YUEN LING was born in 1921 in Guangdong, Sun Wui, to a large family. While he was still young, his family lost its fortune due to the depression. He went with his older brother to Fatsan where they made a living peddling food from a pushcart at the railroad station.
At the railroad station, there were plenty of other food vendors and disputes were, more often than not, always settled with the use of force. Deaths were not uncommon. Grandmaster Yuen was known for his kung fu fighting skills and was able to establish an important position for himself within the Fatsan railroad station vendors’ community.
Grandmaster Yuen studied Old Style Hung Ga kung fu under a sifu who was nicknamed Sau Gau (Thin Dog). Old Style Hung Ga is a branch of the art not through Wong Fei Hung. During the 1940’s, with China engulfed in World War II, Grandmaster Yuen escaped to Hong Kong and settled in at the Shau Kai Wan Fish Market to make a living. Like the Fatsan railroad station, only the strong survived the vending competition. It was here that he met Grandmaster Tang Fung.
Grandmaster Yuen became Tang Fung’s last disciple. He learned Hung Ga and Dit Da medicine, as passed down by Wong Fei Hung, from Grandmaster Tang Fung. Being a strong-willed, intelligent and capable person, it was not long before Grandmaster Yuen established himself as the Number One person at the Shau Kai Wan Fish Market, with control of all the seafood distribution throughout Hong Kong.
During this period, he also established a school at Main Street East, where he taught Hung Ga kung fu and treated patients at his clinic. Grandmaster Yuen was well known and legendary for his “negotiation” skills in settling disputes for his students, neighbors, friends and association. He would often attend these negotiations alone, carrying nothing save the iron whip-chain he wrapped around his waist. He would sit down with the opposition to discuss the issues and, if the negotiation did not go well, he would settle the matter with force.
Grandmaster Yuen was also proficient in lion dancing. He was well known for his Ngauh Chat Sau Dai Si. His black lion head was famous throughout Hong Kong for its run-ins with other lions and dragons; having never lost in these encounters. He always emerged victorious, just as he did in the Cheurng Pao contests. He was also famous for his Dit Da medicine – jow, paste and pills.
Due to the tremendous strain of running both the fish market and the kung fu school, while suffering from stomach cancer, Grandmaster Yuen’s health took a turn for the worse. He died in 1966 at the young age of 45. On the day of his funeral, martial artists from all over Hong Kong, as well as members of the law enforcement and underworld communities came to pay their respects. It was one of the largest funeral processions in Hong Kong’s history.