training for Life
Column by Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong
April 2007 Issue

The Commander Sword

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Before Marco Polo went to China, the western world had already been explored and conquered by the Mongolians all the way to Europe. After the Mongols conquered China and turn the last Sung Dynasty into the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), Marco Polo influenced more Europeans to go to China and in turn introduced more western culture to the Chinese. European weapons and implements have been in China since that time. The European sword, leather whip, gun and canon were known by the Chinese. Western implements such as the umbrella and walking cane were also incorporated into Chinese peoplefs daily lives.

Choy Li Fut kung fu founded by an invincible southern martial artist named Chan Heung. He began his learning from his distant uncle Chan Yuan Woo in the Shaolin Templefs Buddhist root (Fut) open hands techniques. His uncle took him to Li Yau San from whom he received the Li family fighting techniques. Finally, he went to the Luo Fo Mountain to study with the northern monk from the Shaolin Temple named Choy Fook who taught him the Choy style of kung fu. When he returned to his home village King Mui, he founded the system in 1836. He gave credit to his teachers by naming the system Choy Li Fut. This kung fu system has both Northern footwork and Southern hand fighting techniques. Besides traditional Chinese weapons and commonly used Chinese implements, Choy Li Fut also has western weapons due to the founder Chan Heungfs involvement with anti Manchurian activities during the Ching Dynasty (1644-1911). He was also involved with the Boxer Rebellion at that time, therefore he picked up a few European swords and later those weapons became part of his Choy Li Fut system. Choy Li Fut has 41 weapons used for training and fighting. Each weapon has written scripts handed down from generation to generation to us today.

The Western Commander Sword is one of the few rare weapons in the Chinese martial arts. Commander sword is called Ji Fai Do or Zhi Hui Dao in Mandarin and it is a one edged sword or saber. Choy Li Futfs Ji Fai Do has both single and double sword training forms. Besides the individual practice forms, the founder also developed two-person fighting forms as well.

The Single Ji Fai Do form is called: Green Dragon Plum Blossom Form or Ching Lung Moi Fa Do in Cantonese. This form has 75 steps in the training form. The main techniques are Peet-do (upper angular cut), Jam-do (horizontal cut), Gort do (vertical slice), Tong-do (forward cut), Tsop-do (straight poke), Pah-do (downward cut), Pai-do (upward cut), Lau-do (scooping up), Chin Si Guo Tao (wrapping over the head), Gao Do Fa (sword flowers) and Suit-Fa-Koi-Ding (snow flakes above head).

The Double Ji Fai Do form is known as: Sun and Moon Plum Blossom Form or Yat Yuit Moi Fa Sheung Do in Cantonese. The entire form has 80 steps without the opening and closing movements. Besides the regular techniques like the Single Ji Fai Do such as the Lau-do (scooping up), Tong-do (forward cut), Sheung Jam-do (double horizontal cut), etc., this form has techniques: Si Ji Hoi Hau (lion opens his mouth), Suit-Fa-Koi-Ding (snow flakes above head), Chin Si Guo Tao (wrapping over the head), Gao Do Fa (sword flowers), Siu Kei Do (small banner strike), Sheong Gam Jin (upper golden scissors), Ha Gam Jin (lower golden scissors).

The Commander Sword used for fighting against other weapons in the Choy Li Fut kung fu system in two different two-person sets for training. The first two-person fighting form is Commander Sword vs. Broadsword. This fighting set has 48 movements and is mainly for training to fight against short weapons. The other form is Commander Sword vs. Monkey King Staff and has 40 fighting steps. This set is for training the student to fight against long weapons. All of these four rare kung fu forms are handed down from the founder of the Choy Li Fut with the written form scripts for the future generations to practice.

Doc-Fai Wong writes a bi-monthly column for Inside Kung-Fu.

April 2007 Inside Kung-Fu