Moy Yat, a Tribute

In Loving Memory of Grand Master Moy Yat
1938-2001




Grand Master Moy Yat died peacefully at his home in Queens, NY on Tuesday morning, January 23rd, 2001, of natural causes. Over 1,500 people from all over the world came to pay their last respects on Saturday, February 3rdat the Chinese Cheung Sang Funeral Home in Manhattan's Chinatown, NY. He was laid to rest the next morning at the Kensico Cemetery in the town of Valhalla, NY. Hundreds of brave mourners endured the sub-freezing temperatures for the graveside service. Words cannot express our gratitude for the love and support that we have received since our great loss. Our father's life was enriched by the incredible relationships that surrounded him.

The following words were written by Phil Vedova and read by Sifu Mickey Chan during the funeral.

"There is no easy way to be a teacher or a disciple, although it must be the greatest joy in this life." -- Huston Smith Professor of Philosophy Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Sifu would often say, "Life is like a grindstone: either it wears you down or it will polish you into a fine jewel." Life made Moy Sifu into just such a gem of a man.

The horrors and hunger of Sifu's early life in China were overcome through the strength of character modeled by his mother and the sacrifice of his father. He then had the great good fortune to come to study Ving Tsun with the legendary Ip Man in Hong Kong. It was Ip Man's expert tutelage and loving guidance that shaped and defined the life of Moy Yat. He saw in the young Moy Yat the makings of a great Sifu, the inspiration of a great artist but most importantly the qualities of a great man.

There is a Chinese character which when written means 'the spoken wisdom of ten generations.' It was this wisdom which cannot be contained in books that Ip Man imparted to Moy Yat. Ip Man achieved this most difficult of tasks through the sharing of himself and his time. Through stories, poetry, idioms, calligraphy, humor, and rigorous training the living principles of Ving Tsun Kung Fu were instilled in the young Moy Yat and came to life. Over ten intense and intimate years of Moy Yat's life with his great Sifu Ip Man acting as his father and guide the course for Moy Yat's lifetime was set.

Moy Sifu came to call this vehicle Ip Man used to impart his wisdom and knowledge 'Kung Fu Life'. Each and every one of us who were fortunate enough to spend some time with Sifu got to ride in that very special vehicle. Even the briefest of turns was worth it for a lifetime of memories, for Moy Yat was a man unique among many. Few of us commit ourselves solely to the purpose of one cause, one great effort, one vision, one dream, and one passion for a lifetime. If one could compare Sifu's life to music the analogy could be made that although his life was composed of many exquisite melodies Ving Tsun kung fu is his symphonic masterpiece and great contribution to the world.

A man of such subtle genius and talent could have achieved the pinnacle of success in any path he chose and yet he daily, faithfully answered the call to be a teacher and a father to so many. He was no ordinary kung fu instructor or mere boxing coach. Moy Yat was a 'master of the moment'. He always used any opportunity, circumstance or situation that life availed to teach about kung fu or more often than not about life itself. It seemed to whichever student whom was lucky enough to receive this knowledge and spend the time necessary to forge such an intimate relationship with him; his grasp of things sometimes bordered on the sublime.

Only someone who was a living embodiment of Ving Tsun could have impacted so many so deeply. This remarkably generous, artistic, cultured man of tradition was yet modern, contemporary and rooted in the present too. Only someone with his subtle mind could have so successfully bridged the two vastly different cultures of the East and the West and impart to those of us non-Chinese some of the greatest subtleties of thought and experiences of the great Eastern tradition of kung fu.

Sifu was also a man of the future. His students range from many a race, creed, color and station in life. It was his 'blindness' to these outward differences that helped us all see one another as brothers and sisters. The world is shrinking in so many ways and Sifu did much to help us see our similarities and our shared love of kung fu as a way to connect with the humanity of another. This Moy Yat achieved while sharing his unique kung fu with the world.

To live a life such as this was no easy task. It was a life that required tremendous sacrifices on Sifu's part and for those closest to him, for he had little family time. The great irony is through his sacrifice and the sacrifices made by all of Sifu's children and his wife; great strength came to the family of Moy Yat. Any deficiencies, which lay here, were amply filled by the loving strength of Simo. Without Simo, sifu could not have been our Sifu. Simo accepted many of us as her own children. She gladly fed us on many occasions, tolerated our ridiculously late nights and opened her heart and her home to us.

No words can express our deepest gratitude to you, Simo ... Thank you.

In each of your children one can find the balance to Sifu's and your great sacrifices:

In Vivien and Dan; brilliant, deeply spiritual, lovely, loving, gentle, kind and devoted parents of two special sons John and Michael...

In William and Elizabeth a couple deeply devoted to each other. Bill is a talented son steeped in his father's vast kung fu knowledge and full of his mother's best qualities of generosity, kindness and gentleness yet imbued with Simo's strength of character and devotion to family...

And In Viva, the youngest of the three, was the one Sifu used to call his 'Bosom buddy' for she embodies the best of his qualities: Vivacious and bright, artistic in temperament, charming, cosmopolitan and yet sweet and kind...

These wonderful children and grandchildren are the product of your life's efforts with Sifu and these fine people are a testament to your family legacy Simo.

Like the rainbow after the storm of life it is the best of our efforts and the best of ourselves which remains.

Sifu, a man of Art, a man of culture, a man of knowledge filled with a passion for life, kung fu and fatherly love. A man of the past yet firmly rooted in the present and whose legacy will reverberate long into the future.

As many of us may know "Yat" means 'One'. Moy Yat Sifu, you were a man who was first in many things. You mean many different things to each of us here today to pay our respects, so now, at this moment of time as we remember your vivid presence we can all truly say you are number 1 in our hearts.

May your soul rest in peace dear teacher, dear friend, dear brother, and dear father: Our father Moy Yat.
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