Chan Heung Gung, Founder of Choy Lee Fut

(1806 – 1875)


 Choy Lee Fut kung fu (蔡李佛拳) in its unadulterated form, is one of the most authentic and complete offshoots of the original Shaolin Kung Fu (少林功夫). Founded by Chan Heung Gung (陳亨公), a native of  Ging Mui Village (京梅村), Sun Wui County (新會縣), in Guangdong Province (廣東省) in southern China in 1836, Choy Lee Fut is one of the most popular and effective traditional Chinese fighting styles. 

In the more than 200 years since its founding, Choy Lee Fut has not only been established as a major system of kung fu but has also developed in many different ways through five generations of its practitioners.

 Choy Lee Fut Hung Sing Gwoon

Many people have mistakenly thought that Choy Lee Fut Hung Sing Gwoon is a name used exclusively by the Cheung Hoong Sheng lineage of Choy Lee Fut. The original Chinese characters of “Hung Sing” (洪聖) meant Sage (聖) of the Hung League (洪門), the latter being a revolutionary movement with its sole objective being to expel Manchu rule and restore the Ming Dynasty (反清服明). The mandarin pronunciation is Hong Sheng. Phonetically, therefore, “Hung Sing Gwoon” when spoken in Cantonese sounds different from the Mandarin. Choy Lee (Li) Fut is the Cantonese pronunciation while Cai Li Fo is the mandarin pronunciation.

Chan Heung Gung’s second son, Chan Koon Pak (陳官百)was still a youth when he succeeded him as leader of the Choy Lee Fut clan. Due to the prominence of Choy Lee Fut’s involvement in the revolution, Chan Heung’s family and schools were in danger of government prosecution. Chan Heung’s senior disciples and advisers  decided to “disguise” the name of the school by altering the characters used in the name Hung Sing. “Hung” was rewritten to mean “Hero” (雄)or “Patriot”. This character is also a reference to Buddha as is often seen on plaques at the entrance of Buddhist shrines named “Dai Hung Bo Deen” or “Da Xiong Bao Dien” (大雄寶殿)meaning Precious Chambers of the Great Protector”. The character used has great relevance because it inferred the connection to the Shaolin Temple (少林寺) and its Buddhist heritage.

The word Sing was changed to a different character meaning “victory” (勝). Thus Hung Sing Gwoon became known as the School of the Hero/Patriot/Protector’s Victory. In the Cantonese dialect, the is no difference between the old name and the new. In Mandarin, however, the pronunciation for the new name is Xiong Sheng. The association to the revolutionary school became less obvious.

 When Cheung Hoong Sing (張鴻勝) was a disciple of Chan Heung Gung, he made his name as an ardent revolutionary. In the Heaven Earth and Man Society, Chan Heung was a Red Pole, that is, the equivalent to a general in the Society. Cheung Hung Sing’s real name was Cheung Ah Yim or Cheung Yim (張炎) in short. There has been much conjecture and claims about Cheung Yim being a co-founder of Choy Lee Fut. Such a claim has no traditional or culture basis as it was impossible that 200 years ago in China that the father figure (Chan Heung) could share the elevated altar with the son/disciple Cheung Yim. In addition, when one considers the level of Chan Heung’s kung li (功力) and skills, developed from many years of training, it makes no sense that Cheung Yim, a disciple of a few short years, could be co-founder.

Due to the rivalries between the various factions, the confusion about Choy Lee Fut’s actual founding became more and more distorted over the generations. Followers of the three main branches of Choy Lee Fut; Hung Sing (Hero’s Victory), Hung Sing (Wild Geese Victory) and Buc Sing (北勝 or North Victor) have differing versions of the actual founding of Choy Lee Fut.

In the early 1970’s the elders of the “3 Sings” declared a call to unity and stated publicly that they would henceforth call their schools Choy Lee Fut instead of continuing to name their styles Hung Sing, Hung Sing or Buc Sing. The catch cry was “Sarm Sing Yat Gar” meaning The Three Sings One Family.

The old divisions have resurfaced in the past 20 years. Today, it would appear there are four division of Choy Lee Fut. In addition to the traditional Hung Sing, Hung Sing and Buc Sing branches, there is now a Chan Family Style Choy Lee Fut headed by the great-great grandson of Chan Heung, Master Chen Yong-fa. 

