Sensei Lam performs a flying kick in the Mong Kok Dojo (Sensei Sunday Lau acted as his uke), circa 1975.

Shihan Lam King Fung was born on the 5th of May 1947. In February of 1964,just shy of 17 years old, Sensei Lam enrolled into the karate class of Harada Sosogu Sensei. Harada Sensei was a Japanese businessman who was the first sensei to start a karate class in Hong Kong. He began to teach Goju-Kai Karate in the Causeway Bay area in Hong Kong round about 1964, and Sensei Lam was one of his first students. Sometime in 1965, because of his work Harada Sensei had to return to Japan, and the dojo manager invited Suzuki Masafumi (Founder of the Okinawan Goju-Ryu Seibukan) and Uehara Ko Sensei (Okinawan Goju-Ryu Uehara Dojo) to take-over as karate instructors. Sensei Lam continued to train in this class until he received his Shodan grade in December of 1966 (Grading was conducted by Suzuki Masafumi) . In 1968, after the Goju-Kai re-established their karate class in Hong Kong, Sensei Lam re-graded with the Goju-Kai for Shodan (Yamamoto Gonnohyoue acted as examiner and Yamaguchi Gogen issued the certificate of proficiency). Thereafter Sensei Lam passed his second and third Dan grading with the Goju-Kai (In both instances Yamamoto Gonnohyoue Sensei and Tasaki Shuji Sensei acted as joint examiners and Yamaguchi Gogen issued the certificates of proficiency).

At this time, a Japanese Sensei called Takahashi Kai came over from Japan to assume the position of branch chief, and he taught in the Hong Kong Dojo while Sensei Lam taught in the Kowloon Dojo. Sensei Lam’s karate sensei in this period was Yamamoto Gonnohyoue. In the late 60s and early 70s of the last century, karate was a Japanese Martial-Art newly introduced to Hong Kong, and it faced all manner of challenges from the local martial arts community. Sensei Lam and his fellow students could overcome these raw-challenges because they had undergone the toughest of training regimes.This approach to training and to karate was due to the influence of two excellent masters, Uehara Ko Sensei and Yamamoto Sensei and it made the calibre of that generation of karateka in Hong Kong, and Sensei Lam was acknowledged as the foremost amongst that generation of Hong Kong karateka. The word soon spread that these early Goju students of the Kowloon group could more than hold their own in the arena, and the art soon flourished. This early period in the history of karate in Hong Kong produced many successful karateka who branched out into other styles, as well as several successful pioneers of Thai-boxing and Kickboxing in the colony.

In 1972, Yamamoto Gonnohyoue Sensei left the Goju-Kai and invited Sensei Lam to join his new organization, the IKO Goju-Ryu. Sensei Lam agreed and assumed the responsibility of teaching karate in the IKO Hong Kong Dojo and Kowloon Dojo. However, Sensei Lam had long desired to attain a deeper understanding of Goju-Ryu karate, something he felt he could only achieve if he went to Okinawa to learn from the source. Hence, in 1973, in a show of respect, Sensei Lam travelled to Japan to state his reasons in person and tender his resignation to Yamamoto Sensei. Yamamoto Sensei amicably accepted Sensei Lam’s resignation and gave him these parting words of advice, “Leaving my organisation or any organisation isn’t important, but never abandon the true path of karate.” In 1974 Sensei Lam arrived in Naha City and asked for Uehara Ko Sensei’s help in achieving his aims of learning true Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate. In those days, Uehara Ko Sensei had just left the Jundokan and as a result he preferred to teach Okinawan Kobudo rather than Karate. Hence he made arrangements for Sensei Lam to train in the Jundokan. Although the Jundokan was the largest dojo in Okinawa in those days in terms of dojo floor space, there was a lull in training in that period because of the departure of many of its senior members. Although Sensei Lam training 3 times a day at the dojo, he often had to trained alone. Approximately one month later, Uehara Ko Sensei visited the Jundokan and found the young man from Hong Kong had not given up and gone home. Impressed, Uehara Ko Sensei decided to introduce Sensei Lam to An’ichi Miyagi Sensei.

Sensei Lam recalls how Uehara Ko Sensei described An’ichi Sensei when describing him to Sensei Lam: An’ichi Miyagi is the most knowledgeable man on the subject of Goju-Ryu in Okinawa, Chojun Miyagi Sensei’s last inner disciple and the witness to the final shape of Goju-Ryu as Chojun Sensei intended it to be. As An’ichi Miyagi Sensei had just returned to Naha at the time, he had no dojo to teach Sensei Lam in, so Uehara Ko Sensei agreed to let them use the Uehara Dojo as a training venue. At the same time, Uehara Ko Sensei also began to teach Sensei Lam Kobudo. Thus, An’ichi Miyagi Sensei began to modify Sensei Lam’s Goju-Ryu karate (which he had learnt from the Goju-Kai over the past decade.)

Sempai Lam King Fung as a Shodan leading the class of brown belt and yellow belt students. Sensei Lam pictured with Masafumi Suzuki. Sensei Lam sits on the ground on the left in the picture. Left to Right: Sensei Lam, Uehara Ko Sensei, An’ichi Miyagi Sensei, Uehara Yonekazu Sensei. This picture was taken in 1974.

