Classes held on:
Tuesday: 7:30pm to 9:00pm
Arborfield Cross Village Hall
Arborfield, Berkshire

Friday: 7:30pm to 9:00pm
Arborfield Cross Village Hall
Arborfield, Berkshire




Sifu Martin Barker

In 1994 I found the art of Southern Mantis and have never looked back. The training received from Master Paul Whitrod has continued the lineage of traditional Kung Fu within the UK outside London. As well as the tuition from Master Paul Whitrod, I also studied in Hong Kong with private tuition from the late Grand Master Ip Shui. In October 2000 I received my certification as Sifu, this was to be only the beginning. To learn and develop is one stage, to understand and develop is another stage, to feel and develop is a higher stage, to master is indeed a great stage but to become the system is a life long ambition.


Master Paul Whitrod

Offically Paul Whitrod sifu started martial arts training at the age of 13 with Kyukushinkai Karate. (Though he had trained in Unarmed combat at the age of 9). Although at only 13 years old, he remembers the training being quite tough with lots of sparring and lots of students getting hurt as this particular form of Karate is famous for its knock down rules. He stayed with the system for 1.1/2 years. Later at the age of 15 years in early 1975 He started Chow Gar Praying Mantis Kung fu, under the tutelage of Yip Chee Keung Sifu, who came to London in 1974. Yip Chee Keung Sifu is the son of the famous Great Grand master Yip Shui, who was foremost authority on the Chow Gar Praying Mantis system until his death at 93 in 2004. After only 4 or so years in London Yip Chee Keung Sifu went back to Hong Kong, and from there he extended an invitation to Paul Whitrod to come and study in Hong Kong. Accommodation was no real problem as Grand master Yip Shui wanted Paul to stay in his Hong Kong home, so that He could be under the Grand master guidance 24 hours a day.

It was from here that Paul Whitrod was to complete the Chow Gar Praying Mantis kung fu system as well as Dit Dar medicine (fall & hit medicine) that deal with massage, and injuries due to martial arts practise. He became a closed-door student and went through the ritual of giving the tea (sifu tea) to grandmaster Yip Shui so he could learn the finer things of this unique art and being situated right at the heart of system, placed him in a perfect learning environment. In the fall 1986 Paul Whitrod opened his first full-time school in London and the following year invited his Yip Shui Sigung and Yip Chee Keung Sifu to London. It was at this time they made Sifu Whitrod has the UK representative of the Chow Gar Praying Mantis kung fu of June 1987. In the early days of training in Hong Kong there many contests Paul Whitrod had to go through, some crossing hand, some testing of skill involving other martial artist. These were no hold barred contest and took place in Hong Kong and in UK.

Paul Whitrod has gone on to promote this unique system of kung fu through articles, videos, and UK television appearances etc., He now has many students of his own teaching in Australia, Europe, USA. He still continues to enlighten his followers and martial artists worldwide about the Southern Chow Gar Praying Mantis kung fu. He still goes to Hong Kong regularly keeping his roots strong and paying respects to the late Grandmaster Yip Shui and his family members who are also involved in training. This also includes Grandmasters students who have been an inspiration to his training. He currently travels and teaches the traditional martial arts that he has studied over the years.


Grandmaster Yip Chee Keung

Master Yip Chee Keung started his training at an early age and later on in his life at 23 came to London in 1974. He training was a tough schedule pushing people to practise the training chongs called Chy sau and Doy Chong. When he was young he loved to train with the Long staff particular the poison snake staff pole. He would use everyday practising on the roof tops of his fathers home in Kowloon City.

Master Yip Chee keung became the representative of Chow Gar Southern Praying Mantis kung fu in 2003. He inherited this position from his father and gave a splendid demonstration on the occasion by bringing up the testicles so he could take a kick from any person; this is one of the training skills called sook suk gung. He now resides in Hong Kong teaching this system and currently goes abroad to UK or Hungary to teach. He also treats other with his dit da skill. He has since formed the International Chow Gar Praying Mantis kung fu.


