By Wand Agency
The birthplace of Choy Lee Fut was King Mui, a village in Ngai Sai (or West Bank of two coastal ledges) in Sun Wui district or county of Kwangtung province. Since the Sung Dynasty (960-1280 A.D.), the region around the rugged coastal ledges had been a stronghold of dedicated revolutionaries against the harsh and tyrannical rulings of those in power. The inclination to the martial arts has always been an integrated part of life and custom. This was the background to Choy Lee Fut's coming into being.
The West Bank or Ngai Sai area was divided into twenty-six villages of different clans namely Chan, Lee, Cheung, Wong, Ho, Lok, Chung, Yeung etc. The clan of Chan was particularly prosperous as its clansmen resided in five villages and King Mui was one of them. The genealogical order of the clan were arranged as Sai, Tak, Chok, Ko, Yee, Jik, Yuen, Sing, Tai, Din, Sun, Mo, Yin, Yik, Chuen, Fong, Wing, Hau, Yin, and Leung. It was also arranged as Sai, Tak, Chok, Ko, Yee, Jik, Yuen, Sing, Fong, Lap, Wan, Chor, Chun, Kok, Hin, Chin, Cheung, Hau, Yeung, Yau. These were also the arrangement of two rows of spiritual tablets arranged in the ancestral temple.
The founder of Choy Lee Fut, Chan Heung, was from King Mui. He was first taught by fellow clansman, Chan Yuen Wu for some ten years. Later, Chan Heung was referred to Lee Yau Shan with whom he spent several years. Finally, Chan Heung went to Lau Fou Shan ( Mount Lau Fou), where he spent some eight years with a monk named Choy Fook. As Chan Heung had absorbed a great deal of kungfu, he thought it only right to create a system of his own, drawing on his long years of learning under his mentors. Being a man of principles, he paid due respect to his teachers by naming his creation Choy Lee Fut. Choy and Lee being the surnames ( or last names) of his two mentors Choy Fook and Lee Yau Shan who both had taught him authentic Siu Lum kungfu. The Fut (Buddhism) comes from the fighting art of the Buddhist devotees.
Chan Heung had two sons, On Pak and Koon Pak. Chan Koon Pak also had two sons, Man bun and Yiu Chi. Chan Yiu Chi had two sons, Wan Hon and Sun Chu, and a daughter, Chan Kit Fong, who now resides in the U.S.A.
Chan Koon Pak, the second son of Chan Heung, was a very adept and intelligent person. At a rather young age, he had mastered the art his father had passed onto him. But Chan Koon Pak, chose to become a merchant and settled in Kong Moon. Under persistent persuasion, he did come out for a stint as the head instructor of the Choy Lee Fut school in Kong Moon. Chan Koon Pak later moved to Canton, where he opened a kungfu school as a result of popular request. Countless number of people had come to him for instructions; notably Ngan Yiu Ting, Wong Fook Wing, Wu Kee Biu, Lee Hin Cheung, Choy Pak Tat, Choy Pak Hung, etc.
Chan Koon Pak was a disciplinarian and the same stern attitude to learning was also impressed onto his son Yiu Chi. Chan Yiu Chi seldom turned his thoughts off kungfu. Even when sitting idle, his feet could be seen practicing. This kind of incessant work made Chan Yiu Chi, an outstanding exponent of Choy Lee Fut. He represented speed, power, agility and more.
Perhaps less known to many people Chan Yiu Chi was also a classical scholar, and he never bragged about or showed off his deadly kungfu skill. At the time of his staying with his father, Chan Koon Pak in Canton, he engaged in the propagation of Choy Lee Fut to the world at large. Requests were received regularly, asking him to teach abroad in San Francisco, Holland, the South Pacific and other overseas countries where there were substantial Chinese population. As Chan Koon Pak was in an advanced age, Yiu Chi did accept, as his father so desired, several posts as kungfu instructor in many secondary and tertiary schools, trade unions, sports clubs and worker's associations. His prominence in kungfu overshadowed his other fields of excellence ; that of poetry and classics.