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Like other southern Chinese martial arts, Choy Lee Fut features Five Animal techniques based on the tiger, dragon, crane, leopard, and snake but is distinguished from other southern styles by long, swinging, circular movements and twisting body motions more indicative of northern styles.

As a Southern Shaolin style with Five Animal techniques, Hung Kuen is a close relative of Choy Lee Fut and is said by some Choy Lee Fut branches to be the style that Chan Yuen-Wu taught founder Chan Heung. The stances of Choy Lee Fut are as wide as those of Hung Kuen, but higher—though not as high as those of Wing Chun, another southern Chinese martial art—trading off some of the stability and root of Hung Kuen stances to allow more mobile footwork. In order to generate the characteristic whipping power of Choy Lee Fut, the hips and shoulders must be decoupled. Though Hung Kuen also features whipping power, particularly in its crane techniques, the hips and the shoulders are more frequently locked in the same plane, resulting in a "harder" form of power. Hung Gar and Wing Chun both hold the torso perpendicular to an opponent, to allow for the full use of both arms. By contrast, Choy Lee Fut holds the torso at an angle to the opponent to reduce the target area exposed to him.

Choy Lee Fut is a characterized as a "soft-hard", "external" style. The curriculum was designed so that anti-Qing rebels could quickly gain practical proficiency and also incorporates a wide range of weapons. Several common movements have specific sounds associated with them—for example, "yik" when throwing punches and "dik" when kicking—supposedly so that friendly forces could recognize each other in battle and to force the practitioner to coordinate his breathing patterns with his movements.

Like many martial arts, Choy Lee Fut has diverged into several lineages that differ not only in terms of training and emphasis but also on what they see as the true history of the style. There are three main branches of Choy Lee Fut.

  • The Hung Sing (洪聖) [1] lineage of the Chan family
  • The Hung Sing (鴻勝) [2] lineage of Cheung Yim
  • The Buk Sing (北勝) [3] lineage of Tarm Sarm

The popularity of Choy Lee Fut is strong in Hong Kong, Canada, the United States, and growing elsewhere. In the late 20th century, the style was popularized in the Canada and the United States by such masters as Wong Ha, Doc Fai Wong (黄德輝), Lee Koon Hung, and Tat Mau Wong (王達謀).


Chan Heung (陳享) [4] was born in Guangdong Province, China in 1805 or 1806. At the age of six or seven, he began to study Kung Fu from his uncle, Chan Yuen-Wu (陳遠護), [5] a master of Southern Shaolin. So proficient as an adolescent that he could defeat any challenger from nearby villages, Chan Heung was ready to learn more. So he began training under another Southern Shaolin master, Lee Yau-San (李友山), [6] founder of Lee Gar, the Lee Family style. After only four or five years of training, it became apparent that Chan Heung was ready to move on once again. So Chan Heung set out to find Choy Fook (蔡褔), [7] who is said to have been a monk on on Luofu Mountain. After several years of training under Choy Fook, Chan Heung returned to his home village of Ging Mui (京梅) [8] in the county of Xinhui.

The history of the Cheung Yim lineage

Cheung Yim (張炎) [9] was an orphan cared for by his uncle. When Cheung Yim was twelve, his uncle had obligations that meant he would no longer be able to take care of Cheung Yim.

So he took Cheung Yim to his old friend Chan Heung in the hope that Chan would be able to take the boy in as a live-in student. However, village rules forbade Chan Heung from teaching martial arts to non-family members. Unable to take care of the boy by accepting him as a student, Chan Heung instead hired Cheung Yim to do odd jobs at his martial arts school. Cheung Yim took the opportunity to observe Chan Heung’s lessons and practiced in secret what he had gleaned (cf. Yang Luchan). One night, Chan Heung came upon Cheung Yim practicing. Impressed by the boy’s motivation, Chan Heung taught him secretly for several years before the other villagers found out and expelled Cheung Yim.

So in 1831, at the age of seventeen, Cheung Yim left Ging Mui, but not before Chan Heung gave him a letter of introduction and instructions to seek out the monk Ching Cho (青草) [10] at the Zhajian Temple on Mount Bapai in Guangxi Province. Absent the distractions of secular life, Cheung Yim was able to give himself over completely to the things that the monk Ching Cho had to impart: his knowledge of Fut Gar Kung Fu and traditional Chinese medicine, a commitment to the overthrow of the foreign Manchu Qing Dynasty, and a new name, Hung-Sing (鴻勝), which reflected that patriotic ideal.

