History of Sil Lum Hung Gar (Continued)

Abbot Jee Shim Opens System and Temple to Outsiders

During the Ching Dynasty (1644-1912), in the mid 17th century, Ming family and former officials took refuge in the temple, masquerading as monks. The abbot opened the Shaolin system to these outsiders, in hopes of gaining support to overthrow the Manchurians. Of these followers, Hung Hei Gwan stood out. His talent caught the attention of Jee Shim, who wanted to train him personally. The Shaolin monks, who were supported by the Ming government, were thought to be a threat to the new government. After many attacks to the temple, the Ching regime was successful in burning down the monastery. Most of the Shaolin monks died, defending their temple. Several of the surviving monks, including the abbot, fled to the southern temple located in Fukien province. There, Jee Shim felt the urgency to systematize the training, facilitating mastery of the system in a shorter time span.

Hung Hei Gwan Selected by Jee Shim to Open School in Kwangtung

Hung Hei Gwan was a tea merchant from Fukien, but couldn’t prosper in Kwangtung (Guangdong) under the tyranny of the Ching government. Hung Hei Gwan’s grandfather was an official of the Ming Dynasty, and he, a supporter. Out of loyalty to the deposed government, he changed his family name from Jyu to Hung, in honor of the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Jyu Hung Mo. Under the directive of the abbot, Hung Hei Gwan return to Kwangtung province to open a school and spread the knowledge. The system was taught as the Hung Gar (Hung Family) system so it would not be associated with its source. He married Fong Wing Chun who learned the White Crane system from its founder, Ng Mui, a surviving abbess from the Honan Shaolin Temple. (Fong Wing Chun should not be confused with Yim Wing Chun, for whom the abbess named her short-range system known as Wing Chun Kuen, or everlasting springtime fist.)

Hung Hei Gwan incorporated the Crane with the Shaolin Five Animals

Hung Hei Gwan became famous for his martial arts and gained the namesake of "The Southern Fist". Hung Gar evolved as he incorporated the Shaolin Five Animals style with his wife’s White Crane system. The reputation of the school, and its master, became widespread in southern China. By this time, Jee Shim had more followers. He sent his best students to Hung Hei Gwan for further training. Luk Ah Choi who later became known as the forefather of several traditional Chinese systems, was among the students sent. After his training, Luk Ah Choi was sent to Kwangtung to spread the knowledge.

Wong Fei Hung (1847 - 1924) Learns the Secret Iron Wire Form

In Kwangtung, Wong Tai became a student of Luk Ah Choi. He taught his son, Wong Kei Ying. In search of more knowledge, Wong Kei Ying studied with Luk Ah Choi and other disciples of Hung Hei Gwan. He passed all this knowledge to his son, Wong Fei Hung. During a street performance, Wong Kei Ying and his son, saved a martial artist in trouble for accidentally hurting a bystander. The performer was Lam Fook Sing who was a student of Tit Kiu Sam, whose real name was Leung Kwan, a disciple from the Shaolin Temple. Lam Fook Sing was so grateful that he passed on the knowledge of the "secret form" to the father and son.This form, Iron Wire Fist ( Tit Siu Kuen) is the most advanced form in the Hung Gar system. The Tiger Crane (Fu Hok) form became the signature of Wong Fei Hung. Reputed as one of the "Ten Tigers of Kwangtung", today, he is immortalized to folk hero status, with many movies and publications portraying his life. Despite his legendary status, Wong Fei Hung’s life was also filled with tragedies; several of his wives died prematurely. A son he trained, died in an ambush, and thereafter, he thought that he could protect his other sons by not teaching them. He later married Mok Gwai Lan, another descendent of one of the five southern systems, Mok Gar.

Lam Sai Wing (1860 - 1943), Wong Fei Hung's best Student

One of Wong Fei Hung’s best students was Lam Sai Wing, a pork butcher from Kwangtung. He was a disciple for fifteen years before he was entitled to advanced training. From his personal experience, he felt it took too long to gain advanced knowledge. Therefore, he taught openly, including the army of the Republic. Credit goes to Lam Sai Wing for perpetuating the system that we know today and setting precedence for future masters in the Hung Gar system. This system remains closest to its original Shaolin style and has maintained the integrity of the system.

Learn more about the Hung Gar Hand Forms

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