Hung Gar Southern Fist

Grandmaster Lum Sai Wing

This style is said to be derived from the Southern Shaolin Temple through the personage of Jee Sin, a Buddhist Monk there. After the treacherous destruction of the Temple by traitors and the Qing Manchu army, five elders escaped. One of them, Jee Sin, taught a tea merchant named Hung Hei Gun in FuKien (Fu Jian) province. Hun move to Guangdong, eporting his art to a region where it still exists.

There are numerous explanations for the name HUNG of the style. One is that it was named after Hung Hei Gun himself. But the most recognized branch, that derived from Wong Fei Hung, descend from Hung’s fellow student Luk Ah Choi, the teacher of both Wong Kei Ying and Wong Tai (Wong Fei Hung’s father and uncle respectively.) Hung is also the name of the Chinese natiional who overthrew the Mongol Dynasty and established the Ming, a glorious dynasty and the last native China reign in history. So anti-Qing rebels might very well take this as their hope and emblem.

Even though Hung Gar is supposedly named after Hung Hei Gun, the predominant Wong Fei Hung lineage of Hung Gar claims descent not from him but from his classmate force in China, was also named for this Emperor and is also known as Hung Jia (Hung Family) or the Hung Men (Hung Sect). Just to confuse things a bit more Hung Hei Gun also changed his name to honor that emperor and if the style were named after his specifically it would STILL be harkening back to the Hung Emperor.

Another explanation is that Hung (to float) is derived from the word Hung Soan or Floating Opera, the kind of showboat which Jee Sin used to his his identity from Qing officials. Since each of the Five Elders escaping from the Temple took a “family” name instead of a style name, Jee might have adopted “Hung” from the name of the boat. Even in modern times martial artists have used the opera as a perfect place to preserve their skills while distinguising them.

Other branches include the Ha Say Fu Hung (Lower Four Tigers) in which the five animal forms are taught separately; and the Five Shape Hung Fist.

There is also a Northern Hung Style. Once again, to make things interesting, Hung is listed as one of the core five Northern Long Fists. Among the five it is considered synonymous with Shaolin so in the Five Big Fists Hung=Shaolin.

The Wong Fei Hung branch

Yew Ching Wong

Among the famous branch of this style the Wong Fei Hung branch is the best known. It’s trademarks are deep stances, the one finger up position known as the “Bridge Hand” and the Tiger Claw.

Forms in this branch include…
Lau Gar Boxing (named after a sister style)
“I” Character Taming the Tiger Fi
Tiger Crane Paired Form Fi
Five Animal Fist/Five Animal Five Elemen Fist
Iron Wire Fist

Gung Ji Fuk Fu Kune (Conquering the Tiger)
This is actually a longish form that often takes months to learn (or might be preceded by Lau Gar Kune). Some of its key attributes are long section where only one hand is practiced and then the other side is performed, the butterfly hands along with the Unicorn Steps, and the well known Hung Bridge Hand. Gung Ji is a powerful and beautiful form said to derive from Jee Sin himself.

Lau Gar Kune: A short hand set said to represent one third of the basic Lau style which has been assimilated into the Wong Fei Hung branch. The movements introduce the Bridge Hand, the low horse, the claw and other basic patterns. The footwork first moves in a complete square and then cuts to the front corners. The Lau Gar stick is also absorbed into the Hung and is one of its prize sets.

The Tiger Crane Double Shaped Boxing
One of the master forms of the Hung style. This actually contains all five animals. Special characteristics include vocalizations of the animal sounds, wave punching, the basics of the five elements boxing, and a very interesting structure where the performer first does a stationary section with feet together, then hand motions from a horse stance, then movement on basic angles and then progressively more complex actions; making the single form a kind of biography of a Kung Fu students evolution.

Lum Jo

Tiger Crane builds on Taming the Tiger, adding “vocabulary” to the Hung Gar 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. Wong’s original sets descended from Jee Sin were said to include Conquering Tiger Form, Luo Han Boxing, Tiger Boxing. Most of the weapon which are normally considered Kung Fu instruments like straight sword, saber and spear were taken from Northern boxing sets while distinctly Southern instruments such as the Iron Hoe and other modified farm implements are believed to have been added from indigenous Southern sources.

One of Wong Fei Hung’s top students, Lum Sai Wing, fused some sets and created the “10 Animals” set which is really Five Animals and Five elements. This for introduces the actions of the elements such as Water and Fire with distinctive punches. Many of the actions of this set are lifted whole from the Tiger and the Crane giving Hung a higher than average tendency to have repeated motions and systematic extension of thematic actions. Hung sets are not only recognizable but clearly emphasize certain phrases and series through reiteration among the the many sets. There is also a matching two person set which is based on Tiger Crane and uses the movements from this in choreographed applications. Legend speak of Hung Hei Gun having learned Tiger style from Jee Sin. Then, one day practicing in front of his wife, Tee Eng Choon, he noticed she was shaking her head. As the story goes, when he asked if she thought his Kung Fu was good or not she replied that it was so-so and proceeded to show him her own Crane arts dervied from San Chian, Fujian. Impressed he incorported them into his style and developed Tiger Crane from this.

Kwong Wing Lam

The Iron Wire form is a top set in the Hung curriculum. Created by Tiet Kiu Sam, one of the “Ten Tigers of Canton”, this set was taught to Lam Fuk SIng who passed it on to Wong Fei Hung who then incorporated it into his style. This set, more than any other, shows the “internal” side of the style with slow motion, distinctive vocalizations to resonate the organs, and much iron body training rolled into it.

Other Hung sets include
Fifth Brother Bagua Pole
Spring Autumn Knife
Tiger Fork
Butterfly Knives
Straight Sword
Single Butterfly Knife with Rattan Shield

These sets are found in two important branches of Wong Fei Hung’s legacy, the Lum Sai Wing and the Tang Fong sects.

The Ha Say Fu Branch – The Lower Four Tigers

There are two aspects of this branch which are immediately distinguising. The first is that the animal sets are separated with each animal comprising a self contained form. The second is the use of the adduction or, as some have it in Chinese, the testical retraction stance. Much like the hourglass stance of Karate (which Hung may have influenced) or the goat-riding stance of Wing Chun (some believe this was Yim Wing Chun’s version of the same stance) the knees are turned inward and the back is kept relatively straight.

The Five Form Hung Boxing

This branch traces its roots to Ng Mui and Miu Jin. Nun Ng Mui was among the elders who survived the burning of the Shaolin Temple. Miu Hin is supposed to have taught his daughter, Miu Tsui Fa and then the style was given to Fong Sai Yuk, the grandson. This style has a master form which mixes all the animals.

Note: Our own experience of Hung dates from studies with Y. C. Wong and exposure from the years spent with Kwong Wing Lam as Northern Shaolin students.

Books (English)



Click to see Conquering the Tiger