Kung Fu is not just a fighting style. It also encompasses self defense, mental and physical health and well being, self discipline, endurance, balance and confidence. The World Eagle Claw Association (WECA) provides training for all of these areas. Founded by Gini Lau, 8th generation youngest daughter of the late Grand Master Lau Fat Mang, WECA focuses on training individuals of all ages in the traditional Chinese Kung Fu style of Eagle Claw.
The classes cover stamina training, pad work, agility and flexibility, forms (often referred to as kata in Japanese martial arts), applications and light sparring. Gradings are only performed when the student and instructor feels they are ready. There is no set time frame, and (other than more practice) no 'fast track' to go through the grades. We highly recommend attending at least two classes per week to make and maintain progress.
Our school also enjoys social activities, having gone out for local sports days, Go Ape, and organising 'Kung Fu Camps'.
History of Eagle Claw Kung Fu
The Eagle Claw Story The roots of Eagle Claw reach far back in Chinese history to the Shaolin temple of Northern China, founded during the Sung Dynasty it has travelled down through the ages reaching the 21st century in its entirety. A blend of three ancient kung fu styles, Yui Fei Ying Kune, FaanTzi Boxing and Shaolin. Eagle Claw is a classical system of Kung Fu, a complete and rounded, encompassing increasingly difficult free hand set, martial tumbling, gymnastic routines, and numerous weapons.
Master Gini Lau is the daughter of the late Great Grand Master Lau Fat Mang, a famous Eagle Claw Master and honored war hero from China, who was probably one the greatest Eagle Claw exponents of this century.
Today's Eagle Claw descends directly from three systems of Northern Kung Fu, the first being Chin'na (joint locking) developed by the famous General Yueh Fei (1103 - 1141) of the Sung Dynasty. The General Yueh Fei although not himself a product of Shaolin Temple was extensively trained by the Shaolin Priest Jao Tung.
During the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) one of the great periods of Chinese cultural history, a Shaolin martial monk named Li Chun famous for his abilities in Faan Tzu (martial tumbling). Li Chun chanced upon a demonstration of General Yueh Fei's Chin'na. Li Chun saw the power of Eagle Claw hand techniques as well at the beauty of the form and was determined to combine it with his own Faan Tzu. In time the monk Li Chun combined the two systems creating Northern Shaolin Ying Jow Faan Tzu. (Eagle Claw as we know it today.)
The monk Li Chun passed Northern Shaolin Ying Jow Faan Tzu to the monk Tao Chi of the Li Chu'an monastery Pao Tin in the Hopei province, an area famous for it's martial arts. The Li Chu'an monastery maintained the system as the Ming Dynasty gave way to the Ching. Near the end of the Ching Dynasty a Confucian scholar named Lau Shr Chien( already accomplished in Ba Fan Shou) entered the Li Chu'an Monastery and studied the Eagle Claw system. Lau Shr Chien then moved to Peking and gained great fame as a martial artist, especially with the staff, becoming known asTa K'an tse Lau (Master Lau of the Staff). Master Lau passed Eagle Claw to his third son Lau Chung Yao who intern taught Lau K'ai Wen and nephew Ch'ung Tzu Chung. An interesting side note that while in Beijing Lau Shr Chien taught Liu De Kuan, who later went onto learn Ba Gau Zhang , Liu De Kuan influenced the Ba Gau Zhang system by incorporating his Eagle Claw knowledge to create a form/routine called the 64 Palm linear line form for Ba Gau practice based on the principles found with two core routines of Eagle Claw - Hun Kune Sup Loh and Lin Kune Ng Sup Loh
Later it was Ch'ung tzu Chung who took the system to Shanghai, becoming an instructor at the famous Ching Wu academy of martial arts. The Eagle Claw form became very popular and one instructor of the Eagle Claw system was too much to handle for one man. Ch'ung Tzu Chung returned to Hopei province and convinced Lau Tzu Chang, Lau Chan We and one another Eagle Claw artist, destined to become one of the most famous martial artist of the era, Lau Fat Mang, to return to Shanghai and assist in teaching of the Eagle Claw system.
