Chow Gar Southern Praying Mantis

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Chow Gar is a short range fighting system from the Southern Shaolin, and is a form of Southern Praying Mantis, which is one of many Chinese martial arts. It is an aggressive style with emphasis on close range fighting. These skills are developed by utilizing a range of training techniques a.k.a chongs and gungs, which have been developed over several centuries.

Chow Ah Naam: The founder of the Chow Gar Praying Mantis martial art was Chow Ah Naam. He had spent many years in the Shaolin Monastery (Sil Lum Jee) harnessing the bodies hidden powers, through the Shaolin secret training drills.

These special skills and methods were bestowed upon individuals that showed tremendous martial skill and intuition, and Chow Ah Naam was one of those rare individuals.

Because of his incredible skill, the hall of Shaolin was given to him to teach this elite art.

Shock Power: The short-range power that he had harnessed easily overcame the other Shaolin arts, and the name praying mantis was given to the system, after seeing a praying mantis fight off a blackbird with sudden movements, which was reminiscent of Chow Ah Naam’s shock-like power.

Chow Ah Naam to Wong Fook: Chow Ah Naam had been staying in the Shaolin Monastery since he was 10 years old, after being cured of a stomach illness that he had suffered as a young boy. His first job was a cook at Shaolin, and then he started learning the Shaolin martial arts. His martial skill grew exceptionally and so he was taught the highest Shaolin martial skills from the high monk Sim See Yan, which Chow Ah Naam incorporated into his own system. Of all the monks that Chow Ah Naam taught, it was a monk named Wong Fook Go that became Chows successor.

Wong Fook to Lau Soei: Wong Fook Go later became a traveling monk, it was quite common in those days to spread Buddhism, as well as martial arts. He had went to a place called Wai Yearn village in the area of Tung Kung (East River). Once there he met a young man named Lau Soei. Lau Soei was already an accomplished master of several arts, most notably the Ma Kuen (horse fist). It was said that when he practiced the Ma Kuen, his ponytail that he used to wear in those days, was always in flight. A great story how these two men met and how Lau Soei started learning Chow Gar Praying Mantis kung fu was documented.

A challenge was issued by Lau Soei to monk Wong Fook Go, after Wong Fook Go stated that Lau Soeis art merely looked good at a demonstration he had shown. The Challenge took place and Lau Soei lost the bout, however not being satisfied with his first attempt tried again, but still lost.

He told Wong Fook Go, that when he was hit it had felt like he was being hit by lightning (shock power). The monk Wong Fook Go explained to him about the Mantis art and its “gen” powers that are trained. It was from here that Lau Soei was convinced about this unique system, he became a student of the monk and was the first non monk to be trained in the Southern Chow Gar Praying Mantis kung fu. Wong Fook Go taught everything to Lau Soei and years later Lau Soei began teaching at Wai Yearn village.

Lau Soei to Yip Shui: It was nearing the end of the Ching Dynasty that many people moved to Hong Kong. Lau Soei also moved to Hong Kong in 1913. He began teaching this hidden art and taught many people, including Yip Shui, Chu Gung Wa, Tarn Wa etc. But it was Yip Shui that became Lau Soei’s successor to carry on the name Chow Gar Praying Mantis kung fu. Many tried to topple him from this position of being the successor, but Yip Shui defeated them in martial arts contests and truly established his position.

Chow Gar arrives in England: Later, Yip Shui heir to the Chow Gar Praying Mantis system taught his own family members. Following that, his son Yip Chee Keung went to England in 1974, where he taught many people, most notably, Nelson Chui, Steve Apple, Eric Tsang and Paul Whitrod, as well as some others.

In 1987 Grand-master Yip Shui and Master Yip Chee Keung made a formal visit to the United Kingdom, and honored Paul Whitrod as the UK representative of the Chow Gar Praying Mantis kung fu. He now has students himself teaching this unique system, carrying on the traditional methods that have been handed down over the centuries, and what made Chow Gar Praying Mantis kung fu a unique fighting martial arts system.

Chow Gar forms: There are many different forms in the Chow Gar system, these are some of the one most commonly taught:

  • Sarm Bo Jin (3 step arrow)
  • Gau Si Mun sau (9 seeking hands)
  • Mo Ying Sau Chor Kui (no shadow hand crack the bridge)
  • Bo Sim Sau (searching insect hand)
  • Gen Tung Gen Sau Lin Wa say (shock power hand)
  • Poon loong keok (flying dragon leg)
  • Yau Loong Sau (swimming dragon hands)
  • Say Mun Sau (four gates hand)
  • Bic Saan (lifting mountain)

The Basic Movements of Chow Gar: There are also 36 basic movements consisting of one or 3 moves, these are known as San Sau. they are:

  • Bow Chong (cover hand, meaning to wrap up)
  • Gau Choi (hammer fist to come down)
  • Cye Sau (deflect)
  • Doa Sau (spring hand)
  • Narp Sau (hook hand)
  • Got sau (cut back hand)
  • Saw Sau (lock hand)
  • Chum Chung sau (sinking elbow hand)
  • Yong Sau (upward reach hand)
  • Chuen sau (Transmit hand)
  • Larp sau (snatch hand)
  • Mut sau (sweep hand)
  • Kum la Ja Jook (seize and hold hand)
  • Kwor sau (circle over hand)
  • Yui Sau (Shake off hand)
  • Pai Kui (slicing hand)
  • Cheet Jeung (cutting palm)
  • Lau Sau (Leaking hand)
  • Dun Chung (back elbow)
  • Ngai Chung (Forward elbow)
  • Jin Sau (scissor hand)
  • Din sau (rivet hand)
  • Soc sau (Shock pulling hand)
  • Yong Kum sau (upward breaking hand)
  • Yum Yearn Kor Sau (yin yang breaking hand)
  • Lim Chung (Elbow picking hand)
  • Tai Sau (Pulling Hand)
  • Kok Choi (angular fist)
  • Man Dan Sau (single bow pulling hand)
  • Chup sau (thrusting hand)
  • Noi Choi fun sau (inside hand and split)
  • Chy Sau (grinding hand)
  • Doy Chong ( double arm training)
  • Sarm Bo Jin (3 step arrow)