Hung Gar, also called Hung Kuen or Hung Ga, is a southern Chinese martial art associated with the Chinese folk hero Wong Fei Hung, who was a master of Hung Gar.
According to legend, Hung Gar was named after Hung Hei-Gun, who learned martial arts from Jee Sin, a Chan (Zen) master at the Southern Shaolin Temple. The temple 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.
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 Luk Ah-Choi, who taught Wong Fei-Hung's father Wong Kei-Ying and, by some accounts, Wong Taai, who is variously said to be Wong Kei-Ying's father or his uncle. Because the history of the Chinese martial arts was historically transmitted orally rather than by text, much of the early history of Hung Gar will probably never be either clarified or corroborated by written documentation.
Because 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" which, like "Hung Gar," can be translated as "Hung family." 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" and "Hung Kuen."
The hallmarks of the Wong Fei-Hung lineage of Hung Gar 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 Gar is sometimes mischaracterized 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.
Lai Ng Sam Hungga
Leung Kwan "Tit Kiu Sam" (1815 -1888)
Leung Kwan was born into a wealthy family in the Nam Hai, Kwantung province. His father paid for him to study martial arts under several famous masters. One of his teachers was the influential Kwok Yan Si who taught the "Fuk Fu Kuen", the (old) "Fu Hoc Seung ying Kuen", and a special method of training the arms and stances, known as "Diamond Body Technique". From this training Leung Kwan developed incredibly strong arms and legs that earned him the nickname of "Tit Kiu Sam". Tit Kiu Sam's first student was a school teacher called Lee Chung. Tit Kiu Sam's second student was Coi Chan and the third was Ng Hei Kwoon. Tit Kui Sam's other students were Lam Fook Shing, Ngau Chu, Si Yu Lueng, Blackfaced Sing and Six-Fingered Tiem.
Ng Hei Kwoon
During the 1860's Ng Hei Kwoon came to Canton and became the indoor disciple of Tit Kiu Sam. As well as studying with Tit Ku Sam, Ng Hei Kwoen also followed classes at the Canton dye works near Rainbow bridge. He trained there until the passing of Tit Kiu Sam in 1888. It was after this time that Ng Hei Kwoon devoted himself to Buddhism and started upon the monastic path taking on the name 'Yan Gong Sim Si'. After becoming an ordained monk his first disciple was a 13 year old boy called Hang Yat Siu.
Hang Yat Siu
Hang Yat Siu's father was a member of the underground movement fighting against the government of his time. After his father's death being still a young boy, Hang Yat Siu returned with his family to Canton in Kwantung his mothers birthplace. At the age of 13 he left his family and followed a nomadic path. Eventually he found his way to a small temple near Canton where he worked in the kitchen in exchange for food and shelter. After a time Hang Yat Siu devoted himself to Buddhism and became a lay monk taking the name 'Lin Hung Sim Si'. He became a student of the Zen master Yan Gong who taught him traditional martial arts. During his travels he met and befriended the father of Lai Ng Sam and after Lai Ng Sam's father's death adopted Lai Ng Sam as his son. As Hang Yat Siu grew older and his eye sight deteriorated his wanderings came to an end and he settled down at a small temple near Changsha, Wunam. During this time he accepted five more students and wrote letters of introduction to other teachers so his students could exchange forms and continue learning southern shoalin boxing.
Lai Ng Sam (1927 - 1995)
Lai Ng Sam was born in Futshan village in Kwantung in 1927. His father was an herbal doctor and Mok Ga kung fu teacher. During his travels Lai Ng Sam's father met Hang Yat Siu in the village of Shen Tong. The two became good friends and made a living selling herbs and giving kung fu demonstrations. When Lai Ng Sam was seven his father passed away and he was adopted by Hang Yat Siu. From 1934 Lai Ng Sam was the adopted son and student of Hang Yat Siu being trained in the arts of herbal medicine and southern Chinese boxing.In 1937 Japan invaded China with the intention of dominating the Asian mainland. It was a turbulent time for the Chinese people, and Hang Yat Sui and Lai Ng Sam were both actively involved in the resistance movement against the Japanese invaders. After the Second World War the true nature of the Maoist regime became obvious and in 1949 Hang Yat Sui instructed each of his students to flee the country. Lai Ng Sam was lucky to have succeeded in escaping mainland China, not many did. He arrived in Hong Kong where he made a new life for himself continuing to teach martial arts just as they were given to him. He taught at the YMCA, the Japanses embassy and in Victoria Park, where he taught on a daily basis. It was in this park, in the 1970's, that Jeff Hasbrouck was introducted to Lai Ng Sam, becoming both a student and a friend. Tragically Lai Ng Sam contracted cancer and during his final days appointed Jeff Hasbrouck as his official successor. Sadly
Lai Ng Sam passed away in November 1995.
Jeff Hasbrouck (1947 - )
Born in the USA, Jeff left for Europe in 1968. While in Amsterdam he studied Tai Ji Quan and was drawn to Asia to further his spiritual and martial art interests. In 1977 Jeff and his wife moved to Hong Kong. Jeff was introduced to Yong Sek Yee a second generation teacher of Wu Style Tai Ji, and became a dedicated student. It was during this period of training that a kungfu brother CC Wong suggested that Jeff balanced his martial arts training by also studying southern shaolin Chinese boxing. CC Wong introduced Jeff to Lai Ng Sam and after months of grueling training was accepted as a student.
Jeff was fortunate in being able to dedicated years of his life to studying with both of his teachers without many distractions. Jeff trained with Lai Ng Sam daily morning and evening, for several years. During this time Jeff also became a proficient acupuncturist, Chinese painter and studied Chinese arts and culture. Jeff returned to Europe in the early 80's and began teaching Southern Chinese boxing and has continued to do so to the present day. Jeff visited his teacher in Hong Kong as often as he could and in 1995 was urgently called back to Hong Kong to be by the side of his sick and dying Sifu. Jeff was appointed by Lai Ng Sam as the official successor to this lineage of southern Chinese Boxing. Jeff has continued to study and teach and has a number of students who with his approval continue to teach and further the art. These are Evert van der Meulen, Joe Cater, Ian Macleod, Jerry Burgess, Mike Mousavi and Wayne Armstrong. Jeff has yet to nominate any disciples.