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Competition 1969

1st South-East Asia Pugilistic Open Invitation

Tournament (1969)

The 1st South-East Asia Pugilistic Open Invitation Tournament was hosted by the Republic of Singapore and lasted 8 days from 17th to 24th MAY 1969. I was ordered, as a disciple, by my sifu, Master Chee Kim Thong, to compete in the tournament. It took some effort on the planning side before I could compete, subsequently emerged as the winner and collected a gold medal in the Middle Weight division. It was unfortunate that at that time in May 1969, there were political unrests in Malaysia. As a result, news on the tournament was not made known to the Malaysian public. This article is a recollection of the key events that took place, which makes this tournament so memorable! THE PREPARATION - PROBLEMS AND CHALLENGES During the early Sixties, we were an unknown group and training was essentially conducted as an unorganized private gathering. This in the eye of the law was considered “unlawful gathering” and liable to prosecution by the Malaysian Government. In 1968 we were informed by the then Sports Director, Mr. Alex Chan of the People’s Association of Singapore, that all participating teams must belong to an official legal entity - a registered club or society that is recognized by its own government. Thanks to a good friend of mine who came to the rescue. He was then a very ardent student and subsequently became a disciple of Master Chee. I consider him to be one of best in the art of “Wu-chi”, a soft art taught by Master Chee. And he is none other than Mr. Chooi Mun Sou, a practicing lawyer. Mr. Chooi helped with the legal matters and managed to register the newly formed CHEE KIM THONG PUGILISTIC AND HEALTH SOCIETY in Kuala Lumpur, for the sake of legality and eligibility to participate in the Tournament. Hence, started a new era. At that time Master Chee thought I was the best among his students and should be the one to represent him and the new Society to compete in the tournament with an aim to earn some honour. However, the competition rules stated that it must be a team comprising a minimum of six participants (fighters). So my other classmates/friends helped to make up for the difference in forming a team The gallant five were: 1. Chin Yoon Kong (from Ipoh), 2. Goh Thong Mong, presently the Maha Guru(Grand Master) of Judo in Kuala Lumpur, 3. Charles Chang (from Kuala Lumpur), 4. Yap Siew Tat (from Kuala Lumpur), 5. Chan Ming Chai (from Kuala Lumpur). The countries that took part in the tournament were (a) Taiwan (b) Hong Kong (c) Indonesia (d) Philippines (e) Macau (f) Malaysia and (g) Singapore. Such an open invitation tournament was introduced in South-East Asia for the first time and participating countries were really pitting their best fighters to the test. A total of four teams, one of which was from the Chee Kim Thong Pugilistic and Health Society in Kuala Lumpur, represented Malaysia. Leading our team was Team Manager, Mr. Tan Boon Pin and Coach, Master Chee Kim Thong. The official was Mr Chan Soo Khean and I was the captain of my team. TRAINING - HARD WORK AND SACRIFICES Master Chee took this tournament quite seriously, and towards the last 2 months leading up to the tournament, he would be at my home at Stonor Road by 5.30 a.m. without fail to train me personally. Since accepting me as his inner disciple, he had always trained me ‘hand and foot’. Part of the training also included weight reducing, dieting and loads of endurance training. And gone was my social life as a young man - no more disco at favorite nightspots with friends, but straight to bed early. I am proud to say Master Chee (teacher) had always loved me (disciple) till his death in 2001. Master Chee was the one solely responsible for training and teaching me learn to fight in the Wu-chu way. My other good friends/classmates helped me to practise, and some ‘outside’ friends also helped to ‘free spar” with me. I remember Master Chee telling me “The easiest and most practical technique is the application of direct punching (the straight punch) with explosive force! It has slight similarity to that of “the jab” in western boxing but there is a distinct difference. One must be able to protect, control and defend the imaginary “SQUARE” from eye level down to the hip girdle.”  And so this was how Master Chee started his Pugilistic and Health Society. All these would not have happened without the legal help from Mr. Chooi Mun Sou. It so happened that Master Chee had also chosen me to help made his dream come true in the tournament. I am glad I did!  I will, in latter articles, share my humble training methods with the readers. On 13th May 1969, the three of us, as in Chin Yoon Kong, Goh Thong Mong and I, left for Singapore first. Unfortunately the rest of the team was not able to come to Singapore until nearing the last 2-3 days of the tournament. One can imagine what a relief it was as after the official ‘weighing-in’. Without much ado, we went off in search of high protein food to replace the lack of “nourishing” food suffered earlier in our training regime to reduce our weight. THE COMPETITION I must confess I was very nervous, as at that time I had no real experience in International Open Fighting competition; a complete green horn I might add. The opponents that I was to meet in the competition were from various famous martial art schools of South-East Asia. I remember all participants/fighters had to sign nearly ten (10) forms to indemnify the organizers from any or all blame should anyone of us sustained any injury. Nervously we waited for our names to be called to contest in the arena to fight for the “kill”! All of us realized that this competition was going to be tough. The better fighter would be the one who exhibits toughness not only physically, but also in both mind and spirit. Any sign of panic is a vulnerability gladly to be taken advantage of by the opponent. Grueling matches were fought all the way by our fighters. Unfortunately, the teams representing Malaysia was not able to do better. Thank goodness, at the end of the tournament, I was lucky to emerge as the winner in the Middle Weight category and brought home to Malaysia, a gold medal. Master Chee was very pleased! I was glad I did not fail him. I remember Master Chee proudly proclaimed we are now three generations of champion. POST MORTEM We realized from this experience that the essence of competitive contest of this sort, is to maintain regular training to develop most of all POWER AND STAMINA. Lots of practice in “free sparring” is of paramount importance. One must remember that in an open contest, one is not competing against another as friend, but as serious contestant from a different style or fighting system who is out to prove a point. On the same note, a boxer needs to take and deliver many blows during a boxing match; the match comprises at least 10 rounds, each round lasts about 3 minutes. Without stamina and strength, his power will decrease rapidly rendering his punches useless - lacking the ‘sting’ that would finish off the opponent. All of our training techniques can be explained and understood in the most scientific approach. Simple jogging or cross-country running, plus body- suppleness exercises are good supplements to the normal training. As a word of advice, always treat your opponent with the greatest respect, and never be over confident. Treat your opponent like a Tiger, and yourself a Rabbit!

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