Dictated by Master Chen Yong-Fa, December 1994 from a Manuscript by Chan Yiu Chi – Translated by Sifu Lane Louie

Chan Yiu Chi, Master Chen Yong Fa’s grandfather, listened to his father about his grandfather, Chan Heung (founder of Choy Lee Fut). He later wrote a manuscript documenting the history of Choy Lee Fut. He remembers that when Chan Heung was 7 years old he learned Kung Fu from his uncle, Chan Yuen Gong. Chan Heung was very strong with a very powerful punch. Every night, behind closed doors, Chan Yuen taught Chan Heung Kung Fu in Sun Wei. A Mister Jeung used to pay to learn Kung Fu from Chan Heung.

Lee Yau San

Chan Heung’s reputation as a good Kung Fu fighter began to grow. Nearby was a Sifu named Jow, who told Chan Heung of a Kung Fu person named Lee Yau San who studied under Shaolin Abbot Gee Shim. This person had very good kicks. Chan Heung decided to find out who Lee Yau San was. Chan Heung tried to displace Lee Yan San while he was drinking tea. After Lee Yau San finished his tea he hit Chan Heung with his elbows and made him fall down.

He then asked Chan Heung who his teacher was. Lee Yau San said that, whoever his Sifu was, it was a very sneaky way of challenging him. Chan Heung replied that it was not his Sifu’s intention but his own idea and that he did it not in a disrespectful way, but only wanted to better his own Kung Fu. Lee Yau San then told him that he (Chan Heung) could have endangered his own life had he resorted to using more force.

Lee Yau San took pity on Chan Heung and decided that Chan Heung needed better teaching. At this point Chan Heung decided to stop teaching Kung Fu and begged Lee Yau San to accept him as his disciple. Lee Yau San told Chan Heung that each area that he visits has certain types of peculiarities. He can survey and be aware of his surroundings by the movements around him and by listening to the sounds.

Chan Heung followed Lee Yau San for 5 years. After 5 years of study in Sun Wei, someone told him about a monk by the name of Choy Fook, who came from Fukien Province and settled in Mount Law Fou. This particular monk’s reputation in Tet Dar became well known. Lee Yau San had good knowledge of Tet Dar so he wanted to see if this monk’s Tet Dar was any good or not.

Chan Heung and Lee Yau San travelled to a temple in Guangchou. The temple, named Tin Hok, was located at a place called Law Fou San or Mount Law Fou. At the top of the mountain was a tree with a sign on it which read Ching Sher, meaning Green Book. Once past the tree there was a lake with a temple named Tin Wong Miu, or Heavenly King Temple. Past this was a cave and after this was a large training ground. There were three mountains in the area.

Choy Fook

On arriving at the temple Chan Heung and Lee Yau San found a man about 60 years old. They asked the old man the whereabouts of Choy Fook. The old man replied that he was one of his students and invited them for tea. He told them that Choy Fook was away for a short period and would return soon. Chan Heung and Lee Yau San observed the old man chopping wood with his hands. Lee Yau San realised that this old man was Choy Fook and that he had been playing with them. Seeing Choy Fook he decided that he would like to test him. Lee Yau San kicked a nearby rice grinder a few metres away. Choy Fook responded by picking up a piece of the rice grinder and pulverising it with his bare hands and giving the powder to Lee Yau San. Lee Yau San humbly acknowledged Choy Fook and departed. Choy Fook saw Lee Yau San depart and humbly smiled. Chan Heung, seeing all of this, realised that Choy Fook’s Kung Fu was of a very high level and begged Choy Fook to teach him. However, before Choy Fook would accept him, he decided to give Chan Heung three tests:

1. He must stay in the temple and follow him for 10 years;
2. After finishing his study he must not use his knowledge with bad intentions;
3. He must replace the rice grinder by kicking it back into position.

Chan Heung kicked the rice grinder back to its original position and Choy Fook, seeing Chan Heung’s enthusiasm and determination, accepted him as a disciple. Choy Fook was 96 years old when Chan Heung began his training, but had the physique of a much younger person.

Choy Fook began Chan Heung’s training by teaching him the 6 basic Horse Stances. This was followed by learning the Fa Kuen for speed and rapid change of direction. Fa Kuen, as it was known then, is now known as the Drunken Form. The reason that Choy Fook taught Chan Heung Fa Chern was that Chan Heung already understood how to use and apply the principles of Horse Stances. Choy Fook only taught Chan Heung one technique at a time, until it was perfected. These techniques included when and how to direct power. After studying with Choy Fook Chan Heung’s techniques were vastly improved. After about 3 years Choy Fook taught Chan Heung Tet Dar and Feng Shui. After 5 years Choy Fook accepted Chan Heung like a son and divulged many techniques to Chan Heung. Choy Fook told Chan Heung that originally he was from the Southern Fukien Shaolin Temple and that his nickname was Larn Tol War Seun, or Rotten Head Monk. Prior to this he came from the Northern Shaolin Temple (Song San Temple). His nickname came about because he survived the fires at the destruction of the Northern Shaolin Temple. He then moved to the Southern Shaolin Temple before finally moving to Law Fou San.

Choy Lee Fut

Choy Fook told Chan Heung that to accomplish any recognisable level of Kung Fu takes about 10 years. 6 years is only recognised as a very small achievement. Choy Fook also told Chan Heung that his Kung Fu originates from Gok Yuen and Da Mo, or Bodidharma. He then learned from Lee Sau and Bak Yue Fung. He told Chan Heung that Bak Yue Fung was not originally a monk but after befriending Choy Fook he then shaved his head and became a hermit. Chan Heung studied with Choy Fook for ten years before returning to his village. On his return he opened a clinic to treat the sick and help the poor. He called this clinic Wing Sing Tong. After pressure from the villagers, he was persuaded to open a Kung Fu school in the village. He called this school Hung Sing Gwoon.

From his considerable knowledge Chan Heung developed his own style of Kung Fu, combining the teachings of his uncle Chan Yuen Gong, Lee Yau San and the monk Choy Fook. Rather than selfishing calling his style Chan Gar, or Chan Family Kung Fu, he named it Choy Lee Fut. Choy in honour of the monk Choy Fook, Lee in honour of Lee Yau San and Fut, meaning Buddha, to commemorate the Buddhist origins of the art since all three of his mentors could trace their lineage back to the Shaolin Temple.