Shaolin Jow Ga
Jow Ga Kung Fu (aka Zhou Jia) (Chinese: 周家功夫) is a form of Kung Fu. It was founded by Jow Lung who was born in 1891, on the eleventh day of the third lunar month in Sa Fu Village of the Canton Province. His father was Jow Fong Hoy and his motherís maiden name was Li. At the time of its inception, this particular style of Kung Fu was labeled as having the head of Hung, the tail of Choy and the patterns of the tiger and leopard, or simply Hung Tao Choy Mei. It was so labeled because the essential techniques incorporated the muscular and mighty movements of Hung Gar and the swift footwork and complex kicking of Choy Gar Kung Fu, making it a very effective form of self defense with emphasis on simultaneous attack and defense.
The Jows were farmers native to Sa Fu Village. Jow Lung had an uncle named Jow Hung, who had been taught Hung Gar Kung Fu many years ago, and was unofficially acclaimed as the top fighter in Sun Wui County. Jow Lung and his brothers Jow Hip, Jow Bill, Jow Hoy and Jow Tin practiced Hung Gar with their uncle. Jow Lung never uttered a word of complaint about the arduous training and soon proved to be the best student. Jow Hung thought of him as a possible successor to his teachings. One day Jow Hung summoned his nephew and told him that there was not much time left for him as his chronic illness had returned. While there was still time, he would teach him the remaining techniques and the Pa Kua staff fighting techniques. Only a month later Jow Hung died.
The death of his uncle did not mean Jow Lung had to stop learning Kung Fu. He traveled to Siu Hing County where Choy Kau of Choy Gar Kung Fu was to be found. From Choy Kau, he mastered Choy Gar Kung Fu. Jow Lung felt that it would be more beneficial for him to absorb the essence of the two styles of Kung Fu he had learned so far. He preferred the hard driving power of Hung Gar and the swift footwork of Choy Gar. He combined the best of both systems.
When Jow Lung was 19 years old, because of family hardships, he left home for Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to find work. While there, he was involved in a fight with and fatally wounded a gangster. Though he really had nothing to run away from, Jow Lung thought that he had reason to hide. For several days he lived on wild fruits and berries and was on the verge of collapse when he came to a monastery and asked for help. The Abbot was most sympathetic to the ordeal Jow Lung had gone through and said he was welcome to stay if he could take the simple, frugal, hard style of monastery life. After several months of keen observation, the Abbot had no doubt as to Jow Lungís character and began teaching him Northern Shaolin Kung Fu. Jow Lung's misunderstanding regarding the death of the gangster lead to the chance encounter with a Shaolin Kung Fu master. Encouraged by the Abbot, Jow Lung combined all of the Kung Fu systems he had mastered into a single style and stayed in the monastery for over three years before he was ready to leave.
In 1915 General Lee Fook Lam of Canton was in need of a chief trainer for the army. He issued an open invitation for anyone to apply for the post. Over 100 applications were received. General Lee divided the men into 10 groups and held an elimination tournament. Jow Lung defeated all of his opponents and was appointed to the position. Jow Lung sent for his brothers Jow Hip, Jow Bill, Jow Hoy and Jow Tin to assist with the training of the soldiers and with them perfected his new system. The brothers decided to call the new system Jow Ga Kung Fu. Due to the systemís effectiveness and their fighting abilities, the brothers became known as the "Five Tigers of Jow Ga".
After the death of Jow Lung the family met and elected Jow Bill to assume leadership of the system. Jow Bill resigned his position with the army and began promoting the Jow Ga system of Kung Fu. Within one year he had established 14 Jow Ga schools throughout China and within a few years the number had grown to more than eighty. In 1936 the first school was established in Kowloon, Hong Kong. The Hong Kong school produced several notable masters.
Today, Jow Ga is very popular in Singapore, Malaysia, Britain, Australia, Germany and other parts of the world.
Jow-Ga has spread worldwide, and the style is sometimes referred to as Zhong Oi Jow Ga ("中外周家"). In Hong Kong, there is still a very large population studying this style. Sometimes Jow-Ga schools are invited to attend martial arts performances such as the Kung Fu corner held on Sundays in Kowloon Park.
As this style expands globally, may all Jow-Ga practitioners find what they seek in this wonderful art and all prosper together, at the same time refining and polishing the techniques of the style and pushing it to new heights all the time.
Development in Hong Kong
Jow-Ga is not a style that many people have heard of yet it still has a significant number of practitioners. Within martial arts circles, it's well known and respected. Currently branches of 3 grandmasters (Chow Bill, Chow Tin and Chow Hip) have students in Hong Kong.
