Stance Training Form – Strong but Mobile (Master Deric Mims)

12 01 2015
From left to right:  Masters Reza Momenan, Master Deric Mims, and Master Hon Lee

From left to right: Masters Reza Momenan, Master Deric Mims, and Master Hon Lee

Senior Jow Ga Sifu Deric Mims, out of all of the Dean Chin students, was perhaps our lineage’s secret weapon. He is a unique character in American Jow Ga history, because unlike all the original Full Instructors, Sifu Mims joined following his mother. Other Jow Ga members–Howard Davis, Chris Henderson, Stephanie Dea and a few others–followed their fathers and older brothers; Deric’s mother was an advanced student of Dean Chin and one of his original “fighting women”, as I recall him saying. In the American Kung Fu community, Jow Ga stood out due to the fact that our school’s foundation was not standing on Chinese community members–but mostly African American and Latino–many female students who were just as good, just as strong as the men, and put out fighters rather than forms competitors. Sifu Mims had an eye for detail, perhaps better than Sifu Chin himself, and under his direction, Jow Ga students could do more than fight–Jow Ga students could present our forms well while adhering to the standards any self-respecting fighter would have for himself. Some of Jow Ga’s best forms competitors owed their skill to Sifu Deric without compromising the combative nature of Jow Ga.

Few Jow Ga websites make reference to Deric Mims for various reasons, but no one can deny that without his instruction and his ideas–DC Jow Ga might have become just another Kung Fu fighting school whose forms no one notices. Often, schools that focus on fighting perform their system’s forms poorly. To do both well is rarely found in the community. Unfortunately, the Chinese Martial Arts community has yet to evolve to a level where an African American Sifu can be recognized as a Master without making a movie or promoting himself in media. For this reason, I refer to Deric Mims as a best-kept secret in Jow Ga–if American Jow Ga can be categorized into sublineages, Sifu Mims’ Jow Ga has its own identity and uniqueness due to his talent. One cannot give a proper history of DC Jow Ga without paying homage to him and his leadership. About 5 years before his death, Sifu Chin named Deric the Jow Ga Association’s President and senior instructor. He ran the promotion exams. He conducted the business of the school, making Jow Ga a professional organization. He oversaw demonstrations, tournament performance, and kept the lights on. Even if Jow Ga members did not attend Sifu Mims’ classes, we were all impacted by his mark on the system.

One of those major contributions is the Stance Training Form, or as some would call it–the “Stepping Form”.

The Stance Training Form was a foundation form Sifu Mims created to teach basic footwork, balance, and movement to new students. Regardless of one’s prior experience, this routine taught our basic stances and how those stances are used in movement–from advancing in short bursts as well as full steps, to retreating, to hopping, twisting, sinking, rising, and flanking. No student could touch our first form without first learning it. Few schools pay this kind of attention to footwork and foundation, other than learning to hold stances. In Jow Ga, whose head is Hung and tail is Choy, one must incorporate strong stances even while in motion. Few Kung Fu practitioners can do this. By observing any forms division in the TCMA community, from beginner to advanced, you may notice that forms might open with low stances and close with low stances. But stances will be high and mostly non-existent, save for a few pauses and poses. Not so with Jow Ga foundational training. Even our strongest fighters will have solid stances. And stances must be strong, but mobile–unlike many who teach that footwork would be strong OR mobile…

Not many Jow Ga schools today utilize the Stance Training Form due to philosophical or business reasons. However, a few have preserved the form, including mine (Maurice Gatdula). The video below is our version of this form, with a few changes and the addition of the “Wheel Punch Form”, also choreographed by Sifu Mims, at the end of the form. Jow Ga students in this lineage must train the form for 9 months to a year and be able to perform the routine ten times in one set before moving on to Siu Fook Fu (Small Subduing Tiger), our first form.

Stay tuned, Jow Ga students, as the Federation will be releasing a DVD soon teaching this form. Thank you for visiting the DC Jow Ga Federation.

