Jin Loong Chuan Fa
Jin Loong - The Golden Dragon
|Dave J. Lomas - Publication site!||
After seeing the now classic film 'Enter The Dragon' starring the late Bruce Lee back in 1973 I thought to myself what a cool thing it would be to take up and learn the martial arts. I was 17 years old back then and my knowledge of the fighting arts were very much limited to boxing and the such like so you can imagine how impressed I was at seeing the remarkable fighting skills of the Asian martial arts.
After visiting several martial art schools in the area I finally found one that looked suitable for me and was very impressed at the teaching standards on offer. My selection of this martial art club was totally based on what I could see and the remarkable skills of the instructors taking the class.
[Pictured above - my own club logo from the 1980's]
They were teaching Chinese Boxing, (or Kung Fu as many call it these days), but although they were not Chinese teachers it was clear to see that they had been trained by others to a very high standard.
My initial interest at learning the combat arts at that specific club were totally based on what the instructors were teaching, and back then in the early stages of my training, it never crossed my mind as to what the fighting style was called or even the history of it for that matter - only what was involved and hoping to survive to the end of the lessons. In fact at that point in time I thought all Kung Fu was the same and had no true idea that there were countless other styles of Kung Fu around that each had their own way of doing things and a history of their own.
Not thinking that knowing the history of the combat style I was doing had any true value at that point in time I did not bother to ask further on this subject until around a year later after I attended a seminar type of class in London that had students and teachers from other clubs there and a few, (less than a dozen as I recall at the time), who were Chinese. In fact I did not find found out until after the seminar was over that one of them was in fact the main teacher and founder of what we were learning.
I was lucky to meet him during that seminar but it was no more than a nod and a smile and a simple hello as his English did seem somewhat limited and my understanding of Chinese was zero. His name was Chu Sau Chong, (spoken as Chung), although I was never sure - even to this day - if I had spelt his name correctly. He did visit the UK a second time that same year, (1974), when he oversaw events at another seminar event that was mainly to do with grading tests but that was the last time I met him.
From what I was told about him he taught an eclectic mix of fighting methods that he called Golden Dragon and it was regarded as a family style, not a closely guarded secret style, but just limited within his own family circles before coming over to the UK in the early part of the 1960's to show and teach others.
I was also informed that he lived in the mining town of Tangshan, China and passed away towards the end of 1974. I never found out what was the cause of death but from what I could gather he was around 90 plus years old so maybe the age factor was part of the reason. Tangshan it should be noted was hit by a massive Earthquake just two years later in 1976 - killing many thousands of people.
During my first visit to the London seminar I was somewhat puzzled as to why some were calling what we did Chin Lum while others, from other clubs, were calling it Jin Loong so after the event I made a point of asking my own instructors what that was all about. At first I did think that those from the other clubs in attendance were learning a different style of Kung Fu but my teachers explained that the name had been changed from Jin Loong, meaning Golden Dragon, to Chin Lum - also meaning Golden Dragon.
When I asked why was the named changed it was explained to me that it was for commercial purposes only to make it more popular in the UK but some students still called it by the original name. The change of name as I understood it back then had only came about just a couple of years beforehand.
I later realised it was a breakaway version of the original system that was being spearheaded by Mick Taylor and Kevin Meredith. Kevin was my main teacher back then along with Clive Murray who was a guest Wing Chun teacher.
Not being an expert on how to write or speak Chinese I made a point of asking others how the two names could mean the same thing. Based upon what I was told Chin was the written way of saying Jin in spoken form and Loong or Lum was the spoken way of saying Lung in writing - or something along those basic lines.
Chuan Fa meaning Fist Way was the more older and traditional way of saying Chinese Boxing before it became known as Kung Fu today.
By the time I had qualified as a black belt things had started to change in the way things were being done, including, teaching in English only for the most part. Although the hard core basics remained, and the teaching of students in rows were the same, Chin Lum had now become more like a army style set up with the more elaborate aspects removed in favour of being more direct and combat effective. To coin a common term it had become 'westernised'.
So what does Chin Lum look like in action?
Keeping in mind that Chin Lum is based on a number of fighting methods from various other fighting styles - an eclectic mixed style - some would say it is like Hung Gar for the medium and long range way of fighting and like Wing Chun for the close 'in-fighting' techniques. Some would even compare it to Kenpo Karate.
Today Chin Lum is something of a rare name in the world of martial arts with only a few people still teaching it but in its day it was a very popular name and fighting style with many thousands trained in it. My own school trained over 4,000 people from 1979 to 2009.