Wan Sifu

Voon Kan Kwee in Montreal, Canada, 1975
Chi kung for good health

Voon Kan Kwee better known as Wan Sifu, 76, practices and promotes nui kung and chi kung disciplines for better health and well-being

I’m the elder of a pair of twin boys, the third child in a Cantonese family of four siblings.  We used to live at No.84 Jalan Trus and at that time, our father owned a tin mine in Kota Tinggi.  One of my fondest memories of living here was paying just ten cents to watch exciting episodes of Tarzan and Batman black & white films screened at the nearby Foon Yew Primary School.

There was also a shop that sold fighting fish run by a merchant we fondly called, Fei Lo (meaning fat man in Cantonese).  I enjoyed playing with these exciting fish but I did not have money to buy them.  So I used to dig for worms from the drain and trade a milk tin of worms with Fei Lo in exchange for my fish!

I remember there was a Hokkien rubber trader further up the road and it was big news when he won the first prize in the Social Welfare lottery.  He bought 2 cases of brandy to celebrate and since it was then the durian season, he also indulged in durians.  As a result, he became very ill and after about a month, he passed away.

Voon Kan Kwee [Left] with his master [Right]
and grandmaster in Plentong
There was also a coffin shop along the road and I remember being terrified by the sight of the hideous-looking old-fashioned Chinese coffins.  These wooden coffins that are hewn out of tree trunks, just made me feel eerie.  I would shudder at the sight of the decorated hearse whenever it passed by our house.

In those days, besides going to Lido Beach we had very little to amuse ourselves and I remember catching yellow locusts and tying them with strings.  Then I would let them fly and reel them in again and again.  After the insects were tired of their futile attempts to flee, I would release them.

I was a student with the English College (now Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar) and while my twin brother attended Chinese night classes in Foon Yew Primary School, I chose martial arts training with Kwong Siew Wui Koon, the Cantonese clan association at Jalan Siew Nam.  Since age 10, I trained in Hung Ga kung fu, a southern Chinese martial art that is synonymous with the legendary Chinese folk hero, Wong Fei Hung.  Around 1963 my father moved the family to Queenstown, Singapore and I started working with Metal Box as a Tool Room Clerk and ended my career with them in the Purchasing Department.

I went on to work with several other companies including General Electric, National Semiconductor and Litten Components in Singapore.  I was married in 1969 and when my 2 daughters were aged 3 and 18 months old, a cousin in Canada urged me to move to Alberta because there were good career prospects there.  In May 1975, my family migrated to Canada and I found employment in Montreal with CAE Inc, the world’s leading supplier of civil flight simulators.

This picture captured a glowing
light above Wan Sifu
In 1970, I started learning chi kung, a practice to cultivate and balance life energy (chi or qi), especially for health.  My second chi kung master, Wong Lip Nam, was very strict and I remember how he used to wield a stick and raise his voice at any mistake.  Today other chi kung practitioners who observed my skills can tell that my master taught me well.  I kept a close relationship with Master Wong when he was alive and remain in touch with his family in Johor Baru.

My mother told me about a neighbour who lost his job as a bus conductor and he set up a stall to sell eggs in the market.  One day he decided to sell his stall and started to work as a spiritual medium.  When I heard this, I decided that if I ever received any spiritual gift, I would use it to help people through the practice of chi kung and nui kung, a powerful system of chi kung based on the principles of the inner flow of chi energy.

As a practitioner of these martial arts, I wake up at 3.45am in a daily routine to pray and meditate and practice chi kung and nui kung for 1 and a half hours.  Chi kung and nui kung have been used by practitioners of Chinese medicine and acupuncture for centuries and is now widely accepted in modern communities.  Besides teaching a few students in my own home every night, I teach 3-hour morning classes daily on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday in a community centre in Montreal for between 15 to 25 students aged 55 and above.

Wan Sifu is on a mission to share
goodwill through chi kung
In May 2012 just before coming in Johor Baru, I was with a group in Beijing, walking almost to the fourth tower of the Great Wall of China, when a lady suddenly collapsed from exhaustion.  I responded to that emergency by reviving her with chi kung and the news about what happened on the Wall spread like wildfire.  By the time we returned to the coach, everyone knew about the lady’s recovery through the help of chi kung and our coach driver was so impressed that he could not resist asking me to diagnose him!

Every 2 to 3 years, I visit Johor Baru to promote chi kung for good health.  The last time I was here in 2009, I did not have time to tour the city but this trip, I saw some interesting changes and developments in the city.  Wherever I go, it is like a spiritual mission for me and I always look for ways to share goodwill and help people with chi kung. 

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Johor Streets on 14 June 2012

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