Updated on April 16, 2021

Buk Sing Choy Li Fut kung fu - in-depth review

Buk Sing Choy Li Fut (北勝蔡李佛) branch – the Choy Li Fut kung fu that focuses on combat applications. Not many forms or taolu are taught in the Buk Sing Choy Lee Fat kung fu curriculum. Rather, Buk Sing CLF martial art focuses heavily on conditioning, perfecting and refining application skills of techniques.

Brief summary of history of Buk Sing Choy Li Fut

image-portrait of Tam Sam-Buk Sing Choy Li Fut founder

Buk Sing Choy Li Fut founder Tarm Sam was a Hung Gar kung fu practitioner. Hung Gar is another style of Chinese martial art that originated in Guangdong province, China. Under the tutelage of his teacher, Lui Charn, he studied Choy Li Fut to further improve his martial arts knowledge.

While training, an unfortunate incident involving Tam Sam and his senior fellow trainees resulted in his expulsion from the school. With the help of some of his fellow trainees, Tarm Sam set up his own school in the Siu Buk district of Guangzhou.

Later, Tarm Sam's students called his version of Choy Li Fut kung fu the Buk Sing Choy Li Fut. When the Northern Shaolin master, Gu Yu Jeung, visited Tarm Sam, they exchanged martial arts knowledge.

Gu Yu Jeung is the Northern Shaolin master with mastery of the internal strength iron palm techniques. Prior to visiting Tarm Sam, he had earned the reputation of killing a horse with the internal energy of his iron palm techniques. Later, from the autopsy of the horse discovered that he had ruptured the internal organs of the horse without leaving any bruises on the surface of the horse's skin.

As a result, the Buk Sing CLF curriculum has been further updated with the Buk Siu Lam or Northern Shaolin kung fu knowledge.

Some unique characteristics of Buk Sing CLF

Buk Sing Choy Li Fut is unique in which the entire body is used to generate power naturally. By convention, a student is taught to punch by initiating power from their shoulders while in Buk Sing CLF, the punch begins with recruiting entire body movements.

At Bamboo Kung Fu Buk Sing CLF classes, offence and defence are executed simultaneously. By conventional knowledge, offence and defence techniques are usually executed sequentially i.e. defending first followed by offence technique or vice versa. Buk Sing CLF launches its offence and defence techniques in one singular instance while protecting one's own centre line.

Another unique interpretation of Buk Sing CLF is that we utilize strategies in its applications. One example is the strategy of maintaining a distance perimeter just outside the zone of "no man's land" to safeguard against an oncoming offence. Depending on the capability of the practitioner or skill level, either party encroaching into the no man's land

While in Buk Sing Choy Li Fut training

During training at Bamboo Kung Fu, technique control is paramount to avoid injuring training partners.

In addition, the practice of "gong" is necessary to be successful in Buk Sing CLF. "Gong" is defined as effort, manual labour or work put in to achieve results. - 練拳不練功,到老一場空. Insufficient "gong" training will render some of the techniques ineffective. Other elements that are critical while training "gong" are balance control, timing and speed.

One of the very important basic training conditioning in Buk Sing CLF is the torso twisting at the waist. Having flexibility and the ability to whip from the waist, a practitioner can deliver powerful upper body limb techniques especially the punches, forearm bridge strikes, the infamous Choy Li Fut “sau chui” - which is looping punching technique, “gwa chui” – vertical back-fist strike.

In addition to knuckle-fisted strikes, there are also palm strikes and knife-edged strikes which are delivered through the whip of the waist. Torso twisting is a great conditioning exercise to reduce and tone the practitioner’s belly.

Another basic conditioning that is common amongst all traditional Chinese martial arts is stance training. Stance training is the training for static balance. In Choy Li Fut, apart from training one’s balance, stance training also drills the practitioner to learn physical body awareness or kinesthetic and proprioceptive intelligence of the upright position of the person’s spine. The upright position of the spine is important as it serves as a pivot for arms swings, much like the centre pivoting rotor of the rotating helicopter propeller blades.

Once the practitioner becomes proficient at the drill at static postures, one will upgrade to training while in motion.

Other conditioning exercises that are important are the conditioning of the joints of the wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, ankles. Each of these joints has roles in the generation of power of multiple techniques; strikes, throws, evasions, etc.

The following video clip shows the Buk Sing Choy Li Fut kung fu application of maintaining a safe distance perimeter at the same time maintaining a defence system behind the shield of well-conditioned limbs.

More advanced level training will include multiple challenger technique application exchanges.

To learn more about Buk Sing Choy Li Fut kung fu, please visit Bamboo Kung Fu schools at the following locations:

  • Downtown Toronto (Entertainment District)

    image-inside of Bamboo Kung Fu downtown Toronto location

  • Scarborough (Agincourt neighbourhood)

    image-inside of Bamboo Kung Fu Scarborough location

Click here for map and directions to our training locations.