Standing on the left and smiling is my friend Mr. Ho Yin Guai who worked at a European bank. Ho introduced me to the Praying Mantis school taught by shifu (Cantonese for Master) Wong Hon Fan. Counting Ho as part of the second row, yours truly is fifth from the left. This photo was taken on August 13, 1963 at a restaurant at which time diplomas for various levels were handed out, and skills presented by students.
Shifu Wong operated his training centre on the roof top above his home on 196 Tai Nan Street next to Nam Cheong Street. My class was once a week in the evening for one hour. Students my era will remember the sand bags used to train our front and back palm slaps. The hard clay roof ground wore out the shoe soles fast, as when one foot advances, the other foot drags along still touching the ground.
Because the students entered training at different time, shifu gave each of us a one-on-one instruction. He would show me several sequential body movements - feet plantarflexion (pointing/resting toes down as if prepared to kick), feet dorsiflexion (pointing toes up as if prepared to trip your opponent), waist, head, and equally important, elbows and fingers. For physical appearance of the wrists and fingers are part of the Praying Mantis trade-mark.
I would then repeat the sequence, which typically lasted about 6~8 seconds, and tried to do it to perfection. The following week, when shifu was satisified with my playback, he would teach me another sequence. After a few weeks, the entire squence lasting about one-half minute was taught and learned. The whole lesson consists of different offensive and defensive movements connected by artistic movements for smooth playback hence we also called it a dance. You would not want to duplicate them exactly in real fighting situation. For some lessons, there is also a mirror lesson whereby another student uses his routine on you to enable you to practise yours.
After several months, shifu would teach me long stick and big (blade) knife to expand my repertoire.
Interesting and happy time 55 years ago, not yet running into, or looking for a fight.
Related photo: https://gwulo.com/atom/30555