Since the early stages of its conception,
two popular versions
relating to the history on Choy Lay Fut has emerged. This has led to
decades of disputes between generations of faithful followers within
the two major branches of Choy Lay Fut - the CHAN FAMILY branch of Chan
Heung and the HUNG SING branch of Cheung Hung Sing. The most widely
accepted belief amongst followers in the Choy Lay Fut fraternity is
that Chan Heung and Cheung Hung Sing were both co-founders of Choy Lay
Fut martial arts. However, because the Chan Family branch wanted Chan
Heung to get all the credit for Choy Lay Fut's development, they
have purposely left Cheung Hung Sing's (Cheung Yim) name out of the
history on Choy Lay Fut as they wanted Chan Heung to have the title
as the "Founder of the Style".
The Year That Choy Lay Fut
Began To Take Root
It is interesting to note that it was ONLY after Cheung
Yim (Cheung Hung Sing) had returned to King Mui village (Chan Village)
in 1836 with the martial arts skills he acquired from the fugitive Shaolin
monk known by the alias "Ching Cho Wor Seung" (Green Grass
Monk) that Choy Lay Fut began to take root. Upon his return to King Mui village,
Cheung Yim used the adopted name that his teacher Ching Cho gave him and he was
henceforth known as Cheung Hung Sing. As Chan Heung had missed
the chance of learning martial arts from the monk Ching Cho, he seized
the opportunity to learn the Fut Gar Jeung (Buddhist Palm) martial arts
from Cheung Hung Sing whom Chan had formerly taught martial arts to
secretly (because of the strict rules of the Chan Clan forbidding "outsiders"
to learn martial arts from Chan Heung).
Rather than teaching several
different Shaolin martial arts styles, it was more practical to combine
them into one complete fighting art, especially during a turbulent period
when Cheung Hung Sing was patriotically involved in the secret underground
revolutionary movement that was organized to overthrow the Ching (Manchu)
government. This effort was materialized and a new dynamic fighting
art began to emerge. But before a name was chosen for it, it was simply referred
to as "Fut Gar Jing Jung" - meaning authentic "Buddhist style" of Shaolin.
Later it became known by the name CHOY LAY FUT as it was a combination
of the 3 styles of Choy Gar, Lay Gar and Fut Gar to commemorate the
3 teachers Choy Fook, Lay Yau Sarn (Chan Heung's two teachers)
and Ching Cho who taught Cheung Hung Sing the Fut Gar Jeung fighting arts.
Together Chan Heung and Cheung Hung Sing jointly taught martial arts in King Mui
village and the name "Hung Sing" (that Ching Cho gave
Cheung Yim) became synonymous to Choy Lay Fut pugilism.
The Segregation of Choy Lay Fut
In 1839 Cheung Hung Sing founded the first "Hung Sing
Gwoon" martial arts school in Futsan. His popularity and martial arts
reputation attracted many students and he was known to everyone as "Choy
Lay Fut Hung Sing". Hence Chan Heung and Cheung Hung Sing separately
propagated Choy Lay Fut - Chan in King Mui village and Cheung in Futsan.
In time, both used their martial arts knowledge to develop their own
individual forms and methods of training. Thus Choy Lay Fut martial
arts gradually segregated into two branches - that of Chan Heung and
Cheung Hung Sing. That did not mean the Choy Lay Fut that Chan Heung
and Cheung Hung Sing taught were two different Styles - they both came
from the same roots!
Because of the propaganda by the Chan Family branch
to promote Chan Heung as the sole founder of Choy Lay Fut martial arts,
they not only denied Cheung Hung Sing's role in Choy Lay Fut, but also
his existence in King Mui Village (Chan village) where Chan Heung taught
martial arts to his fellow clansmen (those of the Chan family name).
This was seen by the Futsan Hung Sing Gwoon as a deliberate scheme orchestrated
by the "CHAN FAMILY" Choy Lay Fut branch in King Mui Village to discredit
any revelation by the Hung Sing branch about Cheung Hung Sing's direct
involvement in the development of Choy Lay Fut fighting arts and his
rightful title as the style's "Chong Pai Jo Si" (Founder). That's why in their
story in the founding of CLF based on their "Chan Family Historical Records",
they never mentioned Cheung Hung Sing's name and that of his mentor Ching Cho
Wor Seung (Green Grass Monk) who taught Cheung Hung Sing the Fut Gar Jeung martial
arts at Buck Pai mountain for five or more years because that would then clash
with their version on the founding of CLF as propagated by the Chan clan.
The true historical facts surrounding the story on the founding of CLF, its originator,
why this fighting art was called "Choy Lay Fut", the logical reason for using the
"Hung Sing" name, the existence of the "Green Grass Monk" etc. will be clearly explained
in the next update to this web site.