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A brief history of Hung Gar Kuen

Hung Gar's earliest beginnings have been traced to the 17th century in southern China. More specifically, legend has it that a Shaolin monk by the name of Gee Seen Sim See was at the heart of Hung Gar's emergence.

Who was Gee Seen?

Gee Seen was alive during a time of fighting in the Qing Dynasty. He practiced the arts during an era when the Shaolin Temple had become a refuge for those that opposed the ruling class (the Manchus), allowing him to practice in semi-secrecy. When the northern temple was burned down many fled to the southern Shaolin temple in the Fukien Province of Southern China along with him. There it is believed Gee Seen trained several people, including non-Buddhist monks, also called Shaolin Layman Disciples, in the art of Shaolin Kung Fu.

Of course, Gee Seen Sim See was hardly the only person of significance that had fled to the temple and opposed the Manchus. Along with this, Hung Hei-Gun also took refuge there, where he trained under Gee Seen. Eventually, Hung Hei-Gun became See's top student.

What is Hung Gar?

Hung Gar was later named after Hung Hei-Gun, who is widely considered the founder of the system. Hung was originally a tea merchant. It is believed that he escaped to the Southern Shaolin Monastery in the Fujian Province after having an argument with Manchus elites. The abbot, Reverend Jee-Sin, accepted him into the monastery and soon found out how talented and hardworking he was in Southern Shaolin martial arts. Jee-Sin was impressed by these qualities and soon began to teach Hung the Black Tiger Fist that he specialised in. After six years, Hung became the best among the ‘lay’ members of the Southern Shaolin Monastery.

That said, legend has it that Gee Seen Sim See also taught four others who, in their entirety, became the founding fathers of the five southern Shaolin styles: Hung Ga, Choy Ga, Mok Ga, Li Ga and Lau Ga.

The character ‘hung’ (洪) was used in the reign name of the emperor that overthrew the Mongol Yuan Dynasty to establish the Han Chinese Ming Dynasty. Therefore, the character was highly esteemed by those who opposed the Manchu Qing Dynasty. Hung Hei-Gun is an assumed name, intended to honour the first Ming Emperor. Along with this, rebels named their secret societies ‘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 Gar’, also known as ‘Hung Kuen’.

Our lineage, here at Spectrum, comes from the Chin Woo Association via my Grand Masters Liao Wu Chang and Chan Hak-Sing and our Hung Gar lineage follows that of Master Wong Fei Hung’s lineage, due to the inclusion of further animal Kung Fu styles included in the Hung Gar system, such as the Ten Pattern (which includes the Five Animals and Five Elements lineage).

Wong Fei Hung learned Hung Gar from his father, who learned from Luke Ah Choi (ironically a Manchu descendant), one of Hung Hei-Goon's classmates. He distilled his father's empty-hand material along with the material he learned from other masters into the ‘four pillars’ of Hung Gar, four empty-hand routines that constitute the core of Hung Gar instruction in the Wong Fei-Hung lineage: Taming the Tiger Fist (Eye Shape), Tiger Crane Paired Form Fist, Five Animal Fist (later became Ten pattern) and Iron Wire Fist. Other forms such as the wooden man form, Five Pattern, Three Pattern and Weapon forms were added later.

Although the style was named after Hung Hei Goon, he was largely known for specialising in Tiger Claw. The large majority of the style was added to, over many years and the style grew to now, what is seen as, one of the largest and most complete southern Kung Fu systems in existence today.

Hung Gar is a style that was born during war.

The Classical fighting style and self-defence we teach in Hung Gar at Spectrum is not watered down at all, it’s real. From the origins of the southern Shaolin temple from Gee Sim to the founder Hung Hei-Gun, through to the more recent times of Wong Fei Hung many years later, the fighting techniques are as vicious and real as they were when the style came into existence during its country’s turbulent war-torn history. That is Classical Kung Fu. No rules. No sport. No gradings. Just pure war art.

Spectrum Classical Hung Gar Kuen teaches the full system passed down from our teacher’s teachers.

The syllabus includes all Hung Gar family forms (‘four pillars’) including, Animal Kung Fu patterns, sparring, Chi Na (grappling) as well as stance and foot work, pad work, hundreds of techniques, fighting application, theory and ‘12 bridge principles’ as well as dynamic conditioning-fitness training.

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