Photos taken by Krissy Gaddy
Kung Fu originates with the legend of a Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma (or Ta Mo ) who traveled from India to China , bringing the idea to the Shaolin (shao- little, lin- forest) Temple in the Hunan province, around 500 AD. He observed that the monks there were unfit and that some form of exercise was needed to keep them both disciplined and healthy. With this in mind, he introduced a series of martial movements which gradually developed into Kung Fu.
Kung Fu (gong fu- in Chinese) translates simply to mean a skill, or an achievement which required hard work. In this regard, it is not necessarily specific to the Kung Fu us living in the Western World attribute it to, since it can meet one skillful in many trades of life; however, because one trained so hard to master this art- including holding positions for one or more hours- it was given this honor in identity. People who studied the arts fully became legendary- almost possessing superhuman strength, flexibility, and speed. They were giants in comparison with the rest of the populace.
More recently, in China , many have come to use the term “wu shu” to describe martial arts activity, but this is more acrobatic and less fierce in nature, as it implies sport competition, rather than self-defense. Actors such as Jet Li have studied wu shu , where as Bruce Lee studied a more traditional form of Kung Fu, known as Wing Chun.
Not soon after its development, the knowledge
of Kung Fu reached far beyond the gates of the Temple and spread among
emperors and peasants alike. With such a diverse band of practitioners,
there were many reasons to study such an exercise. The first was for
health benefits. The second was for self-defense; whether from wild
animal or foe, it was a necessary skill to outwit the opponent,
whatever their form. Furthermore, it held for many others a mental and
spiritual dimension. In this way, one cultivated the body, mind and
Today there are many different styles of Kung Fu. Some of the most popular styles are: Praying Mantis, Chuojiao (feet poking), Bajiquan (eight extremes fist), and Eagle Claw [all styles of Northern China ]; Crane style, Wing Chun, and Nanquan [Southern styles]. Hung Gar is one of the more popular styles categorized by Nanquan (or Southern fist). It emphasizes strong stances, powerful punches, and implements animal and element movements. It is known most for its philosophy of striking methods which can be hard or soft, as in the most famous of Hung Gar's forms- the Tiger Crane Form.
Hung Gar means “Hung Family,” implying that the style originated and is trademarked by the Hung Family. Another name for the style is Hung Kuen (or Hung Quan) which means Hung Fist.
Hung Gar has a fascinating history. It traces its origins from the Southern Shaolin Temple in the Fukien province of China sometime during the 17 th century. At the time the Manchurian government was despised by many Chinese, because they were harsh foreign rulers who imposed their customs on the population. At the Southern Shaolin , many rebels were actually acquiring martial skills to overthrow the regime. Among one of the leaders was Hung Hei-Goon, who was trained by Abbot Gee Seen Sim. After the Manchurians destroyed the temples and banned martial arts, Hung Hei-Goon taught illegally to his disciples. These men swore to teach the art of Shaolin and overthrow the Manchu. When the ban was lifted he taught openly and set up a school in Guangdong .
There are many different lineages of Hung Gar. Our Lineage from Hung Hei-Goon as follows:
*Note: most of the known lineage spreads out after Lam Sai Wing
Hung Gar FAQs
1)What's the best style of Kung Fu? In reality, there is no “best” style, because there are many great styles. The best style of kung fu is the one that you prefer and the one that you master.
2)What is Hung Gar? Hung Gar is a style of Kung Fu that focuses on strengthening leg muscles, balance, low stance positions, powerful hand and animal-like movements, as well as those of nature. The name Hung Gar simply means “Hung Family,” implying that the style originated and is trademarked by the Hung Family. Another name for the style is Hung Kuen (or Hung Quan) which means Hung Fist.
3)Why study Hung Gar? Hung Gar is an excellent way to learn self-defense, gain confidence, maintain discipline, and promote health through exercise- including: posture, strength, balance, flexibility, hand-eye coordination, and positive outlook. It also teaches one to be more cautious and prudent when dealing with conflict.
4)Are there belts? Traditionally, no belts where given for Kung Fu, except those that were for tying around the waist. Aside from that, belts were not used for ranking. In the West, sashes or Kung Fu belts, were given in colors, much like the Western Karate institutes, in order to give students confidence and rank there skill level. The traditional way for ranking has always been through the use of titles.
5)How long does it take to learn the system? To learn Hung Gar, one must put in hours and hours of work for a series of years. Although there is no definite answer, the amount of time it takes to learn Hung Gar depends entirely on the student and his interest, ability, and dedication. On average, it may take at least four to six years to reach the most advanced form; however, one should keep in mind that there is no fast track- Hung Gar is truly Kung Fu- a life time effort and achievement.
6)Who can study Hung Gar? Everyone is welcome to study Hung Gar who is curious, eager to gain an insight into a new way of life, or simply wanting to improve the way of life they live. All ages can benefit.
Kung Fu titles
The titles of kung fu originate from the Shaolin Temple and are used as a source of respect between students, teachers and masters alike. Most schools are using only a few titles, such as sifu, which means teacher, but here is a more complete list of kung fu titles and ranks (in Cantonese):
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