Cheung, now Cheung Hung-Sing, returned to Chan Heung and shared with his first teacher the things he had learned from his second. Chan Heung hired Cheung once again, this time as a teacher rather than as a menial/clandestine student, enabling Cheung to stay for the year or two until he left to open his own school in Foshan in 1839. Because it incorporated the Choy Gar style from Choy Fook, the Lee Gar style from Lee Yau-San, and the Fut Gar style from the monk Ching Cho, their new style became known as Choy Lee Fut.

The history of the Chan Family lineage

The traditions of the Chan Family lineage maintain that the Fut Gar component of Choy Lee Fut came not from the monk Ching Cho, who is held to be either fictitious or identified with Choy Fook, but from Chan Yuen-Wu, and that Chan Heung created Choy Lee Fut by himself from the knowledge he obtained from Chan Yuen-Wu, Lee Yau-San, and Choy Fook.

The history of the Buk Sing branch

One day, the school of Cheung Yim's student Lui Charn (雷粲) [11] was visited by a fifteen-year-old Hung Kuen practitioner named Tarm Sarm (譚三), [12] who asked to spar with one of the students. Tarm Sarm's reaction to his defeat by Lui Charn's student was to insist on sparring with Lui Charn himself. After dealing Tarm Sarm his second defeat, Lui Charn accepted the scrappy young man as a student. Tarm Sarm dedicated himself to learning Choy Lee Fut and, after only a few short years, became of Lui Charn's assistant instructors.

Tarm Sarm remained as pugnacious as the day he first entered Lui Charn's school and, one day, got into a fight with one of his teacher's junior classmates and two of that classmate's relatives, forcing Lui Charn to expel him before his training was complete.

The expulsion did nothing to curb Tarm Sarm's aggressiveness. In challenge matches instead of a classroom, Tarm Sarm built the reputation of his Kung Fu with victory after victory. He left his home in Kaiping County and, in the neighborhood of Siu Buk (小北) in Guangzhou, opened his own school, which was known as the Buk Sing Gwoon (北勝館).

The three sources of Choy Lee Fut Choy Fook 蔡褔

Depending on the branch of Choy Lee Fut, Choy Fook is said to have been a master either of Northern Shaolin or of Choy Gar (蔡家), [13] which was created by Choy Gau-Yee and is said to have the longest range of the five major family styles of the southern Chinese martial arts.

Either way, Choy Fook is considered a source of Choy Lee Fut's long-range northern characteristics like its swift, mobile footwork.

Lee Yau-San 李友山

Said to be a student of Jee Sin, Lee Yau-San is known not only as a teacher of Chan Heung, but as the founder of Lee Gar (李家) [14] which, like Choy Gar, is one of the five major family styles of the southern Chinese martial arts.

The prominence of the leopard punch hand formation within Choy Lee Fut may be the influence of Lee Gar, a middle-range style which emphasizes leopard techniques.

Fut Gar 佛家

Fut Gar (佛家), [15] literally "Buddha Family," specializes in palm techniques and for this reason is also known as Buddha Family Palm, Buddhist Palm, or Buddha Palm. Both the left and right hand are used in attack and defence. Long and short-range footwork is employed.

The Chan Family branch

Chan Heung at seven years old began learning martial arts under his uncle Chan Yuen Woo. Yuen Woo was a famed master from Shaolin Temple, and taught his nephew the Buddha Style Fist or Fut Ga Kuen. After years of study with his uncle, Chan Heung had become a consummate warrior by the early age of 15. To further his skills, Chan became a student of Lee Yau San, a Shaolin practitioner of the Lee Family Fist. Yau San was Yuen Woo's sihing or elder brother at Shaolin Temple. Becoming proficient in the Lee Family style, Chan Heung was then referred to the Shaolin monk Choi Fook to further his martial arts knowledge. After years of intensive study with the Buddhist recluse, Chan Heung revised what he had learned and formed a new system. He combined his knowledge of 3 martial arts systems and called it "Choi Lee Fut" in honour of his teachers. Three styles that constitute Choi Lee Fut are as follows. Chan Yuen Woo and the Buddha Style Fist Chan Heung learned the Buddha Style Fist, or Fat Ga Kuen, from his uncle Chan Yuen Woo. Yuen Woo was a famed master of Shaolin Temple. The Fut Ga Kuen style specializes in palm techniques. Both the left and right hand are used in attack and defence. Long and short-range footwork is employed.