 

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Jow Ga’s Pao Choy

17 12 2013

The Uppercut technique is the second most used technique in the Siu Fook Fu form, next to the straight punch. The uppercut can be thrown with the front hand or the back, as a part of the Wheel Punch or alone, as a leading/opening strike or as a part of a combination. It is a powerful technique that can be used to damage the body or the face/head. It can be thrown for speed or for power. The uppercut is a surprising technique that you can hide from the opponent until it is too late, or it can be thrown as a powerful, yes-you-can-see-it-but-you-can’t-do-anything-about-it punch.

The uppercut, if thrown directly behind a straight technique as a feed or distraction is known to boxers as an advanced technique called a “Bolo Punch” (named for a Filipino boxer Cerfino Garcia), which mimicked farmers cutting cane in the fields. It worked equally as devastating as an attack or a counter to a straight attack.

I teach my students to use the uppercut off the centerline, which is a Filipino strategy that I believe is paired very effectively with it. In order to do so the fighter will either

  1. feed the opponent a straight attack
  2. check the opponent’s front hand
  3. draw a straight attack from the opponent–ALL, while stepping off the line–

and when the opponent reacts to one of the above, you will execute the strike. If the opponent is standing in the open position, you will attack from under his front arm with either your front or rear fist. If he is standing in the closed position, you will split his hands (Kuntaw terminology, meaning strike between his guard) with the uppercut. The checking hand can either deflect, capture, or stick to the opponent’s arm to ensure that your uppercut makes it through–or it can simply keep moving to allow the break in contact to distract the opponent from seeing the punch. Side note:  Some fighters can sense the punch coming through if you maintain contact with their arm with your non-punching arm. Those of you who practice Chi Sao will know what I’m referring to. By breaking contact, you take away their ability to rely on sensitivity for defense.

A good follow-up for the attack (or if the opponent leans back from your uppercut) is the straight punch.

The uppercut is theoretically an easy punch to block. However, very few teachers understand the strike well enough to teach how to defend from it. However, one needs to do more than simply slap down the punch–which is the typical defense taught against it. Many styles have no defense from the uppercut at all, because many of those do not use the uppercut. When used in combination, in the frenzied confusion of an exchange, the uppercut should be slipped in while you and the opponent are moving. Because of the angle of the technique–especially if you step off line, as I recommend–the opponent will not see the punch coming.

Think of the way opponents typically hold their guard. Hands up near the face, elbows resting near the rib cage. If you look in the mirror, you may notice that whether you are face front or face 3/4 turned, there is a triangle of open targets… from the entire midsection leading up to the chin at the vertex/top. The entire area–between the elbows all the way up to the chin–are vulnerable to the uppercut. This technique was designed to exploit that opening, which most fighters believe they are protected from, simply by holding up their hands. If you train to penetrate the guard, no opponent is safe.

Refer to the following two videos. One demonstrates the Uppercut strike; the other demonstrates the Uppercut Wheel Punch. In the first video, the fighter demonstrates the result of stepping directly into the line of fire of the opponent as well as the angled step I describe in this article. In the second video, the Uppercut Wheel Punch is demonstrated as a counter.

For more information, please see a Jow Ga Sifu near you. Thank you for visiting the DC Jow Ga Federation.





DC Jow Ga Training Clips

25 11 2013

This will be quick and easy.

Our purpose for creating this page is to pay homage to our Sifu and branch founder, Master Dean Chin. However, my personal motivation for doing such a site is to see established the acceptance of Dean Chin’s lineage as a unique and authentic version of the Jow Ga Kung Fu family. Every style has its branches and strains. Some are viewed as credible; some are not. As long as the person teaching a style/variation has an understanding of that style as a combat art and pays his dues–as well as proving its effectiveness–I view any strain of an art to be validated and acceptable.

There are many within our ranks who do not see Dean Chin’s Jow Ga as “pure” or valid as the Asian branches. Sifu modified his forms, he altered the way he taught the art, he added some elements of other arts. In the end, he called it all Jow Ga and sought to promote the style, and he didn’t even brand it as “Dean Chin’s Jow Ga”. I chose this name, because the term “Dean Chin version of Jow Ga” forms was often used to claim that a form was not authentic or incomplete.

