Hung Gar, the “fierce tiger style,” is a Chinese martial art about powerful, low stances, bold hand techniques, and lightning-quick kicks. It has its roots in the Southern Shaolin Temple in Fujian province, China, where it was said to have been developed by the legendary monk Zhi Shan.
The Five Elders refined the style and passed it on to their pupils, including the Hung Hei Goon, who founded the Hung Gar style.
Hung Gar has an incredible history and is considered one of the most influential styles of Chinese martial arts. It has played a crucial role in shaping kung fu in China, and it’s been passed down through the generations, each adding its unique spin on the techniques and elements of the style.
The origins of Hung Gar can be traced back to the Southern Shaolin Temple in Fujian province, China. The Shaolin Temple is known for its role in developing Chinese martial arts, and it is believed that many kung fu styles originated there.
The Shaolin Temple was established in the 5th century and became a center for Buddhist teachings and practices. The monks who lived there were also skilled in martial arts to protect themselves and the temple from bandits and other threats.
Founder of Hung Gar
Hung Hei Goon was a martial artist who lived in the 19th century and is credited with founding the Hung Gar style. He was a disciple of the Shaolin Temple. He learned martial arts from the Five Elders, the last surviving monks from the temple after it was destroyed by the Qing government.
Hung Hei Goon was known for his powerful techniques and his ability to teach others. He combined the Five Animal Styles with his own techniques and created the style, known for its powerful hand techniques and low stances.
Hung Hei Goon passed his knowledge down to his disciples, and the style was passed down through generations of martial artists. Today, it is one of the most popular styles of Chinese martial arts practiced by people worldwide.
Five Animal Styles of Hung Gar
The martial arts were developed and refined at the Shaolin Temple over many years. One significant development was the creation of the Five Animal Styles, which included the tiger, dragon, leopard, snake, and crane styles.
Each of these styles was based on the movements and characteristics of the respective animal, and they were developed to help the monks defend themselves against attackers.
The Five Animal Styles became essential to Shaolin kung fu and have been passed down through generations of martial artists.
Hung Gar Core Principles
The Hung Gar style is built upon a set of core principles that guide the practice and application of the techniques. These principles include:
- Internal Strength: The cultivation of inner strength, known as “Nei Gong,” is an integral part of the style. This involves the development of the body’s internal energy through specific breathing techniques, meditation, and physical exercises.
- Firm Stance: The practice of a firm, low stance is another critical principle. The stance provides stability and allows for power generation from the ground up.
- Continuous Attack: Hung Gar emphasizes the importance of continuously attacking and never giving up, even when faced with a stronger opponent.
- Combination of Hard and Soft: The style combines hard and soft techniques, using powerful strikes with open-hand techniques and joint locks.
Fundamental Techniques of Hung Gar
The fundamental techniques of Hung Gar include hand techniques, kicks, joint locks, and throws. These techniques are designed to be practical and effective in self-defense situations. Some of the fundamental methods include:
- Tiger Claw: The tiger claw is a powerful hand technique that involves gripping with the fingers and striking with the palm.
- Dragon Claw: The dragon claw is similar to the tiger claw, but it uses a different hand position and is used to strike and grab.
- Horse Stance: The horse stance is a low, wide stance that provides stability and power for kicking and striking.
- Side Kick: The side kick is a powerful kick that uses the heel or the edge of the foot to strike the opponent.
Hung Gar Forms and Significance
Forms, or “Kuen” in Cantonese, are a series of choreographed movements that simulate fighting situations and are used to develop technique, strength, and coordination.
The forms in Hung Gar are derived from the Five Animal Styles and are used to teach the methods and principles of the style.
Each form has a specific purpose and significance. For example, the “Tiger and Crane Double Form” is designed to teach hard and soft techniques. At the same time, the “Iron Wire Form” is used to develop internal strength and energy.