Chan Family Choy Lee Fut emphasizes a soft, loose, flexible waist and faces the opponent at an angle to reduce the target area exposed. It is a system of both Kung Fu and Qigong which was developed by the founder Chan Heung. Chen Yong Fa, is Chan Heung's great, great grandson and lives in Australia.

The Cheung Yim branch

Though still characterized by the whipping power indicative of Choy Lee Fut, the Cheung Yim branch maintains a closer alignment between the hips and the shoulders, imparting a "hardness" to its power, though not to the extent of Hung Kuen.

The Buk Sing branch

Because it split off from the Cheung Yim lineage before founder Tarm Sarm could complete his training, the Buk Sing lineage features a shorter syllabus comprising only a handful of routines—Sup Jee Kuen (十字拳), Ping Kuen (平拳), Kau Da (扣打), Seung Gaap Daan Gwun (雙夾單棍)—as compared to the dozens in the syllabuses of the other branches.

The incompleteness of Tarm Sarm's training did nothing to diminish his fighting prowess. As such, the emphasis of Buk Sing Choy Lee Fut on combat rather than routines reflects the proclivities and training of its founder.

One example of Tarm Sarm's approach is the "side body" (偏身) stance, which takes the idea of reducing one's exposed target area by turning the torso to its logical conclusion: turning the torso 90° away from the opponent.

Jeung1 Hung4 Sing1

Fat1 Ga1 Jeung2

Buddhist Palm; literally "Buddha Family Palm"

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Choy Lee Fut ( - ) (2011)

choi lee

Sammo Hung Kam-Bo , Sammy Hung Tin-Chiu , Yuen Wah , Kane Kosugi, Steven Wong Ka-Lok , Wang Jia-Yin, Lau Wing-Kin, Dennis To Yue-Hong , Lau Kar-Wing , Su Qianwei, Ian Powers , Sam Wong Ming-Sing

Grander ambitions aside, Choy Lee Fut does possess positives – though they’re scattered throughout a marginally diverting tale of a boy, his father and the kung-fu tournament he simply must win. Sammo Hung offspring Sammy Chen stars as Jie, who leaves the UK (doubled by UK-themed China development Thames Town) to return to his family’s Choy Lee Fut school in China. However, the school’s future is uncertain: the mega-conglomerate Pan-American Group has closed a deal to buy the school, with the apparent consent of the school’s master and Jie’s father Chen Tien-Lai (Sammo Hung, in little more than an extended cameo). Sadly, Tien-Lai is not around to clear things up, so Jie can only protest while his uncle Chen Tien-Hong (Yuen Wah in a hilarious and knowing performance) looks on inscrutably. But Jie gets his chance anyway; Pan-American offers Jie control of the school if he triumphs in a martial arts tourney. Can Jie win for the glory of Choy Lee Fut?

Of course he can, and that’s exactly what he does! That sounds like a spoiler, but really, what would you expect from your average commercial film, especially one so obviously mediocre as Choy Lee Fut? In terms of creativity or originality, the film has zero going for it. The rousing kung-fu storyline and father-son dynamic work only in a perfunctory fashion – though both are stronger than the movie’s cheesy romance, between Jie and Pan-American exec Xia Yu-Fei (Wang Jia-Yin). Their courtship consists of secret glances, flirtatious sparring and a laughable day-long date where the two engage in more activities than most couples do in a year. Making their date even funnier are the frequent cutaways to Jie’s romantic and martial arts rival Zuo Zhang-Hong (Steven Wong Ka-Lok of L For Love, L For Lies), who sits in Yu-Fei’s office for about eight hours checking his watch. The rampant homoeroticism, laughably evil bad guys and Yuen Wah’s bemused, self-aware performance only add to the film’s inadvertent laughs. This could be a candidate for comedy of the year.

