Where did Chow's Hung Gar go?

Flying Crane

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The motivation for this thread came from a discussion going on in another thread, and I thought it might be worth separating and making a distinct discussion out of this topic.

I have seen it written that William Chow learned hung gar from his father. Does anyone have any solid evidence that they can offer, to substantiate this?

If William Chow did in fact learn hung gar from his father, was it included in some format or other in what he taught to his students, including Ed Parker? If not, why not? If so, what aspects/elements of hung gar made its way into the kenpo that Mr. Parker learned from him, and taught to his own students in the 1950s thru 1960s?

My observations are this: Hung Gar has its own body of forms and techniques, as well as signature way of moving and executing its techniques. I am by no means a hung gar expert. I am not even "knowledgeable" about hung gar. I have had some limited exposure to hung gar, perhaps enough to recognize a hung gar "flavor" of movement. While recognizing my own limited knowledge of hung gar, I do not see much in kenpo that is indicative of a hung gar origin. Hung gar forms are not taught as part of Parker-derived kenpo curriculum (with an exception that I will discuss in a moment). I've never seen anything in kenpo's basic techniques, methodologies, power generation, etc., that were indicative of or expressed as hung gar in origin.

Tracy kenpo has attempted to maintain a curriculum that is closer to what Mr. Parker was teaching in the 1950s to early 1960s, prior to many of the changes that Mr. Parker implemented. This means that the Tracy system ought to be closer to what Mr. Chow taught Mr. Parker. So, if Mr. Chow was teaching hung gar to Mr. Parker, it ought to be visible in Tracy kenpo. In my opinion, it is not.

Now I'll get back to my caveat from above: a version of hung gar's Tiger and Crane form was brought into kenpo. This was dropped from the curriculum by Mr. Parker, but in Tracys lineage it was kept. Perhaps other lineages have also kept it, I dunno. But, I believe this version was brought in by Jimmy Woo, and not William Chow. So, while earlier kenpo had at least that much hung gar influence, it did not come from Chow. Some people claim that the Panther set is also Hung Gar in origin. I have my doubts about that. That form was also brought in by James Woo, but I do not believe that it came from Hung Gar. I don't know exactly where Mr. Woo got that form, but I think that question remains unanswered. I think if a hung gar person was shown that form, he would not recognize it as having come from hung gar. Altho there are several lineages of hung gar, and some have material that other lineages don't have, so it is a possibility. However, again, that did not come from Chow.

In the other discussion that prompted this thread, it was mentioned that Chow's hung gar was worked into Kara-ho kenpo system. I don't know anything about this system. There are other Chow-derived systems that exist, that I also don't know anything about. Ralph Castro's comes to mind. So there are certainly other possibilities out there, and I don't know about them.

But as far as I have seen, I don't see anything to suggest to me that Chow had a background in hung gar, and that it influenced Mr. Parker's early kenpo.

If anyone has anything to add, please do. I am genuinely interested in hearing about it, or having specific examples pointed out to me to illustrate the existence of Hung Gar from Chow, in Parker-derived kenpo.

What happened to Chow's Hung Gar?
 

Twin Fist

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well, lets see, we know that mitose taught hard line japanese style karate with no flow

we know that all of chows students had flow. Parker, Castro, Emperado, Kuoha, etc

it is safe to say SOMETHING was added.
 

TenTigers

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I used to teach for Tracy's, and for a short time FVSSD (yeah, we all did some things we're not proud of) and for over 30 yrs, Siu Lum Hung Kuen (Hung-Ga) including Tang Fung lineage, Lam Sai-Wing lineage, and some village Hung Kuen/ I can safely say, without a doubt that there are alot of Hung-gar'isms in Tracy's Kenpo-as well as EP.
Some techniques that come to mind :
the upward elbow into the downward elbow/claw, into soft bow hammerfist.
Thundering hammers,
anything with large arcing swings,
windmill guard
darkness
smashing forearm into soft bow hammerfist (as in kimono grab)
double side palms to the solar plexus
takedowns utilizing the circling around his leg and taking him over your horse.
These techniques are almost verbatum in some of our forms.
I know there are more but I cannot recall. I no longer teach Kenpo-sort of. Many of the techniques have crept into my teaching, and I teach applications drawn out of the Hung-Ga forms in combinations like Kenpo.

