Sifu Carl Totton


Dr. Carl Totton was born in Los Angeles, California and has been continuously practicing the Chinese Martial Arts for over 55 years. He began training in 1963 when he was fifteen years old with Master John Leoning at the North American Kung fu-Karate Association. Leoning was a senior student of Sijo Adriano Emperado, one of the founders of Kajukenbo Chinese Kenpo Karate, and was also a senior student of Kung fu Grandmasters Ark Yuey Wong and Share K. Lew (Lew Kim Yuen). Prior to studying with Emperado, Leoning had studied with Grandmaster William K.S. Chow, a student of the Great Grandmaster of Kosho Ryu Kenpo, James Mitose. Sifu Totton’s initial training was in both Kajukenbo Kenpo Karate and Kung fu. His teacher Leoning was one of the first non-Chinese permitted to study Kung fu, then a secret art, in the late 1950’s from Grandmasters Ark Wong and Share Lew. Next in 1966, Sifu Totton became interested in the mind-force principles involved in Aikido and began studying with Sensei Isao Takahashi at the Los Angeles Aikikai. He was also able to meet and train with Master Koichi Tohei, 10th dan and the senior disciple of the legendary O’Sensei Morihei Uyeshiba, the founder of Aikido. Around the same time in 1967 he was introduced to Master Richard Wan (Wan Tak Kei) and began learning Yau Kung Moon Kung fu. Sifu Wan had studied in Hong Kong with Ha Kwok Cheung, son of the styles’ leader, Grandmaster Ha Hon Hung. That same year Totton began working out with several fellow martial artists who would all become lifelong friends, Sifus Douglas Wong, Tom Chan (then Ho), and Wilson Quan. Each had practiced various martial arts and they began training together for several hours per day on the Los Angeles City College (LACC) campus, then later in the evenings at local kung fu schools. They would go on to form the Sil Lum Kung Fu Association and introduce Chinese martial arts into karate tournament competition. This would eventuate in their Sil Lum Team winning an unprecedented 500 trophies within six months and thousands more over the years. Their team co-captains were the now very well known Sifus Albert Leong and James Lew who would go on to become highly recognized martial arts stunt actors in hundreds of films. Sifu Totton began studying with Grandmaster Ark Yuey Wong in LA’s Chinatown on Ord Street, as well as training with his senior disciple Master Ralph Shun and another Wong instructor, the giant Samoan Haumea “Tiny” Lefiti in Huntington Park. Prior to moving to the mainland, Ralph had studied in Hawaii at the highly regarded Gee Yung Chinese Physical Culture Association established by the famed Grandmaster Lum Dai Yung. There he trained in Sil Lum Fut ga, Northern and Tibetan White Crane, and in Tai Chi Chuan. Tiny had previously studied Mok ga kung fu while stationed in Taiwan in the Marine Corps. With Grandmasters Ark Wong and Ralph Shun, Totton studied the Five Family and Five Animals Style, while Tiny Lefiti focused on teaching him Mok ga and Monk Fist Boxing Kung Fu, combative principles, combat Tai Chi Chuan, and the newly emerging Polynesian-Chinese martial art of Limalama (the Hand of Wisdom), founded by his famous cousin, Grandmaster Tuumamao “Tino” Tuiolosega, also a student of both Ark Wong and Ed Parker, and a Marine Corp hand to hand combat instructor and military boxing champion. Over the years Totton would study Limalama privately with Grandmaster Tino after Tiny’s untimely death in 1973. Sifu Totton achieved the rank of Sifu or Instructor from each of his teachers, and a certificate of Di-Sifu or Senior Instructor from Grandmaster Ark Yuey Wong after many years of direct private instruction. He began teaching his own private students in 1970 after achieving his first black sash that year from Master Ralph Shun. In addition to this ongoing training, in 1970 Totton began learning with Grandmaster Share Lew, a temple trained Taoist priest who taught the Tao Tan Pai Taoist internal Kung Fu he’d learned at Wong Lung Kuan Monastery in Guangdong, China, and Choy Li Fut he’d learned from his uncle in San Francisco, the legendary Grandmaster Lao Bun of Hung Sing Choy Li Fut. From Sifu Lew, in addition to kung fu, Totton learned advanced qigong and neigong, meditation, iron palm, herbal medicine, Tai Chi Chih (ruler), spiritual studies, and tui na acupressure massage. These classes were held in North Hollywood at the Taoist Sanctuary, which was founded by the noted Taoist philosopher, author, scholar and actor, Dr. Khiegh Dhigh. Totton had originally begun learning Yang style Tai Chi Chuan with Ralph Shun, and continued studying Tai Chi Chuan