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Chow Gar Praying Mantis

Meeting SiFu Yip Shui

 

April 2002

The elbow is important in Kung Fu so I always wanted my elbows to be strong and powerful.  At that time, Ar Yong, one of my friends was learning Chow Gar Praying Mantis.  He told me that Chow Gar had a tough but effective  training method for the elbow.  Chow Gar Kung Fu was also well known for its speed, powerful attacks and iron body practitioners.  So I asked Ar Young for the phone number of the Chow Gar Headquarters and I called the legendary Kung Fu man who was the 4th generation head of Chow Gar Praying Mantis School.  He was 89 years old and his name was Yip Shui.  I was really excited about meeting him.

I was alone when I went to see Master Yip. I took the minibus to his home in Kowloon City, an old district where there were many 50-70 year old Hong Kong tenement buildings.  After walking around for awhile I found a sign outside one of these buildings that said in Chinese  "Chow Gar Praying Mantis".  As I stepped into the entry way I noticed that it was very dark and there were no elevators so I had to climb the stairs to get to his apartment.  When I finally reached the 3rd floor I saw a little piece of red paper next to a doorbell with the name "Yip Shui"  on it.  I knocked on the door and an old man answered.   Through the gate I said, "Sifu Yip, I called you and I am here to learn Kung Fu.".  Sifu Yip opened the door and said, "Come in.".   As I entered I realized that he was no taller than my shoulder and that he was quite slender.  Despite being 89 and diminutive in stature his mind was clear and his body was still incredibly strong.  He looked years younger than his age.

We sat down and he began to ask me questions about myself.  He asked me my name and age, I told him that my name was Chow Chin Ching and that I was 21 years old.  I also told  him that my father practiced a Southern Praying Mantis Kung Fu called Kwong Sai Jook Lum Temple Praying Mantis. I then mentioned that my father taught me some movements that he wanted me to demonstrate to Master Yip.  Sifu Yip was happy to hear that my father had heard of him and then asked me to show him what I knew.  I quickly stood up and showed him the horse stance with phoenix eyes fist punch.  I went on to show him three other movements.  When I finished he quickly stood up and walked to the Chinese calendar which was hanging on the wall near the door.  He turned to me and said, "Today is the 15th.  It is a good day.".  I still remember my Sifu's smile when he turned back to look at me.  Some days after, I found out that he was also 21 when started learning from his Sifu, my Grandmaster.

He was still feeling very happy and wanted to show me his Kung Fu.  He clenched his teeth and then asked me to grab his neck with all of my strength.  It was unbelievable, it was like trying to squeeze the trunk of a tree.  This is one of the Chow Gar internal powers called "Iron Neck Power".  I  was shocked.  My Sifu who was still very excited, showed me another movement that amazed me.  He told me that he would start turning his body infront of me, as he was doing this he said he could do it for 1 minute and asked me if I could do it as well.  I was so surprised that I didn't reply but I was sure that I couldn't last more than 20 seconds.  I kept watching in amazement, when he stopped he looked normal.  He proudly asked me if I could do this, stating that I was only 21 and that he was 89.  When he said 89, he moved one of his fingers like a hook so that it looked like the number 9 in Chinese.  He moved the finger towards me so that I could see it clearly.  He was happy to see my shocked face.  Then he started showing me


the horse stance movements.  He did a demonstration and asked me to follow him.  He also taught me the Eight Hand Foundation movement and the first form of Chow Gar Praying Mantis called Three Step Arrow.  It was the Foundation of Chow Gar and therefore very important.  The Eight Hands Movement also contained the internal power chi practicing method.  I am still grateful that my Sifu taught this to me.  He told me that it was the same way that my Grandmaster had taught him in the old days.  

We sat down again and talked for a little while.  As I was getting ready to leave my Sifu told me to go to the restaurant next to his home. He said that he went there quite often and that the steamed rice was very good.  I went to the bathroom and then left.  The restaurant was interesting. The décor was modern but it served traditional Chinese food.  I found a very large variety of dim sum (like Spanish tapas but Chinese style) on the menu. While I was eating I saw my Sifu walk in, I was sitting close to the entrance so it was easy for him to see me.  He came to me and asked if I had closed the door after using the bathroom in his home.  I thought that it was a strange question and then answered that I closed the door.    He told me that the door could not be opened from the outside and that I had to go back to his home to pay the locksmith to fix the door.  I just replied yes and then he left.  

Sifu Yip lived like this, he lived the way he wanted to, he laughed when he wanted to laugh.  He showed his anger if he was angry.  He was a straightforward honest man.  People who understood him really missed him after he passed away.  For those of you who used the restroom and found the door working at Sifu Yips house after April 2002, you know it was because of 
me!


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