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Grandmaster Choe Hoong Choy

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  • Grandmaster Choe Hoong Choy

    Dear Family,

    who was the Grandmaster Choe Hoong Choy? And why did our Sifu/Sigung/Sitaigung choose to learn from him?

    With best regards,

    image_7749.jpg ​​​​​​​
    Engage and maintain joyful practice!

    May all of you get the best benefits from what you do.

    Anton Schmick
    Shaolin Wahnam Germany Nord

  • #2
    Hi Anton, a timely post, I have been thinking a lot about past Grandmaster Choe Hoong Choy and how he fits in to Shaolin Wahnam.

    Here's a starting link on Sigung's website entitled; LEARNING TIT TA AND WING CHOON KUNGFU FROM SIFU CHOE HOONG CHOY

    Nice One!

    Last edited by James L; 26th December 2018, 09:45 PM.


    • #3
      Hey James!

      Thank you!

      I have gathered some more information from Q&A Series 2003:

      I have heard many different stories on the history of Wing Chun Gung Fu. Some have said that the Yim Wing Chun story was made up to hide the real story behind Wing Chun.

      — Philip, South Africa


      The history accepted by most Wing Chun practitioners as well as by most practitioners of other kungfu styles is that Wing Chun Kungfu was initiated by Yim Wing Chun. She learned Shaolin Kungfu from the female grandmaster, Ng Mui (Wu Mei in Mandarin pronunciation).

      Ng Mui's favourite kungfu set was the Shaolin Flower Set, and it was most likely that this was what she taught Yim Wing Chun. Later Yim Wing Chun, known to be pretty and gentle, married a rich merchant named Leong Pok Khow who loved her very much. She continued to practise her Shaolin Kungfu diligently, but modified it to suit her needs.

      Yim Wing Chun taught her husband her kungfu, more as a hobby than as an art for fighting. Leong Pok Khow had two disciples, namely Wong Wah Poh and Leong Yi Tai. When asked what kind of kungfu it was, Leong Pok Khow would reply, “Oh, it's Wing Chun's kungfu.”

      I am not aware of other stories contradicting this history of Wing Chun Kungfu, which I believe is true. My conclusion is based on the following.

      There are many versions of Wing Chun Kungfu today but probably the most famous is the one from the great master Yip Man. Yip Man, who learned Wing Chun Kungfu from Chan Wah Soon, would not have seen Yim Wing Chun, but he should have seen his teacher's teacher, Leong Chan, who was nicknamed Wing Chun Kungfu King during his times. Thus, although Yip Man could not be sure whether Yim Wing Chun really existed, he could be sure that Leong Chan did exist.

      In his turn, Leong Chan might not have met Yim Wing Chun but he certainly was sure that Wong Wah Poh, from whom he learned his kungfu, existed. Wong Wah Poh should have seen Yim Wing Chun in person, as she was his teacher's wife. And all these masters, who could confirm without doubt that their own teacher was real, traced in turn to Yim Wing Chun as the one who initiated Wing Chun Kungfu.

      The above reason by itself cannot prove that the Yim Wing Chun story is true, but it does give weight to its verity. It is also supported by my own Wing Chun lineage. At the time when I learned Wing Chun Kungfu from my teacher, Choe Hoong Choy, Wing Chun Kungfu was relatively unknown, and taught in private only to exclusive students. (Wing Chun became well known only after Yip Man's celebrated student, Bruce Lee, became famous.)

      My Wing Chun lineage is as follows. Choe Hoong Choy — Choe Onn — Choe Chun — Choe Tuck Seng — Choe Shun — Yik Kam — Leong Yi Tai — Leong Pok Khow — Yim Wing Chun. Each master could confirm the actual existence of the earlier one, and all of them mentioned Yim Wing Chun as the start of the lineage. If someone today claims to be descended from the Wing Chun lineage, although in reality he is not, it is understandable because Wing Chun Kungfu is now famous. But at the time when Wing Chun Kungfu was actually unknown, I could not think of a better reason to claim this lineage except that it was true.

      As an academic issue, what I regard to be more interesting and rewarding is to find out which of the many versions of Wing Chun Kungfu today is closest to the original Wing Chun Kungfu taught by Yim Wing Chun and the early masters. The numerous versions include Yip Man Wing Chun, Choe Family Wing Chun, Yen Kat San Wing Chun, Go Law Wing Chun, and Red Boat Wing Chun. Robert Chu, Rene Ritchie and Y.Wu have written an excellent book on these various versions in “Complete Wing Chun”. By far the most popular version is Yip Man Wing Chun, so widely practised that many people, including some students of other Wing Chun versions, regard Yip Man Wing Chun as the standard version.

      What I find intriguing is that the version of Wing Chun I learned, Choe Family Wing Chun, is very different from Yip Man Wing Chun in many aspects. Choe Family Wing Chun is also known as Pan Choong Wing Chun, or Opera House Wing Chun (but different from Red Boat Wing Chun) because it originated from the Opera House of the Red Boat. A Red Boat was a huge boat housing opera actors. It is a comparatively little known version of Wing Chun Kungfu, and its practitioners are generally not keen to popularize it.

      The most obvious difference is that while Yip Man Wing Chun uses mainly the Goat Stance and the Four-Six Stance, Choe Family Wing Chun uses mainly the Horse-riding Stance, the Bow- Arrow Stance and the False-Leg Stance although the Goat Stance and the Four-Six Stance are also part of its repertoire.

      The kungfu sets of Yip Man Wing Chun encompass the three unarmed sets of Siu Nim Tao (Small Intentions), Cham Kiu (Sinking Bridge) and Piu Chee (Shooting Fingers), and the two weapon sets of Luk Tim Poon Khuan (Six-and-a-Half-Point Staff) and Pat Cham Tou (Eight Chop Knives).

      Choe Family Wing Chun has a great number of both unarmed and weapon sets, including Siu Lin Tao (Small Beginning), Fa Kuen (Flower Set), Shui Ta (Miscellaneous Combat), Chui Pat Seen (Eight Drunken Immortals), Fu Hok Seong Ying (Tiger-Crane Double Forms), Cheen Cheong (Arrow Palms), Choy-Li-Fatt, Luk Tim Poon Khuan (Six-and-a-Half- Point Staff), Yen Tze Tou (Human-Character Knives), Tan Tou (Single Knife), Seong Tou (Double Knives), Yun Pin (Soft Whip), Wang Tao Thang (Bench), Yin Cheong (Spear), Kwan Tou (Big Knife) and Tai Phar (Big Trident).

      Cham Kiu (Sinking Bridge) and Piu Chee (Shooting Fingers) are not practised as separate sets, but are incorporated into Siu Lin Tao (Small Beginnings), which is therefore much longer than the Siu Nim Tao (Small Intentions) of Yip Man Wing Chun. In Choe Family Wing Chun, Siu Lin Tao is the “seed” of Wing Chun Kungfu; all students must practise this set.

      Luk Tim Poon Khuan is considered the most advanced set. Why has it six and a half techniques, and not seven? Sifu Choe Hoong Choy, the late patriarch of Choe Family Wing Chun, told me that this half technique was taught and explained only to inner-chamber disciples. I had the rare privilege to learn it, and its application is indeed marvellous.

      Reviewing the various versions of Wing Chun Kungfu, I have found the following interesting points.
      1. All versions have the three unarmed sets of Siu Nim Tao or Siu Lin Tao, Cham Kiu and Phiu Chee, and the two weapon sets of the Six-and-a-Half-Point Staff and the Butterfly Knives called variously as Pat Cham Tou, Yen Tze Tou or Yi Tze Tou. As mentioned above, in Choe Family Wing Chun Cham Kiu and Phiu Chee are incorporated into Siu Lin Tao.
      2. The most popular version, Yip Man Wing Chun, has the least number of sets — the five fundamental sets mentioned above. Probably the least known version, Choe Family Wing Chun, has probably the most number of sets — more than twenty. The other versions range between these two versions.
      3. Except in the weapon sets, Yip Man Wing Chun uses mainly the Goat Stance and the Four- Six Stance. All the other versions frequently use the Horse-Riding Stance, the Bow-Arrow Stance and the False-Leg Stance, besides the Goat Stance and the Four-Six Stance.

