Choy Lee Fut Kung Fu
There are a total of 148 forms in the Chan Family Choy Lee Fut System. These are subdivided into three levels: primary, secondary and tertiary. Even Lion Dance routines are another category of the Choy Lee Fut system.
Each category is further subdivided into “soft”, “hard”, external, internal, plus long and short ranges for the weapon categories.
Bagua Hands and Nine Kicks
The bagua hand techniques and the nine basic kicks of Choy Lee Fut are taught to students on a basic level. This in combination with basic horse stance training gives even a beginer student a sense of the effectivenes of the Chan Family Choy Lee Fut system.
Bagua hands are first taught “in the air” and soon tested on focus mitts with a partner. These techniques were developed as a way to teach students how to utilize power and to punch properly in a shorter period of time. They are first trained separatly and then as combinations. This gives students a head start to forms training because all of the basic hands are utilized in the primary level forms so by the time the student starts the form he or she already has an idea of how to use the technique properly.
The nine basic kicks are also taught to the beginer student for the same reason. First trained in the air and then on bags with a partner, this also gives the student a sense of how to kick properly and develop power.
The bagua hands in combination with the nine kicks creates a large arsenal of techniques that even a relatively new student can utilize. There are endless combinations with these techniques making them ideal for student who want to adapt Choy Lee Fut for competitive fighting.
At the primary level there are ten forms. The first type of technique is oi lem sou or external hands.These are long external hands which are predominant in the primary forms. The main types of techniques are the long Gwa Chui, Cheung Gnarn Chui, Sow Chui, etc. In primary level training, a lot of importance is placed on the various horse stance fundamentals to enable the CLF practitioner to fully utilize and harness all the power generated, not only by the stance work, but also by using the waist and coordinating the whole body into one effective unit.
Each form at the primary level teaches the CLF practitioner to target specific areas as well as well as use particular techniques. Even the direction in which a form is executed has specifics. The way power is generated is different in certain forms.
Apart from the fist techniques, there is also emphasis on different stance work within the forms. In the short forms of CLF, different forms highlight particular stances. Some forms emphasize the Tun Ma (swallowing) and the Tol Ma (forward bias horse stance). The horse stance is also broken down into high and low stances allowing for mobility in both offensive and defensive modes. In each of these modes use of the horse stance allows the practitioner to develop and utilize the power differently. For example, when on the offensive using the Tol Ma technique, the power is projected forward, whereas when in the retreat mode using the Tun Ma, the power is still projected forward, but the amount of power generated from the stance is inherantly different.
At the secondary level there are a total of 14 fist forms, including what is commonly referred to as bagua forms. When training for the bagua fist forms, emphasis in the technique passes from linear movements to circles combined with yin and yang or soft and hard as well as speed. at the secondary level, the practitioner begins learning Noi Lem Sou or internal hands, even though there is more emphasis on this at the tertiary level. Techniques that fall into this category are elbows, knees and what are generally known as “second gate” techniques. also more emphasis is placed on the bagua techniques and forms. Noi Lem Sou also has more Cum Na (grappling) techniques. Cum Na also places more emphasis on the use of the fingers in grappling techniques as well as the utilization of the waist and hips resulting in throws and takedowns.
The bagua forms and training also help the practitioner to be able to effectively change not only the direction of attack but also the angle of attack on three different planes. This in combination with the bagua hand techniques and nine kicks creates an effective arsenal of kick and punch combinations.
At the tertiary level of CLF there is a total of 23 fist forms including Lohan forms, regarded as the internal forms of the Choy Lee Fut system. There are more Cum Na as well as sticking, clinging/wrestling type techniques at this level. Pressure point striking is also part of training at this level, with emphasis placed on accuracy.
CLF weapons are divided into several categories. These are long range, mid-range and close range. These are further subdivided into hard, soft, heavy, flexible, double and combinations of weapons.
Weapons that fall into the long range category are the single-headed pole, double headed pole, monkey pole, level eyebrow pole, as well as several others like the flag pole. This category also includes several types several types of spears as well as Kwan Do and Pu Dao type weapons. Several farmer-type implements and fork type weapons also fall into this category.
Weapons that fall into the Mid-Range category vary from broadsword to Gim or straight sword. These are further subdivide into hard or soft categories. Also inclued in this category are the bench, tiger hooks, hammers and axes.
Short or close range weapons include the fan and daggers.
Among the flexible weapons in the CLF system are the nine section whip, rope dart and the three section soft whip.
Double weopons include the broadsword, double gim, double hammer, double axe, double hook, double nine section whip, double dish shield and double tiger head shield.
The 18 Wooden Dummies of Choy Lee Fut
The CLF system has 18 different dummy sets as a result of the legacy passed down from Choy Fook to founder Chan Hueng (see history). Again, thes are categorized into primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Each dummy set trains specific techniques or is used to condition certain parts of the body. As a practitioners skill level increases, so does the complexity level of the dummy system. Some of the higher level dummies are elaborate mechanical contraptions with built-in booby traps designed to suprise the student as well as raise his/her skill level.
Ching Jong – The ching jong is predominantly a static dummy even though the central mounted arm does have a limited amount of movement. This entry level dummy is used to condition the Kiu Sau or “bridge hand”. This dummy focuses mainly on hand techniques as well as a limited amount of kicking techniques. The main essence of the Ching Jong, apart from the conditioning, is to teach the student to move off the centerline and utilize attacks left and right as well as using defensive and offensive techniques on three different planes.
