Lau Gar

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Lau Gar (literally “Lau Family”) is one of the five major family styles of Southern Chinese martial arts and is attributed to Lau Sam-Ngan (劉三眼; pinyin: Liú SānyÇŽn; Yale Cantonese: Lau4 Saam1 Ngaan5; literally “Three Eyed” Lau), who is said to have been taught by Jee Sin.

Lau Gar Kung Fu is derived from the form of boxing that was practised in Kuei Ling Temple, situated on Bac Pye Saan (the Bac Pye mountain), in Hong Kong in Western China. It was first learned by a monk fleeing from Kuei Ling Temple by the Master, “Three Eyed Lau”, a tiger hunter, who is honoured as the founder of Lau Gar Kung Fu.

Towards the end of the 19th century, Master Yau Luk Sau desired to learn Kung Fu. At the age of 13, Master Yau Luk Sau left Kowloon and travelled to the Kong Sai province where he trained under Master Tang Choi Ching.

Nine years passed before he was given the right to teach independantly. Master Yau Luk Sau then met Master Wan Goon Wing, whom Master Yau Luk Sau served as son until Wan Goon Wing’s death.

Upon returning to Kowloon, Master Yau Luk Sau taught only his family and close friends before opening his club to the public. During this period, his grandson (now known as Master Yau) commenced his training at the age of six. This training continued for four hours a night, 363 nights a year, for 15 years. Master Yau proceeded to bring Lau Gar to Britain in 1961.

Lau Gar Master Yau

Later, in 1972, the BKFA (British Kung Fu Association) was set up, and Master Yau was invited to be Chief Instructor, as current keeper of the Lau style. Lau Gar has since become Britain’s most popular and widespread form of Chinese Boxing, otherwise known as Kung Fu.

Although the syllabus laid down by Master Yau concentrates to a large extent on the traditional features of martial arts, Lau Gar has produced a great many successful tournament fighters, in both semi- and full-contact, at national and international levels.

There are three different branches of Lau Gar: The Lau Gar Kuen system headed by Master Jeremy Yau Kam-Wha of Birmingham, England, who brought the style to Britain in 1961, and went on to set up the British Kung Fu Association in 1973. Master Yau has several disciples and students teaching throughout the United Kingdom where there are currently over 120 clubs.

Master Yau’s Lau Gar incoporates a grading system based on coloured sashes, similar to Karate with White being the lowest and black the highest (there are six levels of black sash). These are white, blue, orange, green, yellow, purple, brown and then black. However unlike Karate, the white belt is only awarded after the first grading. The style features mid-height strong stances, many open-hand close-range techniques, and several kicks, few of which are above the waist, most aimed at waist height.

Lau Gar The Master

The Lau Gar found in Mainland China, the current recognised Master of which is Xiao Yong Ding (Siu Wing Ding in Cantonese) of Guangdong Province.
The Lau Gar routines found in certain branches of Hung Gar, another of the five major family styles, which do not come from Lau Gar proper (see discussion), but were originally a Mok Gar empty-hand routine (Lau Gar Kuen 劉家拳) introduced into the curriculum by a student of Lam Sai-Wing named Lau and a Chu/Chow Gar Mantis staff routine (Lau Gar Gwan 劉家棍) introduced into the curriculum by a student of the Chu/Chow Gar Mantis master Lau Shui, after whom the routine was named.

Lau Gar Kuen is derived from a form of boxing practiced at Kuei Ling Temple situated in Kong Sai (Guangxi) Province in west China. It was learned from a monk on retreat from that temple by Master Lau Sam Ngan, “Three Eyed Lau”, a tiger hunter, whom we honour as founder of our style. He is reputed to have earned his name because of a deep scar in the middle of his forehead which resembled a third eye. The style subsequently became popular over a large part of south west China. In fact all of the southern systems of kung fu are derived from 5 major styles namely: Lau, Hung, Choy, Li and Mok.

Towards the end of the 1800’s Master Yau’s Grandfather (Yau Luk Sau, pictured above) conceived the desire to learn Kung Fu. At the age of 13 he left Kowloon, now in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and travelled to Kong Sai Province where he trained under the Master Tang Hoi Ching. Nine years passed before he was given the right to teach independent of Master Tang.

Master Yau’s Grandfather subsequently met the Master Wan Goon Wing with whom he continued his studies for a further six years, and whom he served as son until the latter’s death. On his return to Kowloon, Master Yau Luk Sau taught only his family and close friends before opening his club to the public. During this time Master Yau commenced his training at the age of six. The training was conducted at the village community centre in Kowloon City (Gau Lung Sing) just outside the famous Walled City. His training continued for 4 hours a night 360 nights a year for 15 years.

Master Yau brought the style to the United Kingdom in 1961. The British Kung Fu Association was set up in 1973 and Master Jeremy Yau, being the keeper of the Lau Gar style, was invited to be the Chief Instructor. Subsequently Lau Gar has become Britain’s most popular form of Kung Fu.