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Ancestor and Discipleship Ceremonies Honour Teachings of Choy Lee Fut Kung Fu

Updated: Mar 29

What does it mean to honour the past while embracing the future? At Chau Luen Athletics, the answer to this question came to life in a unique way as September 2, 2023, marked a significant day for the club. It was on this day that we held both an ancestor ceremony and a discipleship ceremony, paying homage to the legacy of Choy Lee Fut, the traditional Chinese martial arts style practiced at Chau Luen Athletics.

The ancestor ceremony: Honouring Choy Lee Fut’s legacy

Every year, Choy Lee Fut practitioners around the world commemorate the birth of founder Chan Heung 陳享 through an ancestor ceremony. In Vancouver, this style of martial arts is widely practiced, due in large part to the tireless dedication of the club’s Si Tai Gung 師太公 ("great-grandmaster") Wong Ha, who was one of the most prolific kung fu teachers in the city.

Portraits of Choy Lee Fut Kung Fu Ancestors at a discipleship ceremony
Past teachers of Choy Lee Fut kung fu (from left to right): Wong Ha (fourth generation), Chan Yiu Chi (third generation), Chan Heung (founder), Chan Koon Bak (second generation). Photo credit: Jonathan Desmond Photography.

After a long hiatus due to the pandemic, the club resumed this cherished tradition, led by Si Gung (“grandmaster”) Peter Wong 黃碧海師公, the Honorary Chief Instructor at Chau Luen. During the ceremony, students, friends, and families watched as offerings such as incense, wine, tea, roast pig, and other items were presented to pay respects to the teachers who have passed down their knowledge.

Kyle Hui of Chau Luen Athletics offering oranges during a Choy Lee Fut Discipleship Ceremony
Items, such as oranges as seen in this photo, being offered during the ancestor ceremony. Photo credit: Jonathan Desmond Photography.

The discipleship ceremony: A bond as close as family

On the same day, Si Gung Wong accepted tea from six dedicated students during the discipleship ceremony that followed.

The ceremony, also known as bai see 拜師 (literally "bowing to the teacher"), is a moment that goes beyond mere tradition. As the tea is passed from pupil to teacher, it symbolizes not just a formality but a profound connection, a passing of the torch from one generation of martial artists to the next.

Participation in this tradition is a special one, reserved only for students who have demonstrated their commitment to preserving Choy Lee Fut's kung fu teachings. Only these dedicated individuals were invited to become disciples or reaffirm their status as one during the September 2 ceremony.

Having previously been accepted by Si Gung Wong as his disciple back in 2008, the club’s Head Instructor Sifu (“master”) Michael Tan 譚聖祐師父 was among those who participated in the ceremony to reaffirm his devotion to Si Gung Wong and the Choy Lee Fut style.

Kung Fu Discipleship Ceremony in Vancouver
Sifu Tan (right) reaffirming his commitment to Si Gung Wong (left) and the teachings of Choy Lee Fut kung fu during the discipleship ceremony. Photo credit: Jonathan Desmond Photography.

Now, it was Sifu Tan’s turn to accept tea from four of his own students – Shawn Zhang, Kyle Hui, Andrew Wong, and Gueshly Masson, each with more than 10 years of Chinese martial arts experience.

This occasion marks the first time Sifu Tan has accepted disciples. He reflected on the moment, saying, "This ceremony not only strengthens our commitment to Choy Lee Fut but also deepens our connection as a martial arts family. We are not just preserving tradition – we are living it."

Choy Lee Fut Kung Fu disciples at Chau Luen Athletics
Front row (left to right): Sifu Tan, Si Gung Wong; back row (left to right): Gueshly Masson, Andrew Wong, Kyle Hui, Shawn Zhang. Photo credit: Jonathan Desmond Photography.

These ceremonies, steeped in tradition and reverence, serve as a testament to the legacy of Choy Lee Fut and the unwavering commitment of its practitioners. At Chau Luen Athletics, we are not merely preserving a martial art; we are upholding Chinese culture, strengthening bonds, and continuing to write the story of kung fu for generations to come.


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