Lingnan Hong Quan / Hung Gar.

December 29, 2009

Mention “Hung Gar” or “Hong Jia”, the images evoked; predictably, revolve around Southern Shaolin, Gee Shim, Hong Si Guan, Wong Fei Hung, Lam Sai Weng and “Tiger Crane”, “5 Animals”, “5 Elements 5 Animals”, “Iron Wire” and “Ng Long Pak Kua Kwon”…..

In a nutshell, materials for many Kung Fu movies that flooded the market from the 60s till even today.

Hey, many Asian action movie stars owe their success to “Hung Gar” … so to speak and the audiences, first in Asia and now international, just couldn’t get enough.

Many movies/TV series are still being churned out with “Hung Gar” as the theme.

Even CKF magazines from that era are slanted towards Hung Gar.

So the common perception of Hung Gar is pretty much shaped by these popular medias and it is no question that Hung Gar is one of most popular CKF now.

Then some 15 yrs back I started looking deeper into the correlation between Fukien and Cantonese styles, since every account put most Cantonese styles as offshoots from Fukien sources, and even Hong Si Guan is recorded to be a Fukienese.

My fundamental issue was why most Fukien and Cantonese styles appear so dissimilar in terms of textures and flavors, why the big chasm?

Local evolution or did the history man had it wrong? Compare any Fukien styles with Hung Gar and I think you will see the dilemma.

If the case was local evolution, then there must exist somewhere, a “midway” form that carries the Fukien characteristics.

Look at Zhejiang, the other place where many Fukien styles fled to during the Ching Dynasty and many art forms there still show evidence of Fukien boxing.

And when mainland started opening up, books about Hung Gar started appearing in the market and the first thing I noticed is that their version of Hung Gar is nothing like the Hung Gar that we are all so used to.

And we are not talking one author and one book here …..

This prompted the question in my mind; could the popular Hung Gar be just but one line and there are many that still maintain their Fukien character?

I think this CCTV documentary entitled “Lingnan Hong Quan” answers that amply for me.

An entire small village with some 1000 plus inhabitants all doing the same kung fu, generation after generation and keeping everything unchanged.

They spend 3 years training their stance because to them, all power comes from the legs.

These are folks who do “4 level stances” for up to 1 and half hours at a time ……and the “Hung Gar” they do and have been doing for the last few hundred years …… you tell me……

And listen to the commentary, for the line that says “Most traditional CKF after been brought onto the big screen, have been transformed to the point that the original form is no longer recognizable”.

I find myself agreeing with that entirely….