Lessons In Death

11 10 2013

The passing of our Grandmaster, Sifu Chan Man Cheung is a sad one, but it does not have to be. My Si Gung lived a full and fulfilling, celebrated life. He was able to see his Jow Ga grow from his humble school in Hong Kong to an major force on the International Jow Ga Kung Fu scene. Most of the time someone sees a Jow Ga practitioner around the world–especially if you are an English speaker–they assume you came from his lineage. Cheung Sifu was fortunate enough to see generation after generation after generation spring from the loins of his teachings. Not only to know what and where his Jow Ga has gone; he was able to travel the world and actually meet those students and see the schools himself.

Not bad for a man who was unlettered and not wealthy.

Chances are pretty good that if you know Jow Ga and you are in America, Si Gung could look at you perform and he could tell you who your Sifu came from, he could tell you why your Sifu does things the way he did them, and he could probably recall when your Sifu learned those things. He is like a father to us all in Kung Fu, and rather than treat his passing as a sad occasion, celebrate it. Chan Man Cheung paved the way for one or two (or more) of his offspring to branch off and duplicate or surpass what HE did for Jow Ga. In passing, Si Gung passed the torch to each one of us to make this art better, and make this art grow. If you do not aspire to accomplish great things with your Kung Fu, then support your brothers and sisters who do. And we’ve got plenty:

  • Sifu Hoy Lee
  • Sifu Hon Lee
  • Sifu Rahim Muhammad
  • Sifu Randy Bennett
  • Sifu Raymond Wong
  • Sifu Reza Momenan
  • Sifu Ron Wheeler
  • Sifu Deric Johnson
  • Sifu Troy Williams
  • Sifu Terrance Robinson
  • Sifu Charles Middleton
  • Sifu Howard Bryant
  • Sifu Ed Tomaine
  • Me
  • Sifu Sharif Talib
  • Instructor Luyi Shao


I’m sure there are others. But these are the owners of Jow Ga schools I know of. If we’ve missed anyone, please comment below and we’ll make sure to update the list…

One more thing. If you have students, make sure you talk to them about their duty in carrying this art forward. If the system had died with the founders there would be no Jow Ga today. Martial arts are an ever-evolving entity–and those in whose hands it is trusted have a duty to perfecting what they know, testing what they know, and unlocking its secrets so that your future generations will be given a better art than what was given to you. Just as your Sifu did for his or her students. Just as your Si Gung did for his students. Just as Master Cheung did for his students.

That said, all of us who are in direct lineage to Grandmaster Cheung should be wearing a black armband for 30 – 90 days around our left upper arm, as a sign of mourning. However, like I said, do not let this period of mourning simply be one of sadness and “do-nothingness”, but one of celebrating the life of a great Master who gave each of us a Master who founded a very strong branch of this “one family”:  The American Branch of Jow Ga. Dean Chin’s Jow Ga. Please make sure your students know where they came from, so they will have a direction for where they will go next. We have “Jow Ga” as a system, Jow Ga as a name as a result of mourning. Depending on which history of Jow Ga you subscribe to–our system was named Hung Tao Choy Mei when the art was taught to General Fook Lam’s soldiers. In 1919, when Si Jo Jow Lung died, his brothers renamed the art “Jow Ga” in memory of their brother, and Jow Biu took the reins to the art, opening 14 schools shortly after. Great things happen when you are motivated by love and mission. If you love this art and our leader, let’s see what great things you will accomplish next. We are one family, bigger than the original family that created this art. If we pull together, tightly, like the fingers to a fist (rather than open and spread out), we can crush rocks with it. Use this time to motivate yourself to doing something big.

Thank you for visiting the Dean Chin’s Jow Ga Federation.

Jow Ga’s Capturing Hand

6 10 2013

I love the Siu Fook Fu form.

I love it so much, I’ve created half an entire Kung Fu system out of it. There is so much in it, you (the reader) could do the same. Of course, Jow Ga has so much more than simply this one form, but if you fail to absorb this form fully, you are really will miss the boat.

In Sifu Dean Chin’s Jow Ga, we emphasize the “Capturing Hand” principle while practing Siu Fook Fu. In a nutshell, there are three rules:

  1. You must train the hand, fingers and forearm to be strong and inescapable
  2. Every time you punch and your arm is blocked, you will capture or control the blocking arm
  3. Every time your opponent punches and you block it, you will capture or control his punching arm

Ying Jow people will recognize this principle as its origin is partially rooted in Lau Man Fat’s Eagle Claw Kung Fu. We have our version of its application and how we train it, but it is a foundation concept that is easier said than done. If you can develop it and make it a strong part of your fighting arsenal–you will be very formidable in fighting.

