Brief Biographical survey of Grandmaster Nguyen Te Cong (1877-1959)

By Grandmaster Nam Anh, 1999

In the 9th century A.D. under the Tang dynasty, lived the Venerable monk Te Cong, who was called the "living Buddha". He passed himseld off as an itinerant fool, all the while carrying out many projects that were beneficial to the oppressed peasantry.

Several centuries later, in memory of this illustrious personnage, Yuen Chai Wan would choose the surname of "Nguyen Te Cong" or the "incarnation of Te Cong".

Descended from a bourgeois familly, Yuen Chai Wan and his younger brother Yuen Kay San were initiated in the martial arts from childhood under the direction of Grandmaster Fung Siu Ching, a retired military officer.

A few years later, due to the deteriorating state of his health, Grandmaster Fung Siu Chung decided to send the talented Chai Wan to Fok Bo Chuen (Pho-Ba-Quyen), a colleague who had converted to monasticism under the name of Giac Hai Dai Su, to complete his training at the Temple of the Diamond. Yuen Chai Wan spent seven years housed in this pagoda perfecting his techniques in the company of Nguyen Trung and Nguyen Minh (Hoang Tuong Fong).

He came to Vietnam around 1930 at the invitation of the chinese associations to teach Wing Chun to the families of the aristocrates and to the well-to-do. The varied technical achievements of the exceptionnaly talented Grandmaster Nguyen Te Cong were quickly recognised.

In 1937, residing with his heir disciple Cam Thuc Cuong, on Hang Buom street (Hanoi, Vietnam), he began to teach the vietnamese middle-class.

During the Second World War (1939-1945), under the slogan of "The Great Asia", the japanese seized all countries in South-East Asia. In Vietnam, as in China, the movement against the Japanese became increasingly widespread. Te Cong joined the resistance, became a general and was known under the name of Luong Vu Te. He was intensely pursued by the Royal Japanese police from whom he escaped, leaving behind him a trail studded with corpses and the many legendary anecdotes that arose out of these encounters.

In 1954, he emigrated to South-Vietnam with his familly where he lived as a medical herbalist in Cholon (the chinese quarter of Saigon) till his last day. He died in 1959 in the company of his daughter, Mrs. Dung, and Dr. Le Ba Kha, his close disciple.


  • Nam Anh copyright holder and author