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Who's Who in
Kung Fu San Soo

Jimmy H. Woo

History of Kung Fu San Soo

San Soo began at a Quan Yem monastery in Hoy Song, Canton many centuries ago. The priests (monks) of that monastery went throughout the countryside sharing their religious teachings and conducting religious services in surrounding towns and villages.

The people presented offerings to the priests to take back to their monastery in appreciation for their teachings. Those offerings contributed to the priests survival because they did not work the land as the �common man� did. Whether the offerings consisted of food, clothing or money, the priests being able to deliver those goods was paramount to the survival of the monastery. Throughout the land it was common knowledge these Quan Yem priests traveled unarmed and unprotected while carrying valuables to the monastery. Knowing this, bandits often lay in wait, targeting the priests for robbery and often death.

Outside the towns and villages there was no law to depend on. No one whom the priests could call for help. Many of the priest fell prey to these bandits. Obviously they faced a dilemma:

The only way they could survive depended on the offerings reaching the monastery. The only way they could get the offerings to their monastery would be to overcome their attackers. The Quan Yem priests came to a certain understanding: �They had to fight to live!�

Because their religion did not allow them to carry weapons, they knew their only effective tool lay in the use of their body. The monks knew if they were to rely on their bodies, they must develop and organize a method of unarmed combat. Their attackers would have no pity on them. Combat would often be to the death. It would boil down to �my life or yours.� Therefore movements had to be fast and swift; deadly or immediately incapacitating despite the attackers size or number of opponents. Experience showed the priests would fight both armed and unarmed multiple attackers. Often they would be alone when attacked. Help would not be available. Common sense dictated offensive and not defensive fighting would be the norm . Literally hundreds of monks over many generations trained continuously toward perfection of that goal. Together, hundreds of men training every day throughout their lifetime provided the result known today as Kung Fu San Soo.

As the art was being perfected, its teachings were kept exclusively in the monastery and taught to all new priests for their protection. One day, about five generations ago, one priest left the monastery. Returning to the �outside� world, he took with him the training and experience he had gained as a fighter. Additionally, he took two very thick, hand written books from the monastery. Books containing an unimaginable wealth of information dealing with all aspects of the art of San Soo.

Authors Note - I once asked Jimmy how his relative came into possession of the books? Because of their value and the fact he had taken them from the monastery, I asked if they were stolen? Jimmy was noncommital. Shrugging his shoulders he stated, �Maybe, I don�t know. Could be.� The books are still in the family�s possession today.)

When the priest left the monastery, he returned to his family. Knowing the power of the weapon he possessed by knowing this art, he decided to keep the art secret. He taught only members of his family, after swearing them to secrecy. They in turn passed down the art within the family from generation to generation, from father to son, uncle to nephew and cousin to cousin.

Finally, a man and his wife belonging to this family made a vow. They promised that their second born son would dedicate his life to the continuance of the art. This son was later born and he followed his preplanned destiny.

As the great-great grandson of the priest who originally left the monastery, this boy began his formal training when he was seven years old. Now, grown into manhood, he has been actively involved in the Art for more than 50 years.

We know this man in the United States as Jimmy H. Woo.

Jimmy H.Woo (Chin Siu Dek) is credited with bringing the art to America in the 1930's, finally opening his own studio to teach formally in 1959.

San Soo is not a tournament sport. San Soo incorporates techniques that can remove a threat as quickly and effectively as possible being as it is a combative art. Typical moves during a fight could include blows to the throat, upward blows to the nose, or kicking to the groin, all of which are customarily banned from tournament fighting.

The application of proper technique is paramount for San Soo. This paradigm can be used effectively by smaller, weaker persons against large assailants, as it does not rely on brute force. Therefore, San Soo is useful to women in rape prevention and self-defense. A basic premise of San Soo is there are "no rules in a fight" and hence it is an extremely brutal form of hand-to-hand combat. The swiftness of neutralizing an opponent is another aspect of this paradigm, with some practitioners aiming to end a fight within ten seconds, using merely three blows.

