H i s t o r y
The time: nearly fifty years ago. The place: lawless streets of Hawaii. The man: William Kwai Sun Chow, who later is known in the martial arts world as Professor William "Thunderbolt" K.S. Chow.
As years went on Professor Chow's amazing fighting style and reputation travels through-out the world, yet very little is known of the man himself. From the 60's through the 80's, more and more martial artists flocked to Hawaii to obtain training from him, yet very few lasted his brutal style of training.
Professor Chow learned and started his martial arts training with his father, an immigrant from Shanghai, China where he was a Buddhist Priest in the temples thereof. Priest Hoon Chow taught his son, William, the ways of Zen as taught in the Temples of China. The training was intense yet William felt that the training ways of his father was not practical in the streets of Hawaii and so he started to design the training techniques and methods to fit a unique fighting style, which worked as a street defense. His father journeyed back to China so William sought after others that he could train with, and in Hawaii at that time was a martial artist named James Mitose. Mitose ran a Kenpo-Jujitsu dojo (taken from Mitose's book titled; What is Self- defense? Copyright 1953) and Chow soon became a part of that dojo. It is often said that Chow learned all he had from Mitose, but men who trained with both, agree that Mitose ran the business side of it all and was a very intellectual person, while Chow was the Technician and trained others in the hand to hand portion of the arts. The union was short and soon both men parted their ways with Mitose having his system known as the Koshoryu Kenpo and Chow named his system Chinese Kempo of Kara-Ho Karate. Both men had their own following. As Chow started to teach in various areas of the island he acquired several students who had become quite well known in the martial arts world today. Some of these men were Edmond Parker, Adriano Emparado and Sam Kuoha. Many other martial artists sought after Chow's teachings and have also made claims to being a strong part of his leaneage. Because of his explosive and rapid firing of techniques to the vital areas of the body, he was referred to as the man that struck like a thunderbolt. This stuck and he was nicknamed, Thunderbolt.His perserverance in the arts of constantly innovating to make one better was pushed unto one of his students, Sam Alama Kuoha. Kuoha's martial arts career started at the age of four when he was trained by his Uncle, Sensei Joe Mack Makahilahila, who was also taking care of him at that time. As he grew older the fasination was even more apparent as he watched his father, also Sam Kuoha, a full blooded Hawaiian who trained in the Hawaiian Art called, "Lua". The translation of Lua is referred to as "bonecrushing" and indeed it was so. At the age of 10, while training in Judo at the local YMCA, he observed a karate class going on, and after watching it for a while, he approached his mother to take lessons. After a couple of years in Judo, he was introduced to a karate instructor, named Charles Kuheana. As things would turn out, Kuheana was a protege of Chow's. Kuoha ended up living in the same home set up as a Buddhist Temple, along with 5 other students training nearly 10 hours daily. Kuheana started Kuoha in the Chinese Kenpo System. The meeting of Kuoha and Chow occurred several times during when the training was held at the Salvation Army Gym. The training of Chow was tough and demanding and for this reason he rarely taught the younger generation. Unlike Chow, Kuheana was extremely patient and understanding with the students. Kuoha assisted Kuheana at the gym teaching others and at times had almost 100 students.
After high school, Kuoha got married and moved to back to an area where he lived originally all his life, called the Kalihi Area, known as a tough neighborhood and which he grew up as a youngster. There he met with Professor Chow, who only lived the very next street away. Kuoha's dream of becoming a law enforcement officer was starting to fade as in Hawaii at that time a strict height and weight requirement was enforced (at 21 years old, Kuoha stood 5' 10" and weighed a mere 135 #). Kuoha did in fact have an opportunity to train the new officers in hand to hand combat, (better known as defensive techtics). As things would have it, Kuoha moved to California and started training in various systems to include Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu and an art that he truly loves for the internal teachings, Aikido. Being homesick for the Kenpo Art, he made several calls to Hawaii, but no-one knew of the where-abouts of Chow. In the middle 70's, he received a call from his mother, who was a friend of Patsy Chow, and Professor Chow was finally located and was willing to speak to Kuoha. It should be noted that all efforts during this time to contact Kuheana again proved futile. Kuoha flew back to Hawaii and spent a few weeks with Professor Chow. He had no regular students at that time. Kuoha started to train again with Professor Chow and having the ability to take several vacations during the year, he did so (as a law enforcement officer he built a lot of compensatory time and would have between 8-10 weeks each year). The training was intense and visits with his own family was very scarce. In a 3 week period, Kuoha and Chow would spend everyday from 9 AM to 10:00 PM. Kuoha wanted to become dedicated and wanted to prove to not only himself, but to Professor Chow that he was exactly that, a dedicated student.
Professor at times would relay the disatisfaction of many people who came to visit him for a few hours and then he would hear that they were making claims of being a dedicated and devoted students of his, and he was very upset with them. As of September, 1987 at the untimely passing of Professor William K.S. Chow, Kuoha was still and today remains a dedicated and devoted student. Kuoha trained with Professor Chow just 5 weeks prior to his death and at this time Chow had the opportunity to meet with Kuoha's Daughter, Ka'imipono Renaye Kwai Sun, a child whom Chow wanted named after him. On this visit, he brightly whispered to Ka'imi that she continue training and someday take over his system.