MONK CHOY FOOK IS NOT THE GREEN GRASS MONK
The Green Grass Monk (Ching Cho)
by Sifu Frankie McCarthy
The true identity of the Green Grass Monk and whether or not he was a Fut San Hung Sing Kwoon creation (as it was once accused) has long been a sore spot for the Choy Lee Fut fraternity. On one hand, this mysterious character was never part of Chan Heung’s history. I have personally contacted various leaders of King Mui lineages to quiz them on what they may have known about the Green Grass Monk. And, the responses were all the same, “Sorry, his name isn’t found in our official documentation.” After that, it was back to square one and all I could do was keep digging.
On the other hand, the Green Grass Monk has always been a part of the history of the Cheung Hung Sing lineages from the very beginning. Sure, we didn’t have much in regards of recorded history within the Fut San Hung Sing lineages. But, upon closer inspection, all of the students of Cheung Hung Sing’s school were labeled as rebels by the Qing Empire and they were forced to go deep underground. Any written literature that may connect someone with the outlawed groups could and often did mean instant death by beheading. Therefore, taking this into consideration, it makes perfect sense to why they chose to verbally transmit their history and information instead.
In the year 2001, a big heated debate on a well known kung fu forum took place. Students of all three of Choy Lee Fut’s major branches (Chan Fam, Hung Sing and Buk Sing) participated in this discussion that went on for some time. No one could agree in regards to whether or not Green Grass Monk was just a story or indeed very real. While it cause a few ripples within the fraternity, the after effect was the newer and younger generations began to question their own teachers about his monk. It definitely wasn’t an issue that was going to be swept under the rug anytime soon.
The Green Grass Monk debate caused such a ruckus that one very high profile Choy Lee Fut teacher came out and claimed that he discovered the true identity of the Green Grass Monk. His erroneous claim stated that “Green Grass” was the monasterial name of Chan Heung’s second teacher Monk Choy Fook. This announcement turned the Choy Lee Fut fraternity on its ear because of the fact that a number of years before this incident, he wrote a book and listed many reasons why he felt the Green Grass Monk was a concoction of the Fut San Hung Sing Kwoon.
Now, it is my personal opinion that this Choy Lee Fut teacher was monopolizing on the idea that no one would be dedicated or resourceful enough to discover the truth. Since he was unaware of the outside sources at my disposal, he must have felt that he could get away with claiming the “Green Grass” name was of Buddhist origin. But, when my book is complete, people will learn the various names the Green Grass Monk used as his alias’, the occupation of his parents, how he came to be a shaolin monk, about his life, all the way down to the genesis of the “Green Grass” name and much, much more.
But the one thing I need to clear up right away is that Monk Choy Fook is in no way, shape or form the Green Grass Monk. More and more these days you will come across historical information that has adopted this misconceived notion of the Green Grass Monk’s identity. And, if this LIE keeps getting perpetuated, people will believe it’s the truth. This would not be good for the Choy Lee Fut fraternity because everyone knows the Green Grass Monk was Cheung Hung Sing’s 3rd teacher.
A few of the quick and easy points to recognize that Monk Choy Fook is NOT the Green Grass Monk is: 1) Choy Fook is known to have lived on Mt. Lou Fu while the Green Grass Monk was living on the Ba Pai Mountain many miles away. As you can see from the image of the map, this mountain was very far away from Mt Loufu and would be too difficult for an elderly monk to travel back and forth from, 2) One very important identifying factor is that keeps getting brought up is the notion that Monk Choy Fook had a scarred head, allegedly from his head being caught on fire during the destruction of the southern Shaolin Temple as he escaped. It is such an important aspect of Monk Choy Fook aka Lan Tau Fook, that it needed to be mentioned. However, nothing of the sort has ever been mentioned about the Green Grass Monk at all.
The third point to make note of is Monk Choy Fook was a master of the Choy Gar style and died as a recluse on Mt. Loufu while the Green Grass Monk lived on Ba Pai Mountain, taught Fut Gar Kuen, was a founder of the Hung Mun, and had a mission of raising an army to rise up against the government. In addition to all of this, the “GREEN GRASS” name isn’t anyone’s temple name at all. Never was, and never will be. Do you know why? Because it’s true origin is not with Shaolin, but the Chinese Secret Society. I go deeper into this subject in the book I am writing.
In conclusion, I’m not sure why anyone would want to abuse the legacy of the Fut San Hung Sing Kwoon by denying the Green Grass Monk’s existence as long as it was part of Cheung Hung Sing’s history. But if the Green Grass Monk can be applied towards Chan Heung’s legacy, then sure, he really did exist. One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to see the reasoning behind anyone claiming Monk Choy Fook to be the Green Grass Monk. The sad part of it is, those people making these claims know they are not telling the truth. Still, the truth shall set you free.