Chow Gar

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Chow Gar Tong long (????) is a southern Chinese martial art and is one of the four major schools in Southern Praying Mantis. It is an aggressive style with emphasis on close range fighting. These skills are developed by utilizing a range of training techniques which have been developed over several centuries.

This style is not related to Jow-Ga Kung Fu(??), a southern Chinese martial art founded by Jow Lung in the early 1900s.

The history of Chow Gar Praying Mantis was transmitted orally with little supporting documentation until the 1900s. The origins of Chow Gar are similar to other martial arts of the Hakka community with references to the Southern Shaolin monastery and exploits centered around Southern China. Information prior to the turn of the century is speculative at best. In the modern era, Lau Soei is recognized by both the Chow Gar and Chu Gar practitioners as the leading promoter of this style. The leading authorities on Chow Gar are the students of Yip Shui and their schools can be found worldwide.

According to Chow Gar tradition, the founder of the style was Chow Ah Naam (???) who lived in the 1800s. He had spent many years in the Southern Shaolin Monastery under the guidance of the abbot Sim See Yan. He created a new style which he called Praying Mantis from watching a fight between a praying mantis and a bird. His style is not related to the Northern Praying Mantis created by Wang Lang (??) during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Ah Naam taught the style to many people in the region and one of his students was Wong Fook Go.

Wong Fook Go (???) was initially a lay person but later became a traveling monk. He travelled throughout Southern China including Wai Yearn village in the area of Tung Kung (East River).

Lau Soei (??; ??; ??) was an accomplished teacher of the martial arts in his home village of Wai Yearn in Southern China before meeting Wong Fook Go. Oral traditions suggested that Lau challenged Wong and was soundly defeated by Wong. Lau then became a student of Wong and became proficient in the Chu Gar Southern Praying Mantis. Using this knowledge, he further enhanced his reputation and earned the nickname as the “Number one of the three tigers of Dong Jiang (??????).[1]

In 1913, Lau Soei moved to Hong Kong and established a Southern Praying Mantis school in Kowloon. Initially, he would teach his system only to members of the Hakka community. Near the end of his career, he opened his teachings to the general public. Yip Shui was one of his first non-Hakka students. Lau Soei died in 1942.

Yip Shui (??; ??) continued on the tradition of Lau Soei after living and training extensively with Lau Soei. He established a reputation for the effectiveness of the Chow Gar style by meeting all challenges. He worked hard to teach and promote this style. Yip Shui passed away in 2004.

Yip Chee Keung, the son of Yip Shui, continues the family tradition as a promoter of this system. Chee Keung emigrated to London, England in the 1970s. He established a Chow Gar Southern Mantis School there.[2] Paul Whitrod started his training with Yip Chee Keung at that school in 1974. Paul is now the UK representative for Chow Gar. [3]

Ng Si Kay (???), Yip Shui’s son in law, is the current head instructor for Chow Gar Mantis Association (International) based in Hong Kong.[4] Li Tin Loi (???), another student of Yip Shui, is teaching at the Hong Kong Tong Kong Chow Ka-Praying Mantis Li Tin Loi Martial Arts Association (??????????????). [5]

With the efforts and dedication of those teachers and many others, Chow Gar practitioners can now be found throughout the world. There are now Chow Gar schools and associations in Hong Kong, England [6], the Netherlands [7] and Australia. [8]

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