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Hung Ga ??, Hung Kuen ??, or Hung Ga Kuen ??? 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” (?) 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” (??).
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.”
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 spends anywhere from months to three years in stance training, often sitting only in horse stance between a half-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 is 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.
Wong Fei Hung is visably 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 of the sets :
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: