Hakka Southern Praying Mantis Kungfu

Behind the Scenes – Chu Gar Gao

A look behind the scenes of the new hardcover book,


Behind the Scenes; Chu Gar Gao Southern Praying Mantis

Work began on this book in late November of 2011, but really didn’t take off until summer of this year, 2012.

The book is intended to fulfill the wish of my late Chu Gar Sifu, Cheng Wan, to continue the true heritage of Chu Gar Gao.  If you have ever been to Hong Kong or China and looked up Chu Gar, then you know what a character Cheng Wan Sifu was.  He was a true cultural icon in Hong Kong.  That is Cheng Sifu (hat) on a movie set with Stephen Chow and other Hong Kong stars below!

In the very top picture standing to my left, is his son and my sihing, (kungfu brother) Cheng Chiu, who is featured in the book in an interview and demonstrating the Som Gin Yu Kiu, second Chu Gar form.  The book also has Sifu, his father, demonstrating Som Bo Gin, the first form.

In case you weren’t sure, that’d be me, RDH, in blue (very top picture).  And good friend, Robert, on my right and retired police detective, Brother Kong, on the far left.

It was steaming hot that day. We were lucky. It had been raining for several days and tropical storms were forecasted for the next day.  We only had a one day window of opportunity to make the pictures of the Chu Gar form.

We all said Sifu (Cheng Wan) under that heavenly peach tree was looking down and keeping the rain away.  For sure he would be happy with the book.  His grandchildren have expressed their gratitude to me also.

Brother Chiu is a year older than I.  He is 57 this year and teaches at a local community center in Sai Kung once a week publicly.  Most train the Hakka Unicorn and some train Chu Gar Mantis.  Of course, his troupe has numerous awards and always participate in the local holidays and celebrations.  You can check the www.southmantis.com website for a clip of Ah Chiu playing Som Gin Yu Kiu.

Brother-Friend Robert (above) is pushing 70 now.  He is more American than Hong Kongese, and spent decades in the USA.  His role in the book was one of coordinator and sometimes translator.  I have a hard time catching Ah Chiu’s Cantonese and sometimes thick Hakka accent and so Robert’s American English comes in handy!  Ah Chiu and I speak Mandarin together but he still has that thick Hakka drawl!

There is no shortage of yachts and Roll Royces’ in this quaint fishing village called Sai Kung, but it hasn’t (yet) lost its traditional values either.

You can get an idea from the pictures below!



Modernization is inevitable.  Let’s hope Chu Gar Gao doesn’t get left behind.

 It took the better part of a long hot summer day to get the pics of Ah Chiu playing the form.  And a large part of that was spent just trying to decide on a location.  In the end, we returned to where we came from for the photo shoot…back to the community center.  It is a large fenced in, gated area with modern conveniences and surrounded by huge ancient trees and shrubs.  A refuge inside the otherwise busy streets.

When the day was done and the hot sun going down, everyone went to one of the probably hundreds of small street cafes for bottles of cold beer and spicy beef.  I had to endure the whimsical remarks of my brother friends for not imbibing in the beer, but I enjoyed the spicy dishes just the same.

Afterwards, I hopped a train and made my way back several hours to Pingshan, the hometown of Kwongsai Mantis in China, where I sit writing this brief look behind the scenes for you!

And now you know the rest of the story …

Chu Gar Gao:  Southern Praying Mantis Kungfu

www.amazon.com  keyword search “Southern Mantis Press”

Get a copy and if you are disappointed I’ll return your cost on the same day you ask.