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!





Why Tae Kwon Do Has Such Good Kickers

14 03 2013

Hopefully this article does not offend or insult. Please hear me out.

What is Kung Fu people generally known to excel at? Take note that the key word here is “excel”–as in “few others do better”. Our hedgehog. It is the one thing that we do, that we are so good at, that anytime someone wants to learn this one thing (or short list of things), general consensus is that you need to go see a Kung Fu guy. You’re not going to like this…

With the exception of only a few within our arts–like Wing Chun or Shuai Chiao–the answer is “nothing”.

See, in Kung Fu, there exists a phenomena that we seem to embrace and it prevents us from being dominant in the world of martial arts. And that one thing is this:  We try to learn and do everything. Our systems often boast of teaching 10 weapons or more, but most of us only know one or two forms for each weapon, and we don’t really possess any fighting skill with those weapons. In fact, we probably have never fought with those weapons… ever. Our Sifus have never fought with those weapons. If asked to fight, say, a fencer or a Japanese Kendoka–we probably couldn’t do it. We don’t want to admit it, but a vast majority of the things we teach our students have almost no combat value to us. We will tell those who ask, “Later, later” until they stop asking. Instead, we distract them by telling them to focus on learning the form at hand, or promising some later period in their training when it will come. And one day, years from now–that student will be a Sifu himself, and offer the same, lame excuses for why the butterfly sword is no more effective against a broadsword than a pair of double daggers. Why? Because the truth is, we’ve never tried it ourselves.

So the Kung Fu man, if he is known for everything, is generally known for knowing a little of everything–but not knowing and being able to do anything well.

Hey, don’t kill me, I’m just the messenger.

There’s no reason for it to be this way. We are, after all, the forefathers of most Asian martial arts. The Chinese arts, if you dig deep, are highly advanced. Traditional Chinese arts are perhaps more advanced than most systems tenfold. But over the generations, we have weakened to the point that we must throw Chinese-style only tournaments and tout fighters (San Da/San Shou) whose fighting styles look nothing like what we do in our schools as proof that CMAs are just as effective as any styles. We have the disease called “Oh-we-have-that-too”, and then in our classes we fumble around with techniques that are very unfamiliar to us:

  • We have “hidden” grappling in our arts, but a wrestler would murder us on the ground
  • We have trapping, but a Wing Chun guy tells others that what we do “isn’t the same” (out of respect)
  • We teach the same punches that a boxer teaches, but please….
  • We have staff techniques, but we have to use waxwood so that our technique looks strong
  • We kick, but TKD green belters kick way better than our Sifus, unless that Sifu use to train in TKD too
  • We have “sword” techniques, just don’t try to hit anything with those swords (they’re too expensive to have to keep replacing broken spring steel pool noodles

I think you get it.

So what can we do? Easy. From this point forward, I want you to take one set of skills and one weapon. If you want it to be one form, or techniques from one group of forms, or one type of technique–whatever. For the next 6 months, aside from your classes, practice nothing else. Experiment. Spar. Test it with someone whose martial arts experience is very unlike your own. See what you can come up with. If you have a form that you want to use, start with a chart and doing that form 500 times from beginning to end. Then once you accomplish that, start breaking down that form, technique by technique. Find ways to work those techniques into your sparring. Replace the tiger claw with a punch, the chop with a back fist. You get it.

Because the reason why the Tae Kwon Do guy is known for his kicks is that he doesn’t do much else besides that. He can kick far better than you can–in fact, he can fight a whole match and use nothing else–and probably kick your behind. And you’ll be sitting there after a loss complaining that the rules prevented you from using “your” techniques, as if your system doesn’t have a Roundhouse, a front kick, a side kick… blah blah blah. He just does it better; it’s his hedgehog.

Here in the Chinese Martial Arts, we offer a little of everything and that isn’t good enough. We can offer a little of everything, but we need a lot–a WHOLE lot–of something. So perhaps your lineage has not come up with one–so you do it. You’ll be glad you did.

We welcome comments and dialogue either here or on our Facebook page.

