Martin Sewer is the style heir of Hung Gar Kung Fu in the Chiu lineage. Although a Westerner, after many years of teaching and many trips to Hong Kong and later to California, Chiu Chi Ling publicly named him his successor in an interview.
Much of what I list here in this article I have so from conversations with my Sifu and hope that I reflect these things correctly.
Childhood and youth
Martin Sewer was born on 19.11.1972 in Adliswil ZH. Martial arts and combat sports interested him from an early age and he went in and out of schools at a young age. He often completed several lessons in a row in different, mainly Japanese arts. However, none of them really bound him.
When he attended a seminar of Chiu Chi Ling as a teenager, he experienced a completeness of the system that he had not encountered before. From this experience grew the decision to become a disciple of that same Chiu Chi Ling. He wrote again to Hong Kong, but he received no answer. Not even the second, third or even fourth letter. It became more and more clear that this strategy would not lead to the goal. For Martin Sewer, however, this was not the reason to give up. Instead, he booked a flight to Hong Kong and traveled without further ado to Kowloon to present his request directly to the master.
As a disciple of Chiu Chi Ling
In Hong Kong, he knocked on the door of the Chiu family and immediately came face to face with Chiu Kow. The latter did not speak English, but Martin Sewer did not speak Chinese either, but with hands and feet the young Swiss managed to explain to the Kung Fu legend that he was looking for his son. When the latter was then called in by his father, he knew exactly to whom he was speaking. He had probably read the letters, but had not answered them. In the end, it was the duty of the student to come to the master and not the other way around.
From that day on, Martin Sewer was taught by Chiu Chi Ling. This meant eight hours of hard training a day. Martin Sewer was certainly fit and in good shape by this time, having trained martial arts for years, but what he had to perform was a different level.
As a special event my Sifu told about how he asked Chiu Chi Ling what he should call him. The latter replied, mutatis mutandis, “You can call me Mister Chiu or Sifu.” Martin Sewer decided on Sifu, even though he must not have been aware of what that meant there.
Of course, his time in Hong Kong was limited, but for years he saved all his money at a time, only to be able to spend a few weeks with his teacher again to learn more. Until Chiu Chi Ling emigrated to the United States in 1997, that meant traveling to Hong Kong, then to California.
The road to his own school
In 1992, Martin Sewer earned the title of Sifu from his teacher and was allowed to open a school himself. However, this proved to be difficult. Disagreements, the wrong partners, too little income… He had to deal with the problems that so many new businesses in Switzerland have. But even at that, giving up was not an option. In 1993, he founded the school that still exists today, now called ‘Kung Fu School Sewer’.
With heart and soul, patience and hard work Martin Sewer expanded his school to more and more branches. Supported by his master students and his cadre, which continued to grow, he succeeded in building up the largest Kung Fu school in Switzerland with ten locations today. On this way there were many important stations and milestones, which I know however mainly from lists and do not want to list here simply once more.
Martin Sewer actively teaches in the regular advanced classes and seminars.
Dissemination of Hung Gar
Just like his teacher, Martin Sewer attaches great importance to spreading Hung Gar throughout the world. As many people as possible should have the opportunity to learn this art and improve their lives with it. Thus, he himself has taught many students in different countries and has also organized many trips of his teacher so that as many people as possible can learn from him.
In the context of the Corona epidemic starting in 2020, Martin Sewer has also begun digitizing his training program. Initially, the lessons were streamed on Facebook and Youtube. The many views of these videos have shown Martin Sewer that the digital way allows access to Hung Gar for many more people. As a result, he decided not only to record individual lessons and techniques, but to make structured training available online. This resulted in the multilingual learning program e-Kung Fu, which is constantly growing.
In an interview with Alfredo Tucchi, the editor-in-chief of Budo International, Chiu Chi Ling revealed that his student Martin Sewer, who was also present at the interview, would succeed him.