A Belgian Martial Arts Devotee Travels to Hong Kong at Age 69 to Learn Pei Yau Dance

“I had never seen a Pei Yau in Europe. When I first saw it from a video on the Internet, I was deeply impressed. I tried to contact its producer, Mr. Mo Cheuk Kei, and wanted to order one from him. And that’s how I got connected with Pei Yau,” said Ronald Galland. Sixty-nine-year-old Belgian martial artist Mr. Galland (also called, Kong Han-lei) has his own martial arts chamber in Chinatown, Antwerp, Belgium.On Dec. 12, 2023, he made a trip to Hong Kong with his wife and seven of his followers to learn the Pei Yau art first-hand. The Pei Yau Dance culture is listed as one of Hong Kong’s intangible cultural heritages.According to ancient legends, there are five mythical beasts in China, the dragon, phoenix, turtle, unicorn, and Pei Yau. In Chinese folklore, Pei Yau is an auspicious creature that attracts wealth, wards off evils, and brings good fortune to a family. It has the head of a dragon, the body of a horse, clawed feet, and is shaped like a lion, with wings to let it fly. Above all, it is powerful and possesses special magical capabilities that enable it to grab the demons and monsters that spread plagues and disturb the heavenly world.Because it can devour all kinds of ferocious beasts and evil spirits and has the power to block them and protect the house, it is also known as an “exorcist.” Pei Yau is the ninth prince of the Dragon King (Governor of the sea) and has the power to soar into the clouds, ride on mist, command thunder, bring rain, and clear the sky. Pei Yau dance is performed on various occasions. The red-faced Pei Yau is used to pray for blessings during festivals, while the green-faced Pei Yau is used to ward off evils.Galland Fell in Love with Kung Fu Culture in His YouthThe films of Bruce Lee, the late renowned Chinese martial artist and actor, were extremely popular in the 1950s and 1960s, bringing the knowledge of Eastern martial arts to many Westerners, and 16-year-old Mr. Galland was no exception.Mr. Galland said that when he was a child, he was slim and was often bullied. His father suggested that he learn Japanese boxing, but he felt that it was not what he wanted. After watching Bruce Lee’s movies, he was fully drawn toward Chinese martial arts (kung fu).In 1971, Mr. Galland met a martial artist master who worked in a Chinatown restaurant and taught him kung fu. This was his initial instructor. He taught him basic movements in the evenings after work. Even though the master did not speak English, they were still able to communicate with each other through gestures, and his interest in martial arts never diminished. Three years later, the master returned to China. Mr. Galland felt a bit lost at the time but still hoped to continue learning kung fu.Related StoriesDuring a martial arts show, Mr. Galland met Lai Tack, a martial artist teacher who lived in Brussels, Belgium, 35 kilometers (22 miles) from Antwerp, the city where he lived. For the sake of continuing martial arts practice, he gave up his job in Antwerpen to live and work near Brussels, where he continued learning martial arts for 11 years.What impressed him most was that Mr. Lai laid down two strict rules at the very onset. The first was to “respect the master,” meaning to obey your master’s instructions wholeheartedly. The second was to learn Chinese culture, and “the virtue of martial arts,” as a kind of spiritual cultivation.As a martial artist, you must be polite and broad-minded. “So, he put me on the track of exploring Chinese culture, for which I’m very grateful.” When Mr. Galland returned to his hometown many years later and after opening his own martial arts school, he became even more aware of the significance of the rules set up by Mr. Lai.A vintage photo of Ronald Galland practicing martial arts in the 1980s. (Courtesy of Ronald Galland)Inherited Another Dimension of Martial Arts Virtues from His Kung Fu MasterHaving studied martial arts for many years, the master whom Mr. Galland felt taught best by example, was Master Chung Cheng-wai from Man Uk Pin, Sheung Shui, Hong Kong. He described their relationship as that of a father and son.Mr. Galland met Mr. Chung in 1990, who was a Tith Ngaw Pai (steely hooks genre) master of Hakka Li Jia Quan (boxing style of the Li gang in Hakka village). Mr. Chung, who emigrated to the UK in 1957, spoke fluent English, so communication was not an issue at all. Mr. Galland went to Mr. Chung’s home in England to learn the art from him.At Mr. Chung’s home, he observed what “teaching by words and deeds” means. Mr. Chung was completely unprepared for the visit of a foreigner on the first day but still treated him like a son and gave him a feeling of being in the same family.He shared a short story that happened at Mr. Chung’s home one day. Mr. Chung has many children, and it is their nature to be naughty. And naughtiness plus noisy things often happen alongside one another.One day, when Mr. Galland and Mr. Chung returned home, he saw the children who were running around suddenly

A Belgian Martial Arts Devotee Travels to Hong Kong at Age 69 to Learn Pei Yau Dance

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“I had never seen a Pei Yau in Europe. When I first saw it from a video on the Internet, I was deeply impressed. I tried to contact its producer, Mr. Mo Cheuk Kei, and wanted to order one from him. And that’s how I got connected with Pei Yau,” said Ronald Galland. Sixty-nine-year-old Belgian martial artist Mr. Galland (also called, Kong Han-lei) has his own martial arts chamber in Chinatown, Antwerp, Belgium.