I met a guy who studied a Malaysian Hung-Ga style, whose lineage did not go through Wong Fei-Hung, and it looked very much like Kenpo. He was fast, aggressive, close in, and hit with lightning fast barrages, one technique setting up the next, and ended with a takedown, and a stomp-pretty much Kenpo textbook, where I come from.

There are many obscure lineages in Hung-Ga. My own lineage, Tang-Fung line is not well known, unless you are well versed in Hung-Ga. There are many lines, village styles, family styles, etc.
Just because it doesn't resemble what you see in "Mainstream Hung-Gar," doesn't mean it isn't Hung Kuen. Chow might have learned one of these more obscure styles, or possibly only bits and pieces from his father-who in turn might not have an entire system, but still learned skills. Not everybody learned an entire system. Some just learned what they needed. Just enough to handle themselves.
 

John Bishop

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In a audio taped interview of Prof. Chow I heard, he described his fathers training as being in "Shaolin" kung fu. He also claimed that at one time his father was a "Shaolin Monk". And he called his system "Shaolin Kenpo" at one time in the 60's.
In the 70's-80's the official Tracy history proclaimed that Chow's father had in fact practiced "Hung Gar" kung fu. That was pretty convincing since many people did not know about the hung gar that James Wing Woo contributed to kenpo. Later the official Tracy history changed to proclaim that Chow's father had no martial training. Probably somewhere in between is the truth. All the people that I have talked to who knew or trained with Chow, said that he was adept at kung fu. Where he got the knowledge is the dispute.

If anyone is interested in seeing actual video of Prof. Chow, there are 2 clips on my website.

http://kajukenboinfo.com/professor_chow.aspx
 

Xinglu

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I'll bring these over from the other thread:

With Chow, he obviously did abandon hongjia in favor of kenpo (otherwise I think he never would have bothered much with Mitosie and would have just taught hongjia), however it is still readily apparent in his approach to techniques. And IMHO is still apparent in some of the kara-ho techniques. They have a penchant to grab soft tissue and rip, this does not come from Aikido, Karate, or the Jujitsu elements. Certainly, not from the Korean influence.... I don't know I have seen a lot of Hingjia forms and seen demos of their practical applications, the similarities and cruelty in the destruction caused is uncanny. And from what I've heard from GM Kuoha during "Dojo story times" is that Chow was an incredibly cruel and destructive fighter. I just call that smart fighting, but hey to each their own! The Hongjia connection just makes sense to me. Unfortunately there is no way to know for absolute certain. There are conflicting stories, but I view GM Kuoha as an honest man with no reason to lie about it, and he knew Chow quite well. And considering he inherited the system from Chow, I have a hard time believing he'd perpetuate a myth that had no grounding in reality.

Who knows, I have never heard that Chow was a master of hongjia, just that his father taught it to him growing up. Perhaps his hongjia was not very advanced when he left to train in Kenpo-Jujitsu but good enough to improve what he learned from Mitose. It is something interesting to think about that is for sure. :)

There is also the distinct possibility that his instructors don't emphasize those movements or principles. For example, The instructor I learned Kara-ho from trained directly under Chow. So the influence might be stronger because of that - The Tracy's (please correct me if I'm wrong) are teaching parker's system pre what they call "commercialization" and pre-rift with Woo.

That means Parker had Changed things a lot and blended a lot in, They have also taught Kenpo according to their own interpretation. I don't know if he studied under the Tracy's or under someone who trained from them... but generationally he might be a lot further removed from Chow then say I am, thus what he is learned might not look as close to what Chow was doing as what I have seen.

Now (because I have seen statements like this blow up on here before) I don't mean for that to sound like what I learned is better, just that it is less removed from Chow and perhaps that is why it is more visible, nothing more implied
 

Xinglu

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Specific examples in Kara-Ho. Extensive use of groin grabs and rips followed by elbows. Ear ripping and eye raking techniques. The end of the Kwai-Sun Kata has a distinct Hongjia feel as does the salutes to Professor Chow and GM Kuoha. Also Kwai-Sun uses a combination of tiger and crane techniques commonly seen in Hongjia. A lot of the trapping techniques found in Kara-ho have a hongjia feel to them too. I never saw any of it until I started training with my buddy who has been doing hongjia for 15 years. It was an eye opener for me.
 

