My journey in the martial art has taken me to heights that I never imagine. I came to Los Angeles in 1969 at the tender age of fifteen to escape the Jim Crow era of the South. Sports was a passion that I indulged in on a daily bases. My mother use to tell me,” an idle mind is the devil’s workshop and if you are not busy doing something productive you will get into trouble”. Being that she was the matriarch of the family and a devout Christian, she set strict disciplinary guidelines and if you breached those guidelines you would receive a painful chastisement. She said to me “I love you and one day you will understand and appreciate how I raised you”. Little did I know the discipline that I was imbued with, as a child would prove to be most valuable in learning the martial arts. Learning the martial art requires a degree of mental and physical toughness. The training I received under Master Bucksam Kong was strict and arduous. I thought when I signed up for lessons I would be learning the beautiful forms I saw them do that stopped me in my tracks when I first peered through the window of Kong Siu Lam Pai Kung Fu Association.
I quickly found out that, before I could learn those beautiful forms, I had to go through basic training which involved Stance training and breath control. What had I gotten myself into? My body was strong and well developed from years of bodybuilding through weightlifting. But learning kung fu focuses on a different type of bodybuilding, which was foreign to me at that time. I soon found out it involved isometric and dynamic tension exercises to strengthen not only muscles but also, mainly the ligament and tendon. To learn kung fu one has to have an iron will, you must be willing to sweat blood, gasp for air and struggle against pain. I witness many of my class mates give up do to the hardship of pain and the lack of mental fortitude and discipline. Nowadays that type of training would be economical suicide.
After a period of three months a senior student was assigned to teach me Lau Ga. I continued training the fundamental exercises e.g. stances, various punches and kicks, knuckle push-ups, set ups and other conditioning exercises. I lost about twenty pounds and my body became lean and less bulky. My movements were nimble and more graceful and agile. Then I began to realize that the discipline I was taught as a child had come full circle. My Sifu was so well pleased do to my discipline and steadfastness; he took me under his wings so to speak and started to teach me personally. After a year of training I won my first full contact fight. I would eventually travel to Hong Kong and train in the house of Great Grand Master Lam Cho, Peace is upon him forever for all the kindness and wisdom he shared with others and me. He was the last of the great masters of his time.
I share this story in hopes that it may inspire others to take this journey. For me it has been a rewarding experience that I will never forget.
Donald Hamby was born in Birmingham Alabama on March 6, 1954. He started his martial arts training at Bucksam Kong Siu Lum Pai gung fu association in 1976 and later became assistant instructor. He has been practicing Chi Gung and Hung Gar for forty years, and has been privately tutored by Grand Master Lam Chun Fai the elder son of Great Grand Master Lam Cho in Hong Kong. In 1999, he established Hamby’s Tiger & Crane Hung Gar Gung Fu School and Hamby’s North American Hung Gar Association. In 2000, he appeared in the Men of Martial Arts Millennium Calendar. In 2002 he and his students were invited to appear exclusively on the Santa Barbara news morning show demonstrating the five animals and hard chi gung. He was also featured in the Internet film Collection Agency in which he played a major role. He is very skillful in many of the eighteen classical weapons of Kung Fu. In the 1997 Tat Mau Wong Tournament, he represented Kong’s Siu Lum Pai Hung Gar Association in the Master Division by performing the famous Quan Dao set and bending a ½ inch thick steel rod with the soft part of his throat which was televised and merited him a standing ovation. In November 2001, he was invited to perform in the World Wu Shu organization martial arts tournament. In his early years, he fought in numerous full contact tournaments, winning all but one of the competitions. He is highly regarded in the Kung Fu community and has many friends and colleagues that seek his advice on fighting strategies and to appear in seminars. He is known for his strict adherence to correct form and application.
In 1998, he wrote, choreographed and appeared in a very productive strength training instructional video featuring David Carradine. He has also produced numerous instructional videos about Hung Gar which are featured on his website quandoman.com. He has been highly praised for having Great Grand Master Lam Sai Wing’s formerly elusive Hung Gar instructional books translated by two of his students (English translation by Jessica Lee and Spanish translation by Rosa Trenando) for the first time. He has appeared on major television shows such as "Ripley's Believe It Or Not" and "More Than Human" on the Discovery Channel and was the Grand Prize winner on the Steve Harvey Big Time Show. Additionally, he has written numerous articles on Hung Gar that have appeared in some of the most prominent Kung Fu magazines, and was hired by IKF Enterprise to produce the Lau Gar DVD. In 1999, he was hired by the famous rap group Ground Zero to demonstrate Hung Gar’s Five Animals on five DVD’s produced by the famous Shaw Brothers martial arts movie industry. In 2013 his acting career landed him a major role in the acclaimed documentary: The Black Kung Fu Experience in the Chinese Martial Arts and is also featured in the Lam Family Martial Documentary soon to be released this year 2014 in honor of Master Lam Cho and Grand Master Lam Chun Fai .