On Dec. 12, 2023, he made a trip to Hong Kong with his wife and seven of his followers to learn the Pei Yau art first-hand. The Pei Yau Dance culture is listed as one of Hong Kong’s intangible cultural heritages.

According to ancient legends, there are five mythical beasts in China, the dragon, phoenix, turtle, unicorn, and Pei Yau. In Chinese folklore, Pei Yau is an auspicious creature that attracts wealth, wards off evils, and brings good fortune to a family. It has the head of a dragon, the body of a horse, clawed feet, and is shaped like a lion, with wings to let it fly. Above all, it is powerful and possesses special magical capabilities that enable it to grab the demons and monsters that spread plagues and disturb the heavenly world.

Because it can devour all kinds of ferocious beasts and evil spirits and has the power to block them and protect the house, it is also known as an “exorcist.” Pei Yau is the ninth prince of the Dragon King (Governor of the sea) and has the power to soar into the clouds, ride on mist, command thunder, bring rain, and clear the sky. Pei Yau dance is performed on various occasions. The red-faced Pei Yau is used to pray for blessings during festivals, while the green-faced Pei Yau is used to ward off evils.

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Galland Fell in Love with Kung Fu Culture in His Youth

The films of Bruce Lee, the late renowned Chinese martial artist and actor, were extremely popular in the 1950s and 1960s, bringing the knowledge of Eastern martial arts to many Westerners, and 16-year-old Mr. Galland was no exception.

Mr. Galland said that when he was a child, he was slim and was often bullied. His father suggested that he learn Japanese boxing, but he felt that it was not what he wanted. After watching Bruce Lee’s movies, he was fully drawn toward Chinese martial arts (kung fu).

In 1971, Mr. Galland met a martial artist master who worked in a Chinatown restaurant and taught him kung fu. This was his initial instructor. He taught him basic movements in the evenings after work. Even though the master did not speak English, they were still able to communicate with each other through gestures, and his interest in martial arts never diminished. Three years later, the master returned to China. Mr. Galland felt a bit lost at the time but still hoped to continue learning kung fu.

During a martial arts show, Mr. Galland met Lai Tack, a martial artist teacher who lived in Brussels, Belgium, 35 kilometers (22 miles) from Antwerp, the city where he lived. For the sake of continuing martial arts practice, he gave up his job in Antwerpen to live and work near Brussels, where he continued learning martial arts for 11 years.

What impressed him most was that Mr. Lai laid down two strict rules at the very onset. The first was to “respect the master,” meaning to obey your master’s instructions wholeheartedly. The second was to learn Chinese culture, and “the virtue of martial arts,” as a kind of spiritual cultivation.

As a martial artist, you must be polite and broad-minded. “So, he put me on the track of exploring Chinese culture, for which I’m very grateful.” When Mr. Galland returned to his hometown many years later and after opening his own martial arts school, he became even more aware of the significance of the rules set up by Mr. Lai.

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A vintage photo of Ronald Galland practicing martial arts in the 1980s. (Courtesy of Ronald Galland)
A vintage photo of Ronald Galland practicing martial arts in the 1980s. (Courtesy of Ronald Galland)

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Inherited Another Dimension of Martial Arts Virtues from His Kung Fu Master

Having studied martial arts for many years, the master whom Mr. Galland felt taught best by example, was Master Chung Cheng-wai from Man Uk Pin, Sheung Shui, Hong Kong. He described their relationship as that of a father and son.

Mr. Galland met Mr. Chung in 1990, who was a Tith Ngaw Pai (steely hooks genre) master of Hakka Li Jia Quan (boxing style of the Li gang in Hakka village). Mr. Chung, who emigrated to the UK in 1957, spoke fluent English, so communication was not an issue at all. Mr. Galland went to Mr. Chung’s home in England to learn the art from him.

At Mr. Chung’s home, he observed what “teaching by words and deeds” means. Mr. Chung was completely unprepared for the visit of a foreigner on the first day but still treated him like a son and gave him a feeling of being in the same family.

He shared a short story that happened at Mr. Chung’s home one day. Mr. Chung has many children, and it is their nature to be naughty. And naughtiness plus noisy things often happen alongside one another.

One day, when Mr. Galland and Mr. Chung returned home, he saw the children who were running around suddenly stop on seeing their father return and stood in a line to greet him. The father nodded with pleasure, took out candies for them, and said, “You are all very nice today, so each of you can get a piece of candy. You should now go to your mother and say hello to her.”