Many Jow-Ga schools still keep to tradition, i.e. teaching in a school, which is often located inside apartment buildings. Many are on the top floor so they occupy the roof tops of these buildings as well. However, there are changes that are made to suit the new era. Jow-Ga is taught at universities in Hong Kong. The City University of Hong Kong has a Jow-Ga club. While The Chinese University of Hong Kong also has a number of Jow-Ga practitioners, they mostly train privately.
Every year there are celebrations for the birthdays of the five Jow-Ga grandmasters. "Chow Lung Dan" (Birthday of Chow Lung) is the biggest of these celebrations in which many schools come together in a restaurant for performance in lion dance and kung fu, then followed by a banquet.
Small Tiger (小伏虎) The basic form of Jow-Ga, teaching the most basic and fundamental techniques that are essential in order to master the system. Almost all the stances are included in this set. The majority of techniques are included as well.
Four-Level Fist (四平拳) Another basic set, it is shorter than the Small Tiger form and sometimes is taught before the Small Tiger. Teaches many of the basics of Jow-Ga (including some techniques not included in the Small Tiger). Consisting of between 60-70 moves of mostly Hung origin including the fundamental branch binding hand sequence. Also is the first basic form to include (in some lineages)a jumping kick.
Lohan (羅漢拳) Lohan is a mythical figure in Chinese Buddhism, and many Chinese martial arts has a form dedicated to such a being. It is characterized by large powerful movements. It is also a form that emphasized the use of "Chong Chui" ("Rushing Fist"), it also introduces the "Lohan washing his face" (羅漢洗面)" which is actually 3 techniques (Cup Chui, Com Chui, and Jon Chui) done consecutively. This form was created by Chow Bill after he came to Hong Kong.
Eagle Claw (鷹爪拳) This form is teaches swift movements and quick attacks, this form is characterized by the 3 consecutive clawing movement and a claw movement on the ground after a flying kick.
Flower Fist (花拳) A mix and match form, supposed to be created during an impromptu performance given by Chow Bill at a banquet. Thus at the start of the form it looked like a mix of a movements from several forms.
Man Chi (萬字) A form that literally is "The Head of Hung, and tail of Choy". This form starts off at a slower pace with many Hung Ga movements, as the form progress the pace speeds up because of the use of rapid stance-changing. It is quite a long form and trains some Chi Kung and endurance as well. It also has the "Bill Gwa Jon" (標掛撞) technique, which is 3 movements performed consecutively.
Kwok Chi (國字) An advanced form which is quite long and incorporates most Jow-Ga techniques. It has a distinct Northern Shaolin kicking technique in the end.
Big Tiger (大伏虎) An advanced form which has Hung Ga roots. It is a good form to practise a good stance. Usually a number of movements are done in one stance before moving. The first part (the longer part of the form) trains some Chi Kung and also the Kiu ("Bridge" "橋"). The second part of the form is much shorter and consists of rapid movements, which again emphasized the gist of the style "Hung Tao, Choy Mei"
Tiger Leopard (虎豹拳) The (usually) last form to learn. It is an advanced form teaching many combinations. It also has one ground technique which closely resembles a kneebar done on a standing opponent.
Sup Gee Kuen - 10 Character Fist
Chai Jong Kuen - Wooden Post Fist
Lok Kwok Chung Kuen - 6 Cornered See Fist
Man Gee Kuen - 10,000 Character Fist
Dan **** Fook Fu Kuen - Single Crouching Tiger
Sheung Gong Fook Fu Kuen - Double Crouching Tiger
Fu Hok Sheung Ying Kuen - Tiger and Crane Hand Form
Sher Ying Bat Gua Zheung - Snake 8 Diagram Palm
Iu Ng Ying Kuen - Small Five Animal Fist
Dai Ng Ying Ying Kuen - Big Five Animal Fist
These are not all the forms in Jow-Ga, there are many more (differences in lineage/streams). But most consists of the same style of technique which makes people recognize it as Jow-Ga. Besides, no matter which lineage one comes from, the initial salute (a certain set of movements, also used as a polite gesture or greeting) done before a form signifies oneself as a Jow-Ga practitioner.
Jow-Ga has many weapons, including sword, sabre, Kwan Dao, whips, staff (short, long), spear, daggers, tiger-hunting forks, etc. It varies from lineage to lineage. But most consent that the double-sabre ("梅花雙刀") represents Jow-Ga, and the Jow-Ga logo usually has a set of double-sabre underneath a "Chow" ("周") written inside a plum flower.
Last edited by southernkungfu; 9/25/2007 8:32pm at .