tung kong chow gar tong long kung fu
Chow Gar kung-fu gives an exceptional opportunity to develop and exploit our internal power. Rooted in the ancient Shaolin tradition this kung-fu system maintained to carry on its unique training method hence was able to inherit its special skills to the modern times. That is what we mean by the term “traditional”.
Looking at a high level Chow Gar practitioner the sight may show close resemblance to a fast moving insect especially to a praying mantis. The movements are extremely fast, the body is still, the stance is stable. The system leads its practitioner to use his body in an unusual way that is internal power. Then it transforms internal power to a special way of using the human body to create a sharp but heavy burst of power called shock power. If someone has a chance to feel (or suffer) this kind of power he would feel either as if a heavy object fallen on him at the point of contact or as a shock run through his body. Practicing internal power makes the body healthy and ensures that the skills acquired can be maintained till the late old ages.
When you get more familiar with the method of training and the principles of this system you may recognize and clarify a lot of misconceptions that concerned with internal kung-fu. Just to give a taste of it let us mention three examples shortly here:
Learning iron shirt skill
One of our special skills is iron shirt that makes possible to withstand strong physical impact on our body without suffering any damage. Chow Gar achieves it without regular hitting the body that is considered unhealthy. Iron shirt caused by internal power stays effective once you’ve learned how to maintain. It is not like externally developed hard body that fades away once the regular hitting regime stopped (we have experience in this kind of training as well). Iron shirt is a useful skill but alone cannot be considered as high level kung-fu.
Developing fighting ability
Fighting ability develops automatically by the power. Fighting cannot really be practiced with your kung-fu brothers because they do not express hostile intention toward you like in a real fight your opponent does. That is one of the reasons why we do not believe in practicing applications. Prearranged set of fighting scenes are good for beginners to test themselves against the principles but has no real fighting values.
No advanced techniques
There are no advanced techniques or forms. Advanced differs from beginner by the higher level of skills: power, speed, toughness, reaction, concentration and calm state of mind.
Chow Gar kung-fu has a special way to approach internal power. First it makes the student physically stronger and in the meantime changes his body shape and gradually turns external (muscle) strength to a more refined power. This is a flexible, fluent and reactive power what in opposition to external (dead) power we call living power (also called contact power due to its sensitive nature).
Chow Gar uses only exercises which exclusively characteristic to this kung-fu system. We practice hard and soft chi kung, forms, two-men drills and techniques. The method is complete. There is no need to borrow exercises or training method from other sports. Once you see Chow Gar blended with other sport training methods and tools you can be sure that is NOT pure Chow Gar. This kind of blending is a clear sign of lacking the understanding of this great art.
After practicing so many years we truly admire masters of old times who could develop such a deep teaching. They hided the essence of the system into a few exercises then unfold a colorful varieties of forms letting the practitioner find the way back to the roots. Everything sprouts from the roots. Finding the roots and cultivating the sprouting process is the foundation training. If you have a strong foundation (roots) you have a good kung-fu. This is where we can help those who are interested in exploring the treasure of Chow Gar kung-fu.
Our kung-fu system belongs to a group of distinctive styles originally practised by Hakka people. The name „Hakka” was given by the local people, meaning „guests or guest families”. This group of Chinese ethnic spread from North to South China in five waves of migration and differed in their habits and culture from the inhabitant Southern Chinese (e.g: the women considered equal to men in their communities). Their kung-fu styles share same qualities and give similar impression for onlookers. Every kung-fu system has different history of its origin. We tend to consider these stories rather metaphoric blended with historical events and persons that may reveal important guidance for practitioners.
In the following part you find a short history of Tung Kong Chow Gar Kung-fu.
The founder of our system was Chow Ah Naam who was born in a merchant family. Due to a stomach problem that his family had not found cure for he started to travel from his home to find proficient doctor who could give him treatment and remedy.
At a point of his journey his servant died and he ran out of money and due to these coincidences he was stuck in an inn belonged to a Shaolin Monastery (in Fujien Province).
First he was cured by the monks and later he moved to the monastery and became a disciple learning kung-fu that was included in the curriculum as well.
In the following years he practised and once he had a chance to observe a fight between a praying mantis and a small bird. He found in surprise that the mantis killed the bird. Inspired by the fighting habits of this insect he started to work out his own style.
His work incidentally was discovered by the abbot of the monastery. The abbot was content with his personality as well as his new style therefore he started to teach him to a secret method of training which made Chow very strong and his kung-fu superb.
In accordance to the tradition Chow taught one of his fellow monks named Wong Fook Go. Wong later left the monastery as a travelling monk as our tradition states “searching for enlightment”. He lived the lives of the begging monks also dealing with herbalism.
He was travelling around in the Wai Yearn area of South China by the Tung Kong River (East River) when he met Lao Shui. Although Lao was an accomplished kung-fu master at that time when they had a short fight Wong defeated him easily. Lao Shui became his disciple and after six years of diligent training his master disappeared for good leaving the title to him.
As far as we know Wong did not have any other student since he was concentrating on his spiritual way and passed the system to Lao only because of his respect to his master and the tradition that inflicted this obligation on him.
Lao Shui had much more students during the years while he actively taught all over the area. Eventually he moved to Hong Kong and earned great reputation due to his extraordinary fighting skills as well as his humble character. He lived on as a healer and was an established calligrapher too. He had six high level students one of them being Yip Shui who later became the head of the system.
Ip Shui was said to be the first non-Hakka student of the grandmaster. It inflicted hard time on him from the Hakka students which also motivated him to train harder. During the Japanese occupation in the II. World War he and his wife gave refuge to his master and completed his training with him to a very high level. His unique fighting ability was revealed by an open tournament when a famous, undefeated kung-fu master came to the city and called a challenge publicly (it was done according to the custom of those times not by show off). No one was willing to take the challenge but Sikung Ip Shui. He defeated the master hence maintaining the reputation of his master’s art. It was not until Lao Shui’s death when he started to teach openly in 1942.
Sikung Ip Shui had many students but he passed on his knowledge and the obligations which tied to the title “Keeper of the Flame” (or Head of the System) to his son, our Sifu, Ip Chee Keung.
At the beginning Sifu did not think of teaching kung-fu and his character did not let him to show his kung-fu to others. When Sifu worked in a restaurant in London he was forced in a fight with three sailors by the circumstances. Defeating them revealed his skills and then the local Chinese community asked him to start to teach his art.
To our good fortune in 2001 he came to Hungary and after walking for a few years on the tortuous paths of destiny we became his direct disciples and received this unique opportunity to learn one of the last traditional kung-fu systems.