The history of Choy Lee Fut Kung Fu

Chan Heung

Chan Heung

Chan Heung, the Founder of the Choy Lee Fut system of Kung Fu, first taught his art nearly two hundred years ago. From the age of seven, Chan Heung was taught martial arts by his uncle and village elder, Chan Yuen Wu. Chan Heung showed great promise, though only a boy he was strong and quick to learn. He had a natural ability and his uncle recognised this and spared no effort in teaching him all that he knew. Chan Heung made such remarkable progress that he was invited to set up a school for his uncle in town of Sun Wui.

Years later as Chan Heung’s reputation grew and his school prospered another instructor by the name of Lee Yau San came to teach in the neighbourhood. Lee was a disciple of a Shaolin monk Ji Sin and his skill was formidable. Chan Heung, after experiencing Lee’s skills first hand, realised he could improve his own skills from the tutelage of this teacher. He immediately resigned his post as chief instructor and enrolled in Lee’s school. Chan Heung was Lee’s disciple for five years and took his skill to new heights.

Years later, Lee Yau San and Chan Heung heard of a recluse monk by the name of Choy Fook, who was living in temple on mount Law Fou. This monk was renowned for his skill in Chinese medicine and Lee surmised that he must also be skilful in martial arts. Chan Heung and Lee Yau San went to visit the monk. On recognising Choy Fook’s superior skill Chan Heung begged him to accept him as a disciple. Choy Fook concluded that the request was a genuine one and so accepted Chan Heung as a disciple after an initial test. For the next ten years Chan Heung was taught Kung Fu by Choy Fook and found his skill improved remarkably. Chan Heung then remained for a further two years with Choy Fook to learn methods of Chinese medicine and further his studies of Buddhism.

Chan Heung returned to his village and set up a clinic to treat the sick and help the poor. Later he was persuaded to set up a school in the village ancestral hall. He called the place Hung Sing Gwoon and his clinic Wing Sing Tong. Instead of selfishly calling his brand of Kung Fu the Chan style he chose the name Choy Lee Fut: Choy in honour of monk Choy Fook, Lee in honour of Lee Yau San and Fut meaning Buddha (in Cantonese) to commemorate the Buddhist origin of the art, since all three of his mentors could trace their lineage back to the Shaolin temple.

This is only a summarised version of the history.

Choy Lee Fut lineage:


The above is not a family tree as much as it is a representation of Shaolin knowledge handed down from monk to disciple and eventually to Chan Heung. The last part of the diagram however is the direct line of birth of the Chan family. Master Chan Yong Fa is the current Jerng Mun or Keeper of the Style of Chan Family Choy Lee Fut and head of the Choy Lee Fut organisation. Sifu Alan Baxter is a student of Master Chan Yong Fa.