Jow Ga Kung Fu
Jow Ga kung fu (周家) is a style of kung fu that originated in southern China in the early years of the twentieth century, but with roots tracing back to much older styles in the Chinese martial arts tradition. Jow Ga has been described as “Hung Tao Choy Mei,” meaning that it has the head (or strong upper body movements) of the Hung Ga style of kung fu and the tail (or fast footwork) of the Choy Ga style of kung fu. Its kicking is influenced by Northern Shaolin kung fu.
Jow Ga, meaning Jow family style, was founded by Jow Lung (1891-1919), a native of Canton Province in Southern China, and after his death carried forth by his brothers Biu, Hip, Hoy, and Tin. The Wong People Kung Fu Association, under the direction of Sifu Raymond Wong, descends from the lineage of Jow Biu through Jow Biu's student Chan Man Chueng and through Chan Man Chueng's student, Dean Chin (d.1985). The Jow Biu line of Jow Ga practitioners has spread to Singapore, Vietnam, Australia, Europe, North America, and other parts of the world. Jow Ga has been taught in Washington, DC's Chinatown for more than 40 years and is one of the most established styles of Chinese martial arts in the metropolitan area.
Jow Ga training with the Wong People Kung Fu Association generally includes the following:
Like most traditional Chinese martial arts schools, the Wong People Kung Fu Association does not use a belt ranking system.
Students are accepted into the program without regard to age or physical or mental disability, unless participation in the program seems likely to be a threat to the student's health. Instructors work within the natural limitations of students, while encouraging them to excel.
There is no charge to participate in the classes held seven days per week at the Wong People Studio, Chinatown Community Cultural Center in downtown Washington, DC, or at the Historical Society of Washington DC located at Mt Vernon Square. Students can take advantage of unlimited group and individual instruction at any Wong People location and the opportunity to refine his or her kung fu skills by representing the group in a number of cultural events and tournaments each year.
The group regularly participates in the DC Chinatown New Year's parade and other local and regional Chinese New Year celebrations, as well as presentations throughout the year at schools, government agencies, businesses, private parties, charity functions, and weddings. Over the past three years, special events have included playing the lion in the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Parade, and at events for the Mayor of Washington DC, the Chinese Ambassador, the Taiwanese Ambassador, the governor of Virginia, two governors of Maryland, Chinese and Vietnamese community groups, and the kung fu community.
Each year, the Association puts on one of the largest traditional kung fu tournaments in North America, which also requires students to train in tournament management techniques. Students regularly compete in martial arts tournaments in the mid-Atlantic United States and further afield. Joining a group with an active event schedule provides many opportunities for students to put into practice in public what they have learned so that they can further develop their skills. All activities inside and outside the classroom are considered learning opportunities.
Jow Ga is an interesting and challenging cultural art, which like any undertaking yields benefits based on the amount of effort the practitioner puts into it. A student's progress will be based on the individual's dedication, consistency, focus, attention to detail, willingness to operate outside one's comfort zone, and to some extent, on natural talent. Students are encouraged to follow the seven kung fu virtues of:
Kung fu is a way of life, more than simply a fitness activity, and daily practice is required, even if brief, whether students attend a formal class or practice on their own. Learning Jow Ga kung fu is generally considered to require at least ten years of uninterrupted study to acquire competency, and like any complex and limitless undertaking is truly a lifelong journey.