Guan Yu Martial Arts: Foo Jow - Tiger Claw Kung Fu
Tiger [Fu] Claw [Jow] The tiger's strength is a hard forceful and dynamic strength as in tension. Tiger movement develops the bone structure as well as the tendons and muscles. Its the principle of the hand being a tiger claw (Fu jow) used for tearing, ripping, grabbing, locking.
Tiger movement should be performed with spirit when utilising the animals characteristics.
Having studied Martial Arts for over thirty years now, I have always respected the traditional Chinese Arts and the values of its origins, therefore, when I started devising my own system some years ago it was important to me that I kept within the boundaries of the traditions of Martial Arts, hence Tiger Claw [Foo-Jow] Kung Fu.
There is a slight misconception on Animal styles of Kung Fu as people tend to think that if you do a Tiger Claw Style that you fight with your hand in a tiger claw shape and you just scratch your opponent to death. This is far from the truth as the Claw is there for gripping and then penetrating the skin allowing you to rip at the flesh so there are certain training methods of developing strength within the Claw.
The Tiger Claw is used to attack the vital areas i.e. grabbing the groin, penetrating the eyes, grabbing the throat. These are just some of the trade marks of Tiger Claw Kung Fu but just like any other animal style, the fist, the phoenix fist, spear hand, the palm, elbow, kicks, grappling [chin na] and sweeping are all used to make it a complete fighting system.
Now the Five Animal style, for example, Leopard, Snake, Crane, Tiger and Dragon, all attack other vital areas for example: Temples, Eyes, Armpits, Groin, Throat, Lungs, Heart, Kidneys, Knees, Ears etc.
So what is the best style for me?
Having travelled the world, I have had the privilage to meet many outstanding Masters and I have met many different Martial Artists from different Styles - Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Philippines.
The question I always get asked is
What do I rate as the best Martial Art style?
To me all Martial Art styles are the same they just take a different path but the end result is the same, someone will get hurt so to me its not the style you practise, its the person who is using it.
It was my good friend Tony Chan who helped to path the way for me to attain the knowledge of Traditional Kung Fu. Having travelled to Hong Kong with him many times, I found myself surrounded by Pak-Mei, Preying Mantis, Wing Chun, Dragon Style Masters, and Hung Gar Five Animal style Kung Fu.
Pak- Mei [white eyebrow kung fu] had always interested me because of the charging techniques and fast rapid hand movements and the training methods are quite different from other styles. It was interesting to see the use of banana trees to train as oppose to wooden dummies. They beleive that the wooden dummy damages the tendons on the nervous system after a period of time. They also used mud banks to do their hand conditioning on as this represents the penetrating of the skin. It was interesting to see that Pak-Mei is also Taoist based as opposed to Buddhist (Shaolin) and this would account for the different breathing methods.
So why develop my own style?
Tiger Claw Kung Fu, being Southern based, suited my spirit and my body structure but I did feel that something was missing as all the kicks executed in Southern Style Kung Fu are mostly delivered below the waist so it was at this point that I wanted to introduce all the other regular kicks at an early stage of training like sidekicks, round kicks, hook kicks, crescent kicks, axe kicks etc. and so by learning to execute these kicks gave me a much better understanding of how to defend against them as well as acquiring better flexibility and as we all know, eighty percent of Martial Art styles like Karate, Tae Kwon and Northern Shaolin kick above the waist, so I think it is important to know how to defend against these attacks. The same goes for the hand techniques. Where we would normally do Spear Hand, Phoenix Fist, Tiger Claw, Open Palm, Hammer Fist etc. other styles might do Back fist, Reverse punch, Ridge hand, Hooks & Upper Cuts.
So, it is important to move on within your style and make the necessary changes that are needed to improve your system, but in turn making sure that we do not forget our Masters and maintain their respect and memories and their knowledge they bestowed upon us.
My Style consists of five levels. The first two levels consists of two Northern Shaolin set patterns. These two forms will help the student with flexibility and co-ordination.
1. Chuan Shu Northern Shaolin Set Pattern.
2. Jit Chuan from the Chin Woo.
The third level is the Tiger & Crane set pattern from the Nan Chuan system [Southern Boxing] This form will help with stamina, strength, endurance and help lift the spirit of the student.
The forth & fifth level is when southern boxing is introduced. These two forms help to encourage the mind and body to work at great speeds, enhance the reflexes and help to induce power [Far-Gin] especially in the charging techniques.
Foo Jow - Tiger Claw
Foo Kuin - Tiger Fist
It is also at this point that the first two weapons are introduced
The pole - set pattern
Broad Sword - set pattern
Other weapons practiced in the system
Straight Sword, Hook Swords, Pu-Dao Horses knife,
Iron Shaolin Fan, Qianlong Fan, Wu-Song Broad Sword,
Spear, Dat-Mo Stick, Three sectional Staff, Monk Spade,
Kobudo Japanese Weapons
Nunchaku, Kama, Bo