Article '92

(Combat Magazine, February '92)

How the Great Grandmaster Lau Soei Started Chow Gar Praying Mantis Kung Fu, and it's Development to Other Countries.

One fine day in the late years of the last century, in a small village called Wai Yearn in the East region of Canton China, a group of village people (about twenty or thirty of them) were watching a spectacular Martial Arts show.  A young man who was in his twenties was demonstrating various styles of Chinese Kung Fu.  Tiger, Eagle, Monkey, and most of all the Horse system which he was very good at, as well as weapons.

The name of this young man was Lau Soei.  At the age of 14 he started kung fu training.  He pursued under seven well known Masters.  Because he was very intelligent, in eight years he had learnt all that the instructors had to offer.  Though Lau Soei was brilliant at the Martial Arts, he was not famous until something happened to him.  Snakes and wolves were known to come out in the evening to look for food in and around the village area.  One evening Lau Soei was walking home when he was attacked by a wild dog or wolf.  The beast jumped sharply at him, however Lau Soei was no ordinary man, as soon as he heard the strange noise he quickly stepped aside and avoided this vicious attack.  The beast turned sharply and attacked again.  This time Lau Soei was ready, he thrust his right leg directly at the beast's throat, he hit it so hard that it rolled several times on the floor.  Lau Soei hurried forward and stepped heavily on the beast.  It stopped moving completely.

All the village people heard about this incident and wanted very much to learn from Lau Soei and he agreed to teach them.  Turning back to that story on that fine day as he was teaching some of his students in the open ground outside his home, many passers-by would gather to see this well known young man demonstrate his Martial Art skills.  Suddenly, from the middle of the crowd, a monk stepped forward and said loudly "Young man your Kung Fu is just a little better than NOTHING, how can you stand so boldly in front of people and teach them?".  Lau Soei stopped his demonstration and looked at the monk from top to bottom.  In this situation one would probably be very angry and would ask to leave.  But Lau Soei was a very modest young man, he replied politely "From what you have said, your kung fu must be at top level".  The monk said "If you want you are welcome to try me and you may hit first".  Lau Soei thought this may be a good chance for him to test his skills and learn more about kung fu and so decided to give it a try.

They both squared off with their adopted stances.  Lau Soei suddenly attacked with a straight punch.  The monk moved his shoulder slightly and used the Gen power and Lau Soei was sent flying a few yards away.  The monk shook his head and disappeared into the crowd.  Lau Soei found out that the monk was staying close by and tried on several occasions to defeat the monk, and knowing his own standard realised that the monk was far superior.  He knelt in front of the monk and begged him to accept him as his student.

The monk agreed.  Lau Soei invited the monk to his home, when the monk was sitting comfortably Lau Soei said "Every time I tried to hit you, it was as if I was hit by lightning, and how you moved so fast?".  The monk laughed and said "You have great strength but I directed back to you, so your strength was used on yourself.  The power I used to divert your strength is the type that comes from within called Gen or hidden internal Chi power.  The shock you received was due to the shock power I applied.  Think about a praying mantis, an insect which has the power to overcome opponents three times it's own size.  This system is called Chow Gar Tong Long (Chow Gar Praying Mantis) and is designed to develop this kind of extraordinary power".

When the monk first saw Lau Soei he knew he had the potential to be a Master of Kung Fu, and later realised that Lau Soei had a humble heart.  So made up his mind to teach this high level Kung Fu to him, and hope he serve his country.

In six years Lau Soei had learnt everything from the monk, and the monk told him that "It was time to go our separate ways".  Being a lover of nature the monk went on to travel extensively, his name was Wong Fook Go the 2nd generation from the founder Chow Ah Naam

Lau Soei was a man who greatly respected Wong Fook Go and the founder of the Chow Gar Praying Mantis, Chow Ah Naam, he honoured the name of the system in remembrance of founder and his Master Wong Fook Go.  Years later Lau Soei moved to Hong Kong where the style subdivided into different Southern Praying Mantis systems, Chu Gar Mantis and Bamboo Forest.  Lau Soei passed the Chow Gar Praying Mantis system onto Ip Shui who is the present day Grandmaster of the Chow Gar Praying Mantis Kung Fu in Hong Kong at the age of 79.

The Chow Gar Praying Mantis system has now been spread into different countries, with Sifu Paul Whitrod UK representative, London, Mr Lee Kwun of the USA, Dr Nat Yearng has taught many in Australia, who now teach such as, Malcolm Sue, Denis Suetin and recently Brett Thedike from Australia studied a year of training with Master Paul Whitrod along with his six years training in Australia, will branch out to teach authentic Chow Gar Praying Mantis.

Master Paul Whitrod hopes that everyone has a chance to learn the Chow Gar Praying Mantis Kung Fu, in the hope of promoting such an unique system.