Choy Lee Fut is so lamely put together that it barely qualifies as C-grade moviemaking. Lousy dialogue and bad dubbing (Kane Kosugi, who plays Jie’s Japanese pal Ken, inexplicably switches between English and Cantonese) only enhance the low-budget early-nineties feel of the film. Thankfully, the fighting is decent. Five out of the six featured fighters in Choy Lee Fut have real martial arts training, among them Kane Kosugi, co-director Sam Wong, and martial arts actor Ian Powers (playing a character named, uh, “X-Man”). Sadly, the climactic fight between Sammy Hung and Steven Wong is a letdown because Wong is not a martial artist and is only made to appear like one through doubling and editing. Wong is the best-looking actor in the film, so it’s easy to figure out why he was cast. It’s likely that some producer or investor wanted an actor who could sell a spiky hairdo and boy band goatee to female audiences. This sort of filmmaking via marketing is commonplace, but it may have been poor judgment for Choy Lee Fut, as mainstream crossover was a pipe dream anyway. Better to just amp the fighting to make the fanboys happy.

Choy Lee Fut is still somewhat watchable, though mostly for genre fans who dig fighting and can forgive the routine or substandard quality of everything else. The added bonus for fight fans is the film’s martial arts legacy, starting with Sammo Hung and Yuen Wah and extending through much of the cast. Co-director Sam Wong has worked with Jackie Chan numerous times (Wong’s fight with Chan in Supercop is famous), though he never really hit the big time on his own. Veteran action director and actor Lau Kar-Wing also makes an appearance, and his son Lau Wing-Kin plays one of Sammy Hung’s elders at the Choy Lee-Fut school. Rising martial arts star Dennis To (The Legend is Born – Ip Man) even gets a green screen-assisted cameo. All this martial arts talent may seem wasted on a movie like Choy Lee Fut, but hey, at least they’re working. Given the moribund state of the martial arts genre, it would be bad form to hold Choy Lee Fut against any of them. So we won't, and will choose to enjoy it for what it is. (Kozo 2011)

Vicol Entertainment Ltd.

16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen

Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks

Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1

Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc

Choy Lee Fut

Choy Lee Fut

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Current user rating: 85/100 (7 votes)

  • Movie: Choy Lee Fut
  • Chinese: 蔡李佛
  • Director:Tony Law, Sam Wong
  • Writer:
  • Producer:
  • Cinematographer:
  • Release Date: April 7, 2011
  • Runtime: 92 minutes
  • Language: Cantonese
  • Country: Hong Kong

Two best friends travel to the East to learn Choy Lee Fut and get more than they bargained for! Bewildered graduate, Wei Yip (played by Sammo Hung’s son in real life, Timmy Hung) and his best friend Takeda (Kane Kosugi) head from Europe to China to learn a particular Southern China style of kung fu, Choy Lee Fut.

They enroll in a martial arts school run by Wei Yips uncle, Master Chen. It's not long before they find trouble which comes in the form of a rival martial arts school, backed by a powerful financial company that has forced Master Chen into a fight tournament.

The financial company will take over Master Chens' martial arts school if they can't prove themselves at the tournament and so the task to save the school falls on Wei Yip and Takeda, complicated by the romantic link between Wei Yip and a beautiful female fighter from the rival school. -- Terracotta Far East Film Festival

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Film Festivals
  • 2011 (3rd) Terracotta Far East Film Festival - May 5-8, 2011 *European Premiere
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James Yang Apr 08 2017 1:47 am Does anyone know the song that plays when Wang Jiayin's character Xia Yufei dances in the movie. Really want to find it!

History Choy Lee Fut, Choy Lee Fut San Diego

Choy Lee Fut San Diego History Choy Lee Fut

This is the History of Choy Lee Fut as toldby Master Chen Yong Fa, the direct descendant of Chan Hueng the founder of the Choy Lee Fut system of Chinese Kung Fu.

This article was previously published in ‘Inside Kung Fu Magazine

This is the first time a direct descendant of Chan Heung, the founder of Choy Lee Fut has written publicly on the origin of the art based on documents kept within the family. It is important that the correct historical information be recorded and kept for a major system of martial arts such as Choy Lee Fut, especially when the tradition is still alive and well within the reach of its followers. Although Choy Lee Fut is a relatively modern style by Chinese standards (most of its practitioners would be only sixth or seventh generation students), its roots can be traced back to the Shaolin temple and as such, the knowledge it contains can give a vital insight into the teachings of the original Shaolin martial arts.

Now that a member of the Chan family is in a position to speak out and offer his family knowledge to the world, it is hoped that others in the Choy Lee Fut fraternity worldwide will rally to his call and help to strengthen and to spread this system of authentic Shaolin martial arts.

