Tigers of Choy Lee Fut is an international organization that promotes traditional Choy Lee Fut Kung Fu with the importance of quality over quantity and friendship over skill.
Our focus is help as many people as possible achieve their goals and gain the many benefits through training. We have an open network of schools and have developed in a variety of skills, some even outside our main style of Choy Lee Fut.
Our style of Choy Lee Fut comes primarily through Grandmaster Lee Koon Hung, but as all good martial artists, we have adapted and focused on perfecting our art as well as focusing on keeping Choy Lee Fut style combat ready.
We have an open mind and put our success in winning in all situations first, everything we train has a reason and we always put our members first. Learning to deal with adversity helps not only in combat, but in all situations especially in negotiations and deescalating an argument.
Success in martial arts also helps to be successful in life. At Tigers of Choy Lee Fut the growth of our members is our priority, from fitness and self-defense to confidence, discipline and raising our standard to the highest level.
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Choy Lee Fut History
Our history is full of great martial artists who lived through rough times, they adapted their martial arts and left to us a great legacy. Since Choy Lee Fut Kung Fu’s beginning, the style has branched out very fast and has become very popular around the world. It is easy to learn and very practical for self-defense and fighting, including competitions.
Each branch has its own version of our history, with respect to all our family throughout Choy Lee Fut, we will tell our version as passed on to us by Grandmaster Lee Koon Hung, as well as offer some background we have learned from the other branches.
Our Founder, Chan Heung 陳享
Our style was founded by Chan Heung (陳享), of King Mui (京梅) in the county of Xinhui (新會), Canton (廣東) province of China in the year 1836. Chan Heung was born in 1806 (the 11th Year of the reign of Qing Emperor Jiaqing 清嘉慶). He began training at age 7 under his uncle/village elder, Chan Yuen Wu (陳遠護).
At this time most martial arts came from the famous Shaolin Temple (少林寺), of the Buddhist religion and were referred as “Fut Gar” (佛家) or Buddhist family. After several years of training with Chan Yuen Wu he heard of another teacher, Lee Yau San.
Chan Heung later started training under Lee Yau San (李友山), who was a Shaolin disciple and also considered the founder of “Lee Ga” (李家) or Lee family Kung Fu.
After 4 years of hard training under Lee Yau Shan, Chan Heung was referred to a Shaolin monk named Choy Fook (蔡福) to further his martial arts knowledge.
Choy Fook was a classmate of Lee Yau Shan and from Shaolin Temple but became a Shaolin refugee living in seclusion at Luofu Mountain (羅浮山) after the burning of the Shaolin Temple by the Qing troops. It is said that Choy Fook did not want to teach Chan Heung martial arts at first for fear that it would just cause trouble. Instead he taught him Buddhist Sutras and medicine until they became more friendly and Choy Fook knew Chan Heung already had some skills.
Choy Fook gave Chan Heung advice in the form of a special poem known as a double couplet, as follows:
龍虎風雲會, The dragon and tiger met as the wind and the cloud.
徒兒好自爲, My disciple, you must take good care of your future.
重光少林術, To revive the arts of Shaolin,
世代毋相遺. Don't let the future generations forget about this teaching.
Chan Heung returned to his hometown in 1833 (the 13th Year of the reign of Qing Emperor Daoguang 清道光) after 8 years of training under Choy Fook. During that time anti-Qing activities of the Miao nationality (苗族) spread all over the southern part of China.
Chan Heung practiced all he had learned from his teachers with his students and established the main techniques of our system.
In 1836 Chan Heung formally opened his first martial arts school in the Chan Family Ancestral Hall in King Mui Village (京梅鄉緣福祖祠).
When the Imperial army sought to recruit men to fight against the rebel forces, Chan Heung (陳享) left his home in King Mui to set up many Choy Lee Fut (蔡李佛) schools in Southern China to help the revolution against the Manchurians.
Chan Heung (陳享) was said to really love all martial arts, he was fascinated by the many different styles. If he had the time, he would have spent training with many more teachers and many more styles as well.
He was fascinated by western boxing; he tried to copy the techniques and add them into our forms. Some people do not even recognize the techniques, especially the footwork of moving in and out while punching, this was put into our 5 Wheel Fist set or Che Kuen.
Muay Thai is also an influence and can be seen in how we use our elbows and knees for attack and defense. Bagua as well, with the many palm changes and circular arm techniques, Choy Lee Fut has many borrowed concepts and techniques.
It is said Chan Heung travelled around to seek out of other martial artists in order to build up his experience and style. This attitude of our founder and his open mind is really what has helped inspire future generations of our style to continue to grow and thrive.
