Let's start with the very historical version….
The Chin Woo (Athletic) Association (sometimes spelled Jin Woo, Jing Woo or Ching Woo) was originally founded in Shanghai in March of 1909 by Master Huo Yuan-Jia of Tientsin China. Chin Woo means “The Essence of Martial Arts”. The “Cloud Forest” Chin Woo Martial Arts Association was established in 1996 in the USA as a non-profit organization by Grandmaster David E. Wei Kash, under the auspices of the Hong Kong Chin Woo Athletic Federation and registered with the Shanghai Chin Woo Athletic Federation. Now it is in the hands of Sifu Michael Johnson, as he works to combine the more modern day interpretations and styles into the traditional Shaolin system.
The purpose of the Cloud Forest Chin Woo Association is to benefit human health and society, and to disseminate martial arts worldwide, the primary focus being to research the sciences of the Martial Arts as well as Eastern medicine, acupressure, massage, and health sciences both domestic and foreign. The Cloud Forest Chin Woo Association wishes to promote the gifts that the eastern cultures have to offer, and educate individuals and/or groups about those gifts, including creating an environment where underprivileged children and families may experience and utilize the various Martial Arts systems. We believe this is the true spirit of Chin Woo, as envisioned by Huo Yuan Jia.
Traditionally, the responsibility of training and teaching both medical and martial skills fell upon the shoulders of the Shaolin and Wu Tang temples. It is upon these principles and concepts that we have founded our organization and college, seeking to revive individuals whom have the experience and knowledge of past masters, in order to start a new era of “real” and respectable Chinese martial artists and medical practitioners.
Now, more modern day….
Here's a bit of school history. As you'll read in other places on our site, we are a school of many things. It's best to say that we are a collaborated community of like-minded martial arts masters who want to see the arts spread and grow. Our school really has two origin stories.
Sensei Sally Cochran (of Equine Kingdom Riding Academy) and Michael Johnson, Sifu founded Greensboro Martial Arts Academy in 2013. They brought together a modern arts school teaching Kung Fu and San Shin Kai Karate. Both of them had a love for the martial arts because they had fantastic teachers growing up in life. Sensei Sally Cochran wanted to give back to the world much the same kind of support and encouragement she had found in her SanShinKai teacher, who had passed away in 2006, Grandmaster Richard Gilliland. While Sifu Michael Johnson had a love for Kung Fu and various other systems he had studied over the years.
Let's look at the school's history in different parts, to show you more specifically how it had become…it's origin story, if you will.
Grandmaster Richard Gilliland was one of the first students under Grandmaster & system founder, Jan Wellendorf. The system taught to Grandmaster Richard Gilliland was SanShinKai Karate. SanshinKai means the “Three Power Society” (body, mind & soul)…or also known as the “Three Treasures Family”. GM Richard Gilliland had a long history in the military as he served as a proud American who understood his duty was to his country and his family. He, Grandmaster Tim Pope, and Grandmaster Larry Isaac, were close in their training and often worked together as they brought the students from their own schools in huge boot camps each year. It was from this kind of environment that Sensei Sally Cochran happened into when she moved to North Carolina as a teenager. GM Richard Gilliland loved to train kids and teens, keeping them active and involved the whole time they were there to train. He was also known as a ‘godzilla' of a man…strong and tall in stature, he would often carry a huge battle axe around with him in classes, or perform with it at demonstrations. He had a bit of flare for the dramatic as he would often light cinderblocks on fire as they hung suspended from chains, and using either the battle axe, or his fists, he would pound a massive blow through the fiery cinderblocks erupting his crowd into applause.
Sensei Sally Cochran quickly learned as a teen she could look up to GM Richard Gilliland and began teaching as an assistant to his little dragon's classes. Through these years she developed a strong sense of leadership, responsibility and how to enjoy and have fun with the children. When GM Richard Gilliland passed away in 2006, he left behind a void that wasn't quite ever filled again. Even though the school in Kernersville was taken over by one of the senior students, the enthusiasm “Mr. G” brought into it couldn't be relived.