Great Grandmaster Lau Fat Mang
The Late Great Grand Master Lau Fat Mang was born in 1902. He was the nephew of Lau Kai Men and close relative of Lau Ch'ung Y'o, who was a student of the Eagle Claw Founder Lau Si Chun. This family connection allowed him to be trained in the inner "secret" forms of Eagle Claw that were not taught to the general public. Lau Fat Mang had already made a name for himself in martial arts circles by winning honors at the Peking civil service exams. These exams were very difficult and competitive, encompassing both Confucianism and martial arts. The Late Great Grand Master Lau Fat Mang's specialty was that of a unique style called Joy Lhok Tong (Six Drunken Falling Form). In his early 20's, GrandMaster Lau Fat Mang was requested to travel to the famous Shanghai Chin Wu Association and take over the teaching of Eagle Claw there.
In 1929 the Late Great Grand Master Lau Fat Mang was requested travel to Hong Kong as Head instructor for the new Ching Wu martial arts academy, This was a very famous period of growth for martial arts in Hong Kong and led to it's introduction to the West. Lau Fat Mang and two other famous Kung Fu Masters Yeh Yuh Tin and Kan Tak Hoi became known as the three Heroes from Hopei.
As China became embroiled in war Grand Master Lau was requested by the army in training the troops. While his military career was brief, Late Great Grand Master went on to become a national war hero. He organized and trained a special forces troop named the 19th Regiment Dai Do Brigade (Dai Do is a type of Big Sword). This group specialized in making night-time raids on enemy encampments during the Japanese occupation of China. The exploits of the Dai Do Brigade are legendary and are still a point of pride in China today.
After the war, Great Grand Master Lau Fat Mang opened his own school in Hong Kong and taught there for several years. Toward the end of his career he retired to the New Territories of Hong Kong and taught only his family. Master Gini Lau, the youngest of three daughters and two sons, was born late in her father's life. Chosen by her father to carry on the Eagle Claw tradition. she spent many hours of hard, grueling training, sweeping away the old traditions of Eagle Claw only being taught to the son and heir. Gini Lau was given the complete Eagle Claw system as taught by her father.
Great GrandMaster Lau Fat Mang was considered a Zheung Mun Yan, or standard bearer, for Eagle Claw, a position only gained by those of the very highest skill - those that are able to carry the legacy of the Eagle Claw system in it's entirety to pass onto the next generation. His daughter Master Gini Lau is considered by many to be a current Zheung Mun Yan for her fathers Eagle Claw system.
Great GrandMaster Lau Fat Mang was a prolific writer on Eagle Claw and his books helped spread knowledge of the Eagle Claw system far and wide. The books he wrote are still sought after today, some being re-printed and re-released many times.
Grandmaster Gini Lau
GrandMaster Gini Lau proudly carries on the tradition of her famous father, Great Grandmaster Lau Fat Mang as head of the Lau Fat Mang World Eagle Claw Association. Much like her father, GrandMaster Lau has carved out her own unique history and legacy in the Martial Arts World.
Master Lau began studying Eagle Claw, Yin Jow Fan Tzu from her father at the tender age of four. Great Grandmaster Lau Fat Mang would train his daughter Gini without mercy in the late evening and early mornings, having her do all of the movements and forms of the Eagle Claw system under his watchful eye. This training would continue for some eight years until his untimely death in 1964. Based on a prior agreement with her father,
Matt Williams (Instructor)
Matt Williams has been training in martial arts since 1989. He started teaching his own classes aged sixteen and has now been teaching for twenty-two years. He has trained in various traditional Kung Fu styles including Chang Quan, Tan Tui, Ba Ji Quan, Pi Gua Zhang and Xing Yi, but nowadays he has chosen to focus his efforts purely on Eagle Claw kung fu. Over the years Matt has won various competitions, wowed numerous audiences and surpassed many of his predecessors. Matt's students enjoy his friendly yet productive method of teaching. He is patient, supportive and dedicated to passing on the Lau Fat Mang Eagle Claw system with high quality assurance. Matt takes considerable effort to welcome and help each and every student and he is delighted to see them make progress.
