About Jow Ga

Over a Century of Traditional Chinese Kung Fu

Jow Ga Kung Fu was created over 100 years ago by five brothers of the Jow family who came from the village of Sa Fu in San Hui Country, Guangdong Province, China.

Jow Biu Kwoon, Hong Kong

Jow Ga Kung Fu is combination of elements of three different Kung Fu styles – Hung Gar, Choy Gar, and Northern Shaolin. This is where Jow Ga acquired it’s orginal name: Hung Tao Choy Mei (洪頭蔡尾)– “The Head of Hung and Tail of Choy,” making reference to the strong upper body techniques from Hung Gar and the quick footwork and intricate kicking techniques from Choy Gar.

Many Chinese martial arts are named after the family or clans that developed them; in fact “Ga” actually translates as “family”, so Jow Ga Kung Fu translates as the Kung Fu of the Jow Family.

It differs from other Kung Fu styles in that equal emphasis is placed on developing hand and upper body techniques as well as on lower body and kicking techniques Jow Ga is a balanced hard and soft, long and short range style of Kung Fu. It also includes the use of a wide range of traditional Chinese martial arts weaponry such as the staff, spear, sword, chain whip, as well as many double-handed weapons.

Sijo Jow Lung

Jow Lung

1891—1919

Sijo Jow Tin

Jow Tin

Sijo Jow Biu

Jow Biu

Sijo Jow Hip

Jow Hip

Sijo Jow Hoy

Jow Hoy

The Jow Family

The Jow family were farmers native to Sa Fu Village. Jow Lung had an uncle named Jow Hung, who had been taught Hung Gar Kung Fu many years ago, and was unofficially acclaimed as the top fighter in Sun Wui County. Jow Lung and his brothers Jow Hip, Jow Bill, Jow Hoy and Jow Tin practiced Hung Gar with their uncle. Jow Lung never uttered a word of complaint about the arduous training and soon proved to be the best student.

Jow Hung thought of him as a possible successor to his teachings. One day Jow Hung summoned his nephew and told him that there was not much time left for him as his chronic illness had returned. While there was still time, he would teach him the remaining techniques and the Pa Kua staff fighting techniques. Only a month later Jow Hung died.

The death of his uncle did not mean Jow Lung had to stop learning Kung Fu. He traveled to Siu Hing County where Choy Kau of Choy Ga Kung Fu was to be found. From Choy Kau, he mastered Choy Ga Kung Fu. Jow Lung felt that it would be more beneficial to him to absorb the essence of the two styles of Kung Fu he learned so far.

He preferred the hard driving power of Hung Gar and the swift footwork of Choy Ga. He combined the best of both systems.

Journey to Malaysia

When Jow Lung was 19 years old, because of family hardships, he left home for Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to find work. While there, he was involved in a fight with and fatally wounded a gangster. Though he really had nothing to run away from, Jow Lung thought that he had reason to hide. For several days he lived on wild fruits and berries and was on the verge of collapse when he came to a monastery and asked for help.

The Abbot was most sympathetic to the ordeal Jow Lung had gone through and said he was welcome to stay if he could take the simple, frugal, hard style of monastery life. After several months of keen observation, the Abbot had no doubt as to Jow Lung’s character and began teaching him Northern Shaolin Kung Fu. Jow Lung’s misunderstanding regarding the death of the gangster lead to the chance encounter with a Shaolin Kung Fu master.

Encouraged by the Abbot, Jow Lung combined all of the Kung Fu systems he had mastered into a single style and stayed in the monastery for over three years before he was ready to leave.

Training for the Military

In 1915 General Lee Fook Lam of Canton was in need of a chief trainer for the army. He issued an open invitation for anyone to apply for the post. Over 100 applications were received. General Lee divided the men into 10 groups and held an elimination tournament. Jow Lung defeated all of his opponents and was appointed to the position. Jow Lung sent for his brothers Jow Hip, Jow Biu, Jow Hoy and Jow Tin to assist with the training of the soldiers and with them perfected his new system. The brothers decided to call the new system Jow Ga Kung Fu. Due to the system’s effectiveness and their fighting abilities, the brothers became known as the “The Five Tigers of the Jow Family”.

Misfortune

In 1919, misfortune befell the family. Jow Lung caught a cold, but due to his excellent health he did not seek medical attention and continued performing the demanding duties of his work. The cold developed rapidly and in his deteriorated condition Jow Lung contracted pneumonia. By the time he sought treatment he was beyond medical help, and died at the age of only 29.

Development in Hong Kong

After the death of Jow Lung the family met and elected Jow Biu to assume leadership of the system. Grandmaster Jow Biu resigned his position with the army and began promoting the Jow Ga system of Kung Fu. Within one year he had established 14 Jow Ga schools throughout China and within a few years the number had grown to more than eighty. In 1936 the first school was established in Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Jow Ga is not a style that many people have heard of yet it still has a significant number of practitioners. Within martial arts circles, it’s well known and respected. Currently branches of 3 grandmasters (Jow Biu, Jow Tin and Jow Hip) have students in Hong Kong. Many Jow Ga schools still keep to tradition: teaching in a school, which is often located inside apartment buildings. Many are on the top floor so they occupy the roof tops of these buildings as well.

Every year there are celebrations for the birthdays of the five Jow-Ga grandmasters. “Jow Lung Dan” (Birthday of Chow Lung) is the biggest of these celebrations in which many schools come together in a restaurant for performance in lion dance and kung fu, then followed by a banquet.

Worldwide

Jow Ga has spread worldwide, and the style is sometimes referred to as Zhong Oi Jow Ga (“中外周家”).

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