Choy Lay Fut

From Academic Kids

ŮChoy Lay Fut, Choy Lai Fut, Choy Li Fut, Choy Lee Fut or Tsai Li Fo, (蔡李佛) is a hybrid Chinese martial art developed by Grandmaster Chan Heung in 1836 at Ging Mui, and is highly popular in Hong Kong, Canada, and USA, and is also gaining widespread popularity worldwide. Learning the basics from a his uncle the Shaolin monk Chan Yuen Wu, Chan Heung enrolled at a Shaolin temple, and, after completing a decade of training, Chan Heung developed his own style.

Choy Lee Fut is actually the names of people Heung trained under, namely: Masters Choy Fok, and Lee Yau Shan.



Master Chan Heung, the founder of Choy Li Fut, was born in the Kwang-Tung province of China in 1806. At the age of seven, he began to study Gung Fu from his uncle, who had been trained in the Shaolin temple. By age 15, Chan was the leading boxer in his area. When he was 17, he studied under his uncle's senior classmate, a Shaolin expert named Li Yau Shan. Within several years, Chan had absorbed all the teachings of Master Li. At that point, his teacher sent him to seek further instruction from a reclusive Shaolin priest named Choy Fok.

According to the popular account, Chan found Choy Fok, but the monk told him that he had given up the practice of Gung Fu to dedicate his life to the study of Buddhism. He invited Chan to join him in his spiritual studies. Instead of being discouraged, Chan Heung humbly accepted the monk's offer to become a disciple of Buddha. After several years, Choy Fok was satisfied with Chan Heung's character and patience, and for the next eight years, taught his new student everything that he knew of Gung Fu.

At the age of 29, Chan returned to his native village, analyzing and synthesizing everything he had learned from his teachers. In 1836, he founded a new style of fighting, and named it after his two instructors Choy and Li. He added the suffix Fut, which meant Buddha, to pay homage to the Shaolin temple and reflect his years of Buddhist study.

These were troublesome times in China, with the following decades seeing the first Opium War, the Taiping rebellion, and finally the Boxer rebellion. Choy Li Fut, like other styles, was used by rebels in their struggle against the Manchus in the 1800's, and was driven underground by government interdiction.

The style was popularized in the United States in the late 20th century by masters such as Lee Koon Hung, Tat Mau Wong (王達謀), Doc Fai Wong (黄德輝), and others, who represent different contemporary branches (Buck Sing (北勝) and Hung Sing (雄勝)). It was also spread in Canada by such grandmasters as Wong Ha in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Technical information

Choy Lay Fut is a characterized as a "soft-hard", "external" style, and combines some of the long-range circular movements characteristic of northern styles with the shorter, more direct movements indicative of southern styles. As a traditional shaolin style, it includes techniques based on animals (e.g., tiger, dragon, crane, leopard, snake); but it is also makes extensive use of long, swinging arm techniques and twisting body motions. The curriculum is designed so that soldiers could quickly gain practical proficiency; it also incorporates a wide range of weapons. Several common movements have specific sounds associated with them, supposedly so that friendly forces could recognize each other in battle.


Like many styles of Kung Fu, Choy Lay Fut has had several branches issue from the original founder. These are based on the different lineages of teaching. They differ not only in terms of training and emphasis but also on what they see to be the true history of the style. There are three main branches of Choy Lay Fut.

The Hung Sing (雄勝) branch

Unfortunately, the limitations of translation from Chinese to English have confused many non-Chinese speakers in regards to the naming of the three branches of Choy Lay Fut (Choy Lai Fut, Choy Lee Fut, etc). The "Hung Sing" branch, as it is most commonly named on the internet and in English translation in the western world, usually refers to one particular branch that originated in Fut San, China. However, the branch that is commonly referred to as the "Chan Family" branch is actually also named "Hung Sing" if we simply go by the Chinese pronunciation of the name -- the two branches are named differently in Chinese (they are two different characters/words entirely) but they are also homonyms (the characters sound the same), and this is where the western world gets confused. Both are technically "Hung Sing" by pronunciation, but in order to differentiate between the two in English, many people call one "Hung Sing" (Fut San branch) and the other "Chan Family". Please note this is NOT the official standard by any means for every Choy Lay Fut school.

The Buck Sing (北勝) branch

Stub, more to follow, contributors welcome.

The Chan Family branch

Stub, more to follow, contributors welcome.

External links

Hung Sing branch

Buck Sing branch

Chan Family branch

Chan Heung At seven years old, Chan Heung 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.


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