The Keeper of Choy Li Fut

Column by Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong
January 2006 Issue

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In December 1989, I made my first trip to visit King Mui Village, the birth place of choy li fut kung fu. My cousin, who lives very close to King Mui, took me to this village. However, we couldn't find the temple where the founder of choy li fut taught in 1836. I asked a couple of the villagers, but no one seemed to know where that temple was. We were disappointed and ready to leave the village when on our way out I saw a farmer who was carrying a hoe in his left shoulder. At the back of the hoe, there was a bamboo basket hanging on it with some vegetables inside. I asked him, "Sir, do you know where the temple is where Chan Heung taught choy li fut kung fu in the old days?" He replied to me, "You are looking for Chan Heung's teaching temple? I am Chan Heung's great grandson." I said, "Oh you are Uncle Chan Chiu Sun?" He said, "No no, my name is Chan Sun Chiu." I said, "Oh, so sorry, I got your name mixed up a little." Anyway, I introduced myself to him and I told him that my main purpose in coming there was to take some photos of the temple so that I could use the photos for Articles or other publications. He took me to his house and served me tea and introduced me to his wife. We chatted for about one hour, finally he showed me the location of the temple where his great grandfather Chan Heung taught choy li fut beginning in 1836.

Nine years later, in August 1998, I took a team of 48 people to Jiangmen city in China for the first choy li fut kung fu international convention. Our students performed many advanced choy li fut forms which most of the choy li fut schools in China had lost in there lineage of teaching. When the exhibition was over, Chan Sun Chiu and his sons came up to us and congratulated us for doing such a great performance and wanted to take photos with our team. He told me that 9 years ago when I visited him, he didn't realize that I had so many good students and that they knew so much choy li fut. Anyway, we took the photos and we said good bye to each other. The photos are still up in the photo album on our website.

In August 2005, I took another team of 40 people to Jiangmen again for another choy li fut kung fu exhibition. This time it was for the Choy Li Fut Association of Jiangmen, China's grand opening and convention. We met Chan Sun Chiu again. I took the team to his home village, King Mui to pay respect to the founder, Chan Heung. After the ceremony in the temple, we did another choy li fut kung fu exhibition with the local choy li fut practitioners in the old temple where the founder had originally taught. After the mutual forms exhibition with the King Mui villagers, we had a tour to see Chan Heung's original house and to visit Chan Sun Chiu's house. That day just happened to be the 71st birthday of Chan Sun Chiu, our team celebrated with him and sang the birthday song and gave him money gifts in red envelopes. Mrs. Chan, the wife of Sun Chiu showed us the old manuscripts of the choy li fut's history and documentation of the forms and the ancient illustrations of all the weapons and Jongs (wooden dummies and mechanical training devises). She also showed us the very old original manuscripts of the choy li fut kung fu forms. I then realized Chan Sun Chiu is the true keeper of the present choy li fut system. He told me that his father handed down 140 books of choy li fut scripts; originally there were 190 of them. Beside the choy li fut kung fu forms, there were scripts for healing and herbal dit da treatments for injuries.

Our Jeong Moon Yen (keeper of the system), Grandmaster Chan Sun Chiu, 4th generation of the Chan family was born in the seventh moon of the lunar calendar in 1934. His father Chan Yiu Chiu was my si-gung. My teacher Hu Yuen Chou was his disciple and studied over 20 years with Chan Sun Chiu's father, Chan Yiu Chi, grandson of choy li fut's founder Chan Heung.

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

January 2006 ? Inside Kung-Fu