My grandmaster demonstrating "Smashing Waves in Whirlwind," a characteristic Choy Li Fatt pattern.

Kung Fu: Choy Li Fatt

This style of Southern Shaolin Kung Fu is derived from a master who spontaneously selected the best patterns and strategies of three kung fu styles: Choy Family Kung Fu, Li Family Kung Fu, and Monk (Fatt means “Buddha”) Kung Fu. The style is characterized by extensive external force training, diagonal stances, and long-reaching arm movements. Its forte is fighting multiple opponents, especially if they are of low level, which is a boon during times of war and rebellion. A characteristic strategy of a Choy Li Fatt exponent when faced with many foes is to dive right into the herd swinging their powerful arms about “like a wolf amongst sheep.”

Force training in Choy Li Fatt tends to be external. In addition to zhan zhuang, there is common use of stone locks, wooden dummies, sand bags, and poles tends to develop force such as Iron Fist, Iron Palm, Iron Arm, and Iron Leg. Some practitioners develop protective force such as Iron Shirt or Thirteen Grand Guards so that they can withstand weapon attacks on their bodies. Elite and lucky students sometimes learn selections from the Eighteen Lohan Art for internal force and agility while others learn Southern style triple stretch movements for force.

There are many sets in Choy Li Fatt, though the basic sets are Five Wheel Stance (to train basic stances, footwork, and leg strength) and Five Wheel Fists (to train basic hand movements, attacks, and defenses). Specialized sets exist as well, such as Buddha Palm and Eight Direction Evading Palm. Regardless, a Choy Li Fatt set can often be distinguished by its swinging arm movements and use of the diagonal Bow Arrow stance. Choy Li Fatt practitioners often use the tactic of “no defense direct counter” whereby their counter-attack incorporates a simultaneous defense and counterattack on the opponent’s body, attacking arm or leg. My grandmaster composed a new set, the Twelve Fist Set (so named because there are twelve methods of striking with the fist) to meet an expedient need (preparing kung fu exponents to use this style in free sparring competitions) when he taught this style (a few glimpses from the course, including the use of the Wave tactic and Iron Arm training, can be seen here).

Choy Li Fatt is well known for the Wave tactic, which is similar to Tantui’s Three Rings Around the Moon. This consists of swinging and thrusting the arms in such a way that an opponent can be smashed or struck regardless of their responses. An opponent could attack with a thrust punch, kick, or attempt to grip the Choy Li Fatt exponent, but a step off to a diagonal Bow Arrow stance followed by a round-about turn could lead to the exponent’s Iron Arm smashing down on the opponent’s arms, legs, head, or body. Many Choy Li Fatt fighters utilize diagonal and off-line stances like the Dragon Riding stance or diagonal Bow Arrow rather than a more linear approach such as Hoong Ka, represented in the epithet “Hoong Ka enters from the front and Choy Li Fatt enters from the sides.”

A nice and clear video of Five Wheel Stance is here:


A lovely video of an old master demonstrating the advanced “Evading Buddha Palm” set of Choy Li Fatt can be viewed here:

As I have not had training in Choy Li Fatt, this information is summarized from the writings and teachings of Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit of the Shaolin Wahnam Institute.


Speak your mind here!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s