Mr. Galland was amazed and asked why Mr. Chung had given them candies. He smiled and said: “Some people only yell at their children when they see them making noise. This is rude and wrong. You know, the kids will hate you for it. But when I give them candy, they will remember me as a caring father.

One day when I get really old and fall down, they will come and help me.“ Mr. Galland admired Mr. Chung’s way of educating children. In just three weeks of meeting him, he also felt Mr. Chung’s enthusiasm and humility. This brought him a further understanding of the true meaning behind ”Wu De (virtue of martial arts).”

When Mr. Galland returned to work in his martial arts school in Belgium, he always emphasized to his students to show “respect for their teachers.” He described it this way: “They must salute their ancestors so that they don’t forget where they come from.

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On Dec. 30, 2023, Ronald Galland, his wife, and students met with Master Chung Cheng-wai of the Tith Ngaw Pai Sect for lunch in Hong Kong. (Courtesy of Ronald Galland)
On Dec. 30, 2023, Ronald Galland, his wife, and students met with Master Chung Cheng-wai of the Tith Ngaw Pai Sect for lunch in Hong Kong. (Courtesy of Ronald Galland)

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At 69, Went to HK to Learn Pei Yau Dance

In addition to boxing, Mr. Galland is also interested in lion dance and unicorn dance and is in continuous pursuit of new martial arts. In 2020, he learned about the Hakka Pei Yau dance and was very interested in learning about it and going along with it further.

He searched for the master of Pei Yau dance on the Internet and contacted the person he found, Mr. Mo Cheuk-kei, chairperson of the Hong Kong Traditional Paper Crafting Arts Union, and ordered three Pei Yau heads one after another.

Mr. Mo was deeply curious after receiving the order and asked Mr. Galland about the purpose of purchasing the few Pei Yaus. Mr. Galland told him that he was opening a martial arts chamber in Belgium and hoped to learn more about Pei Yau dance and its related music, and it was also his desire to learn the skills from an expert.

Mr. Mo then informed Master Lok Kwai-ping about Galland’s situation. Mr. Lok was willing to accept one more student under his guidance. Mr. Galland also expressed his desire to come to Hong Kong to formally become a student of Mr. Lok.

Unfortunately, the travel restrictions during the pandemic delayed his plan to travel to Hong Kong.

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The late Hong Kong martial arts master Lok Kwai-ping, in October 2019. (Jenny Zeng/The Epoch Times)
The late Hong Kong martial arts master Lok Kwai-ping, in October 2019. (Jenny Zeng/The Epoch Times)

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Mr. Galland’s plan to visit Hong Kong was delayed by three years. During that time, Mr. Lok passed away in April 2023, aged 75. After Mr. Mo told Mr. Galland of that, he felt extremely sad, but it did not stop his pursuit of learning Pei Yau dance, and he requested someone else to teach him the art.

After a number of communications, Mr. Galland decided to come to Hong Kong in December 2023, bringing along his wife and seven students. He believes that since he had expressed earlier his intention to become a follower of Mr. Lok, it is a promise he made that should not be changed at will. Even if Mr. Lok is no longer here, he still hoped to fulfill his promise and become a disciple of one of Mr. Lok’s students.

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During the master-disciple endorsement ceremony, Mr. Galland held the endorsement card and read it aloud to show his sincerity, and then performed the “three kneels and nine kowtows” in accordance with tradition. (Jim Man/The Epoch Times)
During the master-disciple endorsement ceremony, Mr. Galland held the endorsement card and read it aloud to show his sincerity, and then performed the “three kneels and nine kowtows” in accordance with tradition. (Jim Man/The Epoch Times)

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During the master-disciple endorsement ceremony, Mr. Galland held the endorsement card and read it aloud to show his sincerity. After that, he performed the “three kneels and nine kowtows” in accordance with tradition, poured tea, and presented the master’s Lai See (red pocket).” He told everyone that he cherished everything he learned during this endorsement journey and planned to bring the skills he learned back to Belgium to share and promote Hong Kong’s cultural heritage and Kung Fu culture with the local community.

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Ronald Galland (Kong Han-lei) became a disciple of Mo Cheuk-kei (L), chairperson of the Hong Kong Traditional Paper Crafting Arts Union. (Jim Man/The Epoch Times)
Ronald Galland (Kong Han-lei) became a disciple of Mo Cheuk-kei (L), chairperson of the Hong Kong Traditional Paper Crafting Arts Union. (Jim Man/The Epoch Times)

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Ronald Galland learns the Pei Yau dance. (Jim Man/The Epoch Times)
Ronald Galland learns the Pei Yau dance. (Jim Man/The Epoch Times)


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