Hung Gar is a style of Kung Fu that originated in the Southern Chinese Shaolin Temple. Tradition has it that an Indian Buddhist priest named Bodhidharma (Tamo to the Chinese) introduced a regimen of exercises and basic Indian martial arts into the Shaolin curriculum to improve the physical condition of the monks around 527 AD.
Succeeding generations of monks added and improved upon the art over the next 1,200 years. With the destruction of the temple by government forces in the late18th century, various styles of Kung Fu were created from pre-existing Shaolin Systems. Hung Gar also known as Hung Kuen is one of these styles. It is considered a synthesis of the Tiger and Crane styles but in reality includes Snake, Leopard and Dragon as well as the 5 Elements.
Traditional Hung Gar Kung Fu training is emphasized in this class.
The class begins with a brisk warmup that concludes with Shaolin breathing exercise regimen. Stance training then follows with an emphasis on the Traditional Kung Fu stances and footwork.
With that completed we move on to Hung Gar striking combinations using kicks and hand techniques.
The class then continues on to forms training with the more advanced students pairing up with less experienced students to teach and pass on several forms moves. Once the less experienced students have been set to practising their new moves, the advanced students pair up with the Sifu to learn new moves of their own. The advanced students will work on empty hand forms as well as weapons forms.
The core forms of Hung Gar (known as the "four pillars") are taught at Iron Dragon along with a few minor hand forms from other styles.
The weapons sets that are taught are:
Weapons training is intended to complement the empty hand training forms by forcing the student to concentrate on balance and strength training.
The Four Pillars of Hung Gar
The four forms that are considered to be the Pillars of Hung Gar are:
1. Gung Gee Fu Fook Kuen
Taming the Tiger In an I Pattern Set
2. Fu Hok Seung Ying Kuen
Tiger Crane Double Shape Fist Set
3. Sup Ying Kuen
Ten Pattern Fist Set
(AKA Five Animals, 5 Elements Set)
4. Tiet Sin Kuen
Iron Wire Set
Gung Gee Fu Fook Kuen is the oldest form in Hung Gar Kung Fu. This form is believed to have been choreographed by Hung Hei Goon after years of intensive training with the Abbott of the Southern Shaolin Temple in the late 1700's.
Some assume that this form is a beginner set since it is the first form taught. This could not be further from the truth! In fact this form served as a sort of gatekeeper in that it was used to root out unworthy students.
The form is extremely long and students with poor attention spans, physical weakness and lacking in patience were rooted out early in their Hung Gar training. Breath control, stance work and correct hand development are emphasized in this form. The form features a lot of Tiger movements since it represents a body of learning passed down to Hung Hei Goon from Abbot Gee Sin, a master of the Tiger System.
Fu Hok Seung Ying Kuen is believed to have been created by Hung Hei Goon after he learned his wife's Crane style techniques. He amalgamated the soft and fluid techniques of the Crane style with the direct and powerful techniques of the Tiger style that he learned from abbot Gee Sin. The form was subsequently re-choreographed by the famous Wong Fei Hung. It is this form that gave rise to the alternate name of Hung Gar...Fu Hok Pai - the System of the Tiger and Crane. This form has come to be regarded as the Heart and Soul of Hung Gar.
Sup Ying Kuen, commonly known as the 5 Animals, 5 Elements Fist Set serves as a bridge between the external sets (Gung Gee Fook Fu Kuen and Fu Hok Seung Ying Kuen) and Tiet Sin Kuen (Iron Wire Set) which is an internal set and is considered the highest level form in Hung Gar Kung Fu. This form was created by Lam Sai Wing and thus is found only in the Hung Gar lineages that have descended from him. The original 5 animal form was amalgamated into this more extensive form. This form contains many sections that are found in the other "Pillar" forms. Whole sections of Fu Hok Seung Ying Kuen and Tiet Sid Kuen are found in this form.
Tid Sid Kuen, the most advanced form in Hung Gar was created by Tiet Kiu Sarm based on an older Shaolin Internal form known as the Rock Body Form.
It is characterized by the use of unique sounds and vocalizations which are intended to strengthen internal organs through the vibrations created by the sounds. This has yet to be proven scientifically however.