Grandmaster Mar Sik

Grandmaster Mar Sik was Grandmaster David Chin’s first formal Sifu. David Chin began his practice with him when he was 12 years old and throughout most of his teenage years. Grandmaster Mar Sik had another disciple named Lucky Chan. Lucky Chan inherited the Iron Shirt Chi Gong from Grandmaster Mar Sik. He is very low key and doesn’t like to show up in public much. Lucky and Chin were kung fu brothers and met often to spar with each other and exchange techniques to improve their skills.

Mar Sik was born in America on March 15th, 1876 in the Stockton Delta area. When Mar Sik was a child his parent’s sent him to Toy Shan County in Canton China. He was about 7 years old when he learned Kung fu from his Uncle, Mar Lock, who had an alterations business. Before Mar Lock owned the Alterations business, he was a Shaolin monk (this was during the Ching Dynasty). As a monk he was challenged to a fight in which he fought and killed the challenger and was wanted by the government. He hid away from the police and moved back to his hometown in Canton to assimilate into society. He let his hair grow out and no longer dressed like a monk. Everything Mar Sik learned was from his Uncle. If you look at Mar Sik’s movements you can still taste the flavor of history from the old style Shaolin Kung fu.

lucky-chan-and-mar-sikOn April 18th, 1906 Mar Sik was in San Francisco and witnessed the tragic earthquake. Shortly after the Earthquake, Mar Sik went to Stockton and worked as a kung fu Sifu for the Chinese Tong. One time there were two guys fighting and Mar Sik tried to break up the fight. One of them turned on him. Mar Sik hit the guy on top of the head with a back fist and crushed the guy’s skull and he died. Mar Sik regretted it and swore that he would never fight again. He was wanted by the police, so he escaped from Stockton and went to Reno Nevada and hid in a Chinese labor camp for seven years.

After returning to San Francisco he was invited to be a Kung fu Sifu for the Chinese Tong. One time he was visiting his friend’s gambling house and the place was raided by the police. They arrested him and thought him to be the owner. Mar Sik stood up for his friend and went to jail for ten years. Because of his loyalty he was the most highly respected man in the Tong and Chinese community.

lucky-iron-shirt-demoDavid Chin was Mar Sik’s disciple from 1955 and culminated in 1962 when Mar Sik was 87 years old. When David Chin moved to San Francisco from Stockton, Mar Sik introduced him to the Tai Chi Master Lau Yee Sing. This is when David Chin first started his internal Kung Fu training. David Chin had a tight relationship with Mar Sik and Lucky Chan.

Mar Sik passed away in 1973 at age 96. He did not die of illness. All of his friends were gone; he was very depressed and he starved himself to death. When Lucky Chan took Mar Sik to the hospital the doctor put in an I.V. and Mar Sik kept pulling them out so he could die peacefully. Grandmaster Chin always said that Mar Sik was the most memorable and compassionate person he ever met. The way that Grandmaster Chin teaches his students today reflects his influence from his master Mar Sik.

Written by Nick Lamia