After several months of training, when Sensei Lam was about to leave Okinawa, An’ichi Miyagi Sensei recommended that Sensei Lam should visit the Yoyogi Dojo and continue his training with Morio Higaonna Sensei. Up until that time Morio Higaonna Sensei had been the only person An’ichi Miyagi Sensei formally recognized as his student. This is because in the proper karate tradition, a formal student is one who has been training with the sensei for a considerable number of years and has received his Menkyo Kaiden or Shihan Menkyo. (Although An’ichi Miyagi Sensei would continue to teach many individuals within the IOGKF, none other had trained with him for any long period of time, not enough to qualify themselves as his formal student). Back in 1973 An’ichi Miyagi Sensei instructed Sensei Lam to train under Morio Higaonna Sensei, saying that because he was too old to properly teach anyone, the passing on of the art of Goju-Ryu now rests upon Morio Higaonna Sensei’s shoulders, especially when it pertains to the teaching of international students.

Therefore in 1974 Sensei Lam found his way to the Yoyogi Dojo and began to train under Morio Higaonna Sensei. In the following years, Sensei Lam would travel frequently to Tokyo to learn karate with Morio Higaonna Sensei and to Okinawa to learn Kobudo with the Uehara Dojo. Sensei Lam recalls how the uniquely intense training regime that the Okinawan Goju-Ryu prescribes to eliminated many of the karateka coming from other schools or styles, but many of those who persevered later became world-renowned karate masters in their own right.

The IOGKF was formed in 1979, in 1980 its Executive Committee invited Sensei Lam to assume the role of the IOGKF Hong Kong and China Branch Chief and Chief Instructor. In 1980 Sensei Lam participated in the first Gassuku held in Okinawa by the IOGKF after its formation. In 1981, Sensei Lam received his 5th Dan from the IOGKF (Morio Higaonna Sensei was the examiner, the 5th Dan Certificate was jointly signed by Morio Higaonna Sensei and An’ichi Miyagi Sensei).

In around 1983, Morio Higaonna Sensei and An’ichi Miyagi Sensei instructed Sensei Lam to communicate with the Fuzhou (Foochow) martial-arts community so that research into Goju-Ryu’s roots in China may begin. In 1987, Sensei Lam accompanied Morio Higaonna Sensei and the Mayor of Naha City in an official visit of historic importance to Fuzhou.  They were officially received by the Fuzhou city government,the Fuzhou Wushu Association, Fuzhou Sports Association and other official and semi-official organisations. In the following year, with the support of the IOGKF, Fuzhou City organised the first International Martial Arts Exchange Meet in which, for the first time Okinawan Karate and Kobudo practitioners from all the main styles joined the main Fuzhou martial-art styles to demonstrate and showcase their respective arts. Sensei Lam and his delegation participated in the demonstration as members of the IOGKF China Branch. In the following decades, Sensei Lam would assist the IOGKF to make in-roads into Fuzhou to further their research into the origins of Naha-te.

Goju-Ryu visits Fuzhou. Sensei Lam is standing, fifth from the left in the picture. Morio Higaonna Sensei is seated, fourth from the left in the picture.

 

In 1993, a change in regulations on Mainland China made it possible for Sensei Lam to begin to teach karate there. The first dojo was set-up in Huizhou in the Guangdong Province.

On the 23rd of August 1998, Sensei Lam received his Menkyo Kaiden and Shihan Confirmation Certificate from the IOGKF, both documents were signed by Morio Higaonna Sensei and An’ichi Miyagi Sensei. On the 30th of August 1998, Sensei Lam received his 6th Dan from the IOGKF (Morio Higaonna Sensei was the Chief Examiner, Morio Higaonna Sensei and An’ichi Miyagi Sensei jointly issued Sensei Lam’s Dan Certificate).

In the year 2000, Sensei Lam set-up a new dojo in Panyu. At this time karate was beginning to be accepted in China by the general population, however, spreading an alien martial-art such as karate in China was difficult at the time and Sensei Lam had to overcome all sorts of red-tape to ensure the dojo could continue to operate.

In early 2007, under the leadership of Sensei Lam, the Zhuhai City Sports Department sanctioned the formation of the Zhuhai Karate Association. This was the first officially sanctioned independent karate association established within the People’s Republic of China (previously karate organisations in China were classified under Wushu, Taekwando or Boxing). The Zhuhai Karate Association was affiliated to the IOGKF and its dojo served as the sub-branch headquarters for IOGKF China on the mainland. In June of that same year, the Zhuhai Karate Association held the first Guangdong-Macau-Hong Kong Karate Tournament in history.

In 2008, the IOGKF-China established its first dojo in Changsha City in Hunan Province. It also began conducting classes in Guangzhou City.

In 2010, Sensei Lam accompanied Morio Higaonna Sensei to Fuzhou Yongchun to visit local martial arts community. On this trip, Morio Higaonna Sensei, Tetsuji Nakamura Sensei, Lam King Fung Sensei and Ricky Tsui Sensei gave a historic karate demonstration in the White Crane Memorial Hall.

In February 2011, Sensei Lam King Fung established the “Kanryo Higaonna Memorial Dojo” in Fuzhou City, with Morio Higaonna Sensei and Professor Hu Jin Huan, Chairman of the Fuzhou Wushu Association presiding over the opening ceremony. In this trip, their delegation also visited the oldest White Crane Boxing school in Fuzhou, and the Quanzhou Shaolin Temple.

In Jan 2013, Sensei Lam received his 7th Dan from the IOGKF with Morio Higaonna Sensei acting as the Chief Examiner, the Dan Certificate was signed and certified by Morio Higaonna Sensei.