Shaolin Gao Can Mun Nam Pai Chuan Kung Fu
Master Quek Heng Choon in kung fu uniform
Master Quek Heng Choon
Master Quek Heng Choon smiling

Tributes to Master Quek

Below is a collection of tributes, condolences and memories of Master Quek from around the world. Please email us using the contact page to have your tribute added.

A special tribute from Sifu Lai

Master Quek with Sifu Lai

Sifu Quek is and was my Master. He is the Grandmaster of the Gaocanmun Tradition taught by the late Shaolin Monk and Patriarch - Seh Koh San (“Gaocan”) and one of the Grandmasters of our Nampaichuan System.

I have had many Martial Arts instructors over the years, many of great expertise, foresight and generosity and they have been generous with me in sharing their skills.

However, I have only one Sifu – Master Quek – and whilst I may have used modern and progressive teaching methods, and understood the Art taught to me by my Sifu through my training in and understanding of other Martial Arts Disciplines, I hold true to the traditional and age-old Chinese and Shaolin ethics of Obligation, Loyalty, Dedication, Generosity of Spirit and Nobility.

Unfortunately I find this to be sadly lacking today in so many aspects of life and not just in the traditional Martial Arts and Way.

I first met and began studying under my Sifu in 1967, when I returned to Malaysia after studying in England. I met him through an old school friend whose wealthy father Sifu was protecting at the behest of the Fukien Hwee-Ann clan association that they both belonged to. The wealthy individual was under threat of kidnapping for ransom (a frequent experience in those days). Indeed said wealthy individual’s partner had already been kidnapped and (although ransom had been paid) had disappeared and never been found again. Sifu Quek was not a professional bodyguard and he was doing this out of the goodness of his heart for a friend.

Sifu spent his idle time in their home, teaching that wealthy persons two sons, their two (equally wealthy) cousins, a slightly less wealthy distant cousin and me.

Sifu was a Fukien of the Hwee-Ann village as was the wealthy individual he was protecting, and of course all his children and their cousins etc. Whilst being Chinese I was nevertheless neither of Fukien nor of the Hwee-Ann village. Indeed I belong to a different dialect group altogether and spoke not a word of Fukien (Hokkien) which was the only language Sifu spoke.

I therefore had great fun learning from my Sifu, grateful for his generosity in accepting me (despite the suffering I had to endure before he would), learning Fukien from scratch (or else get your feet swept from under you for e.g. a poor stance) and wary of his temper and sometimes intimidating attitude. And those hands which I have had laid on my body many times over!

When the Wealthy individual and his children no longer needed Sifu, they no longer appeared for the sessions even though it occurred right on the forecourt of their Home. Somewhat disappointed with this, Sifu said I should go and train with him at his training hall in a part of the City known for its gangsters etc. I did. I would park my car two miles away, take off my professional working shoes, tie etc, put on shorts, T shirt and a pair of sandals and walk to class.

As I said we had much fun. I trained with my Sifu for twelve years from 1967 until I left Malaysia in 1979. It was hard - we trained twice a day, every day of the week, three hours in the morning (from 6 am.) and three hours in the evening (until 9). We then always went for tea and a meal with Sifu. I was privileged to have helped my Sifu and his wife to devise an Emblem, a training uniform, a training schedule, syllabus and belting system to try and bring Shaolin Kungfu into the modern context.

In those days Sifu looked less daunting and strong as he did before he passed. Until you looked into his eyes. Then I guess you knew here was an extraordinary Man.

Before I left Malaysia for the United Kingdom, I asked Sifu for authority to teach his Art. I told him I would have to modify it to suit the local students. He agreed and not only that he made me promise to teach, which I did then and do now. The System I began in England and France then was known as Shaolin Nampaichuan.

Therefore the privilege and joy was mine that I was able in later years to introduce Sifu Gary O’Sullivan to my Sifu, my faithful friend and his Nampaichuan School in New Zealand, and then in 2007 and 2008 to bring substantial numbers of my European Nampaichuan students to Malaysia to train with my Sifu and to participate in his 85th birthday dinner demonstrations and tribute.

Then in 2009, my Sifu came to London on his first (and as it transpired his last) visit and I was gratified that over 140 of our Nampaichuan students took the week-long course with Sifu and had a slight taste of what it would be like to train with him on a twice daily basis.

My greatest joy (accompanied by equally great surprise) is when my Sifu made me his successor. I did not look for it and understand the gravity and weight it brings.

In honour of this we have renamed our System – Shaolin Gaocanmun Nampaichuan.

