Hung Gar (Hung Ga, Hung Kuen, or Hung Ga Kuen) is a member of the family of kung fu styles known as Southern Shaolin Kung Fu. Legend has it that it was founded in the early Qing Dynasty in Fujian Province, China, by the tea merchant Hung Hei Gun.
The hallmarks of Hung Ga are deep low stances, notably its "sei ping ma" horse stance, and strong hand techniques, notably the bridge hand and the versatile tiger claw.
The student traditionally spends anywhere from months to three years in stance training, often sitting only in horse stance between a half-hour to several hours at one time, before learning any forms. Each form then might take a year or so to learn, with weapons learned last. However, in modernity, this mode of instruction is deemed economically unfeasible and impractical for students, who have other concerns beyond practicing kung fu.
Hung Ga is sometimes mis-characterized as solely external; that is, reliant on brute physical force rather than the cultivation of qi; even though the student advances progressively towards an internal focus.
The Hung Ga of Wong Fei-Hung (黃飛鴻)Edit
Wong Fei Hung is visibly the most famous Hung Ga practitioner of modern times. As such his branch/lineage has received the most attention and as such recorded in various documents.
The Original Hung Ga curriculum that Wong Fei-Hung learned from his father comprised the sets :
- Single Hard Fist (單弓拳),
- Double Hard Fist (雙弓拳),
- Taming the Tiger Fist (伏虎拳),
- Angry Tiger Fist (.虎拳),
- Black Tiger Fist (黑虎拳)
- Mother & Son Butterfly Swords (子母雙刀),
- Fifth Brother Eight Trigram Pole (五郎八卦棍),
- Flying Hook.
Wong distilled his father's empty-hand material along with the material he learned from other masters into the "pillars" of Hung Ga, four empty-hand routines that constitute the core of the Wong Fei-Hung lineage:
"工" Character Taming the Tiger Fist 工字伏虎拳Edit
pinyin: gōng zì fú hǔ quán; Yale Cantonese: gung ji fuk fu keun
The long routine Taming the Tiger trains the student in the basic techniques of Hung Ga while building endurance. It is said to go at least as far back as Jee Sin, who is said to have taught Taming the Tiger—or at least an early version of it—to both Hung Hei-Gun and Luk Ah-Choi. The "工" Character Taming the Tiger Fist is so called because its footwork traces a path resembling the character "工".
Tiger Crane Paired Form Fist 虎鶴雙形拳Edit
pinyin: hǔ hè shuāng xíng quán; Yale Cantonese: fu hok seung ying keun
Tiger Crane builds on Taming the Tiger, adding "vocabulary" to the Hung Ga practitioner's repertoire. Wong Fei-Hung choreographed the version of Tiger Crane handed down in the lineages that descend from him. He is said to have added to Tiger Crane the bridge hand techniques and rooting of the master Tit Kiu Saam as well as long arm techniques, attributed variously to the Fat Ga, Lo Hon, and Lama styles. Tiger Crane Paired Form routines from outside Wong Fei-Hung Hung Gar still exist.
Five Animal Fist 五形拳/Five Animal Five Element Fist 五形五行拳Edit
pinyin: wǔ xíng quán; Yale Cantonese: ng ying keun/pinyin: wǔ xíng wǔ xíng quán; Yale Cantonese: ng ying ng haang keun These routines serve as a bridge between the external force of Tiger Crane and the internal focus of Iron Wire. "Five Animals" (literally "Five Forms") refers to the characteristic Five Animals of the Southern Chinese martial arts: Dragon, Snake, Tiger, Leopard, and Crane. "Five Elements" refers to the five classical Chinese elements: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth. The Hung Ga Five Animal Fist was choreographed by Wong Fei Hung and expanded by Lam Sai Wing (林世榮), a senior student and teaching assistant of Wong Fei Hung, into the Five Animal Five Element Fist (also called the "Ten Form Fist"). In the Lam Sai Wing branch of Hung Ga, the Five Animal Five Element Fist has largely, but not entirely, superseded the Five Animal Fist, which has become associated with Tang Fong and others who were no longer students when the Five Animal Five Element Fist was created.
