Qigong/ChoyLeeFut > Choy Lee Fut Wooden Dummies
Choy Lee Fut Wooden Dummies
By Howard Choy
Choy Lee Fut kung-fu has always been taught openly, since its conception in the 1830’s. The passage of time has resulted in many derivative new techniques being added onto the original as passed down by Chan Heung, the founder. It is now difficult to differentiate the techniques that were devised by Chan Heung and those that were created by teachers of later generations.
The three main branches of the system, namely, Hung Sing (Originally known as Great Sage Hung Sing, later changed to Heroic Victory Hung Sing), Hong Sing (Great Victory), and Buk Sing (Northern Victory, whose lineage can be traced to Tam Salm), feature slight variations in their techniques.
This is especially true in the case of the wooden dummies (known as jongs in Cantonese). Since few knew about the techniques in the first place those who practiced the dummy movements did so on their own. This led to personal interpretation and experimentation. This gradual evolution of techniques came about because of geographical separation, difficulty of communication and that each generation had its own comprehension of what went before, especially if their lineage is further away from Chan Heung and the direct teaching of the Chan family.
Family Secrets Unleashed
Since the migration of Chen Yong-Fa from China to Australia 13 years ago, the original techniques of Chan Heung have been made public. This has introduced to the world knowledge previously kept within the Chan family. Chen Yong Fa is the great, great grandson of Chang Heung and has direct access to family documents, such as the Training Manual of Choy Lee Fut, in which all the fist forms, weaponry, lion dance and wooden dummy techniques were recorded in detail as passed down by Chan Heung.
There are 184 recorded forms, in which 48 are single-person fist forms and about 20 are wooden dummy techniques.
The wooden jongs are an inherent part of the Choy Lee Fut training system. Practiced along with hand fighting and weapons fighting techniques, jong training in particular emphasises the use of strong/heavy power, while also serving to sharpen the reflexes and developing accuracy in striking pressure points.
Jong training originated in the Shaolin temple. Choy Fook, one of Chan Heung’s mentors, survived the sacking of the Fukien temple and passed on this traditional Shaolin training technique to become part of the Choy Lee Fut martial arts system.
Chan Heung put considerable emphasis on power training, which is essential in jong techniques because one must have a strong and solid stance and tough limbs. It is not an easy task to send a heavy sandbag flying or to smash a solid piece of timber with a heavy weight attached swing from end-to-end like a yo-yo.
Chan Heung’s son, Chan Koon-Pak, also made jong techniques one of his specialities and received full instructions from his father. While teaching in Guangzhou, Koon-Pak was approached by Choy Kwai-Yuan and his two sons to teach them the wooden dummy techniques. They had the space required for installing the various jongs in their home. Chan Koon Pak accepted their request and gave them the specifications to construct the jongs.
Once the construction and installation of the jongs was completed, other students of Koon-Pak also expressed an interest in learning the techniques and would gather at Choy’s house to practice every day. These students included outstanding past Choy Lee Fut Masters such as, Wong Fook, Ngan Yiu Ting, and Tam Salm. Koon Pak’s son, Chan Yiu Chi also helped his father teach and train many of the third generation practitioners.
On Chan Koon Pak’s retirement, Chan Yiu-Chi became the third generation grandmaster of the system. He enjoyed a tremendous following and was the first to commit to chronicling the techniques of the wooden dummies.
Chen Yong Fa started his training at the age of four under the tutelage of his grandfather Chan Yiu-Chi, and his father Chan Wan-Han. After over 40 years with Choy Lee Fut, he has a deep understanding of his family system and wants to pass down and propagate these techniques, especially the wooden dummy.
Choy Lee Fut jongs are divided into three levels of training, each level more advanced then the last. The ching jong (balance dummy) is usually taught first. The rest of the jongs include: sar bow jong (sand bag dummy); chuin lung jong (penetrating dragon dummy); sui sau jong (breaking hand dummy); and ma jong (horse dummy).
The ching jong (balance dummy) is the most well known of all the choy lee fut wooden dummies. Its chief purpose is to strengthen the kiu sau (the bridge hand) – the part of the arm used for blocking. The ching jong is made of a large, heavy post fixed to the ground. It has three arms and a leg protruding from the front. These arms are used to train blocking, while pads located around the post train the strength and accuracy of striking.