The forms are an essential part of the curriculum and are practiced by students at all levels. They require discipline, focus, and dedication to master, and they serve to preserve the style’s traditional aspects.
Migration to Hong Kong
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, many people from mainland China migrated to Hong Kong in search of better opportunities. Many martial artists, including those who practiced the Hung Gar style.
The migration of practitioners to Hong Kong helped to spread the style beyond its traditional roots in southern China. Hong Kong’s style began to evolve and adapt to the urban environment.
The Role of Hong Fei Hung in Spreading Hung Gar
One of the most influential figures in the spread of Hung Gar was Wong Fei Hung. Wong was a martial artist and traditional Chinese medicine practitioner born in Guangdong province.
He moved to Hong Kong with his father, Wong Kei Ying, in the late 19th century.
Wong Fei Hung was a master of the style and is known for his martial arts skills and contributions to developing the technique. He is credited with creating some of the most famous forms in style, including the “Five Animals Frolics” and the “Ten Forms Fist.”
Wong Fei Hung was also a teacher, and he trained many students in the style, including his son, Wong Hon Keung. Through his teaching and reputation as a martial artist, Wong Fei Hung helped popularize the Hung Gar style in Hong Kong and beyond.
The Establishment of Hong Kong Hung Gar Association
In 1949, the Hong Kong Hung Gar Association was established to promote and preserve the style. The association was founded by Lam Sai Wing, a disciple of Wong Fei Hung, and other senior members of the Hung Gar community in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Hung Gar Association played an essential role in organizing tournaments and demonstrations and providing a platform for practitioners to exchange knowledge and techniques. The association also helped to standardize the teaching and practice of the style, ensuring that it was passed down in a systematic and organized way.
The Hong Kong Hung Gar Association, continues promoting and preserving the style today. It has branches and affiliated organizations worldwide.
The association plays an essential role in maintaining the traditions and principles of the class while also adapting to its practitioners’ changing needs and interests.
Hung Gar is a traditional Chinese martial arts style with a rich history and a solid following worldwide. Its origins can be traced back to the Shaolin Temple in Henan province, where it was developed as a combination of the Five Animal Styles and other martial arts techniques.
Over the years, the martial art has spread beyond its traditional roots in southern China. He has become popular in many parts of the world.
Its popularity is partly due to the efforts of key figures such as Wong Fei Hung, who helped spread the style through their teachings and their contributions to its development.
Today, the Hung Gar style continues to be practiced and taught worldwide, with many practitioners striving to uphold traditional principles and techniques. At the same time, the class has evolved and adapted to new contexts and environments, ensuring its continued relevance in modern times.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is Hung Gar?
A: Hung Gar is a traditional Chinese martial arts style developed in the Shaolin Temple in Henan province. It combines the Five Animal Styles and other martial arts techniques, emphasizing strong stances, powerful strikes, and practical self-defense techniques.
Q: What are the core principles of Hung Gar?
A: The core principles of Hung Gar include proper stance and body alignment, breathing control, strength and flexibility training, and the cultivation of internal energy or “qi.” These principles are essential for developing physical strength, mental focus, and overall health and well-being.
Q: What are some fundamental techniques of Hung Gar?
A: Some fundamental techniques of Hung Gar include the horse stance, the punch, the kick, and the block. These techniques are practiced and refined through forms or “katas,” sequences of movements that simulate self-defense scenarios.
Q: Is Hung Gar suitable for everyone?
A: It can be practiced by people of all ages and physical abilities, but it requires discipline and dedication to master. Beginners should start with basic techniques and gradually progress to more complex forms and styles. Like any physical activity, it is essential to consult with a doctor before beginning a martial arts practice, especially if you have any health conditions or injuries.
Q: Can Hung Gar be used for self-defense?
A: It is a practical martial arts style emphasizing self-defense techniques. However, it is essential to remember that martial arts should be used only as a last resort and with caution. Hung Gar practitioners should also cultivate awareness and avoid potentially dangerous situations.