I am very blessed now with some Loyal and dedicated students in Nampaichuan and was happy to note that my Sifu had at last seemed to find some of his own. I look forward to helping my Brothers in Gaocan to develop the traditional Art in the modern context. My Sifu’s students from Malaysia that accompanied him and helped to teach are exceptional and Gaocanmun in Malaysia is safe with them. My Sifu also had many courting his patronage who were more interested, not in the Art, but in their own benefit and aggrandisement.

My Sifu lives on in all of us. He is not dead to me nor to our Nampaichuan System! Let us see his passing as a clarion call to all of us to get ourselves together.

I shall see and feel his presence in all our sessions and events. As will you. Go in peace my Sifu.

Lai Khee Choong
London
26th February 2010

You will be remembered

Master Quek with Sifu Gary O'Sullivan

Master Quek you will be greatly missed, I feel deeply honoured to have known you. Since the first time I met you in 1996 you were generous and charitable towards me. I am extremely grateful for the time and effort you bestowed on me. The training was very hard but truth be told I cherished every minute of it. You will never be forgotten a true Shaolin master who has had a profound effect on my life.

Gary New Zealand

I am honoured

Master Quek with Sifu Jerome De Silva

Dear Sigung,
I feel greatly honoured to have known and trained with you. I thank you for all the time that you spent with me and bestowed to me. Our family has lost it's "Grandfather." Your legacy will be protected and cherished.

Jerome (Ah-leung) England

Keep the tradition

Master Quek with Sifu Steven Leppard

I was fortunate enough to have trained with Sigung Quek and am all the more grateful for this time now that he has passed. While the passing of an 85-year-old man can never be unexpected his vitality when I last trained with him was enough to make me believe he would go on for many years to come. His passion, depth of knowledge, and ability to convey these will live on amongst all those he has left behind. My Sifu, uncles, brothers and sisters in Shaolin Gao Can Mun understand the awesome responsibility we now bear in preserving and developing his teachings into the future. In the manner I imagine Sigung Quek would have preferred the best thing I can do to honour his memory is to pull together with my fellow Gao Can Mun Masters and practitioners and keep his tradition alive through my own teachings and practice.

Sifu Steve Leppard, Shaolin Gao Can Mun Nam-Pai-Chuan England

My fondest memory

Dearest Sigung,
I am grateful for the honour and privilege of your teachings, especially during the time spent being taught by you personally. I hope that I can embody something of your spirit in my practice as a martial artist. I am glad I was able to spend some time with you over the last three years, including meeting you at your hotel early every morning last summer, which on occasion allowed me extra training time with you - in the hotel lobby!

One of my fondest memories is sitting chatting with you in the forecourt of your hotel last summer whilst you were conditioning your hands on the concrete table, as ever the martial artist, even at rest.

You will always be in my heart, mind and training.

Nelly Low Chia Meng London 28th February 2010

Kung fu family

Master Quek with Regan on his first birthday

Dear Sigung,
It is with the deepest sympathy that I write this message in honour of our Grand master. I cannot express in words how heartbroken I was receiving the sad news that our great grandfather had passed away. When training he was someone who we went to meet every day, talked and remembered fondly. He was always in our thoughts through practicing what had been handed down from him to Master Lai and on to us, his Kung Fu family. The hardest thing I had to do was tell my 5 year old son Regan who had been on the first N.Z school trip 2005. Master Quek and Regan struck up a great friendship. Regan spent most of our training time sat on Master Quek’s knee or following him around the temple as we trained; Regan has never forgotten this and like the rest of my family cried at the news. With deep breaths and hearts in hands we would like to wish our Grandfather love, peace and eternal Kung Fu. Simo and Regan

Simo and Regan

Myth, Master and man.

Being a direct student of Master Lai, for many years I had heard stories of the amazing skills of Sigung Quek. Stories of huge hands breaking marble and superhuman strength to name but two gave me the impression that the Grand master of our system could only be a mythical figure head. It wasn't until 2007 (after 8 years of training) when I first saw Sigung in the flesh. WOW! He was real! His hands were huge and he really could break bricks aged mid 80's. He always emanated an energy and ease that was inspiring. He made me realise that with total commitment the Shaolin Art will shine from within and that anything is possible. I unfortunately never got to know him as well as I would have liked but I will never forget him gently encouraging me to sit lower with a sharp kick to the leg! The Shaolin Gao Can Mun-Nam Pai Chuan System and ethos lives on in his memory through us all.