The distinguishing feature of the ching jong is the large moveable arm at the top that can be used to practice the well-known swinging punches of Choy Lee Fut, such as the sow chui and dat chui, along with grappling techniques. The leg fixture is used for various Choy Lee Fut leg sweeps and toughening the shins at the same time.
Apart from training the kiu sau, the ching jong also helps improve the mobility of the student’s horse stance, with the arms and leg serving as obstacles that the practitioner must manoeuvre.
The name “balance dummy” can be derived from the idea that the dummy trains the student to move from side to side, in and out. Movements alternate between high and low strikes and from long to short-distance techniques in line with the flux of yin and yang. A balance between yin and yang, soft and hard, slow and fast is essential for good kung-fu.
Sar Bow Jong
The sar bow jong is a heavy, top hung swinging bag that requires strong energy to move. Full-force strikes can be used against the dummy, which cannot be done when training with a live partner.
The movement of the bag requires the student to focus on timing and rhythm. When the bag is hit and made to swing, subsequent strikes must be made not only at the right moment, but also with a strong horse stance. Since the bag often is heavier than the student is, undisciplined moves will be met with the practitioner landing on the floor.
The conditioning of the arm and leg muscles and ligaments as well as the student’s fist is also a result of training with the sar bow jong. The sand and the swing of the bag absorb full-power strikes to the sandbag. This works the muscles and ligaments and allows the student to improve his strength by striking the bag harder each time. Rubbing Chinese medicine (dit da jow) on the forearms hardens the bones and muscles.
Sui Sau Jong
The sui sau jong (breaking hand dummy) is another of the Choy Lee Fut primary-level dummies. It features a swinging arm at the front of the dummy, as well as a helicopter-like arm at the top. These arms move in such a way that requires quick reactions from the student, alternating between striking and blocking as the dummy counterattacks.
The arms are coordinated so that striking the swinging arm causes the rotation of the helicopter arm, which is located at head height so the student must avoid or block this arm or receive a blow to the head.
The emphasis is on training speed and lightning reactions to your opponent’s counterstrikes. As you strike the dummy harder and faster so too will the dummy counterattack harder and faster. A formidable opponent, the mastery of the sui sau jong requires not only speed and accuracy, but also a high level of concentration and awareness, as any break in concentration usually results in a painful blow from the dummy’s arm.
Chuin Lung Jong
The chuin lung jong is designed to develop the strength of the student’s horse stance. Strong internal energy and muscles are used to generate power in every move. Two heavy sand bags are strapped to the student’s ankles to ensure that strong footwork is used at all times. Otherwise, the player will be uplifted by the weight of the sandbags.
While strapped to these heavy bags the student must move – changing between horses and kicking the side bags as well as the large centre bag. Punching must also be done with heavy power because it ensures that the horse stance is strong and firmly grounded.
The chuin lung jong thus combines both hard chi kung as well as external kung fu, to sharpen the student’s internal strength (jing) through working with the jongs.
The ma jong is one of the most advanced dummies taught to date by Master Chen Yong-Fa to his wing sing tong instructors, although it is still relatively simple when compared with the complex tertiary-level dummies of the Choy Lee Fut dummy system.
Unique to this dummy is the heavy spring-loaded horizontal log shaped in the form of a horse. The log is mounted on wheels and springs in such a way that when pushed back the horse charges forward, forcing the practitioner to defend and control the dummy.
Power and a flexible horse stance are used to avoid and redirect the energy generated by the heavy log. The use of two interlocking spinning arms also requires a quick eye, together with fast and accurate hands to hit the targets between the rotations of the arms.
The dummy is designed to train a combination of speed, accuracy and power.
With the dummy’s unique moving parts, the harder and faster the practitioner attacks the dummy the harder and faster the dummy will counterattack. This ensures the dummy will be a challenge to even the strongest of students. Agility and awareness are essential in the use of this dynamic training tool and make this dummy effective for both offensive and defensive training.
The variety and uniqueness of Choy Lee Fut wooden dummies will always have an edge over other mechanical methods of training. Once the jongs are made and set up they will provide a convenient and safe way to practice. The aim of all training is to improve power, speed and accuracy. The jongs will give you all this and more.
The writer wishes to thank Sifu Darryl Choy and Sifu Craig Davenport for allowing material first written for their Choy Lee Fut website to be included in this article.