This is why Sensei Sally Cochran decided it was time to give back to the world some of the fun energy that “Mr. G” had created for her, and why she decided it was time to create Greensboro Martial Arts Academy, dedicated to the memory of Grandmaster, Richard Gilliland.
Sifu Michael Johnson is from a different kind of background, starting out as an early teenager with Blue Ridge Kung Fu & Arnis Academy, under the guidance of Grandmaster Rick Ward, Boone North Carolina. Michael's primary teacher was Grandmaster Chris Laing, who owned the schools in Mountain City, Tennessee; West Jefferson, NC, and Damascus, Virginia. It was here that Sifu Michael learned the foundations of what would carry him into decades of study.
Grandmaster Rick Ward had many teachers, all grandmasters at their trade, but one in particular, Grandmaster Sifu David Kash stood out from the rest as someone who carried much authority in dozens of arts, including acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. And when Sifu Michael became a disciple under Grandmaster David Kash, things got interesting.
Grandmaster David Kash has been a martial arts instructor for 54 years as of the year 2020. He trained with some of the most powerful and knowledgeable martial arts teachers, including Ark Wong, Wetzel, Laoning and Grandmaster Shu. While he may have been good friends with most of his teachers, he found a father-figure in the latter of all the other teachers, Grandmaster Chao Yuh Feng. GM Feng has a long history of his own, but for now we will concentrate on what is pertinent to this school's development.
Grandmaster David Kash was given the Inheritor title from Grandmaster Chao Yuh Feng in the early 1990's, after years of study. In 1996, surrounding the time of Master Chao Yuh Feng's death, Sifu David Kash was asked to take over GM Feng's Cloud Forest Chin Woo Association & College. Having his PhD in martial sciences and a doctorate in Chinese Medicines, Sifu Kash took on the extra responsibilities of building up the school and it's students. For almost two decades, Sifu Kash has taught hundreds of students, leading only a handful to Black Belt status and beyond.
Meanwhile, Sensei Sally Cochran retired her position as head instructor of Greensboro Martial Arts Academy, and placed the ownership over to Sifu Michael, as she decided to pursue her other businesses, Equine Kingdom Riding Academy, and her publishing company, Equine Kingdom Publishing, with more time and attention. She remains to this day as a valuable guest teacher and advisor to the school. If you get the chance, check out her horse riding academy: www.equinekingdom.com
In 2019, Grandmaster David Kash retired from the Martial College and asked Sifu Michael to take over the college and association as President. Now, under Sifu Michael Johnson, the two schools have merged to the Greensboro Location as Cloud Forest Chin Woo College of Martial Sciences. But let's just say Cloud Forest Martial Arts for short effective communication. 🙂
Everything the traditional college taught, we still teach, but we've added many of the more modern martial arts styles to better help students find the right ‘fit'. We do not believe that every student is meant to study Kung Fu, nor Karate, but we offer professionally ranked training in almost two dozen systems to make certain that anyone can find something that ‘clicks for them'. The academy has been fortunate to have so many talented martial arts masters come and join our ranks, adding to the idea that martial arts should be built on community and partnership. Please take the time to check out our instructor's page so you can read about how wonderful each teacher truly is at our academy.
Here's a basic breakdown:
Okinawan Goju & Okinawan Kempo
Shaolin, Dragon, Baguazhang, Xingyi, Taijiquan, Emperor's Long Fist, Natural Fist, Guardian Fist, Running Fist
Modern Arnis (Filipino), Japanese Traditional & Chinese Traditional
Western Boxing Training
Shuai Jiao & Judo
What kind of martial artist do you wish to become?
Tournament stylist? We attend tournaments, but they are not required.
Modern Day Warrior or Martial Scholar?
We certainly have you covered in what we offer.
Just after the art of defending yourself? We have some quick and dirty techniques you learn in our self defense based systems.
How about just the community and exercise portion? There's no better way to gain muscle and lose weight as you exercise without feeling like you are doing so, and being with your new friends while doing it.