The most popular version of Nam Yi Dong Ji Keung is the one sang by George Lam, 林子祥, and is indeed the most popular song in the singer’s discography. Interestingly, the contemporary version by George Lam is an adaptation of the Cantonese musical classic, ‘General’s Order’. The lyrics were an addition when the song was used as the main theme song of Jet Li’s Once Upon a Time in China. The original tune ‘General’s Order’ was used in old school movies such as Shaw Brothers’ ‘Challenge of The Masters’ and ‘The Drunken Master’ and many more. And from way back then, people already link the song with strong men doing hard Kung Fu training.
Why is this song so catchy? That is because of its strong and positive mood. In contrast with modern songs mostly about love and personal emotional turmoil, the 80s and 90s was an era when singers sing about patriotism, passion and heroism. Of which, Nam Yi Dong Ji Keung stands out as a timeless classic.
傲 气傲笑万重浪 ngou hei ngou siu maan cung long (Pride which laughs proudly upon the endless waves) 热血热胜红日光 yit hyut yit seng hung yat gwong (Hot blooded with heat surpassing the red hot sunlight) 胆似铁打骨似精钢 daam si tit daa gwat si zeng gong (Guts like iron, bones like fine steel) 胸襟百千丈眼光万里长 hung kam baak qin zeung ngaan gwong maan lei cheung (Chest breathes in from hundreds of thousands of yards, setting eyes ten thousand ‘li’ away) 誓奋发自强做好汉 sai fan faat zi keung zou hou hon (Pledges to vibrantly be strong with self-motivation, to be a good man) 做个好汉子每天要自强 zou gor hou hon ji mui tin yiu ji keung (Being a good man, every day must be fuelled with self-determination) 热血男子热胜红日光 yit hyut naam ji yit seng hung yat gwong (Hot blooded men, hotter than the light of the red hot sun) 让海天为我聚能量 yeung hoi tin wai ngor zooi nang loeng (let the sea and the sky gather energy for me) 去开辟天地为我理想去闯 hoei hoi tin pik dei wai ngor lei seung hoei cong (to open the sky and split the earth, for me to charge towards my dreams and ambitions) (碧波高涨) (bik bor gou joong) (azure waves rising) 又看碧空广阔浩气扬 yau hon bik hung gwong fut hou hei yeung (again looking at the blue sky, broad, with carefree daring spirit radiating) 即是男儿当自强 zik si naam ji dong ji keung ( if you are a man of determination) 强步挺胸大家做栋梁做好汉 keung bou ting hung daai gar zou dung leung zou hou hon (with strong steps and upright chest everyone be pillars and good men) 用我百点热耀出千分光 yong ngor baak dim yit yiu chut qin fan gwong (using my hundred points of heat, radiate thousand points of light) 做个好汉子 zou gor hou hon ji (being a good man) 热血热肠热 yit hyut yit cheung yit (hot blooded and hot intestines are hot) 热胜红日光 yit seng hung yat gwong (heat surpassing that of the red hot sunlight)
The beautiful lyrics of this song is strongly compatible with Hung Gar Kung Fu’s powerful image. Lines such as ‘胆似铁打骨似精钢’(daam si tit daa gwat si zeng gong) is strongly representing of a Kung Fu man that has guts of iron and bones like refined steel.
‘强步挺胸大家做栋梁做好汉’(keung bou ting hung daai gar zou dung leung zou hou hon) describes an encouragement for everyone to stride with fortitude, holding their chest up with confidence, everyone can be reliable as a pillar, like a good man. Overall, this is a song with simple but strong idealistic lyrics. After centuries of unrest in China, from the Opium Wars to the political upheaval in the 1960s, Chinese people were disheartened and needed a symbol of strength. A symbol of strength to show that they can match up to other countries. This song encourages people to be strong and hardworking.
Especially for us Hung Gar practitioners, we must definitely live by our code. There is no shortcut in training. Train your bones, train your breath, your real power will serve you well. Be positive and passionate in what you do, to really shine among the crowd. With firm belief and steadfast actions, nothing is not achievable.