Professor William Chow

Prof. William Kwai Sun Chow (born Ah Sun Chow-Hoon in Honolulu July 3rd 1914) was the 3rd of 16 children born to Ah Hoon Chow and the 1st born to his mother Rose Kalamalio Naehu (his father had another wife and children back in China, but his father came to Hawaii at age 19 and was unable to bring them).  His father worked as a butcher and as a tailor; they lived on Queen Street in Kakaako part of Honolulu.

After his father’s 3rd wife died (Lily Malualani Kiha), his father went back to China.  Prof. Chow took their home and knocked down some of the walls, including a piano shop that they rented space to, and opened up a dojo in their home.  Bill would later open up classes at the Kapahulu Japanese School, one class on Young St., and then at the Nuuanu Y.M.C.A.

By this time Prof. Chow started calling what he was teaching in class “Kenpo Karate”, probably because he term “Karate” was more familiar with the people of Hawaii at this time (he also called his art Diansue Goshinjitsu).  Some of the assistant instructors at this time were his brothers Frank and John Chow-Hoon, Fred Lara, Ike Keawe, Brother Abe Kamahoahoa, and Bill Chun.  Many good students came out of the Nuuanu class including Manuel Dela Cruz, Bobby Lowe, Harry Pang, Paul Yamaguchi, Boyd McCandless, Ralph Castro, the Emperado Brothers, Joe and Adriano (would later on with friends form Kajukenbo), and Edmond Parker (would later on bring and spread Kenpo to the mainland).

Prof. Chow felt the need to incorporate the circular movements of the Chinese arts he had learned from his father and other teachers with the more linear movements he learned from Mitose; he would later change the name to “Kara-Ho” mind, body and spirit.

Prof. Chow had many teachers besides James Mitose.  Some say his father was a monk back in china, not so.  He worked at many jobs while in Hawaii, although he was not a “Sifu” of Gung Fu, he did teach his sons what he did know.  The Prof. also worked at a  local grocery store just restocking and sweeping up for the owner who was from Okinawa.  In exchange the owner would teach him some Okinawan Karate.  He would also travel to San Francisco (he had a brother and sister living there) and he would seek out all the old Gung Fu masters in town – he did this for over 10 yrs.

Prof. Chow was known for his precise movement and reaction both offensively as well as defensively, but probably he was best known for the amount of power he could display in his techniques.

– Professor James Muro