Sifu Alan Neeld
It was over 35 years ago as a young boy of 14 when I first turned into the shadows of Temple Passage, a short narrow street that ran along side the offices and shops that fronted Temple Street in Birmingham.
Originally coming from a small town in Staffordshire where the tallest building was the church spire, the office blocks and department stores that now surrounded me were all a little too large and a little too close together for my liking, and finding myself gingerly walking down the dark back alley that was Temple Passage I was well out of my comfort zone. The one small light illuminating my way, hanging on a small piece of wire could have been no more than 40 watts, but in the shadows of the back alleys of Birmingham I was so glad it was there.
First Encounters… A flush of light from an open door cast an eerie glow into the dark winters night, my heart was thumping like a steam hammer and my hands were clammy with sweat, all this and I hadn’t even entered the building yet. A short flight of stairs lay before me, I was petrified. Little did I know that the decision I was about to make, was about to change my life, and my destiny, forever.
I stood there at the top of those stairs for ages, a damp musty smell permeated my nostrils, and although not offensive it certainly wasn’t pleasant. That smell would remain with me for the rest of my life, always reminding me of the hardship I would go through in the coming years, and it wasn’t long before I found out what it was, sweat, lots and lots of sweat!!!
The Master… Since those first tentative steps into the world of Kung Fu I have never looked back. The Chinese man I feared all those years ago was Master of “LAU GAR KUNG FU”, Jeremy Yau, 35+ years on he is now like a father to me.
The techniques he has taught me, and is still teaching me, have shaped my life in ways no one but I will ever understand. The way I move, the way I think, even the way I breathe is all down to Master Yau’s teachings, and the techniques of Lau Gar Kung Fu.
Link to the Past… A living link to the past, Master Yau has allowed me, a mere boy from a small town in the country into the secret world of Chinese Martial Arts, teaching me the skills, and techniques that were passed down to him from his Grandfather and Master, Yau Luk Sau and his Master’s before him.
Honour… I am proud to be able to say, I am amongst a small number of students who have had the privilege of being taught only by Master Yau and Master Yau alone, an honour that I am thankful for every day of my life.
My obligation to him and to the style is to have the same commitment, dedication, and fortitude that was given to me, when teaching my own students, this I gladly do.
(Sifu Alan Neeld @ Shaolin Temple, Henan Province, Dengfeng, China)
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