Sunday, November 20, 2005

Dai Sensei, Kow Loon " Kayo " Ong

As most of you already know, I am apolitical when it comes to writing about the various arts other than USA / Urban GoJu. The politics of our organization are still being, and or will be addressed privately / in house, unless and or until I am caused to do otherwise.

This article may seem to reek political, and if it does, I make no apologies, as it is simply a matter of stating historical facts and is not meant to slur any group or any person. That is, unless the truth hurts, in which case, I don’t know what else to tell you.

Many think that they are bringers of something unique and unknown as far as the popularity of the older ways these days. But what was at one time one of the greatest martial arts secrets in the US, has been in NYC since the 60s!

It started when a Chinese family the Ong's, immigrated to the USA and set up a Chinese Laundry (of all things) in New York, the South Bronx (of all places.)

On errands to NYC’s Chinatown, the young son of this immigrant Ong family would see KaraTe for the first time at a place called The Chinatown DoJo. Having heard stories of his Kung Fu past relatives in the old country, he always wanted to get into the arts, but was not allowed because of the popular link between Kung Fu and the underworld = Tongs = Chinese Mafia, and other secret societies.

When the young boy told his parents what he had seen in Chinatown, and thinking that perhaps because this particular art had a non Chinese name, that his parents may allow his participation, asked permission to join. Of course the answer was no.

Persisting behind his parents backs, he continued to visit The Chinatown DoJo to watch.

Grand Master Urban, having told him that he would need a letter from his parents to join, was now told by the young boy that his parents would not sign him in, for fear of the afore mentioned and that the boy would not be given the money for DoJo dues.

Recognizing his dilemma, Grand Master Urban allowed the boy to train for free, and without permission. “Ahhhhhhh, the good old days, when fear of litigation was not the norm.”

I met this young boy, when I was an even younger boy = he was 16 and I was about 8, at this DoJo in Chinatown. By the way, his name is Kow Loon Ong, also known as Kayo. Later, when one of our DoJo seniors, Sensei Thomas Boddie opened up his Uptown DoJo, Grand Master Urban understanding that Sensei Boddie’s DoJo would be much easier for him to commute to from the Bronx, gave Kayo permission to join The Uptown DoJo.

Kayo had already proven himself as a talent. He placed in the original GoJu Kai tournament held in NYC in the 60s as a 16 yr old brown belt! Learning came easier to him because of his high degree of intellect. His training in KaraTe was intertwined with his studies at New York’s Aviation High School, which for those who are not familiar, requires on to be of above average intelligence in order to pursue technical studies far advanced from the average school. He also worked at the laundry, and a Chinese restaurant. “And you think that you have a hectic schedule???”

Sensei Boddie later met and began to study with Sensei Akira Kawakami from Okinawa, in ShoreiKan GoJu Ryu. .
This lead to Kawakami Sensei, and later also
The Zen Priest who actually was a direct student of GoJu founder Chojun Miyagi, Rev. Sogen Sakiyama, to actually be on hand to guide Kayo and his peers. As well as, believe it or not Okinawa’s famous KoBuDo master Matayoshi who was staying in NYC.

Over the years, because of his being oriental, Kayo was actually being taught more advanced aspects of the arts than Sensei Boddie was. This caused a kind of falling out, and Kayo opened up the original ShoreiKan headquarters in the US, representing its founder Sekichi Toguchi Sensei of Okinawa.

Later bringing over Toshio Tamano sensei from Okinawa, who after a problem with his student visa, was legitimized as to his presence here in the US by Kayo getting him a working visa under the rationale that Tamano Sensei was bringing “The better punch” You see, there had to be a reason for his working visa. He had to have something that was not already available here, so with the help of Kayo’s way with words, Tamano Sensei was able to stay, and establish his following. Hence the beginning of Toguchi Sensei’s or should I say Tamano Sensei’s ShoreiKan organization in the west.

Kayo, being the actual owner of the dojo, later broke away because of various things that were going on that he did not agree with. Mount Kisco was a location that Kayo pioneered, but it was time to move on.

After many problems with the martial arts community, as well as his own disgust as to what things had become, Kayo basically went underground for many years with his teachings in the shadows of NYC’s Chinatown. Many challenges were cast both to and more often by Kayo because of his opinions, which he has always been more than willing to share!

He had by then, developed the True SanChin Body. He lifted no weights, but because of SanChin and Taiso Daruma training, his body resembles that of a power lifter.

He had learned basically all there was to learn, from the afore mentioned Okinawan masters, and began to teach the old ways of NahaTe under the moniquor of Chi I Do.

This is the old instructors patch that was originally used by Chi I Do. "From author's personal collection."

A GoJu instructor named Paul Okami “ actually an American guy who took on the Okami name during the ( Turning Japanese ) craze of the 70s,” who wrote a couple of ( Less than complimentary ) articles about USA GoJu = The Long And Winding Road of GoJu Ryu in the US, and its demise in NYC, for Black Belt magazine.

Okami, was later approached by Kayo while he was writing for Inside KaraTe magazine, as to meeting with him.

After their meeting, and Kayo making a believer of him, Okami did a cover story on Kayo for Inside KaraTe magazine, and even put out a video of Okinawan GoJu kata from what he had learned from him.

When Okami had to travel to the UK to escape the wrath of those he slurred in Black Belt Magazine, he turned his DoJo over to Kayo in order for him to teach the students this “new found knowledge.”

Upon Okami’s return to the US and to the DoJo floor, he was greeted by his students who looked at him like he had three heads, and wanted to know why he had wasted their time for so long that they had to relearn everything in order to correct his mistakes……

Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy…………………… Pay back is a bitch ehhh Paul ?

After many years of teaching and developing a strong student body in NY as well as over seas, Kayo arose from the underground scene and began teaching for the NYC Public School System's After School Programs along with his lovely and competent wife Lai, which have blow up to multiple locations.

He has also been recognized in Okinawa, as Hanshi grade.

By the way, his lovely and cordial daughter Pearl was sent to California as Kayo’s representative when Dai Sensei Meitatsu Yagi Head of MeiBuKan GoJu Ryu, and heir / son of Dai Sensei Metoku Yagi, most senior of Chojun Miyagi’s students still living, was visiting. That should tell you where she stands…………

His International Chi I Do organization has become huge.

Kayo is a licenced airplane mechanic, was owner of a company that made and installed extremely large fish tanks in the homes of the elite, as well as an inventor of various power sourses for the "Xootr" (pronounced
'zooter') , which is a battery operated skateboard scooter.

I am proud to call him my friend, my older brother, my confidante.

My personal nick names for him are Kayo Ko, meaning Big Brother Kayo = “ I consider him a modern Ryu Ryu Ko = Big Brother Dragon, which was the name that Kanro Higashionna's teacher was known by.” and my favorite = Shi Kung! “He always laughs and says “Shi Kung??? How old do you think I am???”

Incidentally, The name Kow Loon actually translates as 9 Dragons.

For those of you who understand the San Chin = 3 Conflicts, 3 is the base of what we do. 3 x 3 = 9.

Please see Dai Sensei, Kow Loon Ong’s eulogy to Grand Master Urban at:

Also see the article done on Dai Sensei, Kow Loon Ong in Martial Force Magazine at :