Darren Smallridge

Never forgotten.

We had the pleasure of training with Si Gung Quek in Malaysia in 2007 and 2008, and again in London in 2009. The experiences were invaluable and a once in a life time opportunity to train with such a great grand master. We were both looking forward to training again this year and were devastated with the news of the loss of our grand master. We want to thank him for all he gave us, his time and his devotion to the art he loved. He will be missed by us, but never forgotten. We both want to send our deepest condolences to his family. Thank you Si Gung.

Owain Llewellyn-Pace and Alberto Fox-Miyashima

Great Sadness

It was with great sadness that I learned of Si Gung's passing. I did not have the opportunity to train under Si gung in the past and this is a great loss to me personally. I was intending to travel to Malaysia in August of this year to train with the grand master of our system and see for myself his amazing skills but sadly this opportunity has gone forever. As a senior instructor in Gao Can Mun Nam Pai Chuan, with the guidance of Sifu Lai, I am committed to preserving the history and teachings of our system in Si Gung’s honour for our future generations I believe this would have been Si Gung’s greatest wish.

Bob, England

An inspiration to us all

Master Quek with Anthony

Dear Tai Si Gung,
Tai Si Gung was an inspiration to us all. When my Sifu took us to see him for the first time we were awed just by his presence, he was a small man but his stern look and iron determination (and iron palm) were enough to tell you that he was the business, a true Shaolin master not some pretender self professed champion. You knew when you looked at him that if you rubbed him the wrong way, he would rub you back, with his iron fist (literally). As stern as he was however he had quite a jovial side, he would be firm in correcting us but as soon as he turned a smile would come across his face, little did he know we all saw it. He would also poke fun at us and make us do and eat weird and strange things all the while laughing as if he was reliving his teens. We all miss you greatly for your exceptional skills, but more so for your inspirational glow and fun loving spirit (we all know it’s there under that armour), your memory lives on in all of us; I hope we do meet again someday. Anthony.

Anthony Chan, New Zealand

A testament

Tai-Si-Gung, I will not profess to have known you, but it was my greatest honour and privilege to have trained with you once. Your skill even when in your 80's has never ceased to amaze me and your ability to teach us despite the language barrier is testament to your ability and passion as a teacher. Your memory will always be treasured, may you rest in peace.

Garath, New Zealand.

Farewell to the Spirit world

It was with great sadness to hear of the passing of our beloved Tai Si Gung and one must never forget the enormous impact he had on all our lives. I was one of the lucky ones who had the chance to meet and train under Tai Si Gung in 2007 with my Sifu, Sifu O'Sullivan and this is a memory I will treasure for all my lifetime. Thank you Tai Si Gung for the honour and privilege of meeting you and training under you, I will never forget the times I had with you in Malaysia and you will always be revered and held in the highest esteem. Haere atu ra Tai Si Gung ki te Ao Wairua , Farewell to the Spirit world Tai Si Gung Ma te mata o te arero By the blade of the Tongue, Ko koe ra arohatia ana You will always be remembered

Wallace Stirling.

Thank you

Master Quek with Andrew and Tomohiro

Dear Tai Si Gung,
It’s so hard to write in words what a person means to you. You know they mean something to you but it’s hard to describe. When I found out of Tai Si Gung Quek’s passing I was deeply saddened and moved. But I believe as most of you would, that he left in his terms, when he was ready. Tai Si Gung Quek was a true inspiration and legend to us all. A man who had devoted his life to martial arts. Physically, he had developed his body into a weapon, and mentally devoted so much of his time to teaching. If it wasn’t for Tai Si Gung Quek, myself and my students would not be practicing Gao Can Nam Pai Chuan today. I am truly honored to have met you and be trained by you. Thank you for being an inspiration to us all. Thank you for training your student Si Gung Lai to spread the art across the oceans to the UK. Thank you to my Sifu for training me, supporting me and giving me the opportunity to train with you. Rest in peace knowing that your legacy and your teachers’ legacy will live on through the students you have taught. The time that you have given will always be cherished, for years to come. Honored student,

Andrew, Sydney, Australia Instructor

A nice smile

Tai-Si-Gung, I feel very fortunate to have met you once and trained with you in Malaysia. I didn't understand what you said to me however, you taught me with passion and I remember your smile clearly. I was honoured when you presented me with a certificate I will treasure it always. I wish I had the opportunity to see and train with you again. I will keep teaching and training hard in Japan. I believe you are watching me in heaven and still smiling. Thanking you

Tomohiro, Japan instructor.