Iron Wire Fist 鐵線拳Edit
pinyin: tiě xiàn quán; Yale Cantonese: tit sin kuen
Iron Wire builds internal power and is attributed to the martial arts master Tit Kiu Saam (鐵橋三). Like Wong Fei Hung's father Wong Kei-Ying, Tit Kiu Saam was one of the Ten Tigers of Canton. As a teenager, Wong Fei Hung learned Iron Wire from Lam Fuk-Sing (林福成), a student of Tit Kiu Saam. The Iron Wire form is essentially a combination of qigong (or meditative breathing) with isometric exercise particularly dynamic tension although weights were also used in traditional practice in the form of iron rings worn on the wrists. If properly practiced it can increase strength considerably and promote a stable root. However as with both most forms of qigong and most forms of isometric exercise it must be practiced regularly or the benefits are quickly lost. Wong Fei Hung was known for his Fifth Brother Eight Trigram Pole (五郎八卦棍), which can be found in the curricula of both the Lam Sai Wing and Tang Fong branches of Hung Ga, two of the major branches of the Wong Fei-Hung lineage, as can the Spring & Autumn Guandao (春秋大刀), and the Yu Family Tiger Fork (瑤家大扒). Both branches also train the broadsword (刀), the butterfly swords (雙刀), the spear (槍), and even the fan (扇), but use different routines to do so. Mother & Son Butterfly Swords (子母雙刀) can still be found in the curriculum of the Tang Fong branch.
Branches of Hung KuenEdit
Beyond that, the curricula of different branches of Hung Ga differ tremendously with regard to routines and the selection of weapons, even within the Wong Fei Hung lineage. Just as those branches that do not descend from Lam Sai Wing do not practice the Five Animal Five Element Fist, those branches that do not descend from Wong Fei Hung sometimes called "old" or "village" Hung Kuen, do not practice the routines he choreographed, nor do the branches that do not descend from Tit Kiu Saam practice Iron Wire. Conversely, the curricula of some branches have grown through the addition of further routines by creation or acquisition.
Nonetheless, the various branches of the Wong Fei Hung lineage still share the Hung Ga foundation he systematized. Lacking such a common point of reference, "village" styles of Hung Kuen show even greater variation.
The curriculum that Jee Sin taught Hung Hei-Gun is said to have comprised Tiger style, Luohan style, and Taming the Tiger routine. Exchanging material with other martial artists allowed Hung to develop or acquire Tiger Crane Paired Form routine, a combination animal routine, Southern Flower Fist, and several weapons.
According to Hung Ga tradition, the martial arts that Jee Sin originally taught Hung Hei Gun were short range and the more active footwork, wider stances, and long range techniques commonly associated with Hung Ga were added later. It is said to have featured "a two-foot horse," that is, narrow stances, and routines whose footwork typically took up no more than four tiles' worth of space.
Ha Sei Fu Hung Ga 下四虎洪家Edit
The Ha Sei Fu (下四虎) is said to fit this description, though the implied link to the legendary Jee Sin is more speculative than most because of its poorly documented genealogy. Ha Sei Fu Hung Ga of Leung Wah Chew is a Five Animal style with a separate routine for each animal. Other Branches of Ha Sei Fu Hung Ga also contain combined animal sets like tiger & Crane, Dragon & Leopard, etc.
Five-Pattern Hung Kuen 五形洪拳Edit
Like Ha Sei Fu Hung Ga, the Ng Ying Hung Kuen (五形洪拳) fits the description of Jee Sin's martial arts, but traces its ancestry to Ng Mui and Miu Hin (苗顯) who, like Jee Sin, were both survivors of the destruction of the Shaolin Monastery. From Miu Hin, the Five-Pattern Hung Kuen passed to his daughter Miu Tsui Fa (苗筴花), and from his daughter to his grandson Fong Sai-Yuk (方世玉), both Chinese folk heroes like Jee Sin, Ng Mui, and their forebear Miu Hin. Yuen Yik Kai's Books introduced this branch to the Western/European venue. while conventionally translated as "Five-Pattern Hung Fist" rather than "Five Animal Hung Fist", it is a Five Animal style, one with a single routine for all Five Animals but also has other sets as well.
Tiger Crane Paired Form 虎鶴雙形Edit
The Tiger-Crane Combination style has been found in almost every Hung Style. While not as long as the Wong Fei Hung version that is typically seen as containing 108 movements/techniques.
Ang Lian-Huat attributes the art to Hung Hei Gun's combination of the Tiger style he learned from Jee Sin with the Crane style he learned from his wife, whose name is given in Hokkien as Tee Eng-Choon. Like other martial arts that trace their origins to Fujian (e.g. Fujian White Crane, Five Ancestors), this style uses San Chian as its foundation.
Wong Kiew Kit trace their version of The Tiger Crane routine not to Hung Hei Gun or Luk Ah Choi but to their senior classmate Harng Yein.