History of Cho Ga Wing Chun

The art of Ban Zhong Wing Chun was passed down directly from  Sifu Yik Kam (易金) also known as ‘Leading Female Role Kam’ (正旦金), who was a member of the Cantonese Opera, a rebel and Assistant Chief instructor in the Tai Ping Heavenly Kingdom (太平天国 ). 

During the era of the Tai Ping Heavenly Kingdom against the Qing Dynasty, there were five colour regiment flags namely, Hong, Shao, Yong, Lee and Zheng within the Tai Ping Heavenly Kingdom regimes. Hong Xu Quan (洪秀全) who was the commander of the Hong (洪) Troup placed Lee Wen Mao (李文茂) who was a second painted face opera actor (二花面) of the Cantonese opera troupe and a Shaolin expert as the chief instructor of his infantry and navy in Guang Zhou. Lee Wen Mao was assisted by Yik Kam. In order to defeat the Qing warriors who were also well versed in Shaolin martial arts then, Lee Wen Mao and YikKam created a set of 108 Siu Lin Tao (小练头) using 36 sets from 3 Shaolin forms

After the unsuccessful rebellion staged against the Qing Dynasty in 1864. Sifu Yik Kam hid himself in Cho Ga (Cho Village) , Punyu China till he passed away. While hiding in Cho Ga, Sifu Yik Kam imparted his Wing Chun art which was the original 108 Siu Lin Tao (小练头), also known as ‘Female form’ to Sifu Cho Dak Sing (曹德胜) who was 15 years old, making him the first disciple to Sifu Yik Kam. During that time, Cho Ga had many Cho schools that practised Choy Lay Fatt (蔡李佛), Old Hung Kuen (老洪拳), Choy Ga Kuen (蔡家拳), Siu Lam Kuen (少林拳) etc. Sifu Cho Dak Sing had mastery over Wing Chun and all the Cho Ga martial arts and was already the head of all the schools at his youth. Sifu Cho Dak Sing was the sole inheritor of the original Wing Chun form. Besides imparting the original ‘female form’ to Sifu Cho Dak Sing, Sifu Yik Kam also used his Wing Chun to modify the existing non-Wing Chun forms in the Cho schools which comprised of non family members, making them more formidable and effective.

Sifu Cho Dak Sing had a nephew known as Cho Yin Onn (曹延安). He imparted the original 108 ‘Female form’ to Cho Yin Onn. 15 years later, Sifu Cho Dak Sing had a son named  Cho Chuen (曹全), whom he also imparted the 108 ‘Female form’. Sifu Chok Dak Sing modified his original 108 ‘Female form’ with Choy Ga Kuen to suit a bigger person and for performance purposes. This modified set was known as Siu Lam Tao (少林头) or ‘Male form’. It was taught to both Sifu Cho Yin Onn and Sifu Cho Chuen. Using the Male form, Sifu Cho Dak Sing taught each school under him with different variations in order to track which school they were from. Till today, there are several sets of the ‘Male form’ within the Cho Village. However, the original 108 ‘Female form’ and original 108 ‘Male form’ still remain solely taught within the immediate Cho Ga family members.

In 1937, Sifu Cho Yin Onn left China for Malaysia. While in Malaysia, he taught modified ‘Male form’ and Ban Zhong Siu Lam (班中少林) to his students. He was known widely as Sifu Onn and reputed as ‘Ghost hands Shadowless kicks (鬼手无影脚) in Malaysia. In hislater years, Sifu Cho Yin Onn was invited to live with Sifu Lau Shuen Yuen (刘顺源)in Penang. Sifu Lau Shuen Yuen was one of his favourite disciples. Sifu Cho Yin Onn taught and nurtured Sifu Lau Shuen Yuen like his own son. He chose Sifu Lau Shuen Yuen to be the inheritor of his art. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, Sifu Lau Shuen Yuen had to leave Penang for Singapore and was unable to fulfil the wishes of his master.

While living in Singapore, Sifu Lau Shuen Yuen’s grand nephew Sifu Ku Choi Wah (古财华) approached him wanting to learn Wing Chun. Sifu Lau Shuen Yuen only taught him basic and instructed Sifu Ku Choi Wah to go and learn directly from Sifu Cho Yin Onn who was still in Penang. Sifu Ku Choi Wah went to Sifu Cho Yin Onn and became his last disciple and also bestowed the title of gatekeeper for Cho Ga Wing Chun. He was also the sole inheritor of the original sets of ‘Female’ and ‘Male’ forms.