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Hung Gar
Pinyin: Hóng Jiā
Yale Cantonese: Hung Gar
Literally "Hung family"
Hung Kuen
Pinyin: Hóng Quán
Yale Cantonese: Hung Kyun
Literally "immense fist"

Hung Ga 洪家, Hung Kuen 洪拳, or Hung Ga Kuen 洪家拳 is a southern Chinese martial art associated with the Chinese folk hero Wong Fei Hung, who was a master of Hung Ga.



According to legend, Hung Ga 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 four other students, namely Choy Gau Lee, Mok Da Si, Lau Sam-Ngan and Li Yao San. These five martial artists later became the founders of the five major family styles of Southern Chinese martial arts: (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.

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.

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."

Hung Ga Style

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 spent anywhere from some months to three years in stance training, which would often consist of sitting in horse stance for between half an 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 has been 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)

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 :

  1. Single Bow Fist (單弓拳),
  2. Double Bow Fist (雙弓拳),
  3. Tiger Taming Fist (伏虎拳),
  4. Tiger Fist (.虎拳),
  5. Black Tiger Fist (黑虎拳)
  6. Mother & Son Butterfly Swords (子母雙刀),
  7. Fifth Brother Eight Trigram Pole (五郎八卦棍),

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

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 Tiger Taming Fist is so called because its footwork traces a path resembling the character "工".

Tiger Crane Paired Form Fist 虎鶴雙形拳

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

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

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) (unrelated to Baguazhang, or "Eight Trigram Palm"), which can be found in the curricula of both the Lam Sai Wing and Tang Fung 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 Kuen

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

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

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

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.

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, Lam Sai Wing, 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, dates to the 13th century, and claims to come unequivocally from the Shaolin Temple in Henan. (The oral histories of Southern styles that claim to come from Shaolin can be unclear with regard to whether they are referring to the original temple in Henan or to a supposed southern temple.) Cantonese and Fujianese are also predominant among Overseas Chinese, accounting for the widespread dissemination of Hung Kuen outside of China. With the exception of Frank Yee (余志偉; Yee Chi-Wai) of the Tang Fung branch in New York City, Cheung Shu-Pui of Tang Fung line in Philadelphia, Francisco Rivera of the Tang Fung line in New Mexico, as well as a few other Tang Fung branch Sifus, the most numerous teachers of Hung Ga in the United States belong to the Lam Sai Wing branch.

There are many Hung Gar lineages today spreading from Lau Cham (Lau Jaam, 劉湛), Lam Jo (the nephew and chosen successor of Lam Sai Wing), Wong Lei, Chan Hon Chung, Chiu Kau and Tang Hin Choi. Chiu Kau (趙教)and his wife Shiu Ying, born Wong Sou Nang (黃邵英), learned Hung Gar from Wong Sai Wing, a top student of Wong Fei Hung, and later from Lam Sai Wing. They in turn taught their sons Chiu Wai (趙威) of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and Chiu Chi Ling (趙志淩) of Alameda, California. Kwong-Wing Lam of Sunnyvale, California, studied with Chiu Kau, Chiu Wai and also learned the Ha Say Fu style from Leung Wah-Chew. The Chiu Wai lineage continues to be taught in Hong Kong by two of his long-time students Chiu Wah (趙華) and Gam Bok Yin (金博賢). Buck Sam Kong (江北山) of Hawaii/Los Angeles, Victor Arechiga (维克多) of Sinaloa Mexico, Juan Diego Lugo (胡安 迭戈) from Monterrey in North zone of Mexico, Kwong-Wing Lam of Sunnyvale and Y.C. Wong (黃耀楨) of San Francisco all learned from Lam Cho (林祖) as well. In Mexico south Javier Carrera and Virgilio Sanchez who was learning directly from Chang Hon Chung. Philip Ng Ngai Foon in Boston and more later in Garland Texas, learned Hung Ga From Lee Yat Ming. Calvin Chin of Newton Highlands, Massachusetts learned from a student of Lam Cho, Kwong Tit-Fu. Also, Woo Ping Chiu (Winchell Woo) in Boston, MA, a student of Tang Kwok Wah (from the Lam Cho school) runs a Hung Ga school in Chinatown and teaches there and continues the traditions of the art. In another lineage, John Leong (梁崇) of Seattle learned from Wong Lei (王利). John Leong was also one of the teachers of Tony Brown. Additionally, Li Fan Fung (李帆風) who recently died in November 2008 at the age of 90 learned Hung Ga from one of Wong Fei Hung's students, Lau Man Hok. Li Fan Fung was a four time gold medalist in the All China Wushu competition in 1983, for his Tiger Crane Double Pair Shape Form, Shaolin Long Staff, Lu Bu Ji, and Double Daggers. Sifu Li is survived by a number of his students in Boston, MA

See also


  • Kennedy, Brian; Guo, Elizabeth (2005). Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals: A Historical Survey. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books. pp. 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

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 /

External links

Simple English

Hung Gar
Pinyin:Hóng Jiā
Yale Cantonese:Hung Gar
Literally"Hung family"
Hung Kuen
Pinyin:Hóng Quán
Yale Cantonese:Hung Kyun
Literally"immense fist"

Hung Ga 洪家, Hung Kuen 洪拳, or Hung Ga Kuen 洪家拳 is a southern Chinese martial art.

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