Choy Lay Fut Kung Fu
For ten years, 2004-2013, I studied under master Tat-Mau Wong to keep in shape and have fun.
I focused on the many complex forms including weaponry, self-defense, and physical conditioning.
In 2009, I earned a black belt (photos of the event, below).
In 2010 and 2011, I participated in ICMAC international martial arts tournaments in San Francisco.
In 2011, I earned a 1st-degree black belt (photos of the event, below).
In 2013, weeks from a 2nd-degree black belt, a severe ankle injury forced me to stop this challenging martial art.
To learn more: Choy Lay Fut Kung Fu
The Kung Fu belt system:
Left: At his/her first lesson a new student receives a yellow belt
(upper left). As skills are mastered, new belts with achievement
certificates are earned - gold, orange, jade, green, purple, blue,
red, brown, and finally dark brown. This process takes about
The black stripe on the more advanced belts shows the student
is a member of the Black Belt Club, indicating his/her commitment
to achieve a black belt.
Below left: This is my black belt and certificate, achieved in 2009
(see photos of the big day, below). This belt is custom embroidered
with the student's name and chinese characters of his/her choosing.
Below right: My first-degree black belt and certificate, achieved in
2011 (see a few more photos, below). Also custom embroidered,
this belt features a gold stripe indicating the first-degree level.
Below: Participation certificates and a cool martial-artist medal from the 2010 and 2011 ICMAC tournaments I competed in.
My family attended this Black Belt ceremony, and took all the photos here. I was very honored to have my
brother-in-law John, a Karate master, come all the way from Texas to lend his support. Thanks, John!
Above: Hanging with my brother-in-law John and Master Wong
before the tests began.
Left: My kids Melissa and Eric, and Master Wong after the ceremony.
My wife Sue was there too - she took these photos.
Left, above, and right:
The tests began with warm-ups
demonstrating basic block
and strike skills.
Above and below: The next phase was
demonstrating self-defense moves with
a partner, in this case my friend and
fellow classmate Dave.
Right: One of my favorite shots -
Master Wong observes closely as
I perform a front jump kick.
Don't worry, Dave was not harmed.
Above: We then went on to "kick sequences",
moving across the room performing various kicks.
Next was performing the many forms we'd learned over
the past 5 years. The first weapon introduced in the
Kung Fu discipline is the staff, a 6-foot long wooden pole.
Above: the "fighting staff" form involves two students who
face off, alternating between attack and defense
techniques in a choreographed sequence so no
one gets hurt.
Right: The individual staff form is mastered first to become
familiar with the weapon and learn to use it safely.
Finally, conditioning was tested, including a 3-minute "horse stance" with a staff balanced across the thighs.
Above left: 1 minute - doing OK. Center: 2 minutes - thighs burning! Right: 3 minutes - IT HURTS SO BAD!
Above and right: With the tests complete, we moved to the main Tat Wong facility in San Francisco,
where we performed for our friends and family before the ceremony. Here, breaking reusable plastic
boards demonstrates striking power and accuracy. And it's fun!
Above left: The black belt ceremony consists of a traditional tea ceremony
shared with Master Wong, who then presents the belt and certificate.
Above: A Kung Fu sihing ties on my new black belt!
Left: The customized embroidery with name and Chinese characters.
Goofing off with Master Wong and brother-in-law John.
Left: The whole group who earned their black belts -
My family was not able to attend this one, so I have only a few photos to share.
The test process was similar to the standard Black Belt, but with added forms and self-defense skills.
Above: Master Wong presents the first-degree belt and certificate.
Right: Sifu Barbosa prepares my new first-degree black belt while
telling a joke.
Below: Sifu Barbosa ties on the black belt as I display my
certificate and "red envelope" note.
Below right: A newly minted Kung Fu first-degree black belt!