Southern style Kung Fu

THINGS SOUTHERN
And it is, of course, presumptuous to place all forms of Southern Kung Fu in the same box as though they were just different colored jelly beans. There are reasons, though, for this general categorization. The first is that while Southern Kung Fu styles probably counted for about 90% of the Kung Fu exported to the rest of the world for quite a time; in reality the historical balanced is actually reversed and Southern Kung Fu probably accounts for more like 10% of the styles originating in China.

The reasons for this are fascinating and highly charged politically. Just to give a hint it may be sufficient to discuss the waves of invasions that occurred before Zhou Dynasty. Thus we have Chinese civilization actually being forced onto that area by external invaders (still unidentified) whose pride of military has influenced the place of the Wushu concept to this day. The migration of “original Chinese” to the South is well documented. As the great sinologist Karlgren showed ancient Chinese was probably far closer to present day Cantonese than to Mandarin (PuTongHua). Those who fled were by definition not as militarized as those who pushed Southward. This governmental dominance of the North is large and old. One obvious indicator is the spread of Northern Kung Fu “secrets” with the Shaolin style starting in middle/North China and taking over a thousand years to migrate finally to the South.

Grandmaster Ark Yuey Wong

The South is in many ways therefore more consistent than its Northern cousin. And, in many cases development being a little later, the normal associations which many people think define Kung Fu do not necessarily appear as clear in Southern provinces. For instance styles were far more commonly designated by region a thousand years ago than by name. Southern styles seem to hold to this and are often known as Ling Nam or Guan Dong Boxing showing a tendency to see the entire region as the important point. Fu Jian Boxing covers many styles as does the term Southern Shaolin.

GEOGRAPHY: Ling Nam means South of the Ridges and refers to a wide area south of China’s two greatest mountain ranges. Guang Dong (Canton) is at the center of this hot, rainy and rich growing region. The Guang Dong area of Ling Nam is particularly blessed with martial styles including such famous fists as Lau Family, Mok Family, Hung Family, Choy Family and Fut Gar (Shaolin/Buddha style). This can be a little confusing because these styles, many of them famous in the west, are often referred to in China as Ling Nam, a relatively unfamiliar name.

HUNG GAR: Gar means “family” and is pronounced “Jia” in Mandarin. The Hung Family Fist is one of the most famous and popular of the Southern forms. There are a number of origin tales for this well known art:

1. It is a Northern Shaolin style that entered the south around the end of the Ming Dynasty (1644).
2. It was created by the Fu Jian man named Hung Hei Goon, a tea merchant.
3. It was the official style of the Hung Men or Hung Sect, a underground rebel organization dedicated to overthrowing the Qing (Manchu) Dynasty.

Mok style.

Originally Hung looked a lot more like the other Southern Styles such as Wing Chun and White Eyebrow. In other words it hand short stances and tight hand actions and perfected the “testicle retraction” stance which, some say, later evolved into Wing Chun goat-riding stance. There are types of Hung such as the Panther set in which this stance is still evident.

The basic legend is that Gee Seen Sim See (Sim See means Chan or “Zen” teacher) escaped from the burning Honan Shaolin Temple in 1768. He is supposed to have become the abbot at the Souther Temple which ALSO was burned down. From there the Shaolin and the disciples he had brought spread throughout the South. Many of these found themselves in the Hung Society where the style and the sentiment against the Manchu conquerors ran parallel.

There are other legends about the naming of the style. One is that it was named after the founder of the Ming Dynasty Hung Wu, which is plausible since the avowed mission of the Hung Society was to “Overthrow the Qing, restore the Ming.” Another was a reference to the red sky mirrored the founding ceremony of the society which was initiated with the permission of Hung Wu’s grandson, Hung Juk.

 

Resources:
Southern Shaolin Dog Style Chinese book
Southern Shaolin Zi Men style VCD

Books in English on Southern Kung Fu

Various styles of Southern Kung Fu VCDs

White Eyebrow Kung Fu

Southern Kung Fu on DVD Five Ancestors etc.

Hung Gar with Sifu Donald Hamby

Malaysian Masters performing Southern Kung Fu

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