      Personally, my conclusion is as follows:
      • The early masters — including Yim Wing Chun, the first patriarch, and Leong Chan, the Wing Chun King — practised many different unarmed and weapon sets, and used various stances, including the Bow-Arrow Stance and the False-Leg Stance, in combat. Leong Chan, for example, was reputed to use the soft whip to fight himself out of an ambush.
      • From the various kungfu sets she knew, Yim Wing Chun chose those techniques she found most useful for her particular needs, and for convenience of training she linked these techniques into one set which she would practise at the start of her training session. After her marriage to a wealthy merchant and used to wearing long skirts, she found wide stances like the Horse-Riding Stances and the Bow-Arrow Stance (which she could easily performed while wearing trousers before her marriage) not suitable and therefore preferred the shorter Goat Stance and Four-Six Stance.
      • This set has come to us today as Siu Lin Tao, or in three sets as Siu Nim Tao, Cham Kiu and Phiu Chee. Sifu Choe Hoong Choy told me that Siu Lin Tao, which word-for-word means “Small- Practice-Beginning” was so named because Yim Wing Chun always started her training with this set.
      • Hence, leaving aside the weapon sets for the time being, depending on one's perspective or loyalty, he (or she) may consider Yip Man Wing Chun as the “purest” version because the three sets practised in this version constitute the very techniques that Yim Wing Chun “invented”; or he may consider this version as the farthest from the original because it has left out much of what early Wing Chun masters practised.
      • On the other hand, Choe Family Wing Chun may be considered as the closest to the original because it encompasses most of what the early masters practised and employed in their combat. For example before her marriage to Leong Pok Khow, an unwelcome suitor who was a local bully tried to force Yim Wing Chun into marriage. She would have used techniques from Siu Lin Tao to defeat this bully in a one-to-one combat, but when she had to fight his numerous followers, it would be unwise to use those techniques, which are not so suitable for fighting a crowd. She would have selected techniques from Fa Kuen (Flower Set) or Fu-Hok (Tiger-Crane) which would give her better technical and tactical advantages.
      • Or, Choe Family Wing Chun may be considered as the farthest from the original because those techniques “invented“ by Yim Wing Chun and therefore regarded as Wing Chun Kungfu proper, forms only one set, Siu Lin Tao, out of more than twenty sets of its repertoire. The purists could argue that the other sets are Ng Mui Kungfu, Hoong Ka Kungfu, Choy-Li-Fatt Kungfu or kungfu of various Shaolin styles, but not Wing Chun Kungfu.
      • The Six-and-a-Half-Point Staff and the Butterfly Knives set were not invented by Yim Wing Chun. The staff set was taught by Shaolin Grandmaster Chee Seen, the abbot of the southern Shaolin Monastery, to Leong Yi Tai on board a Red Boat. The Butterfly Knives set was exchanged by a Choy-Li-Fatt master with Leong Yi Tai for the staff set.
      Engage and maintain joyful practice!

      May all of you get the best benefits from what you do.

      Anton Schmick
      Shaolin Wahnam Germany Nord


      • #4
        A wonderful thread. Thank you for starting it!

        Enjoy some Wahnam Tai Chi Chuan & Qi Gong!

        Evening Classes in Zürich
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        • #5
          A wonderful thread indeed - thank you for starting it Anton Sifu!

          And very timely given Sigung's recent update on Sigung's teaching schedule for 2019!! A fantastic opportunity awaits!


          • #6
            Dear Andrea, dear Kevin,

            thank you!! I am glad you are enjoying the thread!

            I will post some interesting facts about Choe Family Wing Choon here. Some of them come from the Q&A Series on Wing Choon (the link opens the PDF kindly created by George and CSwacha)

            This one is about strengths and weaknesses of Wing Choon Kung Fu (thank you, Santi, for asking )

            It is interesting to note that the strength of popular Wing Choon Kungfu is also its weakness. Its limited range of techniques gives its practitioner more time to spend on sparring. However, if an opponent is of a similar skill level, the limited range of techniques becomes a weakness.

            Another example where its strength can also become its weakness is that Wing Choon Kungfu is meant for the small-size against a bigger, physically stronger opponent. Wing Choon techniques are such that being big size, including having big muscles, is a disadvantage. Wing Choon force training is such that having big muscles is a disadvantage. And having succeeded in developing internal force in Wing Choon Kungfu, a small-sized Wing Choon practitioner can be more powerful than a bigger-sized opponent.

            A Wing Choon student will have this strength of the art if he applies Wing Choon techniques the way they should be applied, and trained Wing Choon internal force the way it should be trained. If he does otherwise, like using Wing Choon techniques as in Boxing, or developing muscular strength by lifting weights instead of training internal force using Siu Lim Tou, the strength becomes a weakness.

            Wing Choon Kungfu is excellent for one-to-one combat, ranging from beginners’ to masters’ levels. This is its strength. However, the nature of popular Wing Choon is such that it is not suitable for mass fighting. If a group of assailants attacks a master of popular Wing Choon at the same time, he would have difficulty fighting the group. This is its weakness.
            Having read this, the reader may wonder whether the above applies to Choe Family Wing Choon. As we know the popular Wing Choon usually contains the three unarmed sets: namely Siu Lim Tou, Cham Kiew and Phew Chee (and mainly uses the Four-Six Stance). As well as two weapon sets: the Butterfly Knives and the long staff.

            In Choe Family Wing Choon, for example, the three unarmed sets of Siu Lim Tou, Cham Kiew and Phew Chee of the popular styles, are incorporated into one set, Siu Lin Tou. There are about a dozen other unarmed sets, like Flower Set, Tiger-Crane, Battle Palm, Choy-Li-Fatt, Drunken Eight Immortals, and Essence of Fighting.

