For me, one of the most interesting styles I came across on my Singapore trip was Lau Gar Gow, or Liu Jia Jiao in Mandarin. Lau Gar Gow literally means “the teachings of the Lau family”, and is an extremely rare style of Southern Fist practiced by the Hakka people.
The Hakka people (Kejia in Mandarin) are an ethnic minority found in Southern China, as well as in the Chinese diaspora throughout Southeast Asia. An offshoot of Han people, they are the descendants of northern Chinese who fled south in several waves throughout history due to wars or famines. They settled in a mountaineous triangle between Jiangxi, Fujian and Guangdong provinces, and became well known for their fortress-like villages, herbal medicines and martial arts.
The style of Lau Gar Gow is extremely rare, and its unknown if anybody in China is still practicing it. As far as we know, there are only very small pockets of people in Singapore and Malaysia. In fact there are many family and village styles for which this is the case. Due to poverty, war and politics, many southern Chinese left their homeland in search of a better life in Southeast Asia, taking their martial arts with them.
In a future series, James Lee and I hope to travel around Southern China to find the roots of his Lau Gar Jow, as well as to see what other styles from Southeast Asia are still alive in some remote villages, and find out if and how they have evolved seperately. If you would like to support this and other upcoming projects, you can become a Patron here and get access to all kinds of exclusive content.