Kung Fu: Choy Li Fut
Choy Li Fut (Cantonese), 蔡李佛, or Cai Li Fo (Mandarin) Kung Fu is a traditional martial arts system based on Shaolin martial arts from the Shaolin Temple. It combines the agile footwork of Northern Chinese Martial Arts with the intricate Hand Techniques of the Southern Kung Fu styles, making Choy Li Fut one of the most complete and effective styles for health and self-defense.
Choy Li Fut , 蔡李佛, emphasizes relaxed, internal power rather than stiff, muscular force. This is not only more effective in combat, giving the smaller person an advantage, but is also better for the practitioner's health as it develops the entire body.
Choy Li Fut forms are circular, powerful, and as beautiful to watch as they are effective in combat. They often contain over 150 individual movements, each having a practical application in self-defense. Done at full speed, forms provide an excellent cardiovascular workout.
Unlike many other martial arts, Choy Li Fut contains a wide variety of techniques, including long and short range punches, devastating kicks, deadly sweeps and takedowns, lethal pressure point attacks, joint locks and grappling, making it one of the most well rounded and versatile fighting systems. Each set covers many aspects and concepts of the martial arts and even provides dynamic 2 and even 3 person combat sets, giving the student the ability to develop a real time sense of the techniques in combat application.
Choy Li Fut also has forms teaching the use of a large arsenal of traditional kung fu weapons, 53 to be exact, divided into long, short, twin, and flexible categories with the Nine Dragon Trident as the symbol of the Choy Li Fut system. There are even 2 and 3 person weapon combat sets to develop the full range and abilities of the practitioners with their weapons. Finally, it includes internal training such as meditation and breathing exercises unifying the body and mind with traditional Chinese Martial Arts.
Choy Li Fut has proven itself effective through it's conception during revolutionary times to the modern days of combat sports, and is still one of the worlds most popular Chinese Kung Fu systems. Famed for it's effectiveness in the Chinese underground full contact martial arts tournaments, it's traditional values, self-discipline and self-protection attitude provides Choy Li Fut as the perfect martial arts base for anyone looking to better themselves.
Choy Li Fut has its roots in the Shaolin Temple and was actually developed as a specialized dynamic fighting style by Founding Master Chan Heung (1806-1875).
Chan Heung lived in the China of the 1830's and first followed the standard teachings of the Shaolin style under his uncle, who began teaching him at an early age. Later though, as a teenager and young man, he travelled to visit and learn from remote hermit monks who were known for their 'Kung Fu' skill.
This journey took Chan Heung almost eleven years to complete and at the end of this he had lived and trained with three great masters ; CHOY FOOK, LI YAU SAN and CHAN YUEN WOO.
From these teachers Chan Heung had learned enough to formulate his own devastating new system which he named CHOY (after Choy Fook), LI (after Li Yau San) and "FUT/FO" which means BUDDHA.
One aspect of the style which Chan Heung learned from Choy Fook was the art of "Buddhist Palm" and this still features strongly in the Choy Li Fut system of today.
The Choy Li Fut/Cai Li Fo style of fighting is known for it's long, powerful strikes and crushing kicks. It has been passed down the past 5 generations of the family CHAN and then later (1931) spread beyond China. The original school in King Mui, Jiangmen China, is populated by students of Grandmaster Doc Fai Wong, including Chan Heungs own 6th generation grandson Chan Siu Fung!
Nowadays Choy Li Fut is practised in over 60 countries around the world where the focus is still on a practical and dynamic level of skill.
The first important stage is stance and movement training. The stances in Choy Li Fut are often difficult for beginners. However, as the legs, hips and waist become suppler and stronger, so the stances become easier. It is because of this that the very first form or set that one learns deals almost only with stance and position.
Choy Li Fut masters have also developed very particular striking techniques and many techniques are used both in offence or defence. This makes the Choy Li Fut practitioner very versatile.
Two of the very strong and dynamic boxing types of Choy Li Fut are the 'long fist' and the 'buddhist palm'. The heaviest of all Martial weapons, the Nine-Dragon Trident, also comes from the Choy Li Fut system.
Nowadays great teachers such as Grandmaster Doc Fai Wong (b.1948) continue to enrich us with their knowledge of this most strong, diverse system of Shaolin martial arts. It is because Choy Li Fut was developed in a time of war and very real danger, that it contains such realistic and practical methods. However, to achieve a high standard requires many years of strong training with a good school. Our motto is : with determination and hard work you can achieve anything!
One of the most recognized and admired aspects of Chan Heungs system are the very long "training sets" and forms designed for physical development and understanding of movement. (A form is a set pattern of movements which students can learn) We have over 150 forms in our system, which means that students can keep learning and enjoying their training for many, many years.
The forms range from Sandbag sets for hand conditioning, to forms which, for example, focus on depth and strength in stance or correct and effective palm-striking, or forms designed to develop a certain dynamic, or the beautiful animal forms, which are based on the classical animals, Panther, Tiger, Crane, Snake, Dragon and Phoenix. However, the ancient forms have also been developed to strengthen and develop the 'internal power' - CHI.
Below, we have mentioned some "must-learn" forms which are taught throughout the world in Plum Blossom Federation Schools, under our Grandmaster, Doc Fai Wong.
NG LUN MA (Five Wheel Stance Form)
This is the first long form which a student will learn after first practicing many small routine steps and movements. The Ng Lun Ma set is designed to teach a student correct use of the major stances in Choy Li Fut, which are Diu Ma (Cat), Sei Ping Ma (horse), Ding Ji Ma (Bow Stance), Sieh Ma (Defence stance), Nau Ma/Tau Ma/Quai Ma (Cross Stance) and follows repeated sequences of these stances, interspersed with sweeping steps or sometimes a kick. However, essentially Ng Lun Ma is only concerned with one important thing - building strong legs!
NG LUN CHUI (Five Wheel Fist Form)
The second form in the Choy Li Fut system. This form introduces much more hand technique and students learn to quickly switch direction to fight multiple opponents. (This is one of Choy Li Fut's main features).
The 5-Wheel Fist form begins as Ng Lun Ma with repetition sequences focused on essential stances and block, grasp and strike combinations. The second half of this form, however, introduces many swift, individual hand techniques, moving in fast combinations and the second half usually takes considerably longer than the first to learn. Most of the major fist strikes are contained within Ng Lun Chui but some Open Hand techniques only appear later in more advanced Forms such as Sup Ji Kau Da (Cross Pattern Boxing) and Fut Quan (Buddhist Palm Set).
Tai-Sifu Mark Horton/Hong Ying (,b.1961) has practiced Choy Li Fut since 1969 as a small boy, growing up on an Air-force base in Malaysia, and he has had a prolific career as a martial athlete at World Championship level. He is a direct student of Grandmaster Doc Fai Wong.