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The History of Jow Ga Kung Fu
The history of Ga begins in the nineteenth century in the southern Chinese village of Sha Fu, located in Guangdong Canton province. There, a man by the name of Jow Lung began to learn Kung Fu from an uncle when he was but a young boy. He loved to train hard and soon had learned all that his uncle could teach him. Instead of abandoning Kung Fu, Jow Lung sought out masters who could give him more advanced instruction. His focus was always on fighting, and he gradually developed into a very tough and effective fighter. Around the age of twenty, he was forced to travel in search of work, but he continued to train nonetheless.
During those days, it was dangerous to travel because of the large numbers of bandits who terrorized the roads and cities with impunity. For Jow Lung, this was certainly a problem, but one for which he found himself very well prepared. Repeated encounters with robbers gave him good opportunities to test himself and his fighting abilities against opponents with different skills, weapons, and strengths. In the course of one of these fights, Jow Lung killed one of the bandits with a fierce and well-delivered kick which ever since has been known as the "through-the-heart" kick.
After several years of travel, Jow Lung went home to his village. There he began to develop his martial arts experience into a system that would give its practitioners unrivaled fighting skills. Jow Lung decided that his style would use both the upper and the lower body in unison to create a highly effective fighting art. Only techniques that could be used successfully in a fight would be included, and there would be no distinction between offense and defense. Once he had devised this new art, he began to teach it to his brothers Jow Bill, Jow Hoy, Jow Hip, and Jow Teen. Together, they became known as the Five Tigers of Canton, and their art was named Jow Ga, or Jow Family style.
In 1915, the Chinese army was seeking a new head trainer for its troops. In order to find one, it decided to hold an open, full contact tournament, the winner of which would receive the position. Jow Lung saw this as the perfect opportunity to showcase Jow Ga and immediately joined in the competition. Over the course of several days, Jow Lung defeated many opponents who represented some of the most popular Kung Fu styles of the day. In the end, he defeated every one of them and was appointed to the post of Chief Trainer of the army. He was to hold that position only for a brief time however, because in 1919 he fell ill with pneumonia and tragically never recovered.
After Jow Lung's death, his brothers continued to perfect and to spread Jow Ga through China and Hong Kong. A man by the name of Chen Man Cheung became one of Jow Bill's top Hong Kong instructors. Chen Man Cheung was to go on to open his own school where he taught Dean Chin, the man who would introduce Jow Ga to the United States in 1968.
Si Jo Dean Chin began his martial arts career in China at the age of eight. He studied several different styles but specialized in the Eagle Claw style. At the age of fourteen he discovered Jow Ga Hong Kong and began to study it under the direction of Si Gung Chen Man Cheung. After training for many years, Dean Chin was mandated by Si Gung to go to the United States and open a Jow Ga school there as his official representative. In the late sixties, after he had established himself in Washington DC, Dean Chin began to seek ways to complete his mission.
Si Jo Chin had to overcome several obstacles before he could complete his mission. He did not have enough money to start a school and the American public had only heard of styles such as Karate and Jiu-Jitsu because of the recent World War. In order to popularize the Jow Ga system, Dean Chin began to teach his acquaintances free of charge. This did expose more people to Jow Ga, but it could not guarantee the loyalty of those whom he taught because he could not be too picky as to whom he accepted. Si Jo Chin also taught Jow Ga in Karate dojos in the hopes of attracting students. Though he did have many people learning under him in a space leased by a student in Washington's Chinatown, success in establishing his own school did not come until the early seventies.
When Si Jo Chin opened his Jow Ga Kung Fu Association in 1973, he decided to focus his efforts on a new set of dedicated students. From this group, he was able to produce the first generation of Jow Ga instructors in America. Si Jo Chin had now become much more selective in his choice of students but he never discriminated on the basis of race or origin. He sought people who had the interest, discipline, and perseverance to learn Jow Ga. His curriculum was extremely arduous and many people did not have the strength to stick it out. Some did stay with him for a number of years before quitting or transferring to other, less stringent schools, which were operated by less scrupulous former students. Others went so far as to travel to Hong Kong in an effort to gain recognition by Si Gung Chen Man Cheung, and in this way bypass Dean Chin's tough standards. Very few graduated to the instructor level, but those who did possessed an unrivaled knowledge of Jow Ga. Many of his students have become nationally and internationally renowned for their skills in all aspects of Jow Ga. Some have opened their own schools through which they carry on his legacy.
Dean Chin believed that it was extremely important for him to be involved in the Chinatown community. He was very active in helping small businesses to start and expand. Many elderly and sick individuals found him ready to assist them in anything they needed to get by or to recover. He was also instrumental in stopping organized crime from taking over Chinatown. He had several confrontations with mobsters through which he gained their respect for his courage and upstanding character. In this way, people who were known to associate with him gained a measure of immunity from the criminal element.
From the moment he emigrated from Hong Kong, Si Jo Dean Chin did his utmost to promote Jow Ga in the United States. Through his efforts, he guaranteed that the system is alive and well and that there are instructors today who still teach people not only how to excel in Jow Ga and in their personal life, but also how to be upstanding citizens.
For more information please email Raymond Wong

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Revised Last 1/09/08