Chan Heung Gung, Founder of Choy Lee Fut

The Founder of Choy Lee Fut, Chan Heung Gung (陳亨公), as he is reverently referred to by Choy Lee Fut followers to this day (“Gung” is a form of reverent address reserved for senior elders of a clan or school), was born on the tenth day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar in 1806.

At the age of seven, his uncle, Chan Yuen Woo, taught him in the art of the Hung Fist. Mentally mature for a boy his age and physically very strong, Chan Heung’s progress was rapid under the tutelage of his uncle. By the age of fifteen, Chan Heung’s uncle had encouraged him to assist him in training his classes. It was recorded in the village

Born with a natural talent for martial arts, Chan Heung managed to master all his uncle’s martial arts knowledge in ten years what Chan Yuen Woo himself had taken some twenty years to learn.

Lee Yau-shan, the Master with a broken leg.

Chan Yuen Woo wishing to let his young nephew fulfill his potential, took Chan Heung, then 17, to see a senior Shaolin master called Lee Yau-shan (李友山), who was a graduate of the Shaolin Temple. Lee Yau-san’s master was the legendary Abbott Ji Hsin (志善大師), renowned for his long-hand division of the Shaolin School.  Abbott Ji Hsin was also the master of the legendary hero Hung Hei Koon, founder of Hung Kuen (洪拳) or Hung Fist, also variously called Hung Gar or Hung Family Style). 

Lee Yau-shan was as a great exponent of Shaolin but was exceptionally selective in accepting disciples. After learning of Chan Yuen Woo’s integrity as a righteous master of the Shaolin tradition and observing the young Chan Heung’s natural talent, Lee Yau-shan agreed to accept Chan Heung as a disciple.

Lee Yau-shan had a very unique footwork which he had innovated due to a physical disability. It transpired that Lee Yau-shan had in his younger days as an impetuous understudy at the Shaolin Temple, tested one of his instructors in a indiscreet and disrespectful way. In the process, he sustained an injury to his leg which left him with a permanent limp. To overcome his disability, Lee Yau-shan devised his stances so he would fight with only one foot in contact with the ground at anytime. This facilitated a very fast and fluid footwork which became the trademark of his kung fu. Years later, when Chan Heung synthesized his martial arts training, it was heavily influenced by Lee Yau-shan’s unique footwork. Choy Lee Fut’s “diu geok” is but one of the legacies of Lee Yau-shan.

After four years, Lee Yau-shan told Chan Heung that he had taught him everything he knew but that the Shaolin art is as vast as it is profound. Lee Yau-shan spoke of a reclusive monk who was once the sidai of his master, Ji Hsin (志善). The monk was called Choy Fook Siem Si (Zen Master Choy Fook) who was regarded as one of the Shaolin Temple’s most artistic monks. He suggested to Chan Heung to seek out this monk if he wished to reach the zenith of the Shaolin art.

Choy Fook, the Zen Monk with the scarred head

The Monk Choy Fook (蔡福禪師) was one of a handful of original Shaolin monks who survived the infamous burning and massacre of the Shaolin Temple by Qing troops. All of the Shaolin monks except for eight perished*. His ability to fight his way out and survive the massacre by overwhelming numbers of crack government troops bore testimony to his exceptional skills and “gung li”. The surviving monks, of which 5 became popularly known later as the Five Ancestors, dispersed and hid in various parts of the southern provinces. No one had any information of their whereabouts but it was known that Choy Fook had sustained injuries and severe burns to his face in the battle. Lee Yau-shan later found out through the underground network of revolutionaries that Choy Fook was alive and was living as a hermit on Mount Law Fou. Inhabitants on the mountain, not knowing his identity called him “The Monk with the Wounded Head” because of a terrible scar.

Lee Yau-shan wrote a letter of recommendation for Chan Heung to take to Choy Fook. After bidding his mentor farewell, Chan Heung immediately proceeded to Mount Law Fou to seek out the reclusive monk. After many days, Chan Heung came across a hermit in the woods and suspected that him was Choy Fook on account of the scar. Chan Heung presented Lee Yau-shan’s letter to the hermit, who at first denied that he was indeed Choy Fook. He later revealed his identity after much pestering from the young Chan Heung but declined his request to take him as a disciple.

