Sifu John Chow

A Brief History of Learning Tai Chi Chuan

1)    Started preliminary martial arts training at age of 6 under father,
       Henry Chow Fook On

2)    At age of 9, started formal training in the internal soft aspect of the secret
       martial art of my family art, Tai Tzu Chuan, which was created by our
       famous ancestor, Chow Guan Yin (pinyin - Zhao Guan Yin).  
       This art is totally different from the usual Tai Tzu Chuan in public existence
       which is a hard external Shaolin system. 
       Internal Tai Tzu Chuan emphasizes the 13 Postures training and is an
       ancestral art of Tai Chi Chuan.  It is usually passed down secretly along the
       family line. 
       (Refer to documentation on arts that Chen Style Tai Chi was derived from)
       (Refer to Peter Lim’s web pages on origins of Tai Chi Chuan)
       (Refer to Grandmaster Zhao’s article from Chi Kung magazine)

       (Tai Chi Chuan was originally referred to as the 13 Postures Boxing and
        Cotton Fist)
       Was taught Combat Applications as well as Pushing Hands.  
       As Tai Tzu Chuan is an ancestral art of Tai Chi Chuan,  the techniques are 
       very similar to Tai Chi Chuan. 
       Weapons training given because my father believed this is an effective
       shortcut in skill acquisition.   Special training given in the use of the

3)   At the age of 14 years of age,  Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan in the non profit
      Tai Chi Chuan Association for Physical Culture which was under the patronage
      of  Grandmmaster Lu Tung Pau.  (where Jiang Yong Gui was also an instructor)
      Also studied Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan under Master Loh Kam Choon
      at this time.

      Also spent a short while studying under Wong Li Sung.
      This enabled me to synchronize the secret family tradition with its popular
      public offsprings, and allowed me to interact with the public. 

4)  Picked up bits and pieces of information after coming to Australia,
      including Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan, eg.

      From Grandmaster Chen Xiao Wang the head of  the Chen Style.   
      From Grandmaster Chok Seng Kam (student of Grandmaster Yap Siu Ting

       of Cheng Man Ching lineage) of Penang
      From Grandmaster Cheng Tin Hung of Wutan Style of Tai Chi,  a derivation

      of Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan. 

      From Lau Kim Hong, Wan Kean Chew, Ho Ah San of Malaysia.

      From Gao Yun Wu, Guo Zheng Fen, Lin Guan Zheng of Taiwan.



On the overall,  the early learning period were responsible for my understanding and skills.

Of these later influences,  Grandmaster Chok,  whose nickname in Malaysia martial arts circles

is “Tiger of Penang”,   had the most influence me the most because of his fighting abilities.  The latest major influences were Lau Kim Hong and Wan Kean Chew who were very proficient in combat applications.


In all,  I have great respect for the Cheng Man Ching lineage in Malaysia,  and the lineage

of Yap Siu Ting in Malaysia exerted a deep influence in my view of Tai Chi Chuan. 

This lineage,  which will always have a special veneration in my heart,  was truly tried

and tested in the rough period of the 1960s and 1970s,  being challenged so often, 

and issuing its own challenges as well.  Because of the violent history it was forced to undergo, 

it has slight differences to the Cheng Man Ching tradition in Taiwan, and even more so in America.  I have no hesitation in bowing my head to any legitimate master of this lineage. 




Any martial arts master from Malaysia and Singapore would recognise the 3 names:- 

Yap Siu Ting,  Lu Tong Pao,  Chok Seng Kam,  Huang Shing Shyan.    

I would have grave doubts about any Malaysian master who does not. 


As a prime example,  I was really shocked,  terribly shocked,  very very shocked to meet a young 25 year old “Professor” of TCM (having studied only 2 years in China,  by his own admission) who looked so blank when I asked him whether he knew the first 3 masters above since he also hailed from Penang.  He never answered the 3 questions I asked him,  preferring to side-step and discuss other things very conveniently.  He was from Penang,  so how can he not know these 3 masters who are known even as far as Singapore and Thailand?  (Chok Seng Kam was said to have defeated a famous Tai Chi Chuan master from Thailand whose father is a very big name in South China and Hong Kong.  I withhold the master’s identity,  so as not to cause embarrassment). 


By the way,  Nigel Sutton has paid the proper tributes and credits to the above 3 names in his

articles in his websites.  Please refer.  If anybody has any doubts about the authenticity or ability

of the Malaysia Cheng Man Cheng lineage,  please read carefully first before shooting off the mouth. 



Click here to go to Kalis Ilustrisimo (Arnis/Escrima) webpage
Click here to go to the Tao of Tai Chi Chuan Institute webpage