            Besides the Butterfly Knives and the Long Staff practiced in the popular styles of Wing Choon, in Choe Family Wing Choon there are about a dozen other weapon sets, like the saber, the spear, the big trident, the kungfu bench, and the Guan Dao. In Choe Family Wing Choon, the butterfly knives set is called Human-Character Double Southern Knives, whereas in popular Wing Choon styles it is called Eight-Chop Knives. The long staff set is similar in both Choe Family Wing Choon and other popular Wing Choon styles and is called Six-and-Half-Point Staff.

            These extra sets, by a big number, are sufficient to offset the weakness experienced in the popular Wing Choon styles. If a Taekwondo exponent executes kick at a practitioner of Choe Family Wing Choon, for example, he can apply techniques from other sets to overcome the kicks. If a group of assailants attacks him, he can apply techniques from Choy-Li-Fatt or Drunken Eight Immortals to overcome them.

            The limited weapon sets in the popular styles of Wing Choon is also a strength and weakness. Like in unarmed sets, as there are only two weapon sets, it gives practitioners more time to enhance their skills in these weapons. The Six-and-Half-Point Staff has become a very formidable weapon.

            On the other hand, it is also a weakness because practitioners have no chance to explore other weapons. Not only understanding other weapons will enhance performance in the butterfly knives or long staff, if a practitioner chooses that as his chosen weapon, but also it will enhance other aspects of his unarmed kungfu and by extension in his daily life.
            Best regards,
            Last edited by Anton S.; 30th December 2018, 09:18 PM.
            Engage and maintain joyful practice!

            May all of you get the best benefits from what you do.

            Anton Schmick
            Shaolin Wahnam Germany Nord



            • #7
              Happy New Year everyone!

              Reading through the source mentioned above, I keep discovering these gems.

              This one is about our Grandmaster´s "aha" moments when he learned from GM Choe Hoong Choy.

              Yes, practicing Choe Family Wing Choon has given me many “aha” moments. One outstanding example happened just a few years ago, i.e. many years after I learned from Sifu Choe Hoong Choy.

              I was lying in bed one night on the Blue Mountain. While teaching there, I was also preparing myself to teach a Special Wing Choon Course in Penang a few months later. I was thinking of the pattern, “Seong Pai Fatt” or “Double Worshiping of the Buddha”, at the start of Siu Lin Tou, and recalled reading that it was a very powerful pattern. I jumped out of bed and performed a few patterns of “Double Worshipping of the Buddha” in total darkness. I was surprised to hear and feel some thunderous sounds, “boom boom boom”, bouncing off from a wall. I decided to stop, least Rama, the owner of the Blue Mountain, thought an earthquake had happened. “Aha!” I suddenly realized why Ng Mui, the teacher of Yim Wing Choon, was so powerful despite her age and slender figure.

              Another “aha” experience I still remember was when my sifu, Sifu Choe Hoong Choy, demonstrated to me a combat application of “thap choui” or “hammer-fist”. Although it was called “hammer-fist”, the pattern was thrusting out of a phoenix-eye fist at an opponent’s solar plexus.

              Just seeing the application once enabled me to realize why the pattern was called “thap-choui”. It opened up for me a whole range of combat applications, manifesting a hallmark of Wing Choon Kungfu, i.e. striking down an opponent as soon as he moves!

              It is very effective, but also very vicious. It shows no mercy, killing or maiming an opponent in just one move. It may not be practical in today’s law-abiding society, where the Taijiquan techniques of pushing away opponents, or the more drastic but still very compassionate Shaolin chin-na would be more appropriate. But if a situation warrants it, like in a life-death challenge match, this technique, of course with the necessary skill, can fell an opponent, regardless of his size and strength, in just one move. This is Wing Choon Kungfu. It is not raining a series of chain-punches on an opponent and he still can fight.

              Another “aha’ experience occurred during a session when Sifu Choe Hoong Choy taught me the Six-and-Half-Point Staff. I do not mean to be presumptuous and I mentioned this in good faith, all of a sudden all the other fighting techniques using weapons, especially those I saw in movies, appeared third-class. By comparison, the techniques of Six-and-Half-Point Staff were so direct and effective. I was already good with weapons after learning the Flowing Water Staff from Sifu Ho Fatt Nam. The Six-and-Half-Pint Staff enhanced my combat efficiency further.
              Experiencing "aha" moments is great!
              For those, who trained Choe Family Wing Chun, would you like to mention any of your aha moments?
              Engage and maintain joyful practice!

              May all of you get the best benefits from what you do.

              Anton Schmick
              Shaolin Wahnam Germany Nord



              • #8
                Here I found some interesting other information about Choe Hoong Choy:

                May all beings be happy

                Shaolin Wahnam Germany