utilization of highly scientific principles of physics involving movement and
leverage as well as intense concentration and controlled breathing, gives a
fighter extreme power. Agility
balance coordination humility and respect for one’s fellow man are also
3,500 to 4000 years ago Chinese Monks devised Kung-Fu within the confines of
their monastery. They organized a system of hand to hand fighting for survival
and for physical fitness.
The mind as well as the body was taken into consideration; a healthy body, a
healthy mind. Kung-Fu was organized into five basic areas: punching; kicking; leverage;
throwing; and physical dynamics. At various times in history, Kung-Fu San
Soo found its way to other countries and locales. Mingling with their native
forms of combat and influenced by cultural perceptions, a certain amount of
distortion naturally occurred. New systems appeared spawned by the merging
of local systems with the newly imported, highly specialized Chinese combat
system. Thus Kung-Fu evolved as the first organized system of hand to hand
Soo Strives to develop a strong respect for other men. The Art of Kung-Fu Lies
not in Victory or Defeat, but in the building of Human Character.
Learn about the meaning and history of the Kung-Fu San Soo
Characters (Hanzi) ... by Yee-Wah Chow.
of Kung-Fu San Soo
Lineage of Kung-Fu SAN SOO started in the Qwan Yin Monastery and descended down
the following path:
(Jimmy's Great-Great-Great Grandfather)
Moon Don (Jimmy's Great-Great Grandfather)
Siu Don (Jimmy's Great Grandfather)
Siu Hung (Jimmy's Great Uncle)
H. Woo (Chin Siu Dek)
History of Kung-Fu San Soo
San Soo, as taught by Grandmaster Jimmy H. Woo, had it's origins in the very
basics of Chinese feudal life over 2,500 years ago in the
Yin. This is the oldest martial art as we
know it. For many hundreds of years,
divided and sub-divided into various warring factions, and each produced many
different types of fighting styles. Chinese systemized warfare pre-dates the
arrival of the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma, thought to be the founder of Shaolin
Ch'uan, who appeared some 2,500 years ago.
how and when these fighting tactics were begun in the Kwan-Yin (Goddess of
Mercy) monastery, in the
Hong, Guangdong Province of Southern China
is still unclear, and is in the process of being researched. The main reason the
martial arts were perfected by this group of monks was to protect themselves
from bandits and outlaws as the monks returned with supplies and donations from
of these monks, named Leoung Kick, an orphan who had lived in the monastery
since age ten, (Jimmy H. Woo's Great, Great, Great Grandfather) decided to leave
the monastery when he was approximately 30 years old. He took with him two of
the Buddhist training texts which probably date back to the late 1500's, during
the Ming Dynasty. These books have remained within the Chin family for five
generations and are extremely fragile and rare. All the techniques and forms
taught to and by Jimmy came from these two manuals.
Chin Siu Dek (Jimmy's Chinese name) was taught by his Great Uncle Chin Siu Hung
who was nicknamed Chin Neow Gee, which means "Crazy Devil." Hung was
an extremely large man, at 6'5" and weighing well over 320 pounds.
Following in his father and grandfather's footsteps, Hung became a well-known
fighter, teaching in his own San Soo school. He was an overlord for the entire
province, which at that time, the late 1800's and until 1941 was about the size
of Orange County,
He had complete control over nearly every aspect of the lives of the people in
that area. No one, started a business, moved, or made any other major decisions
without consulting Hung.
The Story of Chin Siu Dek
From the age of four, Chan Siu Dek
(Jimmy H. Woo) trained under his uncle Chan Shiu Hung and soon became his prize
student. His progress was rapid and he loved the contact and grueling workouts
on hard floors. In his teens, Dek became a traveling teacher of Tsoi, Li Hoi,
Fut, Hung Ga, his family art. When a grievance arose in the province and it
needed settling, Dek was called in. When village elders decided it was time for
the young men to learn to self-defense, Dek would be sent to live there for
months at a time and teach them.
In 1933, at the age of 19, Chan Siu Dek left mainland China via steamship under
the passport name ‘Jimmy H. Woo.’ He travelled to Hawaii and in 1935, made his
way to Los Angeles, California, bringing with him his family art, Tsoi, Li, Hoi,
Fut, Hung Ga.
Shortly, thereafter, the Japanese invaded mainland China and took control of his
beloved province. It was extremely fortunate that Jimmy had left mainland China
when he did as the capture of the provinces by the Japanese Empire led to the
deaths of many Chinese martial artists.
During these early years in this country, Jimmy resided in China Town, Los
Angeles, California. He worked many varied jobs and became acclimated to his new
home in LA's Chinatown District. In his early years, Dek had learned the produce
business from his parents. This knowledge served him well and he developed a
love of fresh fruit and vegetables. He worked long hours as a produce manager in
a market. He also loved to cook and eventually owned three restaurants.
But his first love was teaching San Soo. He began teaching close relatives and
friends. In addition he taught at the “cousin club,” a social, recreational
organization, and had connections with the Hop Sing Tong and the Hung Sing. He
also helped with security needs of the residents and businesses in the area and
did some unarmed bodyguard work.
December 1962 marked the grand opening of his martial arts studio in the Midway
Shopping Center in El Monte, California. He named the art “Karate Kung-Fu” as no
one in those early years had heard of “Kung-Fu.”
Kung-Fu San Soo had always been shrouded in secrecy. To paraphrase Master Ron
Gatewood’s book, The Secret Art of the Fighting Monks, “The Chinese had many
prejudices and they tended to be very closed... preserving the best for the
Chinese …” “Secrecy was of paramount importance as they knew that someday they
might have to fight the very foreigners to whom they had taught their deadly
art.” Jimmy’s decision to teach Americans was a major milestone. The next 22
years would prove to be most rewarding for those, of all walks of life, who
wisely chose to study with the Grand Master, and his large association of
In January of 1984, Jimmy H. Woo 'quit business.' In that same year, his
grandson James King earned his Black Belt and Sifu Jimmy H. Woo became
Grandmaster, Jimmy H. Woo (Lo Sifu). Jimmy H. Woo taught his instructors' class
two Saturdays a month until his death in 1991. His passing brought to a
conclusion 46 years of teaching Kung-Fu San Soo, here in America.
Kung-Fu San Soo is hand to
translated Kung-Fu San Soo means “a man learned, articulate and active in the
use of his hands (body) in combat with another man.”