History of Chui Siu Woon

Chu Siu Woon

Chiu Siu Woon was born in Tibet in 1923, his father worked as an artisan repairing the temples, his early exposure was to the practice of Virgin Hei Gung which can only be learned before puberty, and I personally feel this practice has helped maintain his good health and vigor as a basis for what he later learned.

When his father passed away the young Chiu his mother and sister took the body on a pilgrimage through India and back to China to Kwantung province.

Unfortunately Chiu’s mother and sister became opium addicts and gambled away what money they had, this forced him to find a job cleaning. He was asked to work for a local doctor cleaning and keeping the house. The doctor observed the young man and eventually asked him if he would like to learn medicine and Kung Fu, the doctors name was Go Lo Tin and he taught the young Chiu medicine, bone setting and Kung Fu. The name of the style was ‘Chu Gar Siu Lam Hung Kuen’. The name means ‘Chu Family Red Fist’ and is different to the other styles of Hung Kuen. It was predominantly a village boxing art, the history of the style is that a temple was dedicated by Chu Hung Mo an emperor, the practice of Kung Fu was done at this temple and in deference to the emperor the style was called Chu Gar, the red fist comes from the red door the graduates passed when leaving the temple.

When Chiu had learned all he could from Go Lo Tin he was sent to his masters brother Go Tin Yat, to learn Chu Gar Kuen a style purely for fighting and used to counter the long arm styles. The cultural revolution was starting and so Chiu was sent by his teachers to Hong Kong to preserve what they had taught him. He never saw or heard from them again. After traveling to India and Australia Chiu eventually settled down in Manchester, England and began to teach a small group, one of the first westerners was John Farrell and John is now Dai Si Hing (big elder brother) and has been for many years.

Bob began his training with Chiu Sifu in 1981 and is a Si Hing of the style second only to John Farrell, Bob underwent 5 years of daily training to learn the Chu Gar Kuen. He believes he is the only one to have done this training in its totality and though others have learned some they have not had the same training over a sustained period.

Chiu Sifu said Go Lo Tin was a lay priest and had been at the Shaolin Temple, he had left to pursue a worldly existence and help people.

History Of Chu Gar Kuen

Chu Gar Kuen is a short-range style of Kung-Fu that emanates from the Toisan district of Kwantung province, Southern China. It is said to have originated to combat the long-range styles of the Shaolin Temple. However, the authors of this article determine that this information is more than likely to be too literal a translation from the original Chinese as related to them by Master Chu. It is more probable that revolutionary factions who were trying to overthrow the Ming dynasty and restore the Ching devised this style. In the early 19th century when Chu Gar Kuen was conceived, the Shaolin Temple monks were active resistance fighters and taught lay disciples their Kung-Fu to help the resistance effort.

Shaolin Kung-Fu, however, was intricate and took a long time to master and so there was a need to develop a style that was quicker to learn, less intricate, but equally effective. It is also noteworthy that the new style was named after Emperor Chu Hung Mo who financed the building of the Fukien Shaolin Temple and became a shaven headed monk himself. This fact alone seems to quell the notion that the style was in some way opposed to Shaolin.

Though we are not sure of the exact origin or the originators of this style it is nonetheless an effective form of self-defense. Stripped of non-essential techniques, Chu Gar Kuen is designed to inflict maximum damage to an opponent with minimum effort.

Master Chu Shiu Woon is the current Grandmaster of Chu Gar Kuen and was originally sent to learn the style by his Siu Lum Hung Kuen teacher, Sifu Go Lo Tin. His new teacher was the brother of his master, and was named Go Tin Yat. Chu Shiu Woon soon found that Go Tin Yat was a hard task master and suffered greatly in learning this style, as development of the anatomical weapons is stressed, particularly the fung nan kuen (phoenix-eye fist ) .

In later years, the Cultural Revolution began and Chu Shiu Woon was urged to flee to Hong Kong to escape persecution. During the Cultural Revolution many great masters were put to death and since leaving for Hong Kong Chu Shiu Woon has never heard from his two beloved masters. The Fighting System Chu Gar Kuen consists of the following elements, which make up the style:
Empty Hands: fung nan kuen (phoenix-eye fist), tit sar jeong (iron sand palm), cum na sao (seizing hand), kiu sao (bridge arm).

Weapons: gow jit gwan (nine sections pole), dan dao (single knife). Weapons contain no forms, only single techniques, two-man drills and applications.

Internal Training: tit bo salm (iron shirt).

Wooden Dummy Training: A single pile wooden dummy with no arms or leg is used to sharpen skills and toughen anatomical weapons.

Forms: There are 3 empty hand forms, which cover short, medium and long bridge techniques.

Training the Anatomical Weapons

Anatomical weapons are toughened in a variety of ways, mostly against the wooden dummy or sandbag and may employ techniques such as striking, rubbing, grinding, hooking, and pushing. Also used are weighted devices using pulley wheels to strengthen the bridge arm and grabbing, etc. The most unusual method employs a silk sash suspended from the ceiling, which the practitioner grabs and pulls whilst striking with alternate phoenix-eye fists. This drill stresses “inch force” training.

All the methods employed do some degree of damage to each area worked and after each training session it is essential to apply herbal medicine to promote healing

Strange tales

Over the years at Master Chu’s I saw many strange things and though some people are sceptical, I was there and saw them with my own eyes.

The first thing was that the incense sticks that were left after they had burnt. They used to burn from the underneath and turn to ash. I asked Sifu one day why this was and he said “Because he was so busy treating people for nothing, he was too busy to clean the temple so he asked Kwan Kung to help and so Kwan Kung cleaned the incense sticks”. It was said matter-of-factly, as if an everyday occurrence for him though difficult for me to believe but I can offer no other explanation.

Another time a friend of Sifu’s came to the school, she was interested in the temple and Sifu explained what Kwan Kung did. She did not believe him so he said he would ask Kwan Kung to show himself to her. We went into Sifu’s office and waited, a few seconds later we heard a scream and the friend ran into the office and explained she had been looking at the statue of Kwan Kung when it opened its eyes and looked at her she became scared and ran away. Needless to say she did not come back and Sifu and I laughed about it.

One day Sifu was teaching me to transmit energy to an inanimate object and I could not get it, he disappeared for a few moments and came back with an envelope. He gave me the envelope and had me stand at the wall opposite him about twenty feet away, then he started to focus his palm at the envelope first starting at about six feet then making his way back toward the opposite wall to me the envelope was getting hot and by the time he got to the other wall I could not hold it! Sifu laughed took the envelope from me ripped it open and poured out sand onto the floor nothing else just sand, then he walked away laughing.

Chu Gar Hung Kuen

I had learned many empty hand forms and also about 6 weapon forms when Chu Sifu started to teach me some Chu Gar Gwun, this was called Gow Jit Gwun and it first involved part filling a gallon container with water attaching it to the end of the pole then performing  ten movements whilst in low horse stance using just one breath.
You gradually added more water to the container and it took about six months to fill it to 3/4 full, this training was extremely difficult but the benefits were enormous as I developed a lot of power in the short and medium range, Chu Sifu explained to me that there were three stages, I was doing level 1, level 2 would be hitting a 6″ nail in the wall in one hit! The last level was sensitivity moving around a wooden dummy striking at but not breaking eggs.
Unfortunately I never got past level 2 as other things took precedent in training and Sifu would always say there was time later to learn it.