Choy Fook told Chan Heung that he had left the martial world and sought only to spend the rest of his days studying the Buddhist scriptures. Chan Heung was welcomed to stay with him to study Buddhism but he would have no hope of learning any martial skills. Chan Heung, who was determined to learn from Choy Fook, could not be deterred and agreed to be his disciple even if it meant that the monk would only teach him the way of Buddhism.

Chan Heung stayed with his Zen teacher on Mount Law Fou and served him as a faithful disciple. He would recite the Buddhist sutras and perform daily chores such as chopping firewood with his bare hands and fetching water everyday. Unbeknownst to Chan Heung, these were exactly the same chores that he would have to perform had he studied martial arts at the Shaolin Temple. Choy Fook was actually testing the young man’s patience and perseverance. At the same time, the menial chores were designed to teach humility and further develop his “gung li”. Chan Heung’s physical powers and mental strength developed to another level during this time. In his free time, Chan Heung would practice by himself all that he had learnt from his two previous mentors.

One morning while practicing kung fu, Choy Fook appeared and commented that Chan Heung’s skills and power were only mediocre. Choy Fook challenged Chan Heung to kick a granite rice grinder which weighed about 80 katis, to a distance of twelve feet. Chan Heung performed the feat precisely as the monk had directed. Choy Fook then demonstrated his power. Instead of kicking, he placed his foot under the grinder and using internal qi, effortlessly propelled the eighty pound rice grinder into the air with just one subtle breath. He followed up with a kick and smashed the solid granite grinder while it was still in the air.

Chan Heung was in awe after witnessing this demonstration of superhuman strength and power. He knelt down quickly to show his respect. Choy Fook smiled and, addressing Chan Heung as his disciple, told him to rise. There is a common saying that to find a good teacher is very hard but to find a good disciple is even harder. Chan Heung had passed the many tests that Choy Fook had set for him and Choy Fook was now ready to pass on to him everything he had learned from the Shaolin temple.

Chan Heung stayed with Choy Fook for ten years, learning first the complete Shaolin system and then traditional medicine as well as continuing to study the Buddhist scripts. Under Choy Fook’s guidance Chan Heung’s skills reached the zenith of the Shaolin art. When time came for Chan Heung to “descend the mountain”, his master, happy that he had a worthy successor and content that the art and spirit of Shaolin would survive through this very special disciple, instructed Chan Heung to disseminate what he had taught him. Those were turbulent times in China. There was much suffering among ordinary Chinese folk caused by corruption, banditry, civil unrest, widespread poverty, and famine in rural areas. The Manchu rulers of China were still seen as foreign invaders despite tireless efforts by three generations of Qing monarchs to assimilate the Manchu and Han ethnic groups. By the time of Emperor Dao Guang’s rule, the Qing court was weakened by internal intrigue, its government apparatus rife with widespread corruption. Loyalist sentiments to the Ming cause had survived over the centuries and were holding out in parts of Fujien and Guangdong in the hope of eventually restoring the Ming Dynasty. The destruction of the Shaolin Temple served only to fan the anti-Manchu emotions and contributed to the birth of the Tian Di Hui (Heaven and Earth Society), or Hung League, which was the forerunner of the Triad organizations. The Hung League’s slogan was “Overthrow the Qings, Restore the Mings”.

This period in Chinese history became the popular setting for many romantic martial art novels dealing with the anti-Manchu movement that linked Shaolin monks and fighters to the Ming cause.

The newly industrialized European nations whom, centuries before had sought to open up trade opportunities in China, were vying with one another to gain greater trade concessions from the Qing government. The increase in trade, however, meant that the balance of trade was soon in favour of China. The British East India Company sought to tip the balance of trade in its favour by importing opium into China. Harvested from its territories in India and Burma, increasingly large quantities were imported into China. As opium addiction became endemic amongst the Chinese populace, the Qing court was forced to act by passing new laws to restrict trade with the Europeans. However, the opium trade continued despite the imperial ban due to corrupt government officials working in collusion with the foreign trade missions. It was also a time when the technologically and militarily more advanced European nations became more embolden in their demands on the Qing government no doubt encouraged by the example set by the British. They were not averse to employing “gun boat diplomacy” to force China to open its doors.

