Southern Hung Gar

Southern 5 Animal 5 Elements

Created during a time of turmoil and strife, Hung Gar Kung Fu was a bright star for the oppressed people of southern China. In the Ching dynasty (1644-1911), the Manchurian government was hated by the populous. Many secret societies of rebels emerged to combat the Manchurian rule. One of which was Hung gar clan.

The roots of Hung Gar can be traced as far back as Ta Mo (a Buddhist priest from India). In 520 A.D., ancient records show Ta Mo traveling to China and teaching the Shaolin monks a series of exercises called the "18 Lohan Techniques". These exercises were eventually incorporated into their self defense techniques. For centuries the Shaolin style of self defense grew, expanded and adapted to current fighting conditions.

In the Song dynasty (960 A.D.-1279 A.D.), a great martial artist from the Shaolin temple, named Chueh Yuan took Ta Mo's 18 Lohan Techniques and increased them to 72. Still not satisfied, Chueh Yuan sought out other kung fu masters to increase his skills. In his travels, he found Li Sou. Li Sou introduced him to Bai Yu Feng. Together, all 3 went back to the Shaolin temple and combined their skills. They increased the 72 techniques into 170. These techniques were then divided into 5 categories (Dragon, Tiger, Panther, Crane and Snake).

Movements of the Dragon were internal and external, circular and spiraling, cultivating the spirit. Moves of the Tiger were fierce pouncing and clawing attacks, emphasizing muscle and bone development. Moves of the Panther were based on speed and power utilizing sudden explosive movements and the use of internal energy. Techniques of the Crane were graceful, fluid, swift and agile, stressing balance. Exercises from the Snake developed chi (internal energy). The movements were soft and circular yet accurate and deadly. Each of the animal styles was a complete fighting system. They all included long and short range punching/kicking, joint locking, grappling, ground fighting and moves unique to their own styles.

In 1644 the Manchurians invaded China. After a long war, the Manchurians won and took control over China. This brought resentment and distrust towards the new regime. Secret societies arose to deliver the people from the Manchurian rule. Many rebel factions used the southern Shaolin temples for refuge. Posing as monks, the rebels would train and plan strategy all under the safety of the temple. By the early 1700's the Manchurians discovered this and had the temples destroyed. One Shaolin monk from the southern Fukien temple who was proficient in the Tiger style, escaped the destruction. His Name was Gee Sum Sim See. Gee Sum Sim See hid out in southern China, teaching kung fu to the rebels.

Southern China is on the coastline and shipping was a major way of life. Even entertainment was on boats. Chinese opera was a favorite performance art. Many gifted athletes performed on these "Floating Opera Houses" called Hung Suan or red boats. This is were Gee Sum Sim See took the raw talent of these performing artists and turned them into awesome rebel fighting machines.

One of his top students was Hung Hei Guan. Some say that Hung was a tea merchant by trade and his real name was Jyu Gu Chah. Hung learned all that he could from master Gee. Seeking more knowledge Hung then sought out the White Crane style from Fong Wing Chun (Hung eventually married Fong). Hung's quest for kung fu turned him to learn techniques from the Dragon, Snake and Panther systems. He also learned the 5 elemental fist style. Hung combined the systems he had learned and created his own unique style. Rooted in the Tiger style, Hung Hei Guan's system was very powerful and deadly. He became very famous for his kung fu skills. Hung was well known for his strong horse stance and iron fist techniques.

There are several theories on how the name "Hung Gar Kuen" or "Hung's Family Boxing" came about. Some say that since Gee Sum Sim See was from the Shaolin temple, Hung Hei Guan used his sir name "Hung" (which can be translated as "to stand tall with integrity"), to keep the Manchurians from suspecting he was a rebel. Another story states that Hung was not his real name (tea merchant Jyu Gu Chah), but changed to this because it can be translated into red or blood color. Which signifies the "Red or Bloody Fist Clan". Yet another legend tells of Gee Sum Sim See using the term Hung Gar because of the Hung Suan or red boats, where he first started teaching.

Hung Hei Guan's style was so popular that it became one of the 5 main family systems practiced in southern China. The 5 main family styles are: Hung Gar, Lau Gar, Mok Gar, Li Gar and Choy Gar. The Hung Gar style can be recognized by low stances, brutal blocks and vicious claw attacks. It even spread to other countries were it influenced Korean Tae Kwon Do, Okinawa Karate and Japanese Kenpo.

Many rebel factions learned this style to combat the Manchurian army including: the Yellow Turban Clan, the Red Turban Clan, the Tongs, the Triads, the Yin/Yang Clan and Heaven and Earth Clan. Their battle cry was "destroy the Ching restore the Ming". Although none of Hung's predecessors could defeats the Manchurians, the system continued to grow in popularity. Wong Fei Hung was a great Hung gar fighter in the 1800's. He was very skilled in the 8 diagram staff, Tiger tail kick and his ultra famous Shadow Kick! There have been countless movies about Wong Fei Hung's feats of bravery and skill. He was named one of the "Southern 10 Tigers". Wong created the "Tiger/Crane (Fu/Hok) form and Tiger Crane 2 person sparring set, which eventually spawned the Tiger /Crane system of fighting.

One of Wong Fei Hung's top students was Lam Sai Wing. Lam Tsai Wing was proficient in the Tiger/Crane system. In the early 1900's there was a famous incident involving Lam Tsai Wing being lured into the Lok Sin Theatre and then attacked. Out numbered Lam Sai Wing emerged without injury. Some reports state 80 people were injured in that fight. Lam wrote many books on hung Gar to help spread the popularity of his style. He also created a Saber form for foot soldiers in the field of battle.

Throughout the ages, all masters have added their own personality to the style they practiced. Over the decades, some styles changed completely to meet the needs of the people using them. There are many different looking Hung Gar systems, although their core is still the same. Among them the Canton Hung Gar, Hung Moon, Wubei Hung Gar, Szechuan Hung Gar and Ha Say Fu (4 lower Tigers) Hung Gar.