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Tiger Crane Double Form

Hung Gar / Hong Jia Quan

        Many of the systems of kung fu which exist today can be traced back to the Five Animals Fist Form of Shaolin. The Southern systems of kung fu were refined into 5 major styles: Hung, Lau, Choy, Li, and Mok, named after their originators. Since then, most ot them have gone through changes. However, the one which has remained relatively unchanged is the Hung Style. Based off the movements of the Tiger and the Crane, Hung Gar is deeply rooted in the basic moral principles of honesty, righteousness, and an indomitable spirit. The name "Hung" itself can translate to "standing tall with integrity."

Hung Tsi-kuan, an 18th century kung fu exponent who devoted his life to developing kung fu, was schooled by the Shaolin Abbot Gee-Sin, an expert in the Long Hand, Long Bridge Big Horse Method; and Fang Yung-chun, an expert in Short Hand, Short Bridge Narrow Horse method (Fang Yung-chun later became Hung's wife). Hung combined the best of the two instructor's methods to form the Hung Kuen, Fu Hok Pai - The Combined Tiger-Crane Pugilism of Teacher Hung, otherwise known as the Fist Art of the Hung Family (Hung Gar).

From Abbot Gee-Sin, he absorbed the vigorous and strong hand techniques reminescent of the Tiger Style; it's precise leaping and stepping, it's low kicks as well as the dynamic tension exercises. From Fang Yung-chun, he learned the Crane Style of Boxing, which stressed one-legged stances, pecking, wing and beak attacks, and short and long fist movements.

Stance work of Hung Gar

Hung Gar is probably best known for its powerful stancework. The Hung system was originally practiced on moving boats, so stability was paramount. Also, having originated from Southern China, many of the fights that occured took place in the crowded alleyways of the many cities, with not much room to move around, making the ability to hold one's ground in a fight essential.

 The Ma Bo, or Horse Stance, is considered the foundation for all the stances in the Hung system. Hung Gar pugilists were famed for their ability to stay in the strong Horse Stance for several hours at a time. With the weight of the body equally distributed on both feet, the stance is reminiscent of a rider on a horse, thus the name Horse Stance.

 The Gung Bo, or Bow and Arrow Stance, is more commonly known as the "front bow, back arrow" because the front leg is curved like a bow, and the back leg is straight like an arrow. The saying is: In bending, be like a bow. The more it is stretched, the more powerful it becomes.

 The Ding Bo, or Toe Stance, resembles the posture of a cat about to leap upon its prey. This is a flexible stance used to execute quick offensive and defensive movements, including kicking. The weight distribution for this stance is 90:10.

Techniques of Hung Gar

Hung Gar, like all kung fu systems, has a wealth of offensive techniques. Most of these are derived from the Crane and Tiger systems, as well as making extensive use of what is known as bridgework, used to either "bridge the gap" between the pugilist and his opponent or else to destroy the bridges of one's opponent, as well as having other functions.

 This is the Straight Punch of the Hung system. It is derived from the Crane style, with the wings of the Crane shooting out, and lines up with the shoulders for greater extension.

 The Tiger Claws are a very definitive part of the Hung system. Imitating, of course, the claws of the powerful tiger, they can be used to strike, rake, grab, and tear, among other things.

 The Crane's Beaks are more long-reaching and precise weapons, and are usually used to peck at vital areas or to parry or hook parts of the body.

 One of the common misnomers of the Hung system is that since it is a Southern style, as well as low stances, it has no real kicks. This is a falsehood. Wong Fei-Hung, one of the most famous masters of Hung Gar, was well-known for his "No-Shadow Kick," a kick reputed to be so fast that it did not cast a shadow!


"Taming the Tiger", "Tiger and Crane" and "Iron Wire" are the three fundamental sets of Southern Shaolin or Hoong Ka Kungfu. If a person can perform and apply only these three sets well, he can be a very formidable fighter.

 

Kung Ji Fook Fu Kuen (Taming the Tiger / Conquering the Tiger Form / Cross Tiger Fist)

Fu Hok Shoeng Ying Kuen (Tiger Crane Form)

Tid Sin Kuen (Iron Thread(Wire) Form)

Sup Ying Kuen (Ten Form Fist)

"Taming the Tiger" and "Tiger and Crane" are meant for combat efficiency. They are also very beautiful to watch. "Taming the Tiger", which composes mainly of tiger patterns, is comparatively "hard" and is well known for its tiger-claws.

"Tiger and Crane", which is a composition of Lohan, tiger and crane patterns, is both "hard" and "soft", and besides the long-reaching movements of the Lohan patterns and the tiger-claws of the tiger patterns, is also famous for "no-shadow kicks". These kicks, which are characteristically different from kicks in Taekwondo and Thai Boxing, are so fast that there is no time even for shadows. Wong Fei Hoong was famous for his "no-shadow kicks".

"Iron Wire" is a very advanced set meant for internal force training. It should be practised under the supervision of a master. Faulty training can lead to serious injury. The whole set is performed mainly on the horse-riding stance and the goat-stance, and the patterns are not beautiful to watch. Various appropriate sounds are made when performing this set.

The essence of this advanced set is expressed in its "poetic formula" of only 14 words, namely

     kong yau pik chek fan ting chun 
     thai lau wang jai ding tian kuen 

Even to many advanced kungfu exponents, these 14 words may be meaningless, but they sum up the twelve types of internal force that are developed by practising this internal set.