Yip Shui

Grand master Yip Shui, became the successor of the Chow Gar Praying Mantis kung fu in 1942 from his teacher Lau Soei. It was the late Lau Soei that brought the Chow Gar Praying Mantis system to Hong Kong from China in 1913. Grandmaster Yip Shui, was born in 1913 and started his training with Lau Soei when he was 21 years old in 1934, he often spoke about the time when he first started training, as he was once propelled through the air by Lau Soei’s shock power, Lau Soei used the soc sau technique that caused the young Yip Shui to fly across the room to hit his head on a wall, which caused him to go unconscious, Lau Soei had revived him and gave him medicine. So thrilled by the skill, he decided he wanted to learn from Lau Soei, Lau Soei accepted him and their relationship lasted until the death of Lau soei in 1942.

Before young Yip Shui met Lau Soei, his only experience in martial arts is what he had learnt from his father, which was a form of Shaolin martial art as his Grandfather had learnt in the Shaolin temple. His father was not to keen for him to only practise martial arts but after some 6 months of training, he got used to the idea, also he had frequent sparring matches with his father and showed the effectiveness of what he had learnt, and his father was then convinced. The young Yip Shui trained earnestly and was an outsider to the other students of Lau Soei, this was because he was not Hakka, and however Lau Soei looked over this problem and trained with him personally. Years later when Lau Soei became ill, young Yip shui looked after him during the 2 years of illness before his death in 1942. Though Yip Shui had learnt everything from Lau Soei, he was not famous until an important challenge match, which he could not back down from.

Later Grand master Yip Shui became one of the most respected martial artists in Hong Kong after defeating many famous kung fu masters in bare hand challenges. These were due to the fact that they tried to dislodge him from his position of his inheritance of the Chow Gar Praying Mantis system. He went on to become famous and establish this Southern Mantis art further. He has taught numerous people in Hong Kong as well as far and wide. Grand master Yip Shui passed away in 2004 at the age of 93.

LAU SOEI | Back to top

Lau Soei

It was common practice in those days for monks to travel and teach Buddhism. Whilst travelling Wong Fook Go met an accomplished martial arts master at Wai Yearn village on the east river called Lau Soei. Lau Soei was already a reputable fighter and gave many demonstrations of his skills, one in which Wong Fook Go had stated that his technique was only efficient enough for that purpose. Lau Soei then issued a challenge to the monk. The monk's hand techniques were too fast and powerful for Lau Soei (he stated after the fight that the Mantis method of powerful gen striking was like being hit by lightening). Lau Soei then became Wong Fook Go's student.

At the end of the Ching Dynasty business and growth attracted a number of mainland occupants to Hong Kong, this is where Lau Soei continued his teachings to the next generation of Chow Gar Mantis practitioners one of which was Ip Shui. During the second world war many of the masters went into seclusion from the Japanese that occupied Hong Kong, it was at this time that master Lau Soei passed away in 1942. Ip Shui became Lau Soei's successor, which he was challenged over by many others but to no prevail.

Ip Shui's school became a large success within Hong Kong with many students (including his own family members) and it was his son Ip Chee Keung that brought the art to England in 1974, where his teachings were found by Paul Whitrod in 1975. 4 years later Paul was invited by Grand Master Ip Shui and Sifu Ip Chee Keung to their home in Hong Kong to study under their watchful eye full time. Training three times a day, Paul Whitrod learnt the Chow Gar system along with dit dar (hit & fall) medicine and traditional striking techniques. In 1987 Ip Shui made a visit to the UK and made Paul Whitrod Sifu the UK representative.

WONG FOOK GO | Back to top

Wong Fook Go

Wong Fook Go was initially a lay person but later became a traveling monk. He travelled throughout Southern China including Wai Yearn village in the area of Tung Kung (East River).

Chow Ah Naam | Back to top

According to Chow Gar tradition, the founder of the style was Chow Ah Naam who lived in the 1800s. He had spent many years in the Southern Shaolin Monastery under the guidance of the abbot Sim See Yan. He created a new style which he called Praying Mantis from watching a fight between a praying mantis and a bird. His style is not related to the Northern Praying Mantis created by Wang Lang during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Ah Naam taught the style to many people in the region and one of his students was Wong Fook Go.