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Hung Gar


Hóng Jiā

Yale Cantonese:

Hung Gar


"Hung family"



Hung Kuen


Hóng Quán

Yale Cantonese:

Hung Kyun


"Hung fist"

Hung Gar, also known as Hung Kuen, is a southern Chinese martial art associated with the Chinese folk hero Wong Fei Hung, who was a master of Hung Gar.

According to legend, Hung Gar was named after Hung Hei-Gun, who learned martial arts from Jee Sin, a Chan (Zen) master at the Southern Shaolin Temple. The temple had become a refuge for opponents of the Qing Dynasty, who used it as a base for their activities, and was soon destroyed by Qing forces. Hung, a tea merchant by trade, eventually left his home in Fujian for Guangdong, bringing the art with him.

Even though Hung Gar is supposedly named after Hung Hei-Gun, the predominant Wong Fei-Hung lineage of Hung Gar claims descent not from him but from his classmate Luk Ah-Choi (陸阿采), who taught Wong Fei-Hung's father Wong Kei-Ying and, by some accounts, Wong Taai (黃泰), who is variously said to be Wong Kei-Ying's father or his uncle. Because the history of the Chinese martial arts was historically transmitted orally rather than by text, much of the early history of Hung Gar will probably never be either clarified or corroborated by written documentation.

Because the character "hung" (洪) was used in the reign name of the emperor who overthrew the Mongol Yuan Dynasty to establish the Han Chinese Ming Dynasty, opponents of the Manchu Qing Dynasty made frequent use of the character in their imagery. (Ironically, Luk Ah-Choi was the son of a Manchu stationed in Guangdong.) Hung Hei-Gun is itself an assumed name intended to honor that first Ming Emperor. Anti-Qing rebels named the most far reaching of the secret societies they formed the "Hung Mun" (洪門) which, like "Hung Gar," can be translated as "Hung family." The Hung Mun claimed to be founded by survivors of the destruction of the Shaolin Temple, and the martial arts its members practiced came to be called "Hung Gar" and "Hung Kuen."

The hallmarks of the Wong Fei-Hung lineage of Hung Gar are deep low stances, notably its "sei ping ma[1]" horse stance, and strong hand techniques, notably the bridge hand[2] and the versatile tiger claw.[3] 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 Gar is sometimes mischaracterized 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.


[edit] The Hung Gar curriculum of Wong Fei-Hung

The Hung Gar curriculum that Wong Fei-Hung learned from his father comprised Single Hard Fist, Double Hard Fist, Taming the Tiger Fist (伏虎拳), Mother & Son Butterfly Knives (子母雙刀), Angry Tiger Fist, Fifth Brother Eight Trigram Pole (五郎八卦棍), Flying Hook, and Black Tiger Fist (黑虎拳). Wong distilled his father's empty-hand material along with the material he learned from other masters into the "pillars" of Hung Gar, four empty-hand routines that constitute the core of Hung Gar instruction in the Wong Fei-Hung lineage:

[edit] "" Character Taming the Tiger Fist 工字伏虎拳

pinyin: gōng zì fú hǔ quán; Yale Cantonese: gung ji fuk fu kyun

The long routine Taming the Tiger trains the student in the basic techniques of Hung Gar 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".

[edit] Tiger Crane Paired Form Fist 虎鶴雙形拳

pinyin: hǔ hè shuāng xíng quán; Yale Cantonese: fu hok seung ying kyun

Tiger Crane builds on Taming the Tiger, adding "vocabulary" to the Hung Gar 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 Gar, Lo Hon, and Lama styles. Tiger Crane Paired Form routines from outside Wong Fei-Hung Hung Gar still exist.

[edit] Five Animal Fist 五形拳/Five Animal Five Element Fist 五形五行拳

pinyin: wǔ xíng quán; Yale Cantonese: ng ying kyun/pinyin: wǔ xíng wǔ xíng quán; Yale Cantonese: ng ying ng haang kyun

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: Tiger, Crane, Leopard, Snake, and Dragon. "Five Elements" refers to the five classical Chinese elements: Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth. The Hung Gar 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 Gar, 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.

[edit] Iron Wire Fist 鐵線拳

pinyin: tiě xiàn quán; Yale Cantonese: tit sin kyun

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.

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 Gar, two of the major branches of the Wong Fei-Hung lineage, as can the Spring & Autumn Guandao (春秋大刀), and the Yiu Family Tiger Fork (瑤家大扒). Both branches also train the broadsword (刀), the butterfly knives (雙刀), the spear (槍), and even the fan (扇), but use different routines to do so. Mother & Son Butterfly Knives (子母雙刀) can still be found in the curriculum of the Tang Fong branch.

[edit] Branches of Hung Kuen

Beyond that, the curricula of different branches of Hung Gar 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 Gar 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 Gar 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 Gar 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.

[edit] Ha Sei Fu Hung Gar 下四虎洪家

The Ha Sei Fu (下四虎) Hung Gar of Leung Wah-Chew 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 Gar is a Five Animal style with a separate routine for each animal.

[edit] Five-Pattern Hung Kuen 五形洪拳

Like Ha Sei Fu Hung Gar, the Ng Ying Hung Kuen (五形洪拳) of Yuen Yik-Kai—conventionally translated as "Five-Pattern Hung Fist" rather than "Five Animal Hung Fist"—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. Its conventional translation into English notwithstanding, Five-Pattern Hung Kuen is a Five Animal style, one with a single routine for all Five Animals.

