Gow Jit Gwun

This is the name of the long pole in Chu Gar Kuen, it does not have any forms just techniques aimed at breaking joints and disabling an opponent.

The training to develop the correct power is difficult to do correctly, but simple in concepts. Once the power has been developed it is refined utilising the wooden dummy, and the emphasis changes from power to subtlety, using sticking, lifting, pressing and thrusting as keywords to develop the correct sensitivity.

This training along with the power development can take many months to get to a high level, but with consistent training it is achievable by everyone.

Chu Gar Dao

Normally thought of as a hacking type of weapon lacking the subtlety of the straight sword or the beauty of the double broadsword.
In Chu Gar Kuen the broadsword is used at close range, it is supported by the free hand and is mainly used to slash and stab whilst simultaneously blocking and flowing into a deflection or strike, this is quite different from the usual way a Chinese broadsword is used, In Chu Gar Kuen there are no fancy or flowery techniques everything is functional, whats more important these techniques can then be translated into the empty hands and used alongside the other fists.

Reminiscing

I was thinking back to the time Chu Sifu was teaching me Chu Gar Kuen and specifically the Phoenix eye fist. He was explaining how it can be used at extremely close range, and showed me the technique to use and how to practice it. He wasn’t satisfied however as he felt he needed to show me in more detail.

He had been to the market and bought some fruit for the altar he took an apple randomly from the bag of fruit, he rolled the apple with his index finger from throat height to chest height using the wooden dummy, once it was at chest height he formed the phoenix eye fist with the finger that had rolled it and then using inch force demolished the apple into pulp, this was done in one smooth motion no stopping or jerking. I had been conditioning my Phoenix eye fist for about 6 months and he asked me to reproduce what he had done and I did it no problems, but his advice was to try this only once as a test of your progression as the acid that is in the apple can get into your joints and make them bad if done continually.

As always Chu Sifu had shown me something and had me test it and so giving me the enthusiasm to continue. As the training was very hard and laborious, a labour of love no doubt, but still we all need encouragement and he always knew the correct time to give it.

Body Conditioning

How much do we need to condition the body in this modern world of knives and guns? Is there a place for the traditional skills? Within the Chu Gar kuen system we emphasis a lot of time on conditioning of the single knuckle the iron palm, iron shirt and also the bridge arm, with the main aim to get close enough to the opponent to damage them without getting damaged ourselves, obviously this would change if faced with a knife or gun.
I think I am able to bridge the gap between training and using the traditional methods, keeping them alive and also I am able to look at the arts I teach in the modern concept of weapons and train accordingly, here I am exposed to firearms everyday seeing them carried by police, army and even the civilian population, knives are also prevalent here as tools and also everyday carry. Every house will have a traditional sword hung near to the shrine so it is available if needed.
I think there is still a place for the traditional skills, otherwise I would not train and practise them but also they are a great foundation to build upon for more modern skills utilising more modern weapons.

Feeling good

It has been about a month now since I first started to retrain and familiarise myself with Chu Gar Kuen. I have only been doing the forms, Hei Gung and some dummy training for now as it has been  a while since I trained it properly as previously just maintaining the skills I had learned.

With the backing and support of my Kung Fu brother and Senior student of Sil Lum Hung Kuen,  Sifu John Farrell I am going to make Chu Gar Kuen training open for anyone who has a serious minded attitude and is willing to put in the effort to learn this unique style.

I am writing a book to introduce people to Chu Gar kuen and also we have a domain name so watch this space for more information, if anybody interested then get in touch.

Chu Gar Kuen History and Training

For my 150th post I thought I would shed some light on this style of Chinese Gung Fu firstly this style originates in Toisan, or it is where my teacher learned it. It is not a version of Chu family or Chow family preying mantis, it might share some similarities but that is normal for the area and styles that existed.

My teacher is Chu Siu Woon and he has been teaching in Manchester, England for well over 45 years, he  has been teaching Chu Gar Hung Kuen for all those years, and had always said the Hei Gung was from Tibet and the Gung Fu was from China and he had two styles, the first a village boxing style and the second a short arm style to counter the longer and medium range systems, he had taught little bits but very little, it was not until 1991/2 that he started to teach me on a one to one basis, the training I undertook was twice a day 6 days a week for 6 years in that time I learned about how the wooden dummy is constructed and used, the conditioning of the Phoenix eye fist and iron palm plus the bridge arm conditioning needed for this style. There are three hand forms short, medium and long range but they are all short range, they refer to the use of the hand or arm in combat and so are just called short , medium and long. Before starting the one to one training with Chu Sifu I had already been training these forms for a few years they were never demonstrated in their entirety and only the most senior students knew them.

The other training I did was conditioning of the body through Hei Gung skills and other training methods using weights and also ropes and pullies to strengthen the area required, this was supplemented with sensitivity exercises using the wooden dummy. Other techniques were drilled in a linear fashion, and as I was the only student then they were carried out on my own as was all the other training, if we were interrupted during training I stopped immediately and did not resume until the person or persons had gone and if other students then I would start again the next day but usually I made sure to do the conditioning and dummy before anyone else arrived. some of the conditioning was general stuff but a lot was specialised specifically for Chu Gar Kuen.

The complete system is three empty hand forms, a broadsword form, long pole techniques, dummy training and conditioning, Hei Gung and a unique kicking style that is very hard to train. It is not such a difficult system to learn but it is a difficult system due to the amount of training and conditioning needed to be effective, it is based on solid principles and footwork, designed to do maximum damage in minimum time.

I feel very proud and privileged to have been given this system to safeguard and it is a very unique link to an earlier age where the only goal was to defeat your opponent as quickly as possible.

My hope is that a family member will want to learn this unique style or a senior from my Gung Fu brother John Farrell’s group it is not for the faint hearted, it needs a good grounding in a Gung Fu system that has covered basic power development and strong basics, if anyone wants to learn this unique style then get in touch, I cant promise I will teach it to you, but it would be a start. Don’t ask me to expound in print about how you can learn this style only by training it can you understand it.

Lineage, ego or link to the past?

To me as a lifelong martial artist to search for the purest and closest method to the source has been a goal, it is not always possible due to time and location but I have been very very lucky in that I have been able to travel and experience training with teachers who have been at the top of their chosen arts and who have deemed me a good enough person to impart their knowledge. I know some will think claiming lineage in this or that is about collecting something or ego, but I can assure you I have only ever tried to get to the source or close as I can in the arts I teach or am proficient in from a view that the closer I am to the source then the teaching and training experience will enable me to grasp the basics and train them as they were meant. I don’t want to come across as disrespectful to anyone and I certainly don’t claim to be the best at the things I do, but for me lineage is an important step in the learning and understanding ladder or maybe I am getting to be an old man, reminiscing about when I started out, anyway for anyone out there who is interested I will offer my lineage in the Chinese systems I train and teach.

Lineage2A friend told me an old African saying

A man with no past is a man with no future !

Something to think about?