“Whether you are interested in self defence, health or fitness, you will find that you get what you’re looking for and more, as our classes are packed with content to suit everyone. Not only are our classes very physically beneficial, they are also incredibly enjoyable – so you can smile while you tone up and develop your abilities!” - Matt
Master Lau continued her studies in the Peking Opera which was run by Master Yu Jim-Yuen. The Peking opera is famous for it's martial arts tumbling and gymnastics, both of which form a primary part of Eagle Claw Kung Fu. The Peking Opera training was probably more ruthless and severe than anything Gini had experienced with her father. Master Lau became a star of the Peking opera with other such notables in her class as Jackie Chan and Samo Hung. Master Lau would remain in the academy until 1973 and remains close with all of her Peking Opera classmates to this day. When the Opera was making a tour of the United States in 1973, Master Lau decided she was ready to strike out on her own and move to the United States.
Upon arrival in the United States, Master Lau had no job and could not speak English. She taught herself English and soon began to teach Eagle Claw at various local studios in the San Francisco Bay Area. Within a short time, Master Lau was making a name for herself in the martial arts tournament scene by regularly winning Black Belt competitions against all male competitors. During this time (1976), she won Ed Parker’s Long Beach International Karate tournament against the top rated tournament competitors in the country. She routinely beat the number one male competitors on the Open Martial Arts Tournament Circuit. Years earlier, this same tournament was where Bruce Lee was first discovered, and is still considered to be the most prestigious tournament in the United States.
With her unique blend of striking looks, traditional Eagle Claw training and years of performing at the Peking Opera Academy, it wasn’t long before Master Lau was spotted and asked to do work in movies. Master Lau acted and did stunt work in such movies as Killer Elite, Falcon Claw, Weapons of Death and The Last Adventure. She was also featured in a KNBC TV Production entitled The Secrets Of Martial Arts.
Master Lau uses her years of extensive training now to teach others in the style of Eagle Claw Kung Fu, Chinese wellness and massage, as well as writing short stories.
Rick Hooper (Assistant Instructor)
Richard has been training his Kung Fu under Matt Williams since 2007, and has been supporting Matt as his assistant instructor 6 days a week since 2013. The younger students in particular are very fond of Rick's teaching method, which as a result of years of leading groups of young people in the Scouting movement is patient yet strict. This results in students that are enthusiastic and those struggling get lots of generous help, whilst those that try to play up soon get a dose of the 'bad cop'.
Through sheer determination and hard work Rick has proven to be an excellent role model for other students as to what can be achieved. As a result of all his efforts Rick has shot through the ranks and he is currently training towards his Instructor's Level Test.
James Wilsdon (Disciple, Instructor)
James Wilsdon is Matt Williams' SiFu. He is also Grand Master Lau's disciple and most senior student in the UK. He has been studying under Grand Master Lau for many years and now runs his own school in Twyford.
“For any who have seen Matt perform it would be little surprise that I instantly chose to join, for he can effortlessly execute anything you have seen in any of the Kung Fu movies you care to choose. Whilst the aesthetics of Matt's Kung Fu is evident, the emphasis of his teaching is very much on content. He is extremely well versed in innumerable styles encompassing both the 'external' and 'internal' arts and ensures the techniques you learn are truly correct and effective.I have studied a number of different martial arts in the past and the Kung Fu I have learned through Matt has been both the most complete, the most thorough, the most effective, the best taught and the most fun of them all.” - Matt Seaborn