Set against this turbulent backdrop of history, Choy Fook foretold that Chan Heung will be a great leader who would serve his country in that time of need and that his followers will spread the name of Shaolin far and wide. In bidding his disciple farewell, Choy Fook gave Chan Heung a poem which alluded to the symbolic union of the dragon and tiger representing the Shaolin tradition which would be handed down to future generations. This poem was given to Chan Heung to signify that he is an authentic successor to the monks of the Shaolin Monastery, which by that time had ceased to exist.

The Beginnings of Choy Lee Fut

Chan Heung returned to Ging Mui Village after more than a decade away, to a hero’s welcome by the village elders. They implored him to formally teach the village folk. Chan Heung, in honour of his master’s wish, agreed and set up school at the village ancestral hall, called Yuen Fook Hall.

Amongst Chan Heung’s first group of students, eighteen became his disciples. When his following of students grew, Chan Heung realized that he could not realistically expect every recruit to train as he did because it required a life-long dedication to complete such a vigorous program. In addition, he realized that life was very hard among the peasantry during those economically difficult times in China. No doubt he would have a following of dedicated disciples but, to disseminate the Shaolin art to the common folk throughout the country as his master had directed, he had to synthesize all that he had learnt in the past twenty-four odd years to make his teachings more accessible to ordinary people as well as being applicable in the battlefield.

Although the martial art he had learnt from his three mentors was, in form and essence, Shaolin Temple Boxing, and, in its completeness, bore greater resemblance to the full Shaolin curriculum, Chan Heung felt that he could not justifiably continue to call the kung fu he was teaching Shaolin Temple Boxing because the new recruits did not undergo the strict classical Shaolin training traditions. In 1836, Chan Heung in chosing a new name for his “style”, decided to honour his two senior mentors and to commemorate its Shaolin heritage. He named it Choy Lee Fut after Monk Choy Fook, and his second mentor Lee Yau-shan, and used the word “Fut”, meaning Buddha or Buddhist, to signify the underlying Buddhist philosophy of this art and its Shaolin heritage.

It is important at this juncture to consider the genesis of Choy Lee Fut and what it meant at that time. While the Shaolin Temple, prior to its destruction, trained many boxers, there were two groups of trainees. There were the monks who had actually entered the Shaolin order of Zen Buddhism and taken their Buddhist vows. The other group consisted of the lay disciples, meaning those who were not monks but were accepted into the Temple primarily to learn martial arts while expected also to observe Buddhist teachings. The monks who studied martial arts spent their lifetime at the Temple and so were exposed to a wide repertoire of skills. These skills were articulated as Shaolin’s seventy-two specialized skills. The lay disciples, often revolutionaries, did not have a lifetime to learn the complete skills that could only be mastered through dedicated study in each of the famed 36 Chambers. Their objective was to master some of the Shaolin fighting skills for the purpose of carrying on their struggles to overthrow the Qing government. The condensed time frame within which to learn therefore allowed only specialization in one or two styles instead of the complete Shaolin curriculum. This is not to say that the lay disciples are inferior to the ordained monks. On the contrary, history tells us of the many top notched masters who came from the ranks of these lay disciples such as the legendary Hung Hei Koon who excelled because of their specialization. When some of these graduates of the Shaolin Temple later founded their own styles of kung fu, these new “styles” reflected their specialization and invariably the individual biases towards skills specialization.

The training that Chan Heung acquired, firstly through the early years with his first two mentors, would have shown the sort of biases we discussed above. However, he was a very formidable boxer by the time he completed his training under Lee Yau-shan. When Chan Heung continued his training with the Monk Choy Fook, he had the opportunity to learn an even greater repertoire of skills and further increased his “gung li”. This was due to the fact that Choy Fook was a resident monk who had been through all the Thirty-Six Chambers. Consequently, Chan Heung’s Choy Lee Fut kung fu was more complete than other offshoots of Shaolin.

The First Opium War and the Beginnings of the Choy Lee Fut School

Chan Heung married in 1838. His son, Onn Pak was born in 1840, when the First Opium War broke out. The First Opium War (1840-1842) was the culmination of the Qing government’s attempts to prohibit the import of opium by the British into China and the resultant efforts of the British to forcibly protect its opium trade. In 1838, Emperor Dao Guang appointed Lin Zexu, Governor of Hunan and Hubei Provinces, as the Imperial Commissioner charged with executing the imperial mandate to ban the opium trade. On his arrival in Guangzhou, which had been used by the British as an entry point for its opium into other parts of China, Commissioner Lin arrested the opium importers, the dealers and corrupt officials. The foreign merchants were forced to hand over their opium which was burnt publicly at the port of Humen in 1839. The British continued to side-step the ban but to no avail. In April 1840, the British government declared war on China, thus starting The Opium War.