Please go back and take a look at the form if you know it and notice how throughout the form you will see one of two things happening through the form:

    1. You are stepping through your opponent while blocking–when changing to a blocking technique in this form, you will not sit still in your stance while blocking. Instead, when we go low to block a kick or block a punch upward–we actually step one or two fighting stance lengths forward while doing so. This is a Tiger Claw concept of knocking your opponent over with your stance
    2. Throughout the form you will see the “Small Tiger Technique”–aka “block-block-grab-punch”… It isn’t just filler. The reason it shows up everywhere in the form is to emphasize its importance.

I don’t want to give away the store here on this blog. We write these articles for people who already know Jow Ga; this isn’t a place to educate yourself about this style. However, if you already know at least our foundation form, you should find our articles helpful in your own journey through Jow Ga. Please use us as a guide for your personal training.

And if you’d like to cheat, you can always use the “Donate” button to your right, send us $50 and we will mail you a DVD of our basic Small Tiger form applications. You’ll be glad you did. Don’t reinvent the wheel; Take over 50 years of training and research and make it your own. If you already have our DVD, please comment! Part II is coming soon!

Thank you for visiting the DC Jow Ga Federation site. Please, spread the word about us!

R.I.P. Chan Man Cheung Sifu (Message to Jow Ga America)

6 10 2013

So my Si Gung, Chan Man Cheung Sifu, has joined the ancestors. What a joyous occasion.

Chan Man Cheung is one of the Jow Ga masters who had made his name as one who excelled in Kung Fu rather than Lion Dance. Yes, all Kung Fu masters do lion dance. Yes, Si Gung was known for his lion dance. But CMC what known for his martial arts skill, and he was not just an old guy who knew kung fu–he really was known for his good skill, and his ability followed him well into his old age.

But none of that matters. Martial Arts, my friends is an individual activity. It is one where no one rides the bench–every man stands on his own feet, and his skill speaks for itself whether he is alone or with an opponent. Even if you are on a team, at some point your individual skill is what matters, not lineage. Not affiliation. Not title. Not organization. Your Sifu could have been the great Bruce Lee, and if your skill reminds onlookers of a wet noodle–your kung fu is “no good”.

Si Gung was known for his skill, his students’ excellence–but none of that matters because it is up to you to build your own reputation and support the reputation of your own Sifu. CMC is simply an ancestor, and you cannot take him into a fight with you, a tournament ring, not even the office when you are attempting to convince potential students to join you rather than the guy down the street.

Kung fu people get so much into certificates, lineages, affiliations and alignments–with both well-known masters as well as just someone just because they are Chinese–that we tend to forget the only thing that matters is what you can do when you step out on the floor and the level of character you have with those who are not on the floor with you.

We Jow Ga people have our drama. We always will. We are a family–close, extended, love and hate. Many of us Sifu knew each other as kids. Some other Sifu knew us when we were kids. There will always be differences of opinions and philosophies, and there will always be those we simply don’t like. But we area all Jow Ga, and we either represent our Sifu, our grandmaster, or ultimately–each other. When outsiders look at us, they see every other Jow Ga man out there. When they see Sifu Deric Mims’ students, they also think of Sifu Rahim Muhammad and his people. When they look at Sifu Sam Chan, they also think of Sifu Raymond Wong. We are all Jow Ga, and don’t you forget it. Because when students go looking for a school, and they must choose between Tae Kwon Do, Wing Chun and JOW GA–not Tae Kwon Do, Wing Chun or Maurice Gatdula. Don’t flatter yourself.

CMC was to all of us who knew him, a father. He gave advice, he scolded, he bragged. He loved our Sifu and was proud of him. He had said on a few times that when Dean Chin wanted to show off his students, he brought them to fight. Few other Jow Ga Sifu were like that. Few other KUNG FU Sifu were like that. Most simply donned their fanciest uniforms and weapons and titles, and demonstrated forms or Lion Dance, while Sifu made his guys suit up and knuckle up. CMC liked this about our Sifu, and we need to keep that going.

As I look around the Jow Ga world, I see men who love to tell stories of Jow Lung’s exploits as a fighter, but then they get on youtube and only do forms and Lion Dance. That is not what drove our lineage forward. There is a reason why other branches of Jow Ga do tricks with their Lion Dance and Dragon Dance, while ours still wear plain T shirts and perform forms with heavy Kwan Dao. It’s in our DNA as Kung Fu men under Chan Man Cheung. Please, keep it alive.

We don’t have to love each other. We don’t have to get together at functions and hug all over each other and act fake. But we do need to keep our skills high, and represent this style strongly. And if you feel like your branch of this branch is missing something–just remember that you have family all around you.

The Dean Chin Jow Ga Federation is dedicated to spreading the Dean Chin version of Jow Ga under Chan Man Cheung, and we’d love to do it through our own brothers and sisters. All you have to do is ask.

“Yat Ga” (One family)

Thank you for visiting the DC Jow Ga Federation website.