Lai Tung Pai – History
The history of Lai Tung Pai (Poon Kuen) reaches far back to the Sil Lum (Shaolin) Temple located in the Soong Shan Mountains. The style was created by a monk Chi Sen and propagated through Yuen Kok and Yuen Mau who were ordained monks. It is said that there were also two other monks named Yuen Cheuk and Yuen Sing that were taught the Lai Tung Pai style.
Let’s talk a little about the history of China at the time Lai Tung Pai was created. In the beginning of the Tang Dynasty (618-905 AD), there was an army general Hwang Shih Chung, who came to Szechwan Province, only to rebel against the government. He occupied a place called Tingchow. Between the troubles caused by the general and marauding hordes of bandits, many of the Sil Lum monks decided to leave the temple for safer shelters elsewhere. Included were the four monks of Lai Tong. The four monks never saw each other again.
The focus will remain with Yuen Mau. He traveled down south to the Kwangsi Province. At the end of his journey, he found shelter in a monastery. However, trouble soon made its way south, but rather than run, he decided to teach all the other monks the Lai Tung Pai style.
Lai Tung Pai was never allowed to be taught outside the monastery walls until the late Ching Dynasty (1644-1912 AD) when the monastery’s abbot Fa Hoi decided to travel south to Canton in the Kwangtung Province to oversee the Hoi Tung Monastery. This monastery, located on the south bank of the Pearl River, was a famous edifice in Canton. The monastery still stands today. That is where Kong Ki, the first layman to ever learn the style, was taught the style by Abbott Fa Hoi. Kong Ki then taught his son, our current Si Gung, Kong Hoi. Kong Ki, upon becoming ill, decided he could no longer teach Kong Hoi, so he sent him to the monastery to train directly with Fa Hoi. All this took place in the late 40’s and early 50’s. Hong Hoi trained with Fa Hoi till he died and then left Canton in 1955.
Si Gung began teaching our Sifu Li in the late 1960’s at the Kong Hoi Kung Fu Association – Hong Kong when Sifu Li was in his early teens. Sifu Li was Si Gung’s last closed door student and trained under him exclusively for several months. Sifu Li joined the merchant marines and after his tour of duty settled in America where Lai Tung Pai is now taught in Charlotte, NC, Kings Mountain, NC and Rock Hill, SC. Mint Hill Kung Fu School, Sil Lum Mountain Kung Fu and Kong Hoi Kung Fu Association – USA are the only schools in the world where you can learn the style. Si Gung Hoi has been retired for many years now in Hong Kong and no longer teaches publicly but does teach privately.