My name is Chen Yong Fa, and I am a fifth generation direct descendant of Chan Heung – the founder of Choy Lee Fut. I was born in Kwangchow (Canton), China. At the age of four, my grandfather, Chan Yiu Chi, and my father,

Chan Wan Hon, taught me the art of Choy Lee Fut. By recalling conversations with elders of the family, and by reference to the writings of my ancestors, I hope to write briefly in this article the origins of Choy Lee Fut so that others may have a better understanding of our system of martial arts.

Chan Heung’s First Two Teachers My great-great-grandfather, Chan Heung was from the village Ging Mui2 in the district of Ngi Sai, the county of Sun Wui, in the Kwuntung province. From the age of seven, Chan Heung was taught martial arts by his uncle/village elder3, Chan Yuen Wu.

Although only a boy, Chan Heung was strong and quick to learn. He had a natural ability and quickly succeeded in gaining the affection of his uncle, who spared no effort in teaching him all that he knew. Within a few years Chan Heung’s kung fu had made such remarkable progress that he was invited to set up his own school for his uncle in the town of Sun Wui.

As time passed, and his reputation began to soar, he gained many students. One day he discovered that another instructor by the name of Lee Yau Shan had been invited to teach in the neighbourhood. Lee was a disciple of the Shaolin monk Jin Sin, and his skill was said to be formidable. Chan Heung, being strong willed and a lover of a good fight, decided to test his skills. He ambushed Lee as he was leaving a restaurant and tried to throw him to the ground by putting both his arms around Lee’s waist. However, Lee took the attack calmly, bent his knees slightly, and lowered his chi and centre of gravity in such a way that no matter how hard Chan

Heung tried, he could not make Lee budge. Lee then spun around, lifted his foot to trip and kick at the same time, and threw him yards away. Lee was rather curious about his assailant upon seeing that Chan Heung was able to leap up uninjured after his fall. Lee complimented Chan Heung, then demanded to know what school he belonged to, and the reason for attacking him in such a sneaky fashion rather than challenging him properly to a fight. Chan Heung felt ashamed, and replied that the attack was his own idea in an attempt to test the inadequacy of his own skill, and that he did not want to implicate his teacher for his own defeat. Lee, amused at this reply, left Chan Heung in his bewilderment.

Days later, Chan Heung learned that Lee had remarked that someone as young and strong as Chan Heung, with such intelligence and ability, was wasting his life and talent because vanity prevented him from improving his skill. Chan Heung then realised the truth, that there was no limit to the art of kung fu, and he immediately resigned from his post as Chief Instructor, enrolling in Lee’s school instead. Chan Heung was Lee’s disciple for five years, and took his skill to a new height.

The Monk Choy Fook

One day, Lee Yau Shan and Chan Heung heard of a recluse monk by the name of Choy Fook, who was living in a temple on Mount Law Fou. This monk was renown for his skill in Chinese medicine. Lee told Chan Heung that if the monk was so skilful in dit da (treatment of muscular and skeletal injuries), he must also be skilful in martial arts. Bitten by the bug of curiosity, Lee and Chan decided to visit this monk immediately. On reaching the temple gate, they encountered a man, old in years, yet tall and muscular with a penetrating gaze. He claimed that he was a disciple of monk Choy Fook and invited the two visitors to enter the temple and take some tea with him while waiting for his teacher’s return from his daily rounds.

Lee Yau Shan got up and walked to the side of the old man’s stone rice grinder … and kicked the rice grinder clean off the ground. The old man watched with amusement. He then walked up to the rice grinder and chopped off a corner of the top slab, pulverising it with his bare hands and throwing the powder in front of Lee.

While the two visitors were seated, the old man proceeded to chop the wood to boil the water, doing so with his bare hands4. Lee’s curiosity was aroused. He commented to Chan Heung that this old mans kung fu was quite good, and that if he was showing off for their benefit it meant they must reply with some of their own tricks. Lee got up and walked to the side of a stone rice grinder5 that was lying next to the temple steps. He first loosened the soil around the stone slabs, then stood back and kicked the rice grinder clean off the ground. The old man watched with amusement. He then walked up to the rice grinder and chopped off a corner of the top slab, pulverising it with his bare hands and throwing the powder in front of Lee, announcing that he was indeed Choy Fook and that the powder was a memento for intruders who did not behave in proper manner.

