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.