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Several people that trained with Prof. Chow told me that he used to go around and kick the crap out of Kung Fu guys who gave him a hard time for teaching to non-Chinese. If all he taught was Kenpo or Karate, or his own invention, then why would they have cared? They only cared if you taught Kung Fu to outsiders, so there must have been some in what he taught. Where he learned it, who knows? Prof. Chow also claimed that after his father died, he would be visited in his dreams by his father showing him kung fu and that supposedly he got the name Kara Ho from his father in a dream. This was long before Obi Wan Kenobi pulled that trick with Luke Skywalker.
 

Xinglu

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Several people that trained with Prof. Chow told me that he used to go around and kick the crap out of Kung Fu guys who gave him a hard time for teaching to non-Chinese. If all he taught was Kenpo or Karate, or his own invention, then why would they have cared? They only cared if you taught Kung Fu to outsiders, so there must have been some in what he taught.
What I was implying was that the gongfu element was not as prevalent as the kenpo jujitsu.

For example - intermediate understanding of gongfu principles blended in to a linear art can make the art extremely fluid while retaining power. I'm only stating that no where has anyone ever said he was a "master" at gongfu. Just that he had learned some from his father growing up.

Where he learned it, who knows? Prof. Chow also claimed that after his father died, he would be visited in his dreams by his father showing him kung fu and that supposedly he got the name Kara Ho from his father in a dream. This was long before Obi Wan Kenobi pulled that trick with Luke Skywalker.

Yes, true. So I take it you think dreams hold no value, yes? No? Do you assert that the subconscious can't remind us of things that are buried deep through dreams? This would be a simple explanation of what Chow experienced.
 

Danjo

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Yes, true. So I take it you think dreams hold no value, yes? No? Do you assert that the subconscious can't remind us of things that are buried deep through dreams? This would be a simple explanation of what Chow experienced.

Brother, I'm a Pisces. Of course I believe that dreams have value.
 

Kembudo-Kai Kempoka

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Fun chat with a Chow-Hoon oldster (Chows half-brother). Stories about Chows father running a numbers-type racket, and WKS CHow and his bro being the thumb-stretchers for the house. Apparently, being taught the kung-fu they would need to do the job well. Pre-Mitose.

No idea of it's true or not; seems to depend on who you ask.
 

Twin Fist

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No, we don't.

uh, yes, we do. Lots of people that have no obligation or self interest in believing the Tracy stories have all stated opinions, and they are all the same.

Mitose was basic, hard style linear karate. no circular movements. No flow. We have an ACTUAL witness here that has said so.
 
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Flying Crane

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Thank you, this is the kind of information I was hoping someone might be able to offer up.

My own extremely limited experience with hung ga is a definite roadblock for me to be able to recognize and compare the two arts. If you have extensive experience with hung ga and kenpo, and can see the connections and similarities, that's what I was hoping to hear about.

Could you characterize the power theory utilized in hung ga, and compare it to that in the kenpo that you are familiar with? I'm wondering if there are parallels there, or if the underlying theories may be different?

I used to teach for Tracy's, and for a short time FVSSD (yeah, we all did some things we're not proud of) and for over 30 yrs, Siu Lum Hung Kuen (Hung-Ga) including Tang Fung lineage, Lam Sai-Wing lineage, and some village Hung Kuen/ I can safely say, without a doubt that there are alot of Hung-gar'isms in Tracy's Kenpo-as well as EP.
Some techniques that come to mind :
the upward elbow into the downward elbow/claw, into soft bow hammerfist.
Thundering hammers,
anything with large arcing swings,
windmill guard
darkness
smashing forearm into soft bow hammerfist (as in kimono grab)
double side palms to the solar plexus
takedowns utilizing the circling around his leg and taking him over your horse.
These techniques are almost verbatum in some of our forms.
I know there are more but I cannot recall. I no longer teach Kenpo-sort of. Many of the techniques have crept into my teaching, and I teach applications drawn out of the Hung-Ga forms in combinations like Kenpo.

I met a guy who studied a Malaysian Hung-Ga style, whose lineage did not go through Wong Fei-Hung, and it looked very much like Kenpo. He was fast, aggressive, close in, and hit with lightning fast barrages, one technique setting up the next, and ended with a takedown, and a stomp-pretty much Kenpo textbook, where I come from.

There are many obscure lineages in Hung-Ga. My own lineage, Tang-Fung line is not well known, unless you are well versed in Hung-Ga. There are many lines, village styles, family styles, etc.
Just because it doesn't resemble what you see in "Mainstream Hung-Gar," doesn't mean it isn't Hung Kuen.


