|Yale Cantonese:||Hung Gar|
|Yale Cantonese:||Hung Kyun|
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. Jee Sin (ak Gee Sum Sim See) was also the master of following 4 students, namely Choy Gau Lee, Mok Da Si, Lau Sam-Ngan and Li Yao San. These five students later became the famous founders of five of the southern shaolin styles (Hung Ga, Choy Gar, Mok Gar, Li Gar and Lau Gar).
The temple where they trained 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 Ga is supposedly named after Hung Hei Gun, the predominant Wong Fei Hung lineage of Hung Ga 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 Ga 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).
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 Ga" and "Hung Kuen."
The hallmarks of the Wong Fei-Hung lineage 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Ga." Regardless of their differences, the Hung Kuen lineages of Wong Fei Hung, Yuen Yik Kai, Leung Wah Chew, and Jeung Kei Ji (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 Ga 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 Ga 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. He later married Wong Siu Ying (黃邵英) who began learning Hung Ga from her husband. The couple eventually settled down in Hong Kong where they continued their Hung Ga training at the Lam Sai Wing National Art Association Second Branch. 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 Jeung Kei Ji (張克治) branch of Hung Kuen is represented by Steven C. George (史帝夫) of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and Daniel Král, Vladimír Šanda, David Kříženecký, Stanislav Fraibiš, Martin Veselý of Prague, Czech Republic.
One of the more famous teachers of Hung Kuen today is the famous Shaw Brothers movie director/actor, Lau Kar Leung(also from the Lam Sai Wing lineage), who has many students in Hong Kong. One of Lau Kar Leung's notable disciples is Mark Ho also known as Mark Houghton, an Englishman who has lived in Hong Kong for 20 years. Mark Ho, with the blessing of Lau Kar Leung, has opened a unique Hung Kuen school in Fanling. The school itself looks like a scene from a Shaw Brothers movie; it has many training chambers, wooden dummies, and hanging logs. There are now Lau Family Hung Kuen schools in China, England and the Philippines.
Chris Dougliss in Ireland trained for a while under Mark Houghton.Chris then trained under Dave Bradley who was a Student of Mark Houghton in Birmingham before Mark went to Hong Kong.Chris moved to Ireland and continued training for many years with a select few Students of his own.He then formed Clonmel Hung Gar Kung Fu School which trains rigidly according to tradition.
An other wellknown Hung Kuen Master of the present is Martin Sewer from Switzerland. He follows his master, Grandmaster Chiu Chi Ling, for more than 20 years. With greate tournaments in Switzerland and Hong Kong he did a great job in making Hung Kuen more public. In 2005 he wrote a book about Chiu Chi Lings famous parents, Chiu Kow and Shiu Ying, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Chiu Kow's death. In January 2008 Martin Sewer received the 7th master degree in Hung Kuen from Chiu Chi Ling personally in Hong Kong. He is the number one deciple and going to be Grandmaster Chiu's successor.
Lam Sai Wing. Iron Thread. Southern Shaolin Hung Gar Kung Fu Classics Series.. . Second Edition, 2007. Paperback, 188 pages. ISBN 978-1-84799-192-8 / Original edition: Hong Kong, 1957; translated from Chinese in 2002 - 2007 /