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Jow Ga: The Navy SEAL of Kung Fu

The U.S. Kung Fu Exchange is rapidly approaching two-thousand members worldwide. Of those 2000, less than 35 people have earned the title Jow Ga. That’s not even 2%.

Now think about how many people are in the U.S. Military and how many of those (who have the desire) become a Navy SEAL? Considering that the six-month BUD/S training is known as the most difficult military training in the world, and has an 80% failure rate, I bet it’s less than 2% as well. The United States Navy SEAL is by far the best of the best. When you want to be the best, you emulate the best. That is why I use the analogy of the SEAL to the USKFE’s Jow Ga.

Google SEAL and see what is required just to “try out” to become a SEAL. One requirement report I read was three pages long! And once you make SEAL, that’s when the training really begins . . . and continues until you retire. Same with Kung Fu. Earning a black sash is simply the basics.

What is Jow Ga? In Mandarin, the English spelling is jujiao, meaning junior teacher. We use Jow Ga, more of a Cantonese version and explain it as a disciple of a kung fu system. Someone who pours their heart and soul into learning 7-Star Mantis and becoming the very best they can be at it.

When John (Sifu Cheng) and I were young, we traveled with Sifu Fogg to train with his kung fu brothers and with his Sifus, both in Wah Lum and 7-Star. What an awesome experience. From New York to Florida, we (John more so than I) had the opportunity to meet and fight with the best mantis fighters of that time. Only a handful of Fogg’s students ever had that privilege. I’m eternally grateful to be one of that few.

Once Sifu Cheng and I had our own schools, we wanted our students to have those opportunities as well, to pursue excellence way beyond black sash. So, with the help of Sifu Jeff Hughes, we developed the criteria to become a Jow Ga as well as a training regimen to achieve that goal.

The first step is you must be black sash and have held that title for 12 months. Second, your sifu recommends you as a potential Jow Ga to the USKFE board, again, akin to SEAL. A soldier’s immediate Chief must recommend him for the SEAL application process.

Third, in keeping tradition with my and Cheng’s experiences in fighting other mantis brothers, you will then touch hands with other Jow Ga candidates from across the States. In 2007, in Hollywood CA, we had thirty Jow Ga candidates. That’s a lot of people to fight! Now you see what drives me to keep in shape.

The icing on the cake however, is a Jow Ga candidate has the opportunity to engage in combat with a sifu! This is great fun, although often extremely painful for the student. Jow Gas have a separate code of conduct and are held to a higher standard than other kung fu students. Jow Ga is not for everyone. Neither is SEAL. The training is brutal and ruthless but the end result is a transformed individual who is the best at what he does.

I’ll share the training requirements with you later as well as some of my own experiences in training with the legendary Fogg-Man.

As a side note, for some great SEAL reading, check out novels by Vince Flynn and Brad Thor.

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