The birthplace of Choy Lay Fut was in the county of Futsan, Guangzhou province, China.
Chang Heung was a village teacher who was known to be proficient in Martial Art and he taught in the Chan Clan of King Mui village in Sun Hui county. One day a young Martial Arts enthusiast by the name of Jeong Yim was introduced to him. Jeong Yim was in need of temporary abode and Chan Heung took him in. It was said that Chan secretly imparted his knowledge of the Choy and Lay Kar fighting techniques to Jeong Yim, as strict traditional clan rules forbid him from doing so openly since Jeong Yim was an outsider.
When the village elders discovered this secret years later, Chan had to send Jeong Yim away. He gave him a letter of introduction to a Shaolin Monk by the name of Chi Cho (Green Grass) at Mount Bakpei. (Chan was supposed to have gone under the monk for study in the Shaolin fighting art years ago but due to some reasons, it did not materialise). The monk accepted Jeong Yim as his student.
He not only mastered the Shaolin Palm techniques but also acquired knowledge on the use of herbal medicine from the monk. Before his departure from Mount Bakpai, the Monk gave him an alias.
He was to be known henceforth as Jeong Hong Sing – with the implied meaning that the Hong (Hung) Moon (Triad Organisation of that time) would “Sing” – triumph over the Ching Government.
Upon his return to the village, Jeong Hung Sing awed the villagers with his skill and was received warmly by Chan. Jeong Hung Sing reciprocated his teacher by sharing his newfound skill with him. They accorded each other with the respect as fellow disciples and began to synthesise the fighting skill from the three different schools of Choy, Lay and Fut (Buddha).
The art which they referred to as “Fut Kar Zheng Zhung” – meaning, the origin of Shaolin.
Every school of Martial Arts has their own unique form of salutation. The founders of Choy Lay Fut developed a series of fast and successive movements as the Choy Lay Fut salutation. These movements with esoteric names were personifications of a poem, which contained revolutionary sentiments. The poem consists of four stanzas with a main character in each stanza. When the four characters were stringed together in sequence, it would read “Overthrow the Ching, restore the Ming”
The founding of Futsan Hong Sing Koon
The name Jeong Hong Sing became synonymous to Choy Lay Fut. The first ever Hong Sing Koon was founded in 1839 by Jeong Hong Sing in Futsan county of Guangzhou province. Among his choice disciples were Chan Ngau Sing, Lei Yan, Tam Lup, Lui Chan and many others.
There were soon more than a dozen branches of Hong Sing Koon in Futsan county as the fighting art gained wide recognition. The popularity of this Martial Art spread to other counties and cities. Many Martial Artists from other schools came to challenge Jeong Hong Sing. They were all defeated. Some became his students; other left with bruises and a bruised ego.
The death of Jeong Hong Sing
The popularity of Choy Lay Fut eclipsed the names of many other Martial Art schools in Guangdong. It created much displeasure to the Martial Artists of other schools because it affected their livelihood.
One day Jeong was ambushed by a group of armed men at the pier where he was to board a boat to the Chan Village. He recognised some of them as Martial Artists he had defeated before. A fierce fight ensued as Jeong used the oil-paper umbrella he was carrying as weapon and put up a good fight.
Three of the assailants were dead and a number of them wounded as the rest of them fled. Jeong was badly wounded as he staggered back to Futsan Hong Sing Koon.
He died from his wounds shortly after.
Regionalisation of Choy Lay Fut
Chan Hau Shing and the rest of Jeong’s students went on a rampage in Futsan to seek out their teachers killers. Those who were responsible for the incident went into hiding and in desperation, some of then sought refuge with the Manchu government.
They charged that Futsan Hong Sing Koon was the headquarter of anti-government activities. That led to a clamp down on Choy Lay Fut practitioners and the closure of Futsan Hong Sing Koon.
Jeong’s students scattered and successfully spread Choy Lay Fut throughout China.