Choy Li Fut Staff

Column by Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong
January 2002 Issue

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Choy Li Fut is one of the most popular kung-fu systems in the world. A martial artist named Chan Heung, from Xin Hui, Guang-dong province, created the style in 1836. He took northern footwork from Choy Fook, who came from the Northern Shaolin Temple. Choy Li Fut's Strong fighting fist techniques came from Li Yau San of the Southern Shaolin Temple. Chan Heung's Buddhist open-hand fighting techniques were handed down from his uncle, Chan Yuan Woo. He named the system Choy Li Fut to honor his teachers.

Choy Li Fut staff and spear forms have both northern and southern China's unique fighting techniques. When both hands grip the bottom end of the long staff, the techniques are single-ended staff techniques. The kung-fu fighter can concentrate on using the front end of the staff to fight his opponent. If both hands hold the staff in the center, with both thumbs facing each other, it is a double-ended staff technique. One advantage of the double-ended technique is that it is much faster, since Choy Li Fut stylists can use both ends of the staff as a weapon. However, the length of the staff is shorter than the single-ended staff.

In Choy Li Fut there are ten sets of staff forms and four sets of the spear forms. The staff forms are in three categories: single-ended, double-ended and single and double-ended forms. Within single-ended forms, there are five forms or sets: The great banner staff form (dai hung kei guan) is based on the footwork moving in a large triangle pattern like a Chinese lion dancing banner's shape.

The lifting and smashing staff form (chau sot guen) emphasizes two powerful striking techniques: chau (lifting) and the sot (smashing). The plum blossom lancing staff form (mui fa cheung guen) uses either a single-ended staff or a spear for practice. Diving dragon staff form (chim lung guen) is an advanced staff technique form that has many unique, yet practical movements.

The five point plum blossom paqua staff form (ng dim mui fa bot gua guen) is the basic Choy Li Fut staff form. This form contains the most complete staff fighting techniques of all Choy Li Fut staff forms. For that reason, it is referred to as the staff seeds of Choy Li Fut.

In the double-ended staff category, there are four sets. The flat crutch staff form (bin gwai guen) contains the most practical staff fighting techniques. There is a saying in Chinese martial arts, "If you don't know the bin guai guen form, you don't know the Choy Li Fut system."

Coiling dragon staff form (poon lung guen) is a basic double-ended staff form. It is easy for beginners to learn and good general training in the Choy Li Fut system. The monkey king staff form (hang jieh guen) is also an interesting double-ended staff form. It has acrobatic movements similar to the famous Monkey King of Chinese opera. Another double-ended staff form, twin dragons inhaling air (seung lung kup hei guen) is an advanced double-ended staff form of Choy Li Fut. Most Choy Li Fut schools don't even have this form in the teaching curriculum. Twin dragons inhaling air has many pressure-point striking techniques.

The only set in the single-ended and double-ended staff form category is the single-and double-ended staff form (seung gup darn guen). This form is the most popular staff form in Choy Li Fut. In fact, plenty of schools only teach this set. This set is important because it contains techniques of the single and double ended staff:

In my next column I will describe the Choy Li Fut spear, its forms and the important basic techniques that both spear and staff have in common.

Doc-Fai Wong writes a bi-monthly column for Inside Kung-Fu.

January 2002 ? Inside Kung-Fu