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