Chow Gar Tong Long is a southern Chinese martial art and is one of the four major schools in Southern Praying Mantis. It is an aggressive style with emphasis on close range fighting. These skills are developed by utilizing a range of training techniques which have been developed over several centuries.
At Champions Kung Fu, we teach in the traditional way, exactly as GM Ip Chee Keung was taught by the late GM Ip Shui, who was in turn taught by his late GM Lau Sui.
There are many different forms in the Chow Gar system. These are used to help the students develop their fast, sharp punches and iron shirt.
The below video shows the London Kung Fu family, along with some of the Champions Kung Fu team and some beginners doing the first and most important form, “Sarm Bo Jin”.
The basic movements in Chow Gar are referred to by the Chinese term “San Sau”. The movements are used to help students understand fighting applications, and to learn about how to generate power and use speed appropriately.
The highest level of Chow Gar is to have heavy shock power in all movements. Shock Power requires extensive training. As the power in the arms increases along with speed, and body strength, techniques require shorter distances and produce greater force. Once the techniques require very little distance and do not use any momentum, this is referred to as having shock power.
It is difficult to develop shock power because during training, so called “physical power” is easier to develop and overly improving physical power will prevent students from obtaining shock power. At the same time, having a lack of physical power also makes shock power impossible to develop correctly, so a careful balance is required.
Chow Ah Naam
Chow Ah Naam founded Chow Gar. He lived in the Southern Shaolin Temple, training under Abbot Sim See Yan. Although proficient in other martial arts, he combined his experiences and training to create a new system which he named Chow Gar Praying Mantis.
Wong Fook Go
Wong Fook Go was initially a lay person but later became a traveling monk. While training with and learning from Chow Ah Naam, he traveled throughout Southern China promoting Chow Gar.
Lau Soei (1866-1942)
Lau Soei was an accomplished teacher of the martial arts in his home village before meeting Wong Fook Go. He is the oldest grandmaster for whom we have a photograph. Lau challenged Wong and was defeated, so he started learning Chow Gar from Master Wong, and reached an extremely high level.
In 1913, Lau Soei moved to Hong Kong and established a Southern Praying Mantis school there. Initially, he would teach his system only to members of the Hakka community. Near the end of his career, he opened his teachings to the general public. Yip Shui was one of his first non-Hakka students. Lau Soei died in 1942.
Yip Shui (1912-2004)
Yip Shui continued on the tradition of Lau Soei after living and training extensively with Lau Soei. He established a reputation for the effectiveness of the Chow Gar style by meeting all challenges. He worked hard to teach and promote this style. He was known and highly respected throughout Hong Kong, and was the first Cantonese to master the system. Yip Shui died in 2004.
Yip Chee Keung
Yip Chee Keung was made the new Grandmaster at a ceremony held in Hong Kong, as shown below.
(Video courtesy of our Hungarian Kung Fu brothers – Chow Gar Budapest)
He has reached an extremely high level, with superb shock power, iron shirt, stances and all aspects of kung fu.
(Video courtesty of our kung fu brothers London Kung Fu).
Other GM Ip Chee Keung Chow Gar Schools
GM Ip Chee Keung, currently runs a small handful of schools. London Kung Fu, who have classes in Hounslow on Mondays and Thursdays. Chow Gar Budapest who run classes in Budapest 4 days a week. As well as the head office in Hong Kong, and of course Champions Kung Fu.
We also have good relationships with several other schools across the globe.
Bonus Facts – Chow Gar in the Movies
Random fact: The closest to Chow Gar to appear in classic kung fu movies was in the movie Invincible Shaolin, where Lo Leih (who we believe did study another branch of southern mantis) learns something similar to our mantis system. Previous Chow Gar grandmasters were regularly invited to appear in kung fu movies, but believed that movies were not a good place to show real kung fu, as they are for fighting.