History of Jow Ga Keun
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. Jow Ga is also known as Chow Ga, Chau Ka, Zhou Jia, Chou Ga, depending upon the Chinese dialect being used or the spelling of the translation into English (there are several methods used to translate Chinese characters into English phonetics). As you will learn, Jow Ga was developed by combining components of three different Kung Fu styles – Hung Ga, Choy Ga, and Northern Shaolin. Because of this, Jow Ga is sometimes referred to as Hung Tao Choy Mei – “The Head of Hung and Tail of Choy,” making reference to the strong upper body techniques from Hung Ga and the quick footwork and intricate kicking techniques from Choy Ga.
Jow Lung was born in 1891 in the Sa Fu village in the province of Canton, China, where his family were farmers. Jow Lung began learning Hung Ga Kung Fu early in his life from his uncle, Jow Hung, who was widely recognized as a highly skilled fighter throughout Sun Wui County. Jow Lung’s training was difficult, with months spent learning only stances as in the traditional training methods, but he never uttered a single complaint, quickly becoming his uncle’s best student. Seeing Jow Lung as his martial successor, Jow Hung taught him the unique Ba Gua Kwan staff techniques during the last months of Jow Hung’s life, passing on shortly after completing Jow Lung’s training.
After his uncle’s death, Jow Lung traveled to Siu Hing County and studied Choy Ga Kung Fu under Master Choy Kau. Jow Lung mastered Choy Ga Kung Fu in a matter of a few years thanks to his training in Hung Ga, and blended the strength of Hung Ga with the quick footwork of Choy Ga to create a more balanced art.
Times were tough in Sa Fu village, and Jow Lung was having a very difficult time finding work to support his family, so the 19 year old Jow Lung traveled to Malaysia in the hopes of finding work at the mines in Kuala Lumpur. The mines were run by cruel men who would beat and mistreat the workers and were often described as gangsters. During his stay there, Jow Lung got into a fight with one of his bosses, fatally wounding him. Jow Lung fled after the fight, fearing retribution, and after spending several days in the wilderness came upon a small monastery named “Gi Leu.” The Abbot, Chian Yi, offered sanctuary to Jow Lung, but only if he lived in the monastery as a monk would. Recognizing Jow Lung’s talent for Kung Fu, Abbot Chian Yi began teaching him Jow Biu Jow Biu Lee Ngou Lee Ngou Northern Shaolin Kung Fu and medicine. After a few years of such life, Jow Lung finally returned to his home village of Sa-Fu, and combined his Northern Shaolin training with what he had learned from Hung Ga and Choy Ga. There he shared his newly created fighting style with his brothers, Jow Hip, Jow Biu, Jow Hoy, and Jow Tien.
In 1915 General Lee Fook Lam of the Canton Province was looking for a skilled master to teach the military. A public invitation was sent out, and over 100 masters applied for the position. Desiring only the best, the General divided the masters up into 10 groups and held a tournament. Jow Lung defeated all competitors and won the prestigious position of coaching the military. His brothers joined him, and together they worked on further developing Jow Ga. The brothers fighting prowess was so great that they became known as the “Five Tigers of Jow”.
In 1919, Jow Lung became ill, but due to his excellent health he dismissed it and did not seek medical treatment. His duties training the army kept him so busy he hardly got any rest, and his condition worsened, developing into pneumonia. At the young age of 29, Jow Lung died of his illness. After Jow Lung’s death, the Jow family met and elected Jow Biu to lead the Jow Ga style. Jow Biu resigned his position with the military and focused on promoting Jow Ga Kung Fu. After only a year, at least 14 Jow Ga schools were created, and by 1930, the number soared to over eighty schools.
Jow Biu and one of his top students, Lee Ngou, immigrated to Hong Kong during the political upheaval in China and focused on opening and running schools in Hong Kong. Jow Biu (photo on the left) and Lee Ngou (pictured on the right) were also assisted by Chan Man Cheung. Lee Ngou was put in charge of the famous Jow Family Lion Dance team, which still performs to this day in any major parade in Hong Kong, and has performed at the inaugurations of both King George II and Queen Elizabeth of England, and sent a team of over 300 people to perform at Queen Elizabeth’s 25th Anniversary.
1961 - Jow Biu passed away from illness.
1964 - Master Dean Chin, a disciple of Chan Man Cheung, immigrated to America, bringing his Jow Ga with him. In 1968, Master Dean Chin and his first student in America, Master Hoy Lee, opened the first “open door” Jow Ga School in America, located in Washington, D.C.
1975 - an 18 year old Hing Fai Chan, known by his American name of Sam Chan, emigrated with his family from Hong Kong, China. A disciple of Lee Ngou, Master Chan brought his Jow Ga and love of the martial arts with him. He would often practice outside while attending Ferris State University, attracting quite bit of attention and curious questions. He quickly found himself sharing his knowledge with a handful of eager students. Over the next 16 years, Sifu Chan continued spreading the Chinese Arts in America.
2000 - After may years of training in the martial arts Sifu jimmy Manfredy made the leap from teaching Kung Fu part time to teaching full time but unfortunately in 2004 he was forced stop due to an almost crippling injury to his left leg that after many years of therapy and training he was thankfully able to overcome, after overcoming this injury he began training and then after a few years of training his wife convinced him to try teaching again and after countles request from his family, friends, and students he push foward, he took a leap of faithand opened the Twisting Tiger Kung Fu Academy in 2012 and began teaching Jeet Kune do concepts, Jow Ga, Wing Chun, Tai Chi.