The Real-Life Iron Fist
Lam Sai Wing was a master of Chinese martial arts with a fist made of gnarled iron and a list of students so long it’d make Ron Jeremy blush. Throughout his life Lam Sai Wing fought against and bested dozens of martial arts masters across China and mastered techniques with names that wouldn’t look out-of-place in a Street Fighter game. Oh, and he also once beat up a hundred guys at once.
Though the unimportant detail of when exactly Lam Sai Wing was brought into this world, and thus the exact date the shoryuken was invented, isn’t known (For the curious, the date most commonly thrown around for Wing’s date of birth is 1860), historians did see fit to record that he was born into a family of kung fu warrior badasses.
One of these badasses, Wing’s great-uncle Lam Geui Chung, trained Wing in the ancient art of turning your fist into a knife made of meat and rage from the age of five. By the end of his teenage years Wing was proficient in a multitude of Chinese boxing techniques and kung fu styles and was probably able to shoot lightning out of his eyes when he got mad. However, it was when Wing met legendary Chinese punch-master, Wong Fei-hung, at the age of 22 that his story started to read like stuff cut from a martial arts movie for being too stupid.
It’s noted that originally, Fei-hung didn’t wish to train Wing due to the former’s advanced age at the time (he was literally too old for that s**t). However, after seeing Wing’s incredible natural affinity for creating sonic booms with his fists, Fei-hung agreed to train him in the martial art he’d popularized and mastered many years prior, Hung Ga (sometimes written as Hung Gar).
Now Hung Ga is mainly known for its emphasis on punching, particularly its brutal, adaptable and bitchingly named, tiger claw technique. Seriously, reading a list of Hung Ga techniques is like reading a list of ’80s band names someone put through a Wu-Tang Clan name generator. Don’t believe us? In Hung Ga an uppercut to the ribs is called, Heaven Piercing Fist and a poke to the eyes is called, Reincarnation of the Fulfilled Crane. They couldn’t be more stupidly badass and over the top if you scrawled them across a bunch of Bruce Lee DVDs and pushed them off a cliff. Fighting Lam Sai Wing must have been like fighting Hak Foo from Jackie Chan Adventures.
As if learning a bunch of techniques that wouldn’t look out-of-place on a DragonForce album wasn’t cool enough, after training with Fei-hung, Wing dedicated himself to teaching art to others and generally using his comically oversized fists to beat the piss out of anyone who dared to challenge him. Though a noted pacifist, Wing wouldn’t hesitate to defend himself or others if it was necessary.
For example, one particularly famous story from Wing’s youth was the time he triumphed over the Iron Head monk of the Hoi Tung temple. We really feel the need to point out that we’re not making up any of these names. The Iron Head monk was famous amongst his peers for his stone-like skull which he could use to shatter stone and bone alike. Upon meeting Wing, the Iron Head monk showed how he earned his nickname by smashing himself over the head with an iron bar (putting a huge dent into it) in the middle of conversation like a freaking maniac.
To determine whose kung fu was stronger, Wing challenged the Iron Head monk to a fight, in case this wasn’t cliché enough, the two agreed to fight in front of the monastery’s flower-covered iron gates. Despite the Iron Head monk’s best efforts, Wing was able to soundly best him using “the hand and the foot like the moon’s shadow“ technique to throw him to the ground. Just so we’re all crystal clear, THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED, we’re not just ripping this from an unreleased Steven Seagal movie or something.
Another time, Wing heard that a rival master of kung-fu with a reportedly “iron forearm” had been bad mouthing him and his techniques. Wing’s response was to walk into the rival master’s school, challenge him to a fight in front of all of his students and break the master’s leg by blocking too hard.
Another, even crazier story is the time Wing and 10 of his students were jumped by literally hundreds of guys sent by an angry rival who wanted Wing dead. Wing initially didn’t want to resort to violence, but after seeing no other option but to rip $#!+ up, he entered a demonic frenzy that could only be described as “Akuma-esque” and personally sent 80 of the attackers to the hospital. He no doubt injured dozens more with a series of Tiger Palm Strikes and plain old punches to the throat. When the battle started to look bleak, Wing ripped two Jians (Chinese swords) from the hands of an attacker, threw one to one of his students and began getting his Yoshimitsu on, breaking bones and enemy weapons as he twirled across the battlefield like a ballerina made of tiger-infused lightning. ALL OF THAT HAPPENED!
We really don’t know how to top a man single-handedly beating nearly a hundred fools in combat, so we’ll end this by saying that Wing went on to live to the age of 80 and continued to be a stone-pimp OG till the day he died, even finding the time to teach Raymond Chow and almost every early stuntman in Hong Kong kung fu. So on top of everything else he did, Lam Sai Wing is partly responsible giving us Bruce Lee. Damn.
Karl Smallwood is a freelance comedy writer you can hire! His work has been featured on Cracked, Toptenz and Gunaxin. You should probably click those links to make sure he isn’t lying. He also runs his own website where he responds to the various pieces of hate-mail he’s gotten over the years, in fact, he got so much hate-mail that he wrote a book about it that you can buy on Amazon. When he isn’t writing, Karl also Tweets and uploads pictures of himself drinking on Facebook.
Karl found the biggest ass-kicker of all time in The Peasant Soldier Who Became Emperor.