Thank you for visiting the DC Jow Ga Federation.





Jow Ga Wheel Punch

4 03 2013

Jow Ga has three important techniques that is emphasize through all Jow Ga forms:  The Wheel Punch.

Branches will pick and choose which of the many techniques to be specialized, according to the tastes of that branch’s teacher. These three techniques happen to be some personal favorites of our late Master Dean Chin.

Instructor Sharif Talib demonstrates some basic uses for the Wheel Punch taught in the Dean Chin branch of Jow Ga.

The techniques have been honed, so that minimal modification is needed from form to fighting. There are many idiosyncrasies that exist within these techniques, although basic–they are very effective and are in no way trivial. For more information, please contact a Jow Ga teacher near you.

Thank you for visiting the DC Jow Ga Federation.





Build the Tiger

4 03 2013

In Dean Chin’s Jow Ga, we believe in Building the Tiger.

Jow Ga training is more than simply learning forms, a bunch of weapons, and performing Lion Dance. For most in the Kung Fu world this may be true, but training in the Dean Chin branch of Jow Ga is much more rigorous and (for many) quite boring. Our list of forms and techniques is as long as any other Southern style one would find, but considerable time is spent building strength in various parts of the body which enable our techniques to be effective.

This is one of those things misunderstood about Kung Fu. While many systems simply impart techniques that simulate tearing, strangling, dislocating and breaking–the Kung Fu student must develop his body to be able to actually use those techniques for what they were intended for. When the body has been forged properly, the fighter has, in effect become a Tiger:

  • Powerful shoulders
  • The Tiger’s Claw:  the fingers, the hand, the wrist and forearms
  • A strong and destructive fist
  • Strong neck and abdomen
  • Strong, explosive legs
  • A courageous and fearless, and where necessary–ferocious–heart

Take your system’s clawing techniques. If you were to use those techniques on a real attacker, what damage would you be capable of inflicting? The Jow Ga man, if properly trained, can answer that question. Rather than learn forms on top of forms on top of forms–one’s time would be better spent if a full year were devoted to developing the body much in the way a Tiger’s body is developed:

  • powerful upper body to overpower an attacker
  • powerful grip for grappling, seizing, strangling and for forming the fist
  • a desensitized fist that can be used as a blunt-force weapon against the opponent
  • a durable body that can withstand the opponents’ attack
  • strong neck that can resist a neck-snapping knockout punch
  • legs that allows the fighter to explosively pounce on or chase down an escaping opponent
  • the confidence that your opponent cannot hurt you
  • the ability to turn on the malicious intent when the appropriate time calls for it

That last item is what is often referred to as “Fighting Spirit” in the old school. It is one aspect that is too often omitted from Kung Fu training. In other words, the psychological capacity to injure, maim, or kill the opponent where necessary. A Tiger is never dangerous when he is not hungry or under attack. This is because although he has the ability to destroy anything in its path, it is unnecessary. The law of nature does not allow the Tiger to just go through the jungle killing everything it encounters. Yet when provoked, or hungry, or defending its young–nothing will stop it from a merciless, cruel attack.

The Kung Fu fighter must have all of the above:  Technique, physiology, courage, and the mental switch to turn him from law-abiding citizen into unstoppable killer. This is not a technique one can learn from a book or video. It is a principle; one that must be cultivated and developed through years of training to turn a man–regardless of what he comes through the school doorway with–into a Tiger through proper Kung Fu training. The body must be transformed into something extra-human, and the kind of training that this requires is a slow, patient, arduous process. You cannot develop this kind of Kung Fu ability if you are concerned with partying and celebrating all the time. Dean Chin was not a Kung Fu historian. He was not a collector of forms. He was not a Kung Fu politician, nor was he a Kung Fu party animal.

Thank you for visiting the DC Jow Ga Federation.





Build the Horse First

3 01 2013

One of the teaching philosophies used in Dean Chin’s Jow Ga is “Build the Horse First”.