10 rules of Choy Lee Fut
by our founder Chan Heung. They are based on the principles of Shaolin Martial Arts.
1. Practice Choy Lee Fut every day and do not forsake its way without reason
2. You should practice not only to improve your skill and body but also to develop a good and patient heart. Never use your skills to commit injustice or injury to others.
3. You must pay utmost respect to your teachers and seniors.
4. Pay your fellow classmates respect through trust, friendship and honesty. Do not bully them in any way.
5. You are not to fight among your brothers of Choy Lee Fut and to prevent this, when in times of trouble, we use the tiger claw action as a sign that we are Choy Lee Fut practitioners.
6. Do not drink alcohol and eat meat in excessive amounts. Alcohol takes away one’s sense of control and meat slows down the body. Therefore, the two taken excessively can damage your body and spirit.
7. When practicing Choy Lee Fut, do not show others your skills without consideration, as it may cause trouble to yourself and to others. If you judge a person to be of good nature, then you may pass on your knowledge.
8. Never misuse your skills on others or put yourself above them, as it only causes trouble. Practice kung fu to build a strong foundation for your body. Practice every day and do not forsake its way.
9. All of the above are rules that the founder wishes us to follow, so to disobey these is to go against his wishes.
10. If you cannot abide by these rules, you may leave or if you break them then it is up to your Sifu’s discretion to assess your status within the school.
Chan Heung gave his followers special signals for recognizing each other during battle: Whoever belonged to the Choy Lee Fut system would yell out "Wak" when thrusting with a tiger claw hand, "Dik" when kicking, "Yik'' or “Ha” when striking with the fist or palm, “Seet” with all Panther strikes. There were also many hand movements used to help signal each other during battle in order to communicate from a distance.
In 1867, Chan Heung (陳享) sent one of his top students, Jeung Yim (張炎) to Fut San (佛山) to take over the school established by Chan Din-Foon (陳典桓) in 1848. Eventually, Jeung Yim became known as the "father of the Hung Sing School of Choy Lee Fut in Fut San.
Jeung Yim 張炎
The story of Jeung Yim (張炎) are plenty and differ among branches. He also taught many revolutionary fighters and at times, many other students of the period. They lived in secrecy and hid much of their information and it can be extremely hard to get accurate information today.
In our branch we were taught that in the beginning, Jeung Yim could not be accepted as a student of Chan Heung since he was not a member of the village. He was able to do odd jobs around the school and practiced in secret. One story is that he accepted a challenge while Chan Heung was not there at the school and won in order to save face for the school.
The other students were not happy and wanted Jeung Yim to leave, but Chan Heung started to teach him privately until it was discovered and Jeung Yim was finally asked to leave the village.
Chan Heung sent Jeung Yim (張炎) to train with Ching Cho War Serng Green Grass Monk (青草和尚) and later returned to share all he had learned with his teacher Chan Heung. After this time, the style was officially created.
Some claim that the Green Grass Monk was a fictional character out of a book. Some also say he was involved with anti-Qing groups and also hid his identity and information.
The story of Jeung Yim (張炎), continued to Fut Shan (佛山) with the re-opening of the Fut Shan Choy Lee Fut School of Jeung Yim using the name "Hung Sing Kwoon (鴻勝舘). Some of his students began referring to him as Jeung Hung Sing (張鴻勝), in our lineage we were taught that the Green Grass Monk gave him this name.
Jeung Yim had a good reputation as a fighter, some say he accepted open challenge matches as a way of gaining new students. It is said that many of the other Sifus were agitated by him taking their students. One story even states he was killed for this at an earlier age.
The government sent soldiers to try to shut down the school. Jeong Yim (張炎) limited the number of forms he taught because the survival of the school depended on training fighters quickly, Jeong Yim (張炎) limited the number of forms he taught and focused on fighting.
Training provided the students with all the fundamental techniques, including a few weapons. The survival of the school was the main priority. Because Jeong Yim concentrated on teaching fighting skills, many of the best Choy Lee Fut fighters came from the Fut Shan Hung Sing branch. Later on, Jeong Yim (張炎) would teach his students the more advanced forms and techniques.
Few actual facts are known about Jeung Yim (張炎), but his name is remembered and his legacy students continue to represent him and his teachings today. Jeung Yim's actual birth and death dates are not known, but many believed that he lived between the ages of 33 to 69.
Jeung Yim's (張炎) main successor Chan Ngau-Sing (陳吽盛), is credited with continuing the Hung Sing school after Jeung Yim’s passing.