[edit] Northern Hung Kuen 洪拳

There are even Northern styles that use the name "Hung Kuen" (洪拳; pinyin: hóng quán) though these predate the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912).

[edit] Tiger Crane Paired Form 虎鶴雙形

The traditions of the Tiger-Crane Combination style associated with Ang Lian-Huat attribute 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.

The Tiger Crane routine in the Southern Shaolin system of Wong Kiew-Kit is attributed not to Hung Hei-Gun or Luk Ah-Choi but to their classmate Harng Yein.

[edit] The dissemination of Hung Kuen

The dissemination of Hung Kuen in Southern China, and its Guangdong and Fujian Provinces in particular, is due to the concentration of anti-Qing activity there. The Hung Mun began life in the 1760s as the Heaven and Earth Society, whose founders came from the prefecture of Zhangzhou in Fujian Province, on its border with Guangdong, where one of its founders organized a precursor to the Heaven and Earth Society in Huizhou. Guangdong and Fujian remained a stronghold of sympathizers and recruits for the Hung Mun even as it spread elsewhere in the decades that followed. Though the members of the Hung Clan almost certainly practiced a variety of martial arts styles, the composition of its membership meant that it was the characteristics of Fujianese and Cantonese martial arts that came to be associated with the names "Hung Kuen" and "Hung Gar." Regardless of their differences, the Hung Kuen lineages of Wong Fei-Hung, Yuen Yik-Kai, Leung Wah-Chew, and Zhang Ke-Zhi (張克治) nonetheless all trace their origins to this area and this time period, are all Five Animal styles, and all claim Shaolin origins. Northern Hung Kuen (洪拳), by contrast, is not a Five Animal style and dates to the 16th century. Cantonese and Fujianese are also predominant among Overseas Chinese, accounting for the widespread dissemination of Hung Kuen outside of China.

With exceptions such as Frank Yee (余志偉; Yee Chi-Wai) of New York City and Cheung Shu-Pui in Philadelphia—both of the Tang Fong lineage—the foremost teachers of Hung Gar in the United States belong to the Lam Sai-Wing branch. As the principal teacher under Lam Sai Wing, Lam Cho (林祖)(Lam Sai-Wing's adopted nephew) has taught well known masters such as Y.C. Wong (黃耀楨) (San Fransico) and Bucksam Kong (江北山) (Los Angeles and Hawaii). Lam Cho's eldest son, Lam Chun Fai, now carries on his Hung Gar teaching in Hong Kong. Lam Chun Fai has also done much to spread Hung Kuen in Europe.

Other notable students of Lam Cho include Kwong Tit Fu and Tang Kwok Wah . Kwong and Tang taught in Boston, Massachusetts for twenty years before retiring from teaching. Among Tang Kwok Wah's students currently teaching in the area are Winchell Woo and Sik Y. Hum. Calvin Chin of Newton Highlands carries on Kwong's legacy.

Chiu Kau (趙教) began learning Hung Kuen in Singapore under Wong Sai-Wing, a student of Wong Fei-Hung. He later married Wong Siu-Ying (黃邵英) who began learning Hung Gar from her husband. The couple eventually settled down in Hong Kong where they continued their Hung Gar training at Lam Sai-Wing's Kwoon. Their sons Chiu Chi Ling (趙志淩) of Alameda, California, and Chiu Wai (趙威) of Calgary, Alberta, Canada are the inheritors of this lineage. Kwong-Wing Lam of Sunnyvale, California, studied with Chiu Kau, Chiu Wai, and Lam Jo and learned the Ha Sei Fu style from Leung Wah-Chew.

John Leong learned from Lam Sai-Wing's student, Wong Lee. The Zhang Ke-Zhi (張克治) branch of Hung Kuen is represented by Steven C. George (史帝夫) of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

One important master of Hung Kuen today is the famous Shaw Brothers movie director/actor, Lau Ga Leung (also from the Lam Sai-Wing lineage), who has many students in Hong Kong.

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Sei Ping Ma
  2. ^ Bridge Hand
  3. ^ Tiger Claw



Yale Cantonese



S� P�ng M?

Sei Ping Ma

literally "Four Level Horse"


Qi�o Sh?u

Kiu Sau



H? Zhua

Fu Jaau


[edit] See also

[edit] References

  • Kennedy, Brian; Guo, Elizabeth (2005). Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals: A Historical Survey. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 152–153. ISBN 1-55643-557-6. “Fujian province was reputed to be home to one of the Shaolin temples that figure so prominently in martial arts folklore. As a result, Fujian province and the adjacent province of Guangdong were the birthplace and home of many southern Shaolin systems—at least according to the oral folklore. A military historian might be of the opinion that the reason those two southern provinces had so many different systems of martial arts had more to do with the fact that, during the Qing Dynasty, rebel armies were constantly being formed and disbanded in those provinces, resulting in a wide variety of people who had some training and interest in martial arts.” 
  • (2) Southern Shaolin Kung Fu Ling Nam Hung Gar | Author: Wing Lam | Copyright 2003 Wing Lam Enterprises | ISBN 1-58657-361-6 | pg. 241

[edit] External links