetan monk Sing Lung [聖龍], who was a master of “Lion’s Roar [獅子吼]” Kung-Fu [功夫]. Wong Yan-Lam [王隱林] developed this style which later splintered into
Lama Pai [喇嘛派] (Tibetan Lama Buddhist style), Hop Gar Kuen [俠家] (Hap family style or Chivalrous boxing) and Baak hok kuen [白鶴派] (White crane style).

2. Wong Ching-Hoh
(traditional Chinese: 黃澄可; simplified Chinese: 黄澄可; pinyin: Huang Chengke)
Wong Ching-Hoh [黃澄可] (sometimes spelt Wong Cheng-Ho) was a student of a Luk Ah Choi / Lu A Cai [陆阿采]. He became a master of the Nine Dragon Fist style [九龍拳] of Kung Fu [功夫] which he had created from the various styles he had previously studied.

3. So Hak Fu
(traditional Chinese: 蘇黑虎; simplified Chinese: 苏黑虎; pinyin: Su Heihu 
So [蘇] was more commonly known by his nickname of So Hak Fu [蘇黑虎] (sometimes spelt Sou Hak Fu & So Hark Fu). He was a student of the Shaolin monk [少林僧]  Sam Dak / San De [三德] (who was also known by various aliases including Siu Dak / Zhao De [兆德] & Iron Arms / Tien Bay / Tie bi [鐵臂]). So Hak Fu [蘇黑虎] studied at the Kwangtung Shaolin temple [廣東少林寺] and he later created his own style called Hak Fu Mun [蘇黑虎] (Gate of the Black Tiger style).

4. Wong Kei-Ying
(traditional Chinese: 黃麒英; simplified Chinese: 黄麒英; pinyin: Huang Qiying)  
Wong Kei-Ying [黃麒英] (sometimes spelt Wong Khei-Yin) first studied under his father, Wong Tai [黃泰] before becoming a student of Luk Ah-Choi / Lu A Cai
[陆阿采] who trained him in the Hung Kuen [洪拳] style.
Wong Kei-Ying [黃麒英] was also a highly skilled practitioner in the Shaolin pole [少林棍and was also trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine [中醫]. He had his own clinic called
Po Chi Lam / Bao Zhi Lin [

5. Lai Yan-Chiu
(traditional Chinese: 黎仁超; simplified Chinese: 黎仁超: Pinyin: Li Renchao)
Lai Yan-Chiu [
黎仁超] was a practitioner of the Hakka Kuen [客家拳] which is also known as Southern Praying Mantis [南派螳螂]. He was not a full-time Kung Fu master [功夫大師] like many of the other Tigers, but had his own business running a
Pawn Shop called Shun Hang Pawnshop [信亨押店]. He was renowned for his skill performing the Seven Star Fist routine / Chuk Sing Kuen / Qi Xing Quan [七星拳]

6. So Chan / So Huk Yee
(traditional Chinese: 蘇燦; simplified Chinese: 苏灿; pinyin: Su Can)  
So Chan [蘇燦was more commonly known by his nickname of So Huk Yee
蘇乞兒(sometimes spelt So Hut Yee) which means Beggar So. He was originally trained in a Hung Kuen [洪拳style by the Shaolin Monk [少林僧] known as the Venerable Chan Fook [but was famous for his “Drunken” style of Kung Fu / Zui quan [醉拳and was an expert of the Shaolin pole [少林棍


7. Leung Kwan / Tit kiu Saam
(traditional Chinese: 梁坤; simplified Chinese: 梁坤; pinyin: Liang Kun)  
Leung Kwan’s [梁坤nickname was Tit kiu Saam / Tie Qiao San [鐵橋三
(sometimes spelt Tit Kew Sam) which literally means “Iron Bridge Three” and he was a Hung Kuen [洪拳practitioner. He had several teachers as a boy, but the Shaolin monk [少林僧] known as the Venerable
Gwok Yan [覺因] is credited as been the most significant and influential during his youth. Although he would take on students, he spent most of his life continuing to learn and study martial arts
武術from other Masters [功夫大師].


8. Chan Cheung-Tai / Tit Chee Chan
(traditional Chinese: 陳長泰; simplified Chinese: 陈长; pinyin: Chen zhangtai)  
Chan Cheung-Tai [陳長泰] was more commonly known by his nickname of
Tit Chee Chan [
鐵指陳] (sometimes spelt Tit Ji or Chi Chan / Tie Zhi Chen) which means Iron Finger Chen. He was an expert at the
Shaolin method of
Diamond Finger / Yak Chee Sim Kung Fu / Yi Zhi Jin Gang Fa [
(Siu Lum Kam Kung Chee [
少林金刚指]). Chan Cheung-Tai [陳長泰] was trained in both the Hung Kuen [洪拳] style and the Shaolin [少林] style of
Eagle Claw / Jing Jar [鷹爪] Kung Fu [功夫]. It is not known who his teacher was, but it is believed to have been a Shaolin Monk [少林僧].

9. Tam Chai-Kwan
traditional Chinese: 譚濟筠; simplified Chinese: 谭济; pinyin: Tan Jijun)  
Tam Chai-Kwan [
譚濟筠] (sometimes spelt Tam Chai Hok or Tam Chai Wen) was also known by the nickname of Sam Kuk Tam / Tanji He [三脚谭], which means Three Leg Tam due to three types of kicks he would use when fighting.
Tam Chai-Kwan [譚濟筠] was trained in the Huadu style of Hung Kuen [花都洪拳] by Tam Min / Tan Min [譚敏] who was a former disciple [武術弟子] of
Hung Hei-Kwun [

10. Chau Tai
(traditional Chinese:
鄒泰; simplified Chinese: ; pinyin: Zou Tai)   
Chau Tai [鄒泰](sometimes spelt Jau Taai or Chow Thye) was a student of a
monk called 
Law Mui Hing /Luo Mao Xing [羅茂興], who was a disciple from the lineage of Yeung ng long /Yang Wulang [楊五郎]. Chau Tai [鄒泰] was skilled in the Yang Family martial arts and an expert the Yang Family Spear /Yeung Ka Cheong / Yang Jia Qiang [楊家枪] from which he formulated his own style of Zhou Family Bagua Staff /Chau Gar Ba Gua Gwun [周家八卦棍].

Through the individual histories of the Ten Tigers [廣東十虎], we know there was definitely some connections and interactions between several of these esteemed masters [功夫大師]. How deep this interaction went is hard to say, but it is known that certain ideas, methods and routines [套路] were definitely exchanged. Some of these histories state that besides a mutual respect for each other, several of these masters [功夫大師] actually regarded each other as good friends. It is known that the Ten Tigers of Guangdong / Kwong Tung Sap Fu [廣東十虎] where also chosen for their anti-Ching / anti-Qing [反清清朝] beliefs and deeds. It is therefore possible that some of these masters [功夫大師] may have worked together in their anti-Ching / anti-Qing [反清清朝] activities.

Paul Burkinshaw is in the process of writting a detailed history of the Ten Tigers of Canton which will hopefully be released in mid 2017.