at the Taoist Sanctuary with martial artist and actor, Sifu Chao Li Chi. In the mid-1970’s, yet another grandmaster moved to Southern California named Doo Wai. His specialty was Bak Fu Pai, the White Tiger style he’d learned in Hong Kong from his father. By the early 1980’s Totton was also studying privately with another master, Dr. York Why Loo at his home in all four main systems of Tai Chi Chuan: Yang, Chen, Wu, and Sun, and in the art of Lu Ho Ba Fa, the 6 Combinations and 8 Methods, also known as Water Boxing. During this time Sifu Totton became very close to Sr. Grandmaster Ed Parker, the legendary Kenpo master instructor through his old friend, GM Ron Chapel, a senior Parker disciple as well as a former student of Ark Wong. Totton spent years studying principle of combat privately with Mr. Parker at his Pasadena home. Totton was later introduced to the Filipino martial arts by Grandmaster Remy Presas, the father of Modern Arnis. He began an intensive study of the Chinese internal systems with the highly knowledgeable Grandmaster John Fey in many systems of kung fu, hsing-i, bagua, lu ho ba fa, qigong and neigong, and esoteric internal alchemy. He further refined his taijiquan skills by studying with Grandmasters Chen Xiao Wang, George Xu, and Zhang Xia Xin. Eventually Dr. Totton consolidated the many systems of martial, healing, and spiritual systems he had studied into a unique synthesis he calls The Core System. In 2005 he was promoted to the rank of Sijo, Founding Grandmaster, by the Whipping Willow Martial Arts Association under the leadership of the Great Grandmaster Ming Lum. He holds the rank of 9th Duan Black Belt from the Cloud Forest World Chinese Martial Arts Association, and is highly ranked in many martial art systems included Chinese Kenpo Karate, Kenpo Ju-Jitsu, Limalama, and American Ch’uan Fa. Sifu Totton was inducted into the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 2002, and into the Hall of Fame for the Martial Arts History Museum in 2011. Totton received the Legacy Award in 2017 from the Traditional Chinese Martial Arts Federation (TCMAF). His biography is featured in over twenty volumes of Who’s Who and was awarded three Presidential Sports Awards by President Bill Clinton. He was the kung fu teacher for actor Tobey Maguire, star of Spiderman. During the 1970’s, Sifu Totton produced and directed over eighty-five (85) martial arts training films then offered for sale. He was the Book Review Editor for Inside Kung Fu Magazine and a contributing writer. He currently markets training DVD’s on Chinese martial arts and Qigong, and CD’s on stress management. Professionally, Dr. Totton works as a licensed clinical and educational psychologist, and as a professor of psychology. He founded the Taoist Institute in North Hollywood in 1981 and has been in the same location ever since. In addition to the training center and a library, the location features one of the very few Taoist Temples in Southern California, the Zhong Fu Dao Kuan or the Inner Truths Way Temple. Dr. Totton is an Ordained Taoist Priest and Abbot. He is on the Board of Directors for several nonprofit agencies that serve children and families. Dr. Totton holds BS and MS degrees in Rehabilitation Counseling from California State University at Los Angeles (CSULA), and a PsyD (Doctor of Psychology) degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. His doctoral dissertation explored meditation as an altered state of consciousness. He is Professor and Chair of the Department of School Psychology at Phillips Graduate University in Chatsworth, and has taught at five different colleges and universities, including two schools of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. His specialty is the raising of consciousness through the integration of the mind, body, and spirit. He is an author and a poet, and co-hosts a popular podcast on Taoism called, What’s This Tao All About? available on iTunes and at Dr. Totton has a private practice as a consultant and psychotherapist for children, adolescents, and adults. Dr. Carl Totton is known in the Chinese community as “The Keeper of the Flame” for his ongoing support and preservation of the traditions of the Chinese Martial Arts. His favorite saying comes from Dr. Charles Richet who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine: “I didn’t say it was possible. I only said it was true”. Dr. Carl Totton teaches classes, workshops, and seminars at the Taoist Institute, located at 10630 Burbank Blvd, North Hollywood, CA, 91601. He may be contacted at (818)760-4219, or by email at His main website is, or by email at