Kow Loon Ong
Kow Loon Ong, known as Kayo to his friends and students, was four and a half years old when he emigrated to the United States, from mainland China's Toisan Kwantung Province, with his mother in 1954. They resided in the back of the Chinese laundry opened in the south Bronx by his father, who had preceded them at the age of sixteen, in 1919, and then returned to China to marry Kayo's mother. Kayo, his brother, and his sister were conceived on subsequent visits. His brother came to the U.S. in 1957, his sister in 1958.
Kayo was immediately introduced to the "American Way" as he was bullied by whites, blacks, and latinos. Eventually, he learned that, unfortunately, racism is universal, and comes from all races. These lessons combined with the fact that he was a scrawny, sickly youngster, led him to study the martial arts. Kayo studied several martial arts disciplines before he settled with Okinawan Goju Karate. It was while studying Peter Urban's American Goju system, from 1965 until 1966, with Sensei Thomas Boddie, that he met Sensei Akira Kawakami, a Japanese Okinawan, who brought Okinawan Goju Karate to America through Thomas Boddie's Uptown Dojo. The system was known as Shoreikan Okinawan Karate, with Master Seikichi Toguchi as its head. In 1966, while living in Thomas Boddie's dojo, Sensei Kawakami converted Thomas Boddie and his students to the Shoreikan system. Eventually a young, promising, and dedicated student was invited, along with Sensei Boddie and several others, to take personal hands on training with Sensei Kawakami. Kayo took advantage of this offer, which resulted in his receiving advanced training that took him to a much higher level in the arts. Leaving Sensei Boddie's Uptown Dojo in 1969, Kayo began to teach with Sensei Toshio Tamano at various locations. In 1970, Sensei Tamano and Kayo opened the USA Headquarters Dojo, where the Shoreikan system was propagated.
In May of 1973, after several years of teaching, Kayo left the Shoreikan system for political and personal reasons. Many senior students, as well as some Shoreikan dojos in the USA and Puerto Rico, opted to leave with him. They became the first generation of the Chi-I-Do system of Okinawan Karate. The name, Chi-I-Do, was actually adopted in 1974. Although Kayo continued teaching after he left Shoreikan, he did not advertise-most of his schools stayed underground. His reputation spread through word of mouth-a few students were taken to him by someone "in the know." In spite of this, the number of students who studied under his tutelage continued to grow and the number of schools run by practitioners who study, or who have studied with him, continues to grow.The number of schools that have changed over from other organizations and systems also continues to increase. Consequently, his organization has schools throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, and Antigua.
The system of Goju Ryu that Kayo shares with all his students is the same art which he learned, with little or no modifications. Kayo's adherence to the more traditional methods of training is a direct result of his tutelage under Akira Kawakami, as well as his other teachers. Most importantly, he insists on maintaining the same high standards demanded by Akira Kawakami. If anything, Kayo has taken the training one step further with his special ability to teach many students efficiently, while giving each individual the personalized instruction necessary to achieve a high level of proficiency in the art. Perhaps the validity of his instruction has been proven by the acceptance of several of his students who have performed in Okinawa in front of some of the old masters.
Kayo believes the Okinawan Goju system of karate is one in which the average person can learn and become proficient-providing they are willing to seriously apply themselves. He does not believe in watering down the training to keep or please students. If the art doesn't work for a student when it is really needed, then he has failed as a teacher. Kayo, therefore, teaches the art as it must be taught and most students who teach with his encouragement feel the same way.
In Chi-I-Do there is no free fighting. Kayo does not believe in pumping iron per se, although there are specially designed traditional pieces of training equipment which can be used to enhance the strength of the techniques for those with deficiencies. Stressing the warm-up as the basic foundation for successfully developing a student's "Goju Ryu body," Kayo points to himself as an example. Few, if any students have been able to match the strength, speed, or agility of this once skinny, sickly person. He stresses kata as the means to learning the system and bunkai and kiso as the means of learning to apply it's techniques. Once this is accomplished he takes the student further. Kayo does deviate from some of the Okinawan instructors' practices in that he doesn't believe in keeping so called "secret techniques" from his students.
The only limiting factors are the student's ability, attitude, and level of training or rank. One of Kayo's outstanding qualities is his ability to get the best from students who are willing to give their best, thereby enabling them to reach levels of training that they might have thought were beyond them. He merely requires that the student train hard and remember what is taught.
Train from the heart, give your best and achieve your potential. This is what Kayo teaches. This is our responsibility
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