Choy Gar is a Chinese martial art deriving its name from Choy Gau Lee (Choy Tsing Hung) and is one of the five main familystyles of Kung Fu in southern China. The style emphasizes swift footwork and rapid strikes.
Early history- Shaolin Legacy
According to legend, the monks of the Shaolin Monastery wanted to find a balance in their life where they could cultivate both spirituality and physical health in harmony. Not only did they develop philosophies and meditations to help them be at peace with themselves and their surroundings, but they also studied the art of combat. Texts and Murals show the monks created various exercises where they could sharpen their skills and also observed various animals when they fought. Doing so they tried to imitate their distinct ways of fighting and wanted to be able to master every type of battle.
It seems that by the time of the 17th century the art reached such a level of sophistication and distinctness that not much has been added to it even to this day.
Choy Gar- The formation
In the 17th century the Manchurians took control of China under the Qing dynasty.
The majority of the Chinese people, being Han-Chinese, felt that their country had been invaded and it was a time of rebellion.
Especially the Shaolin temples in northern China are said to have been a place where many rebels gathered to train and mobilize, and the Manchurians knew this.
They began attacking the temples and many monks fled to southern China to seek refuge.
Many came to the Fujian province and one of these was a monk known as Gee Sum Sim See(Gee Sim Sim See
Gee Sum Sim See had many students but of all his students five stood out and are famous in southern China.
Two of them were Choy Gau Lee and Hung Hei Guan who founded Choy Gar and Hung Gar
and the other three founded Mok Gar
, Li gar(Choi Lei Fut
has part of its origins in that style) and Lau Gar
Of these five styles only the Hung Gar was able to expand considerably due to its close bond with the revolutions in the south of China against the manchú dynasty of the Ching in which its creator Hung Hei Gung or Hong Xi Kuan participated. The other four styles didn't have the same luck and nowadays it is very difficult to find them in their original state, such as is the case of the style Lau Gar which forms have been included in the Hung style; of the Lei style which techniques have been included in the Choy Lee Fat and of the very Choy style which techniques, forms and philosophy have passed to form part of styles like the Chow Ka, Jow Ka, Choy Lei Fat and Wing Chung.
At the moment the Choy is very rare , it is wrapped in a mystery of and secret halo, and although it is mentioned in almost all the stories of the Kung Fú of the South of China only a few have can be considered masters of its forms and techniques.
Choy gar is a self-defense style that practices low stances and swift footwork like that of the rat. The body and arms are meant to resemble the quick attacking movements of the snake.
Unlike the northern shaolin styles which have wider, more open techniques, Choy Gar's short and swift movements are better suited for the crowded alleys and streets of the densely populated southern China.
The low stance and power in the techniques, will in time, develop an inner strength within the practitioner. This is the basic foundation for creating effective movements, abilities and actions of the body. Only through this one can truly understand the wide range of Kung Fu techniques and it's distinctive character.
The philosophy behind Kung Fu is, in the east, of great significance. For many students, the training is like an upbringing and in everyday life, morals and traditions taught in Kung Fu help to mold their characters.
One begins by building up physique in a good way. Stamina, strength and flexibility workout is combined with stretching and basic techniques. Training is performed in a low stance (Chapma) to increase the leg strength. In the Choy style, strong legs are a necessity for performing the techniques in a correct manner. Lower body strength is the foundation of Choy.
The basic techniques (punches, kicks and blocks) are put together into different form combinations. One learns the forms in two versions, to the sides and to the front and are required to execute it against the Sifu at a certain pace and without any stalls.
All the various techniques of Choy Gar can be found in the following forms:
| Choy Gar Forms |
| "The first dance" |
| 4 Combinations |
| Choy Wi Poo (The essence of |
Choy Gar can be
found in this form)
| Chi Poo (A form greatly |
influenced by Hung Gar)
| Suilan |
| Sikwa |
| Swine Dance |
| Staff Form |
| Sword Form |
| Ta Shon (The longest and most |
complete form, takes
more than 15 min
Choy Gar kungfu is based on short and rhythmic techniques which minimizes the area the opponent can attack which in turn becomes an effective self defense. The short and fast leg techniques, combined with the low stances, give the opponent a smaller area of attack giving a more secure defense (this is very individual and relies upon each and every student's way of building up lower body strength).
Choy Gar Today
Its not known how many people still practise Choy Gar today in mainland China, but one could speculate that many clubs went underground during the cultural revolution.
What is known is that It was in Fujian province, and near Luofu Mountain
in the neighbouring Guangdong province that the Choy Family had their centre and how many people that spread the style from there is unknown.
What is known however is that Hakka Chinese people, who resided in colonies in Lima, Peru practised Choy Gar sometime in the 1940s.
By that time it was strictly for Chinese people and it was not until after the 1960s that some of the world's first non-Chinese people came into contact with Kung Fu.
Among them was Sifu Adolfo Tijero, who now has a Choy Gar club in Sweden, Stockholm, and who probably is one of the last first-generation non-Chinese sifu's (masters).
He learned it from sifu Fausto Wong whom in turn had been the student of sifu Pablo Kam (Chinese).
There is also a club in Cuba who was introduced there by Sifu Lei Tchoy from Guangdong Province and who arrived in Havana in the first quarter of the 20th century.
Together with Master Lei Bu (Hung Ka Kiin) and Master Wong Key from Canton (Kwong Tong) they opened up a martial arts and sport society in the Havana Chinatown.
The other existing club lies somewhere in Peru though the existing whereabouts are unknown.
- http://www.choygar.com , for more info, history and lineage of Choy Gar by Sifu Adolfo Tijero
- http://www.choykakungfucuba.110mb.com , for more info about Choy Gar by Tai Si Hing Carlos A. Olivera