A Brief History of Grandmaster Chee Kim Thong
Grandmaster Chee Kim Thong was born in the southeastern part of China in 1920. He lived in a village near Putian
which is located in the Fujian province. Fujian has a long history of Kung Fu since this is where the Southern Shaolin
Temple is located. Grandmaster Chee Kim Thong began learning martial arts at the age of six from his
grandmother who was a master of monkey style kung fu to protect himself from bullies. The more Chee Kim Thong
learned the more he wanted to know, and as he made his way into the world he continued to study kung fu.
His first job was in a rickshaw shop which enabled him to meet his first teacher. His first teacher was Toh Yit Choon a
Grandmaster of Northern Shaolin Kung Fu. Their relationship began with Chee Kim Thong secretly observing
Grandmaster Toh Yit Choon giving private lessons to the son of the Chief Inspector of Xiamen. Chee Kim Thong was
able to be present and observe these lessons by serving tea as a sort of side job. Grandmaster Chee would secretly
take notes and diligently practice all he had observed. Grandmaster Toh knew what was going on, since he also was
very observant. One day when the Chief Inspectors son was absent from class Grandmaster Toh asked young Chee if
he would like to learn. After Chee eagerly accepted Grandmaster Toh began to teach young Chee Kim Thong Northern
Shaolin Kung Fu, and Grandmaster Chee studied very diligently during this time.
Grandmaster Chee's next teacher was Lin Xian a Grandmaster of Wuzuquan. Normally Grandmaster Lin Xian only
taught members of his own family, but after witnessing an altercation between Chee Kim Thong and another person
that was much larger he decided to take Chee Kim Thong as his student. Despite the large difference in size Chee was
able to subdue his assailant quite easily. As a result Grandmaster Lin Xian decided to teach Chee Kim Thong and
invited Chee to his house. Grandmaster Lin made him wait outside all day to test his patience and character. Then when
Grandmaster Chee left at sunset Grandmaster Lin had his granddaughter test Grandmaster Chee's Kung Fu ability by
attacking him. After passing these tests Grandmaster Lin Xian began teaching him Wuzuquan.
Grandmaster Chee's third teacher was Grandmaster Yong Yue. Grandmaster Yong was fluent in Wu Mei Kung Fu,
and took Chee Kim Thong as his student. Grandmaster Chee absorbed all Grandmaster Yong had to teach and
also learned the Five Element System from Grandmaster Yong. Soon though Grandmaster Chee found himself
involved in the war effort as Japan invaded China. All persons with martial arts ability were expected to teach and
lead groups of soldiers in the war effort. While fulfilling this role Grandmaster Chee's ability in Kung Fu became
evident to many.
One such individual was the Abbot of the Southern Shaolin Temple Yik Cha'an Cha'an Sze. Upon learning of
Grandmaster Chee's ability the Very Reverend Abbot sent his number one disciple to challenge Grandmaster Chee.
When the disciple was unable to defeat Chee; Chee was invited to the temple to learn from the Abbot himself. Upon
arriving at the temple Grandmaster Chee was told by the abbot to move him. When Grandmaster Chee using all his skill
could not move the Abbbot he realized there was more to learn so he asked the Abbot to accept him as his student. So
Grandmaster Chee's final teacher was none other than the Blind Abbot of the Southern Shaolin Temple.
After the Japanese occupied Fujian they began to hunt down all of the martial arts trainers in the area. Many of
them fled to other areas, and Grandmaster Chee went to Malaysia to avoid being captured by the Japanese. He
had to flee several more times and was in fact captured on two separate occasions, escaping both times. After
surviving the horrors of war Grandmaster Chee Kim Thong decided to stay in Malaysia. He eventually earned the
title of Dato (Knight) and Living National Treasure of the People's Republic of China, and was a major player in the
rebuilding of the Southern Shaolin Temple.
Master Graham met Grandmaster Chee Kim Thong in 1974 at a demonstration in England. Master Graham had
read that there would be a Kung Fu master at the demonstration and went to check it out. Master Graham was so
impressed with what he saw that he asked to become a pupil of Grandmaster Chee Kim Thong. Master Graham
trained under Grandmaster Chee Kim Thong until the death of Grandmaster Chee in 2001.