Born in Hong Kong in 1942 (the year of the horse), he came to Great Britain in April of 1961 at the age of 19. Fluent in English, having had a very good education as a child in Hong Kong, he soon found work in one of the many Chinese restaurants in London and began to settle into life in a new country.
Whilst having to work to earn a living, Kung Fu training for Master Yau was everything. Unable to find an instructor in England to compare to his master and Grandfather Yau Luk Sau, he soon realised that to develop and hone his skills further he had only himself to rely on. Daily he would move the tables and chairs to the side of the restaurant where he worked and spend hours practising his Kung Fu. This type of work and daily life went on for some years until eventually Master Yau found himself living and working in Birmingham where he finally had the opportunity to start his own full-time club.
British Kung Fu Association
In 1972 The British Kung Fu Association was launched with Master Yau at its head. With world-wide interest in Kung Fu soaring, primarily due to the popularity of the Bruce Lee films at the time, The British Kung Fu Association quickly grew, and soon gained a reputation for producing world-class martial artists and tournament fighters.
Throughout the 1970’s and 80’s practitioners of Lau Gar, from the British Kung Fu association were taking their Lau Gar skills and techniques to tournaments throughout the country, winning trophies, invariably Gold medals, at every major event, much to the annoyance of the martial artists from the various other styles, who to that point had dominated the tournament circuit in Great Britain.
This renaissance of the Lau Gar fighting skills into an acceptable format for tournament fighting was one of a number of innovations that Master Yau brought to the country when he arrived. Initially, the traditional full contact way of fighting, Lau Gar was renowned for in Hong Kong, was adapted for use in competition in the west, and as outlined earlier in this article proved most effective. Subsequently, other less well-known innovations in martial arts were introduced to great Britain, innovations that Master Yau should be credited for, such as the introduction of Full contact fighting to the tournament circuit, and then the inclusion of ladies in tournaments fighting.
For Master Yau, being a winner in Great Britain alone was just the beginning. Regularly he would escort the B.K.F.A`s fighting squad to tournaments abroad, where very soon European and World titles were being won and brought back to the B.K.F.A. headquarters in Birmingham.
In early interviews Master Yau was often asked why a traditional style like Lau Gar did so well in competition. To which he simply replied “I don’t know”. However, the truth is, if the opposition couldn’t see it for themselves, he certainly wasn’t going to tell them.
Practice, Practice and more Practice !
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