Commissioner Lin Zexu (1785 – 1850) 

When a British fleet of 4,000 soldiers reached Guangdong and prepared to make its way up the Pearl River, Lin Zexu recruited local men to form a strong militia force to support the regular government troops. Chan Heung and his followers joined Lin Zexu’s forces. However, the struggle was short-lived. The British navy reached Tianjin and threatened the Chinese capital of Beijing. Corrupt senior court officials, who had secretly benefited from the opium trade, advocated a compromise with the British. The weak Qing court gave in to pressure and ordered Lin Zexu to dismantle his coastal defense and disband his army. While negotiated a series of “settlements”, the British continued to launch attacks on some of the important coastal centers. In Guangzhou, a major resistance force consisting entirely of people from 103 villagers in Guangdong armed only with traditional weapons resisted the plundering British force of 1,000 which was armed with modern guns and artillery. Chan Heung and his followers were amongst the leaders of the local volunteers who succeeded in inflicting heavy casualties on the British.

Due to a combination of corruption in the Qing court and the superiority of western military technology, the Chinese cause eventually succumbed. In 1842, China was forced to sign the humiliating Treaty of Nanking (Nanjing) which formally ceded Hong Kong to Britain and the ports of Guangzhou, Xiamen, Fuzhou, Ningbo and Shanghai were opened to foreign trade. With the end of the war, Chan Heung and his followers disbanded and returned home. While the consequences of the Opium War had been disastrous for China, Chan Heung’s new Choy Lee Fut system had evolved into a modern, dynamic fighting style that was forged and proven in the battlefield. The reputation of Choy Lee Fut’s fighting men spread far and wide. It was during this time when Chan Heung’s disciples, that is the next generation of Choy Lee Fut fighters such as Cheung Hoong Sing a.k.a. Cheung Yim, came into their own as masters in their own right.

Nine Dragon Halberd

Chan Heung developed a unique long-handled weapon to use in the battlefield. It was an awesome weapon which incorporated the features of long-handled broadswords, the trident, and hook swords, designed to fight multiple opponents at once. Consisting of nine hooked blades, it employed hooking, trapping, chopping, stabbing, raking, and cutting movements which essential represented all the conventional long-handled weapons popular at that time. Its unique feature was the capacity to entrap an opponent’s weapon within the nine hooks and subsequently snapping it in two by a powerful twist of the handle. Extremely heavy at 90 katies and more than eight feet long, it required superhuman strength to maneuver it as a weapon. When Grandmaster Li Iu Ling asked his sifu about this weapon, Great Grandmaster Chan Yiu Chi admitted that he only managed to maneuver his grandfather’s unique weapon a mere “few times”. This statement from Chan Yiu Chi again gave us an idea of Chan Heung’s immense “gung li”.

Taiping Tian Guo Chang An Man Nien

In 1844, Hung Xiuquan (1814-1864) led a peasant uprising which gathered momentum until it shock the very foundations of the Manchu government. Known as The Taiping Rebellion or “Tai Ping Tian Guo” (太平天國) Kingdom of Heavenly Peace), it eventually captured Nanjing (南京) in 1853, where it established its capital, and came close to toppling the Qing court. Chan Heung and his personal disciples trained many Choy Lee Fut followers who joined the ranks of the Taiping Rebellion. Choy Lee Fut followers by then had become known as revolutionaries. In Hunan Province that year, General Zheng Guofan organized an elite army called the Hunan Braves to fight the rebels.

Hung Xiuquan (1814 – 1864)

Better organized and equipped with superior western weaponry, Zeng Guofan’s armies began to turn the tide on the Taipings. Hung Xuiquan died in 1864 but remnants of the Taiping rebels continued their resistance in various provinces in the south. Zheng Guofan’s army began forcibly recruiting troops in the southern provinces to mop up the remaining resistance. In 1864, Chan Heung, then age 48 and his sons, Onn Pak, 14, and Koon Pak, 7, had to leave their home in Sun Wui to avoid being forced to join Zheng Guofan’s army. Thus began Chan Heung’s travels to other districts such as Nanhai, Shunde, Zhongshan, and Dongguan. Many Choy Lee Fut fighters, including his disciple Cheung Yim, went underground, spreading to many parts of southern China. Choy Lee Fut schools were temporary closed to evade arrest by government soldiers. These included the Foshan School which was originally opened by two of Chan Heung’s original 18 disciples.