I think this is a very important point you've made. When I hear that So-and-so learned X system, I tend to make the assumption that what they learned was fairly complete, and creates a legacy that would be handed down to the next generation. Of course I need to back up and remember that that is not necessarily the case. If Chow had hung ga training, who knows how extensive it may have been? It could have even been just a little bit, but he was very very good at what he knew.

Thanks for contributing a worthwhile post to this discussion.

Chow might have learned one of these more obscure styles, or possibly only bits and pieces from his father-who in turn might not have an entire system, but still learned skills. Not everybody learned an entire system. Some just learned what they needed. Just enough to handle themselves.
 
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Flying Crane

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In a audio taped interview of Prof. Chow I heard, he described his fathers training as being in "Shaolin" kung fu.

given that hung ga is generally characterized as a southern Shaolin-derived art, this would be in line with a claim that he learned hung ga.


He also claimed that at one time his father was a "Shaolin Monk". And he called his system "Shaolin Kenpo" at one time in the 60's.
In the 70's-80's the official Tracy history proclaimed that Chow's father had in fact practiced "Hung Gar" kung fu. That was pretty convincing since many people did not know about the hung gar that James Wing Woo contributed to kenpo. Later the official Tracy history changed to proclaim that Chow's father had no martial training. Probably somewhere in between is the truth. All the people that I have talked to who knew or trained with Chow, said that he was adept at kung fu. Where he got the knowledge is the dispute.

If anyone is interested in seeing actual video of Prof. Chow, there are 2 clips on my website.

http://kajukenboinfo.com/professor_chow.aspx

interesting historical notes. thx.
 
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Flying Crane

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Specific examples in Kara-Ho. Extensive use of groin grabs and rips followed by elbows. Ear ripping and eye raking techniques. The end of the Kwai-Sun Kata has a distinct Hongjia feel as does the salutes to Professor Chow and GM Kuoha. Also Kwai-Sun uses a combination of tiger and crane techniques commonly seen in Hongjia. A lot of the trapping techniques found in Kara-ho have a hongjia feel to them too. I never saw any of it until I started training with my buddy who has been doing hongjia for 15 years. It was an eye opener for me.

Thanks for joining in the discussion on this side. I appreciate the comments you've offered.
 
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Flying Crane

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Fun chat with a Chow-Hoon oldster (Chows half-brother). Stories about Chows father running a numbers-type racket, and WKS CHow and his bro being the thumb-stretchers for the house. Apparently, being taught the kung-fu they would need to do the job well. Pre-Mitose.

No idea of it's true or not; seems to depend on who you ask.

Thanks Dave, interesting comment. I think I recall you've mentioned this in discussions in the past. Intesting note: "seems to depend on who you ask". There seems to be a lot of that in kenpo. I guess that's what happens when you have a mutt of an art.
 

Xinglu

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Brother, I'm a Pisces. Of course I believe that dreams have value.

LOL, I just wanted to clarify before I made any assumptions. :)

I have had dreams like his before. I was looking at my xingyiquan training one night and looking at my kenpo techniques and figuring out ways to integrate the two. I had some marginal success and got frustrated. It was late and I was tired so I decided to go to bed. I have wild gongfu/kenpo dreams that night and I was preforming these techniques that were definitely kenpo-like but solidly rooted in xingyi principles. When I woke up I remembered every thing and wrote it all down s o I wouldn't forget. Turns out, my subconscious mind had a whole lot to teach me! So I approach Chow's dreams like that, representational and not literal, even if he thought they were. ;)
 

Xinglu

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Fun chat with a Chow-Hoon oldster (Chows half-brother). Stories about Chows father running a numbers-type racket, and WKS CHow and his bro being the thumb-stretchers for the house. Apparently, being taught the kung-fu they would need to do the job well. Pre-Mitose.

No idea of it's true or not; seems to depend on who you ask.

I tend towards believing this to be plausible. I mean, a lot of guys back then did what they had to do to get by, legal considerations were secondary.
 

Kembudo-Kai Kempoka

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I tend towards believing this to be plausible. I mean, a lot of guys back then did what they had to do to get by, legal considerations were secondary.

Not to mention the Chinese culture is very insular, and tends to maintain its own momentum in seclusion. Gambling is an integral part of the culture, and there was a mass influx of Chinese workers to Hawaii in Chows fathers generation. What seems like illegal activity, graft, or excess violence in collection activities would be, in that context, a norm.
 

Twin Fist

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wow sounds like CHow said lots of things.

you would think the history wouldnt be so convoluted, it wasnt that long ago
 

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