Chiu Wai : Master of Hung Gar

This Wednesday, April 5, 2023, a Grand Master of Hung Gar passed away; Chiu Wai.

This post is a tribute to this respected man of the Hong Kong Martial Arts community who has greatly contributed to the development of his art in Hong Kong but also abroad.

The Chiu family in Hong Kong, 1937. Chiu Wai, 6 years old, is in the center of the picture.

Chiu Wai 趙威 was born in Hong Kong in 1931. He came from a family devoted to martial arts. His father Chiu Kao 趙教 (1885-1995) had learned Hung Gar 洪家 in Singapore [2] and his mother Siu Ying 邵英 (1904-2002) was from the Mok Gar 莫家 clan [3]. In 1930, Chiu Kao and Siu Ying moved to Hong Kong and became disciples of Lam Sai Wing 林世榮 (1861-1942), the renowned Master of Hung Gar, the direct heir of Wong Fei Hung 黃飛鴻 (1850-1933). At a very young age, Chiu Wai began martial arts under the guidance of his parents [1], as his older brothers Chiu Kam Feng and Chiu Kam Ching, and his older sister, Chiu Lai Fong, did. [3].

During the period of the Japanese occupation, the Chiu family found refuge in China, in the Guangdong province where Chiu Kao was originally from. The family went from village to village to teach Kung Fu with the assistance of Chiu Wai’s older brothers [4]. In 1943, the 5th child of the family was born, Chiu Chi Ling [3].

On the left the young Chiu Wai and on the right, his father, Chiu Kao.

After World War II, the Chiu family returned to Hong Kong. The sons assist their father in the family Kung Fu school as well as in the practice of traditional medicine, in an annexed clinic where they practise the so-called “Dit-Da” treatments. At the same time, Chiu Wai and his brother Chiu Kam Ching, train in bodybuilding. Weightlifting was added to their daily training. At that time, this training method became a particularity of the Chiu family within the Hong Kong Martial Arts community. [4]

Chiu Wai then opened his own school in 1957 on the roof of a seven-story building in Mongkok, a district of Kowloon in Hong Kong [4]. In 1960, the school moved to a nearby apartment on the second floor, which remained in operation until 1988. Chiu Wai’s school was a great success and many of his disciples moved to Australia, Europe and North America to teach Hung Gar. In parallel to his activity as a teacher of Hung Gar, Chai Wai, like his father before him, practices traditional medicine with the so-called “Dit Da” treatments. [1]

Chiu Wai’s younger brother, Chiu Chi Ling 趙志淩 is more famous, he is a very famous actor of Hong Kong Kung Fu movies. He started his career in the late 1970s. Most notably, he starred in Yuen Woo Ping’s first film, Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow, the film that revealed Jacky Chan, turning him from a stuntman to a real Kung Fu movie actor. Chiu Chi Ling also played more recently in Kung Fu Huslte, by Stephen Chow in 2004.

Chiu Chi Ling in Kung Fu Hustle (2004) by Stephen Chow.

One of Chiu Wai’s disciples, Chi Kuan Chun 戚冠軍 also had a creditable career in Hong Kong cinema. Like Chiu Chi Ling, Chi Kuan Chun began his career in the 1970s with Shaw Brother. He played in many films, the most emblematic of which are The 5 Masters of Shaolin (1974) and The Temple of Shaolin (1976) by Chang Cheh. His career was very dense until the early 90s.

“Invincible Shaolin” (1978) by Chang Cheh from 1978. Chi Kuan Chun plays one of the 5 Shaolin Masters. See my post about these 5 characters.

Finally, also in the film industry, Dennis Chiu, one of Chiu Wai’s two sons, made an appearance in the film Bloodsport in 1988, his character Chun Ip Mung confronts Cheung Li (played by Bolo Yeung) who kills him during a figh, in Kumite. Dennis Chiu also played in Five Element Ninjas (1992), a film by Chang Cheh.

Dennis Chiu, plays the character of Chun Ip Mung in Bloodsport (1988).

Chiu Wai is also known to have participated in many competitions in China, especially in the 80s, which he won successfully [1]. In 1983, he retired from teaching [4] and finally moved to Canada, in the state of Alberta. He became a member of the Calgary Chinese Eldery Citizen’s Association and continued to teach his art in Calgary’s Chinatown [1].

Chiu Wai, poses in an emblematic posture of Hung Gar.

Chiu Wai was a Grand Master of Hung Gar. He respected the ancestral traditions and promoted his art, Hung Gar, and at the same time, the culture of Chinese Martial Arts. He transmitted his art all his life with passion and dedication.

Following in their father’s footsteps, Chiu Wai’s two sons, Ambrose and Dennis Kwok Kei Chiu continue to carry on the family tradition. [1]



[2] article on Chiu Kow 

[3] article on Siu Ying

[4] kung fu magazine publié en 2007, par Curtis Kautzman, President of the Canadian Hung Kuen Martial Arts Association


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