Chan Yiu Chi
Training for Life
Column by Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong
INSIDE KUNG-FU MAGAZINE
November 2002 Issue
Chan Yiu Chi (1892-1965), was the grandson of Chan Heung, the founder of our system. He was not only good at Choy Li Fut Kung Fu but was also a very humble person. Besides assisting his father Chan Koon Pak teach Choy Li Fut Kung Fu in Canton, he also taught at local high schools, trade unions, sports clubs and worker's associations in order to better his community. Aside from his outstanding kung fu skills he was also a gifted Chinese poet and a scholar educated in Chinese classical literature. He patiently recorded all the Choy Li Fut Kung Fu forms from his family into scripts which have been passed down from Master to student since that time.
This third generation Great-Grandmaster, Chan Yiu Chi, was a fair and just person who held no secrets of his family's kung fu from his students. He answered all their questions patiently and in great detail; explaining the applications of all of the techniques clearly to insure that his students understood his teachings well and practiced correctly. He was also a famous herbal medicine doctor. Any of his students who showed respect to him and had good potential for the healing arts were taught the traditional Chinese Dit Da herbal medicine also. All of his life, he never refused any consultation for his patient's regardless of their income and only charged whatever the patients could afford to pay.
One of the stories that was passed down from Grandmaster Hu Yuen Chou about Chan Yiu Chi was concerning a fight he had with Gum Zai who also taught Kung Fu in Canton. Gum Zai was quite large and very strong. He didn't respect Chan Yiu Chi because Chan's physique was skinny and he was gentle like a scholar. Gum Zai was also jealous of Chan's success in martial art and herbal medicine. He didn't believe Chan's fighting ability was comparable to his own because of the size differences. He thought Chan was only a performer and had no real power; therefore he went to challenge Yiu Chi to a contest. He arrived at Chan's studio and asked for a fight. Chan Yiu Chi refused to fight with him which gave Gum Zai that much more confidence. At that moment, a big crowd of spectators circled to watch outside of the studio. Chan Yiu Chi kept saying "no, no, no" to him. That made Gum Zai look very good and he began to insult Chan Yiu Chi. All the spectators were yelling for Chan Yiu Chi to fight with him. A policeman told Chan Yiu Chi that if he injured Gum Zai, he would be a witness that Gum Zai was the one who started all the trouble. However, Chan Yiu Chi was still refusing the challenge. Finally, Chan Yiu Chi's wife came out and said, "You must take this challenge, if you die from this fight, I promise to be a widow for you and I won't remarry." Since Mrs. Chan announced that, it didn't leave much room for Chan Yiu Chi to back out. Chan Yiu Chi was smoking tobacco in a bamboo pipe filtered with water. He said to Gum Zai, "you want to fight, come on!" Gum Zai lunged with a powerful punch to Yiu Chi's face. Chan Yiu Chi's left hand was holding the bamboo pipe, so he used his right hand to perform a Yeung-Kiu to block the oncoming punch and followed with a Tsang-Jeong (palm thrust) with the same hand to Gum Zai's chest. Gum Zai stumbled back about 8 to 10 feet and his back crashed into a big ceramic flowerpot and broke the planter. Gum Zai began to vomit blood so Chan Yiu Chi asked some students to help Gum Zai up and gave him some Dit Da herbal pills to help his internal injury. Chan also offered to treat Gum Zai's injury. Gum Zai was losing face and didn't take any of the pills and never came back for his treatments. One week later, the news broke that Gum Zai had died. Although it was an accident it made Chan Yiu Chi feel bad for long time.
In the Choy Li Fut School in Canton under Chan Yiu Chi's tutelage, there were four outstanding students called the "Four Heavenly Kings". They were Hu Yuen Chou, Gan Lou Hung, Ngoi Gong Yeong and Ha Bic Chi. Hu Yuen Chou is the teacher of Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong who continues to pass down the Choy Li Fut of Chan Yiu Chi to his students all over the world.
Doc-Fai Wong writes a bi-monthly column for Inside Kung Fu.
November 2002 Inside Kung-Fu