Kung Fu in the Cantonese dialect generally means Martial Arts. Kung Fu has deep
roots in history. People of ancient times created Kung Fu as a result of their
observation of nature and everything that surrounded them. They took images of
insects, monkeys and birds as a base and imitated their movements and habits.
Thus they developed step by step their training methods, which evolved through
time and became more sophisticated.
Today, when we speak about Kung Fu we are thinking many styles and
schools but all these schools can be divided in two main branches, the Shoaling
Branch (in Cantonese it is pronounced as Siu lum) and the Wudan Branch. The
Shaolin Branch is sometimes regarded as the Hard School and sometimes as the
External school. Shaolin Kung Fu is thought to be ‘hard’ or ‘external’ because
when it is demonstrated, one can see its force visibly, and can literally hear
the vibration of air caused by its force. The Wudan Branch on the other hand,
is regarded as the Soft School and the Internal one.
Hung Kuen is one of the most important
South Chinese martial arts style. The genesis and development of South Chinese Martial Arts has a deep connection with
There is a story that claims that Shaolin is named after a famous monk
Da Mo, known as Bodhi Dharma who came to China from India to the Shaolin Temple
in the Henan province in China, during the 6th Dynasty’s period of the Chinese history. There he
noticed that the monks were weak. Realizing that, he decided to introduce
boxing into the monastery as a form of exercise.
The origin myth of Hung Kuen Foundation Story revolves around the
destruction of Southern Shaolin in Fujian from Qing Dynasty. During the Qing
Dynasty the Japanese invaded and occupied Taiwan. The Qing tried to recapture
Taiwan but the Japanese repulsed every effort. Then something amazing happened.
A group of Shaolin monks from Fujian came to fight in the battle scene and
defeated the Japanese and retook Taiwan. After that the Qing Dynasty was very
pleased and in honor of the Shaolin monks he suggested to offer them ranks of officialdom and nobility as reward. The monks
couldn’t accept all these; they thanked the Dynasty and accepted only paddy
fields and grains as reward. After this incidence the Qing State became more
interested to the monastery and gathered information about it. There were
informed that the monastery harbored rebels, this could easily threaten the
State and they decided to destroy the monastery. After that one night the
Temple was set on fire. After its burning, Abbot Zin Sin took refuge in Hoi
Tong Monastery in Guangdong. There he began to worry that the techniques would
be lost one day forever, so he decided to accept students and teach them the
lost Shaolin Arts.
One of his premier students was Luk Ah Choy, who inherited the Shaolin
Arts and passed them to Wong Tai, who passed them to his son, Wong Kei Ying,
who passed them to his son Wong Fei Hung who then passed them to Lam Sai Wing,
who passed them to his nephew, Lam Cho and he to his son Lam Chun Fai.
The Hung Kuen School is well known for its tremendously powerful fist,
for its renowned powerful tiger claw techniques and its solid horse-riding
stands. Its successors have been famous as well, and the most famous of all was
the renown martial artist and folk hero Wong Fei Hung, who left as a legacy the
empty hand set Gung Gee Fok Fu Kuen (I-pattern Taming Boxing) which was
originally inherited by the Shaolin temple and Tit Sin Kuen (Iron Wire Boxing)
which was taught to him by Lam Fook Sing-the student of Tit Kiu Sam who is
acknowledged as the creator of this set.
Wong Fei Hung also evolved the techniques even further. For example, the
‘Tiger and Crane Set’ empty hand form (Fu Hok Seung Ying Kuen) was originally
choreographed by him, as well as the composite Ng Ying Kuen (Five Animals Boxing) and Sup Ying Kuen (Ten Patterns) routines.