San Soo is an efficient form of hand to hand combat, but this doesn't preclude its practitioners from having respect for human life. This point is demonstrated with a quote from Jimmy H. Woo, �The art of San Soo does not lie in victory or defeat, but in building human character.� San Soo is the first organized fighting system dating back as the beginnings of Martial Arts Education. Martial Arts Education & It�s vast array of History, Development and Cultural diversity: As the Arts are dated back centuries and even go back to ancient days of China and beyond. We can start by exploring the ancient history of China and ideas that can even show that even prehistoric man had influence. It is understood that until the early 1900s China was ruled by powerful dynasties. The governing system of that time was unique and developed from civilizations and cultures dating back to prehistoric - man. We can see the Shang dynasty as one of the first dynasties, which were established some time in the 1700s B. C.If we look at the influence of religions, then we can see that, any of these influences didn't come about till much later. Remember Taoism didn't start in China till about 200 B. C. Taoist believed simple ways of life was the way. Not quite like the way of life practiced by the Confucianism practitioner. The idea that ultimate peace could be found if man live in harmony with the universe and nature. The ideas coming from India, called Buddhism, influenced Chinese beliefs and this was adopted between 2 and 3 A.D. The Chinese Buddhism had influences from several Confucianism and Taoism beliefs. Buddhism became the main religion of the countries on Southeast Asia's peninsula. Its influence can be seen on the culture by the large amounts of Buddhist shrines and statues around the countries. Cities are commonly covered with yellow-robed monks walking the streets. Young men of the ripe age of 11 or 12 years old depart from home to become Buddhist monks, for a short period of time, such as a few months, a few years or even some stay their whole lives. Remember monks are highly respected. It's not an easy life being a monk. It can be harsh for a boy at the monastery. Early rising to pray with other monks and then they walk to the nearby communities. Meditating, performing rituals and studying holy books are how they spend the rest of the day. Remember monks can leave the monastery at any time. In China records disclose ancient civilizations which began between 5000 B. C. to 3000 B. C. Beginning near the very long river known as the Yellow River or also known, in Chinese, as the Huang He. In these times China was ruled by dynasties and this went on for thousands of years. During these brutal times the monks needed a form of exercise and an organized way to defend themselves from being robbed and brutally roughed up. Being non-violent they had to practice on each other and learn how not to hurt each other. 100s of brilliant minds developed a form of exercise that would not only strengthen the body, but also strengthen their ability to defend themselves. They had to study how the human body moved and functioned. They learned the vital areas and non-vital areas of the human anatomy. They learned the damages that would or could acquire when striking different areas of the human body. But at the same time they kept a high respect for their fellow man. They went on the supposition that the mind and character of any individual is not completely known. With this assumption any human could be equal as a fighter. Non-violence was the intent. They trained with the thought that they had to commit themselves to do their best if ever having to utilize their skills. It was an attitude of; they knew what they could for the attacker. A confidence level of, "you can take my life but not my confidence." As these trained individuals branched off and left the training environment, deciding to either raise a family of their own or travel elsewhere they taught bits and pieces of their knowledge here and there.It was developed for survival. Over the years Martial Arts, especially with the rise of the Olympics, has been watered down for the utilization of a game or sports environment. Depending on the environment and terrain, cultural diversities and size of the individuals of that region was what aspect of Martial Arts Education was dwelled on. The first organized fighting system has no limitations of size of an individual or environmental terrain. It was developed for survival no matter what the situation. The size of your attacker and your environment that you may be in at the time is a consideration in your training. In-fighting, ground fighting and the ability to manipulate any individual to your advantage is the main goal in the training in the first organized fighting system. The 5 elements of the system are simple; punching & kicking, leverages (principles of physics) or joint manipulation, Pressure points or knowledge of nerve points, Psychology or the knowledge of body reactions (the thinking mans art) and the knowledge of power & balance or the ability to maximize your effort with the least amount of energy (concepts of physical and internal strength). As Martial Arts Education began we have to note that it was based on the element of surprise. It was determined that once an attacker was in the state of mind of conflict, you needed the advantage. This advantage came from the element of surprise. By appearing untrained or not having any fighting skill knowledge. This is why true Martial Arts Education has been past down from generation to generation in the manner that it has, to keep it pure and true. It is not pretty or flamboyant. The practitioner uses their own grace and skill to show the beauty of the movements as originally taught. These devastating movements, strikes or techniques are truly an Art form when practiced in a pure manner, as the original practitioners did. In a manner as not to injure each other and still get the true effect. Today this is known as the ancient Art of:"Kung-Fu San Soo"� (Research & Documentation by Master Larry S. Dusatko)

San Soo Kung Fu Lineage

 Quan Yin Monastery
Monk Chin Leong Kick
(Jimmy's Great-Great Grandfather)

Chin Moon Don
(Jimmy's Great Grandfather)

Chin Siu Don
(Jimmy's Grandfather)

Chin Neow Gee and Chin Siu Hung
(Jimmy's Great Uncles)
(Nicknamed Crazy Devil)

Chin Siu Dek
Jimmy H. Woo



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