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Like other southern Chinese martial arts, Choi Lei Fut features Five Animal techniques based on the tiger, dragon, crane, leopard, and snake but is distinguished from other southern styles by long, swinging, circular movements and twisting body motions more indicative of northern styles.
Chan Heung (??) was born in Guangdong Province, China in 1805 or 1806. At the age of six or seven, he began to study Kung Fu from his uncle, Chan Yuen-Wu (???), a master of Southern Shaolin – the Buddha Style Fist or Fut Ga Kuen..
So proficient as an adolescent that he could defeat any challenger from nearby villages, Chan Heung was ready to learn more.
AT the age of 15 he began training under another Southern Shaolin master, Lee Yau-San (???), founder of Lee Ga (Lee Family Style. Lee Yau San was Yuen Woo’s sihing or elder brother at Shaolin Temple. After only four or five years of training, it became apparent that Chan Heung was ready to move on once again.
Chan Heung was then referred to the Shaolin monk Choy Fook (??), who lived on Luofu Mountain. After several years of training under Choi Fook, Chan Heung returned to his home village of Ging Mui (??) in the county of Xinhui. He took had learned and formed a new system. He combined his knowledge of 3 martial arts systems and called it “Choi Lei Fut” in honour of his teachers. He did not personally believe in fighting because of his personal Buddhist beliefs although his students fought and believed in the Revolution.
Jeung Yim (??) was just a young child when his parents were killed, and so he was placed under the care of his uncle. According to Huang Shenjiang, manager of the Fut San Hung Sing Kwoon manager, the uncle’s name was Jeung Kwan and Jeung Yim (known as Jeung Hung-Sing) was at this time a disciple of Lei Ga master Lei Yau-San. At the age of 12, Jeung Yim’s uncle incurred obligations that made caring for his young relative no longer a possibility.
Kwan, as some sources claim his name to be, took Jeung Yim to his old friend Chan Heung in the hopes that Chan would be able to accept the boy as a live-in student, and thus Yim would be cared for and fed. Unfortunately, village rules forbade Chan Heung from teaching martial arts to non-family members. Unable to take care of Yim by accepting him as a student, Chan Heung instead hired Yim to do odd jobs at his martial arts school. Jeung took the opportunity to observe Chan Heung’s lessons and imitated Heung’s moves in secret (cf. Yang Luchan). One night, Chan Heung came upon Jeung Yim practicing. Impressed by the young man’s motivation and abiliies, Chan Heung taught him secretly for several years until the other villagers finally found out. The other villagers expelled Jeung Yim for not being a village family member. Because Yim did not have the Chan family name the village did not want him learning the Chan Village Style (which in later years would be known as Choi-Lei-Fut.
And so, in 1831 at the age of seventeen, Jeung Yim (Hung-Sing) left Ging Mui, but not before Chan Heung gave him a letter of introduction, money for food, and instructions to seek out the monk Ching Cho (??) at the Zhajian Temple on Mount Bapai in Guangxi Province. Here, Jeung Yim (Hung-Sing) was free to give himself over completely to Ching Cho teachings, and with no distractions or other people to distract him, was free to practice what his teacher, the Green Grass Monk, had to teach him: knowledge of Fut Ga Kung Fu. During this time the young apprentice also made traditional Chinese medicine a promise of commitment to the Green Grass Monk (his teacher) to help in the overthrow of the Ching Government. Yim’s teacher (sifu), the Green Grass Monk, bestowed upon him his new revolutionary name, ‘HUNG-SING’.
Jeung, now Jeung,Hung-Sing, returned to Chan Heung and shared with his old mentor some of the things he had been learning from the Green Grass Monk over the last decade. Chan Heung hired Jeung once again, but this time as a teacher rather than a menial student worker, enabling Jeung Hung-Sing to stay for 1-2 years; at which time he left to open his own school in Foshan in 1839. There, Yim continued his martial arts development with the infamous HUNG MOON SOCIETY known as THE REVOLUTION and opened his fist school, Hung Sing, named after the Hung Society. Jeung Yim originally called his fighting style ‘HUNG’s FIST’, but later changed its name to the now popularized ‘Hung’, meaning ‘Great’ or ‘Glorious’, for fear of being arrested and executed as a member of the Hung society.
Yim’s new style incorporated the Choi Ga style from Choi Fook, the Lei Ga style (which was widely known and practiced in southern China at the time) from Lei Yau-San, Hung-Sing’s first teacher, and the Fut Ga style from the monk Ching Cho, the new fighting style became known as Choi Lei Fut in the years to come (a name likely given in the 3rd generation period).