Before parting with his followers, Chan Heung devised a series of secret signals with which his followers could identify themselves should they meet again in those times of chaos. The idea was to reunite in future to further the anti-Qing cause. Some of these secret symbolisms include the inverted right fits in the martial hand salute which symbolizes the character “Ming” as a show of allegiance, and the three salutes at the start of Choy Lee Fut forms which represents the “Fan Qing Fu Ming” (Overthrow the Qings, Restore the Mings) slogan of the revolutionary movement. In addition, to avoid fighting against each other mistakenly, Choy Lee Fut fighter would exhale with a loud “Yik” when using fist techniques, “Wak” when striking with tiger claws, and “Dic” when executing high kicks.

By 1868, the Taiping Rebellion was officially brought to an end. With peace eventually settling, the Choy Lee Fut schools were re-opened although with care not to arouse the suspicion of the authorities. The ancestral Choy Lee Fut school at Yuen Fook Hall, Ging Mui Village, which was originally named “Hung Sing Gwoon” meaning “School of the Hung Saint”, signifying the school’s ties with the Hung League left in the charge of Chan Heung’s eldest son, Onn Pak, was renamed with different characters meaning “Hero’s Victory”, which is also pronounced Hung Sing Gwoon in Cantonese. The changed characters were designed to deflect attention from the School’s revolutionary past. This was possible because both sets of characters, although sounding the same in Cantonese dialect, are pronounced differently in the official Mandarin used by court officials. In Mandarin, “School of the Hung Saint” is pronounced Hong Sheng Guan while “School of Hero’s Victory” is pronounced Xiong Sheng Guan.

Gold Mountain

With the persecution of the revolutionaries, Chan Heung, travel throughout China and visited the overseas Chinese communities in South East Asia and America to spread Choy Lee Fut.

Chan Heung’s travels in America (金山)were not fully documented but anecdotal accounts of a powerful fighter from China with almost superhuman strength surfacing in North America filtered back to China. Indeed, 4th Generation Grandmaster Li Iu Ling remembered his father, Li Chong, who made his fortune in Toronto, upon returning home to China, recounting stories of a man named “Heang” (the colloquial local dialectic pronunciation of “Heung”). He was asked to protect the local Chinese gold mining community from the ruthless railway company which was not averse to using force and violence in acquiring land. This man named “Heang” dealt a kick to the mid section of the burly American enforcer employed by the railway company with such blinding speed and power that it sent him flying across the street in an instance. The hapless man lay dead in a pool of blood emanating from his mouth.

Chan Koon Pak (1857 – 1916)

Chan Heung returned home after an absence of about 4 years. By that time, Choy Lee Fut was firmly established in Guangdong Province as well as parts of Quangxi. His eldest son, Onn Pak, was in charge of the ancestral school at Ging Mui Village while his second son, Koon Pak, barely in his teens, was assisted by his most loyal disciple, Loong Ji Choi (龍子才), at the Jiangmen (江門)school. His famous disciple, Cheung Yim also known by his alias Cheung Hoong Sing, reopened the Foshan (佛山)school which bore his alias “Hoong Sing” Gwoon. The character “Hoong” is the name of a species of wild geese in China known for its high soaring flights thus often a symbol of lofty achievements. The word “Sing” in this case, is the same used by the ancestral school, ie meaning “Victory”. In time, Cheung Hoong Sing’s Foshan school became popularly known as Foshan Hoong Sing Gwoon.

Chan Heung was said to have killed a tiger armed only with a coat hanger in his old age. The tiger had emerged from the woods and menacing the village folk. Chan Heung, grabbing the nearest implement he could find, wrestled the tiger to the ground and strangled it with his make shift weapon. The skin of the tiger was adorned on the walls of the ancestral hall for a period of time.

In 1875, on the twentieth day of the eighth lunar month, Chan Heung passed away at the age of sixty-nine (considered seventy, according to Chinese tradition). He left his legacy of the Choy Lee Fut School to his second son, Koon Pak, then barely eighteen years old.

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