William Quon Chau Chun the True Successor to the Chow System of Kempo?
BY RICHARD GOETZ - Karate International Magazine Vol 5 #6 (pg.40)
At a small home on a
hillside in Vallejo, California a man teaches a small group of students
in his backyard. Although there is barely enough room for a half-dozen
students to train and the weather on this day is cold and foggy, the
students stretch to tension exercises, hit a bag full of sand, push
and pull on garage door springs and do various punches, kicks and blocks
into the air and onto each other. They are proud and privileged to be
put through the rigorous training by their instructor Prof. William
Quon Chau (Bill) Chun.
On August 4, 1930, Bill Chun Sr. was born in the city of Hanalei, Kauai
At the age of two, Bill's father passed away leaving his mother to raise
him and his brother and sister.
Growing up on the streets, Bill learned to live by the discipline of
the streets, often being chased home by bigger kids. At times going
hungry, he became tough and cunning. Getting jobs shining shoes, selling
papers and delivering ice, he worked hard and fought to keep the money
he earned to help his mother and family.
Living on the island of Oahu until 1948, Bill joined the U.S. Army and
traveled to Japan and Korea. Bill had been boxing for the army and he
briefly studied Goju in Japan and Tae Kwon Do in Korea. After serving
his country for three years, Bill returned to Oahu in 1951. A short
time later, his brother John re-introduced Bill to the man from whom
he had been learning martial arts. Bill had met this man before, in
1947, when his brother had first begun his training.
This was the most amazing
man Bill had ever met or ever would meet. Bill became completely captivated
by his physical strength, his grace, his strict training methods, and
by the love, honesty and gentleness that he displayed in his everyday
life. The man was known to the martial arts world as Grandmaster William
Kwai Sun "Thunderbolt" Chow; 15 Jugo-Dan. The Professor took
an immediate liking to this rough young man, and even though Bill often
had no money to pay for the training, the Professor would insist the
he come anyway.
The Professor and Bill became inseparable in a short period of time.
Bill often stayed at the Professor's house, and when you saw one, you
usually saw the other. Even when Bill married Magdalene Galase in 1952,
the Professor was still at Bill's front door every morning to talk and
have breakfast together.
As Bill began to advance in his training, he and the Professor encountered
many interesting events. One of the things the Professor would do when
going to watch other martial artist break Karate bricks, boards and
even ice; was to approach them after their performance and offer them
a real fire brick to break. To this offer, most would smile and walk
away. But if one would try, they would always fail. After their attempts,
the Professor would break one with his knuckles and then two with his
hand. The Professor was only 5' 5" but he was
also 200 pounds of pure muscle, enhanced by a physical and mental discipline
that most can only imagine.
Professor Chow was also known for his knowledge of pressure points,
herbs and massage. He could reset bones and heal with his knowledge
of herbs and pressure point therapy. Once his sister had a stroke and
he accomplished her recovery by using his knowledge of these types of
In 1960, Bill Chun Sr. received his black belt from Professor Chow.
Bill then moved to Vallejo, CA and began training students of his own,
returning to Hawaii as often as possible to study under the Professor.
In 1964, Bill organized a luau in honor of the Professor. This took
place at the Old Elks Club in Vallejo. Many prominent martial artists
were in attendance and it was at this luau that Bill received his promotion
to 3rd degree black belt from Professor Chow.
In 1966, Bill in conjunction with Leo Fong began organizing the Western
Karate Championship Tournaments in Richmond, CA. They continued until
1972 with the profits from the luau and the tournaments going to Professor
Chow. In 1967 the Professor honored Bill with his 6th degree, and as
usual this promotion was done in front of many prominent martial artists
in full ceremony. In 1970, Bill had approximately 40 students in his
school and he offered his school to Professor Chow. The Professor stayed
for awhile but became homesick for Hawaii and soon returned to his island
home. Bill would often send the proceeds from the school and whatever
else he could to help the professor out through the years.
In 1972, Bill's wife passed away. Bill, grieving from his loss, found
comfort in his many visits to the Professor. It was on one of these
visits that he met his current wife, Linda Villaroz. In 1976, Professor
Chow asked Bill to have his photograph taken with him and at this time
he told Bill and his wife Linda that this photograph was a symbol that
he had chosen Bill to be his successor.
During the 70's and 80's Professor Chow tried repeatedly to promote
Bill Chun Sr. to 10th degree black belt. Bill refused by telling Professor
Chow that he would accept the promotion when he felt it was necessary.
Bill and his son Bill Chun Jr. continued to visit the Professor practiced
and gained knowledge.
In 1987, during one of their visits to Professor Chow, he told Bill
Jr. that he was promoting Bill Sr. to 11 Dan. In the same year Bill
lost his best friend Grandmaster William Kwai Sun Chow. One of the many
strange things about the death of Professor Chow was that not one person
notified Bill Chun about the Professor's passing. Not one of Professor's
past or present students or family attempted to notify Bill of the tragedy.
Some of the old time reputable martial artists told Bill that people
were afraid that if Bill would have attended the funeral it would have
proven without any question who was to take over the system and it would
have made it impossible for any impostors to try to take over.
With the passing of Professor Chow, Bill went through a long period
of grieving. Since that time, many people have come forth claiming to
be the true leader of Professor Chow's Kempo System. But the fact is
Bill Chun Sr. is (as stated by many well known martial arts publications)
the Professor's recognized prodigy. Bill's position was and always has
been that Professor Chow told him that he was to take over the system.
Bill's claim is the Professor's spoken word, not questionable statements,
or purchased documents nor wild stories that others have used to support
their claims. Bill Chun's goal was not to build an empire in his name,
but only to teach the true Chow-Chun Style in the humble, quiet way
as Professor Chow would have wished him to do.
The style which Bill Chun Sr. has taught through the years was and is
now the closest to that which was taught by Professor Chow. The Go Shin
Jitsu Kai Chinese Kempo System is a hard-soft style which is taught
with the old hard training methods, but the execution consists of the
perfection of effective tech¬niques, balance and power with the
Kempo's circular motion shortened to effectively increase speed, power
and snap which makes the defense of the Chow-Chun System incredibly
effective. The original true Kara Ho was a combination of multiple breaks,
breaking blocks and Ju-Jitsu combined with the flow of Kung Fu and the
power of Karate. There are no high kicks, no flashy moves only short
quick and effective combinations. Total concentration is required to
learn this system and there are no shortcuts to mastering the effectiveness
of true Kempo. To master the Chow-Chun Kempo Style one must forget what
you see on TV and at the movies and con¬centrate on the reality
of this key word "SELF DEFENSE".