Sifu did shorten many forms. He also forgot some forms. But do not allow these two facts fool you into believing that what he taught was not effective and powerful. Simply by viewing those who sprung from the loins of his school, you will see how strong Dean Chin Jow Ga is. However, despite that Sifu’s students were very good at performing forms–from Sifus Hoy Lee to Randy Bennett to Rahim Muhammad to Deric Mims to Troy Williams to Raymond Wong to Deric Johnson–when Sifu wanted to showcase the strength of his Kung Fu, he elected to have his students fight. When Sifu accompanied me to my first National tournament in 1983, he did not enter me into forms division–he entered me as a fighter. When he took a team to Taiwan–he brought fighters. When Sifu crashed a class while on of my Si Hings taught, he taught not Small Tiger form (everybody knew it anyway), he taught techniques within the form. Form, to Sifu Chin, was not a performance art. Forms were a collection of fighting technique, and this is what he used forms for in his classes.

When Sharif Talib and I decided to upload Jow Ga clips to youtube, then, we determined that there were enough forms on youtube under Jow Ga. So we committed ourselves to showing Dean Chin fighting techniques, as he taught them to us. We hope you will find them as valuable and useful as we did. Occasionally, we will produce (street quality, not studio quality… hey, it’s the information that matters!) Jow Ga videos that will highlight fighting rather than form, and these will be offered for less than the price of one month of lessons. When we teach workshops and clinics, they will be addressing the combat applications of this unique version of Jow Ga. Please check with us regularly, and subscribe to both my channel as well Sharif’s.

As a preview, I will present two examples below. Thank you for visiting the DC Jow Ga Federation.

DC Jow Ga Footwork Development

DC Jow Ga Small Tiger Technique





Dean Chin’s Jow Ga Technique: Covering Palm

4 05 2013

Otherwise known as the “Kum Sao”.

Demonstrated by Instructor Sharif Talib.  There are two basic defensive strategies in Dean Chin’s Jow Ga:  The simultaneous defense and attack, and the shifting block and attack. When the opponent attacks you have the choice of defending yourself while attacking him (block and strike at the same time) or you could use a strong block that shifts the opponent’s balance. In order to shift the opponent’s center of balance, the strong horse is needed to root yourself–which also makes the simultaneous block and counter difficult–to either knock the opponent over with your position or to completely immobilize the opponent’s striking hand.  The counter must follow a split second later. One of the quickest weapons to use for the shifting block and attack is the Kum Sao; not to be confused with the Pak Sao, which is a slapping block.

For more information, please contact a Jow Ga teacher near you.

Thank you for visiting the DC Jow Ga Federation.





Dean Chin’s Jow Ga Technique – Tiger Claw to Uppercut

14 04 2013

Short and sweet. No description necessary. If you know Jow Ga, you are familiar with this pillar technique of the system.

Thank you for visiting the DC Jow Ga Federation.





Bong Bo Praying Mantis Form

2 04 2013

Bong Bo is not a Jow Ga form. However, Sifu Chin did teach forms he learned from other sources and he used the lessons he learned from those other systems to enhance his Jow Ga. This is not an issue of Dean Chin’s Jow Ga being “pure”–it is finding alternative ways to utilize the system and borrowing the strengths of other systems to make his Jow Ga stronger.

It is said that Kung Fu must evolve with the generations, or the styles become stagnant and stale. This is not like passing down a text that must be kept the same, verbatim. Fighting arts are ever-evolving, becoming stronger, more efficient, more devastating and more strategic. Sifus owe it to their students as well as their Masters to ensure that the art that is imparted to the next generation is an improvement from how the Sifu received it.

Bong Bo was one of two Praying Mantis forms, and one of five forms we drew our Chin Na from. This is simply a demonstration of a form, but if you would like to learn more about what is contained within its movements, we encourage you to contact a Jow Ga Sifu. Thank you for visiting the DC Jow Ga Federation.

 





Small Tiger Form (Step-by-Step)

20 03 2013

Performed by a student from the Wong Chinese Boxing Association. This is the first of three parts.

Enjoy!

And as always, if you would like to learn more about the system, please contact a Jow Ga Sifu. Thanks for visiting the DC Jow Ga Federation.