Lee, filled with respect for Choy Fook, thanked the old man and left immediately, leaving Chan Heung behind to deal with the situation. Being a guileless young man devoted to martial arts, Chan Heung realised that this was an opportunity to further his training under another teacher of superior skill. He immediately fell on his knees in front of the monk and begged Choy Fook to accept him as a disciple. Choy Fook surveyed Chan Heung in silence – taking in the young man’s mannerisms – and finally concluded that the request was a genuine one. He smiled and said to Chan Heung that if he wished to be a disciple he must obey the following three instructions or else he must leave immediately. These were the three instructions that Choy Fook ordered Chan Heung to obey:

1. Chan Heung must stay with him in the monastery for at least ten years until the end of his apprenticeship;

2. Chan Heung was forbidden to use his skills to kill of to maim, and must never be boastful of what he attained;

3. Chan Heung must kick the rice grinder back into its original resting place. 6

Much to Chan Heung’s delight the rice grinder fell back into its old hole easily, and he became Choy Fook’s disciple.

For the next ten years, Choy Fook taught Chan Heung kung fu with great discipline and precision. Each new technique took days to learn, and Chan Heung had to master each new movement with speed, accuracy, power and understanding before the next could be taught. Chan Heung found his kung fu improved remarkably, and was very different to what it had been. The knowledge passed down by Choy Fook, whether bare fist techniques, the staff or wooden dummy training aids etc., was endless and full of subtle changes, like nature itself. A combination of hard work, dedication, natural ability, and the karma of a good teacher, enabled Chan Heung to complete his training within the ten-year period.

Choy Fook Bids Chan Heung Farewell

One day Choy Fook hosted a banquet for Chan Heung and proceeded to bid him farewell. During the festivities Choy Fook told Chan Heung of his own origin. He was originally from Fukien Shaolin monastery, which had been destroyed by fire. While he was in Fukein, the Ching army invited 36 monks from his monastery to help quash the rebellion in Tibet, which had been going on for three years. It took three months to get Tibet under control again. Fearing the martial prowess of the Shaolin monks, the Ching government invited the monks to join the court as monk soldiers. When the monks refused, the Ching government, fearing future opposition, decided to eradicate the entire Shaolin monastic order by putting the torch to the whole temple complex on the 25th day of the 7th moon in the 11th year of the reign of Emperor Jung Jing7. All save six monks perished; Choy Fook was one of them and escaped with his head on fire. He was nicknamed ‘rotten head’ because of the burn scar on his head. Later on he made his way to Mount Law Fou in Kwangtung province where he went into hiding.

Choy Fook admonished Chan Heung that if one truly wanted to follow the way of the Shaolin, it was necessary to seek the way of the Buddha, as well as learning Chinese medicine and the ‘six magic spells’.

Choy Fook continued to say that Shaolin fighting arts had originated with the founder of the monastery, Monk Dart Mor (Bodhidhama) and later on had been improved by Monk Gok Yuen and others. Masters from outside the monastery had also been invited to contribute their skills. These included the famous Lee Sau and Bak Juk Fung. With time and constant experiment Shaolin fighting arts were further refined. Six years of Shaolin kung fu practice could be regarded as a small accomplishment; ten years could be regarded as a qualified accomplishment. Choy Fook said that he was not quite sure whether it was Chan Heung’s good fortune or his (meaning Shaolin martial arts) that Chan Heung had succeeded in learning all that he could teach, since he was quite resigned to the fact that he might die in this wilderness, taking his art with him to the grave. Although he was quite willing to send Chan Heung home, Choy Fook continued to say that to be a true follower of Shaolin, one must also seek the way of the Buddha as well as learning the ‘six magic spells’. Hearing that, Chan Heung decided to stay for an extra two years until he was ready to leave the monastery in the twelfth year.

At the time of his farewell, Chan Heung asked his teacher to spell out his future. Choy Fook told him that although he was not meant for the life of a court official (by sitting the martial examination), he and his offspring would be leaders of men as long as the Shaolin tradition was kept alive.

Amongst other advice given, Choy Fook gave Chan Heung a double couplet which time has proven to be authentic:

“The dragon and the tiger met in heaven, to revive our Shaolin ways”

“Teach you followers righteousness, let each generation uphold and enliven”

When Chan Heung bid his final farewell, he was accompanied by three of his brothers in learning all the way down the mountain slope. They were Jeung Tin Cheung (nicknamed Courageous Jeung), a monk from Mount Law Fou by the name of Tung Kwan, and a man from his own Sun Wui county called Chan Chung Nin.