Often in battle, the winner is not determined by who has the sharpest spear–but who has the strongest horse. The legs, in Kung Fu, are referred to as one’s “horse” because what gets the soldier around during skirmishes are his legs if he’s on foot–or his horse if he is on horseback. For those who fight atop horses, just as much training is given to the horse who carries the soldier as to the combat training of the soldier himself. The fighter who is able to outmaneuver his opponent will find combat and self-defense to be much easier and less risky. When one has developed his footwork to evade and opponent who cannot catch him, and to outrun an opponent who cannot escape him–fighting demands less energy and fewer chances of getting hurt from the combatant.

In Jow Ga training, you will learn to move efficiently and explosively before learning to strike an opponent; this is an indication of how important this oft-overlooked skill is. We accomplish by spending a large amount of time holding postures in our six basic stances:

  1. Sei Ping Ma – Four corners horse stance
  2. Jee Um Ma – Bow and Arrow stance
  3. Gum Gai Dok Lop Ma – Golden Rooster Standing on One Leg stance
  4. Kay Lun Ma – Cross Stance
  5. Breaking the Broom Stance
  6. Pak Tui – Drop Leg Stance

You will also learn and practice our “Stance Training Form”–a routine of attack and defensive footwork maneuvers. The first half of the routine teaches basic footwork and the second half combines hand attacks with that footwork and includes our famous “Wheel Punch Technique” which is the Jow Ga fighter’s first “super-technique”. (Super Technique refers to a powerful technique that is difficult for opponents to counter)

It takes about 6 to 9 months for students to properly learn Horse Training. During this time, you will find your upper body strength increase at least threefold. Your leg strength and flexibility will multiply itself at least four or five times. This is not an exaggeration.

Remember, our mission in Jow Ga is to build dominant fighters. This is an ambitious goal, and you will have to put a lot of energy towards meeting it. Building the horse is the first step towards achieving it.

Thank you for visiting DC Jow Ga Federation.





Bio of Late Jow Ga Master Chin Yuk Din

2 01 2013

Dean Chin took up the martial arts at the age of seven. His first instructors were uncles who taught him from the systems they knew: the White Eyebrow system, the White Crane system and the Hung Gar system. By the age of nine, when it became clear he was a prodigy of kung fu, he began the formal study of the Jow Ga system of kung fu. At thirteen he was invited into the Eagle Claw system at the school of the King of Eagles, Sifu Fu Liu, who taught him both Northern Shaolin and Eagle boxing forms. In spite of his youth, he mastered all of these kung fu methods, and excelled in grappling and Dim Mark (striking at pulse points).

It is not surprising that at the age of fourteen, the Jow Ga system recognized his genius and requested him to teach. From that time on, throughout the many years he taught Jow Ga, he never stopped learning from other kung fu masters with whom he exchanged system techniques. Some of these systems he learned from were: Wing Chung, Choy Li Fut, Jow Ga Praying Mantis, as well as Thai Boxing.

Master Dean Chin arrived in the United States in 1966. Shortly thereafter, he established the Jow Ga Kung Fu Association and opened the first Jow Ga kung fu academy in the Western hemisphere. In the ensuing years until his death in 1985, Master Dean Chin held many and diverse professional titles: the Overseas Coach for the Jow Biu branch of the Jow Ga Kung Fu Association; Eastern United States representative of the Hong Kong Chinese Martial Arts Association; member and qualified Sifu of Liu Fat Man’s (King of Eagles) Fan Tzi Eagle Claw School (a Northern Shaolin system); Advisor for the Presidents Cup (held annually in Taiwan-the worlds largest kung Fu tournament); and Vice Chairman of the Eastern United States Kung Fu Federation.

In the summer of 1999 at a dinner meeting in Hong Kong, Grand Master Chan Man Cheung, Master Dean Chins’ teacher and a direct disciple of Jow Biu (one of the founders and “Five Tigers” of Jow Ga), stated that Dean Chin was his most famous student. He went further to say that he only taught a few teachers here in the United States for any length of time. Those individuals were Master Dean Chin (founder of Jow Ga in the US), Master Hon Lee who resided in Hong Kong for several years and now teaches in Mclean, Virginia and the Chin brothers who live in New York.