Sa Bo Jong (Sand Bag Dummy) – The second dummy is the Sa Bo Jong. The single Sa Bo Jong (there is also a 3 bag version) is the first of the primary level moving dummies. The student is first taught the single version to allow him/here to focus on speed and allow the mind to focus on moving objects. Techniques are designed to allow the student to focus on speed using an array of continuous hand techniques. This also forces the student to have proper alignment of the wrist. The bag also checks the students stance work. The more advanced version of this dummy is the Sam Sing Sa Bo Jong. This trains the student to deal with multiple attackers.
Sui Sou Jong (Hand-Breaking Dummy) – The next dummy or Sui Sou Jong is a combination of the two previous dummies. In training with this dummy, the main emphasis is on speedy hand techniques and focusing the mind on fast reaction timing.
Body conditioning – The Iron Body Path:
Get the fists and shins of steel
From an early stage in your training you should start the body conditioning, sometimes referred to us iron palm or iron shirt training. As you grow in muscular strength you must also ensure that you have conditioned your musculoskeletal system to deliver and take strong blows. Seen many a student that have not paid attention to body conditioning and when they throw a punch in the street or school fracture and damage their hands/ shins etc….Here some tips to start you off with. There is no magic potions just a strict regime and attention to your body signs. Seek professional advice at all times prior to starting your training. If you have Rheumatoid arthritis history in your family then you need to explore other options to body conditioning.
1. Increase the circulation of your blood via a warm up that makes you start to perspire. Increased oxygen intake in the blood is the start
2. Respect your skin type and its potential to soften when you sweet and so easily tear when you strike or graze the bags. So take it easy when you start the training.
3. Wash your hands/arms/shins in the dit ta jow to enhance circulation and slightly drying the skin prior to the pounding. Remember that many Tit Da jows are different and many are just commercial rubbish and have little sustained treatment properties. Beware that you need herbs that can be absorbed into the fascia and have stimulant properties that work on the musculoskeletal system with a localised effect and no potential systemic reactions. What I mean by this is I saw a student once start the training with a video course and tit da jow and he presented in the clinic with clear symptoms of infection of both hands. Any way spent a week in the hospital with blood poisoning. Consult a professional licensed herbalists at all times or know where the stuff is coming from.
4. For hand work train with the power grips for a warm up or a wrist weight to build strength of the wrists as the pouding will jarr the smaller bones of the hand. Start with pounding of the area on a firm but loose bag of beans/rice/punching bag/ bamboo sticks. Avoid heavy pounding until you have built up the musculoskeletal strength of the area. It is suggested that you use both fixed and free moving bags to avoid early injury to the not so denses fibres of the muscles and tendons. Use the tit da jow very generously to assist in the localised effects of the tit da jow. Work about 10 mins per area. Avoid lacerations to the skin at all times. You will feel a swelling or ballooning of the hand /foot or body part. This is the bodies reaction to trauma and protects itself by increasing the density of the soft tissue at the localised area. Stop and soak the parts in the jow for 5 mins. Finish with a exercise to stimulate blood flow to the area you worked on.
5. Continue to perform strengthening of the ligaments(joins bone to bone) and tendons muscle to bone). Hand grips, wrist wheel, body pole rolls, sinue exercises……… calf raises duck walking…. At the same time move up to firmer but still flexible material in the bags such as sand/ loose small sized blue gravel/ mixture of husks and gravel or beans. No need to take great leeps as everyone reacts at different pace to the training. Continue to use both static and dynamic bags to hit. Keep the generous use of the tit da jow on the parts. Remember to clean your hands with an alcohol based solution twenty minutes after training to remove the residue and avoid it entering your eyes or other sensitive areas. As well as disinfect any lacerations that may have occurred because you did not listen and you pounded to hard!!!!!! Blood poisoning will finish your limbs people!!!!!
6. If you do not feel an obvious increase in the size and strength of the area do not proceed to pounding the hard metal fillings or kicking those wooden poles…etc…. You are simply not ready. There is no rush you can stay at the previous level for years. When ready move to the harder but still flexible materials. Once callous has form on the surface of the Facia then you can start to pound the harder static stuff but remember that as you grow older the bones become less dense and prone to fracture. Ensure that your training incorporates good ligament strengthening to avoid the sprains and strains that we all experience. Any good physio will tell you the exercises you need if you have weak joint syndrome. Using Tit da jow should remain a practice after most trainings that involve heavy bag work or wooden dummy work. This is where Tit da jows differ. Those that are good will continue to evoke reactions of the musculoskeletal system that enhance blood flow and the bodies natural healing process. The others just smell and have little or no affect. If you experience prolonged pain or swelling after each training it may be due to a useless Tit Da jow.
The dynamic wooden dummies of Choy Lee Fut enable the student to train the regime of body conditioning at the same time of enhancing your fighting skills. There are but a few kung fu styles that incorporate this type of training. We have 18 great body conditioning dummies. This sites talks about the wooden dummy training of Choy Lee Fut in its Article section under the About heading.
Hope this helps out some of you.
Ma Wai Lung