Chan Heung Returns to the Sun Wui County

Chan Heung returned to his village and set up a clinic to treat the sick and help the poor. Later he was persuaded by the elders of the family to set up a school in the village ancestral hall. He called the place Hung Sing Gwoon and his clinic Wing Sing Tong. At the time he reasoned that all the major branches of Chinese martial arts originated from the Shaolin temple, such as famous styles under the family names of Hung, Lau, Choy, Lee, and Mok. Seeing that his brand of kung fu was also taught by the teachers with the surnames of Choy, Lee and Chan, he thought it would be right to synthesise their teachings and give it a name that would commemorate and honour their deeds, instead of selfishly calling it the Chan style. He chose the name Choy Lee Fut, giving the explanation: Choy in the honour of monk Choy Fook, who gave him much of his knowledge; Lee, in honour of Lee Yau San, and at the same time commemorate other pioneers such as Lee Sau, who came and expanded and improved the range of Shaolin martial arts; and Fut, meaning Buddha, to commemorate the Buddhist origins of the art, since all his three mentors could trace their linage back to the Shaolin temple.

Three years later, at the invitation of his uncle and the local overseas Chinese association, Chan Heung left his village for the Northern Ocean.8 There he taught the overseas Chinese for three years, followed by three years in Hong Kong to teach his local country compatriots. He then travelled to the Southern Ocean (Malaysia and Singapore) to teach in the Kwangtung Association for several years. Upon his return to Mount Law Fou to visit Choy Fook he discovered that the monk had died during his absence at the age of one hundred and twelve.9 Interpreting that fact that he had not been able see his teacher one more time before his death as a meaningful sign, he chose to do penance by undertaking the task of editing all his learning into one book in order that there would be a written record for posterity, and thus preventing the possibility of misinterpretation and ambiguity creeping into the art. He named the manuscript ‘The Manual of Choy Lee Fut Fighting Arts’. 10

My great-great-grandfather passed this art onto his sons, Koon Pak and Si Long (also known as On Pak). Si Long received only the medical knowledge and the magic formula. He died early without a male heir.

My great-grandfather, Koon Pak, passed the art on to his son Yiu Chi and he in turn passed it onto my father, Wan Hon. Yet it is mainly through the efforts of the first three generations that the art of Choy Lee Fut has spread far and wide throughout China, Hong Kong, Macau, south east Asia and the western world.

My father died in Canton in 1979, now it is my turn to carry on the family’s tradition of propagating the art of Choy Lee Fut.

Written by Chen Yong Fa

Translated by Howard Choy

Most of the material in this article comes from an unpublished manuscript written by Chan Yiu Chi, aptly entitled ‘The history of Choy Lee Fut’. It was partly historical and partly autobiographical. The original handwritten copy is still kept by the family. This manuscript was never meant for publication, as there were too many controversial recordings of historical events. It was written for private circulation within the family and to trusted disciples only.

No rigorous or scholarly attempt has been made in this article to translate Chinese names and places by any established method. It is strictly a private brand of transliteration in Cantonese.

A parental uncle and a family elder related through the bloodline in earlier generations.

Chan Heung was soon to discover that it was a daily training routine to chop wood with one’s bare hands.

A stone grinder consists of two circular slabs of granite approximately 24 inches in diameter and 9 inches deep joined together with a dowel piece in the centre. Rice is put between the two slabs of stone and ground to flour for cooking.

The third request was designed to test Chan Heung’s strength and at the same time sought a heavenly mandate for Chan Heung’s discipleship.

The year mentioned is approximately 1734

The Northern Ocean usually refers to the area around Shantung and Hopei provinces of Northern China. Further reading of the manuscript as mentioned in note 1 gave the impression the place referred to is in fact America.

When Chan Heung first met Choy Fook, his teacher was already ninety-six years old.

The manual is in fact a collection of ‘formula’ for the vast varieties of hand and weapon forms of Choy Lee Fut and each clearly notated in the following manner: i. the name or the sequence of the movement; ii. direction of the body in relation to the east, iii. a description of the movement of the upper body; iv. a description of the movement of the lower body; v. an explanation of its practical use.

2013 Video Demo and student photos by Amy Williamson

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