Choy Lee Fut’s Sao Choy

This article is by guest writer, Graham Barlow of Bath Tai Chi.

“Through the back” power in Choy Lee Fut.

In this video I use the technique called Sao Choy from the Choy Lee Fut system. Sao Choy (“Sweeping fist”), can be found in all styles of Choy Lee Fut, but seems to be particularly emphasised in the Buk Sing style I practice, along with Chap Choy.When using the Sao Choy technique you’ll notice that the Choy Lee Fut practitioner usually performs a clearing or blocking action with the other hand first. Like most techniques in Choy Lee Fut, Sao Choy tends to be used in combination with other techniques in a fluid and circular manner, rather than in isolation. Since more attention is usually paid to the arm doing the Sao Choy when explaining the technique, I thought I’d concentrate on what the other hand is doing in my video, since there can be a lot of subtly to the technique employed, which is easy to miss. It’s also interesting to compare with similar posts on this blog that examine what the non-striking hand is doing in other arts, like Karate.

One of the features of Buk Sing CLF is a kind of “through the back” power, which connects the action of one arm to the action of the other, so that rather than operating separately, they work together to achieve their aims. A discussion of what the “other” hand is doing in the Sao Choy technique naturally leads on to a discussion of how this “through the back” power works in Choy Lee Fut in general.

It should also be noted that you are not limited to the particular clearing technique I’m demonstrating here prior to the Sao Choy - other popular options are Gwa Choy (a backfist) or Poon Kui, a circular block.

I hope you enjoy the video, and feel free to ask questions in the comments section.*

* Apologies for my slightly irreverent presentation style(!)

By Graham Barlow of Bath-Tai Chi and Choy Lee Fut (



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Bonus: Historical look at Bassai Dai, one of Karate’s most pivotal katas




3 thoughts on “Choy Lee Fut’s Sao Choy

  1. Thanks Charlie.

    Yes, that’s the “through the back” idea I’m talking about. I think that translates as “Tong Bei” in Chinese (which, incidentally, is also the name of whole martial art) 🙂

    Once I start talking I do put a little pause between the parry and the Sao Choy, but that’s just because I’m trying to explain what the parry hand is doing more. Really it should be more like I demo at the start - one unified action.

    I’ve had some interesting comments on this video which I’ll probably address in my next video - particularly:

    1) Wouldn’t it be better done on the outside of the arm?

    2) You can set Sao Choy up with other types of parry.

    3) At 3.15 (or whatever, can’t remember exactly when in the video) it looks like he could hit you with a cross?

    Next video should be fun! 🙂


  2. Nice post and video Graham,thank you.
    You said about the parry and Sao Choi should not be performed as 1, 2, movement. From your video, it looks more like a wave going from one arm, through the shoulders and out through the other arm. Very nice 🙂

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