And Now For Something Completely Different

Time to look away, for a moment, from the gloomy downhill parade of current events. Instead, here’s a look at one of the most difficult systems of Chinese martial arts, as performed by Grandmaster Chan Sau Chung. (The quality of the video is poor, but the quality of the kung fu is exquisite.)

I have to say — it’s a little difficult for me to watch this five weeks after knee replacement!

P.S. This site is a rich source of vintage videos, particularly of master performances of the system I’ve studied for 40 years, Hung Ga (a.k.a. Hung Gar, Hung Kuen, Hung Kyun). Here, for example, is our long-staff form, as performed by Wu Waan Fei in 1949.

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5 Comments

  1. Kevin Kim says

    I had fun looking up the Chinese characters in the online Korean dictionary (dic.naver.com). The Korean pronunciation of those characters in the long-staff video’s title (實用洪拳) would be “shil-yong-hong-gweon” (where the “eo” is a sound between “uh” and “aw”). “Shil-yong” means “practical” (“shil” = fruitful; “yong” = use [n.]); “hong-gweon” means something like “wide fist.” The “gweon” is the same character found in “tae-kwon-do.” In Mandarin Chinese, this is often rendered as “chuan” or “quan” (“jwen,” rhymes with “when”); as you know, it’s found in terms like “chuan-fa” and “taichi-chuan.”

    The long-staff routine was impressive for the control that Master Wu showed in such a tight space: he really didn’t have much room to swing his weapon. I also noticed that the beginning of the routine seemed more in line with Japanese or Korean fighting styles, as the attacks moved rigidly along a north-south axis. The form became more Chinese (by which I mean more circular and less rigid) toward the end. Great control.

    The monkey-style video was a puzzle to me, but I imagine that it’s a great style for learning how to fight in seemingly off-balance postures.

    Posted February 16, 2016 at 9:20 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Hi Kevin,

    Quite right, of course: that kwon-kuen-kyun-chuan-etc. word is just “fist”. The “Hung/Hong” part is just a family name, though. “Hung Ga Kuen” just means “Hung Family Fist”.

    None of the Hung forms, that I can think of, move exclusively along a single axis. Most hit at least eight points of the compass.

    Monkey style is a rarely practiced and really difficult style. As you can see, it’s awfully acrobatic, and being so close to the floor all the time, it’s especially hard for big top-heavy Westerners like me. (Hung style has lots of low stances too, but to do monkey you pretty much have to spend all your time down there.)

    If I’d been doing monkey all this time, I’d have had to have that knee replaced long ago. Probably both knees.

    Posted February 16, 2016 at 9:36 pm | Permalink
  3. … the system I’ve studied for 40 years, Hung Ga (a.k.a. Hung Gar, Hung Kuen, Hung Kyun).

    After 40 years of study, you must be well Hung by now, Malcolm.

    Posted February 16, 2016 at 10:28 pm | Permalink
  4. Whitewall says

    Now Henry! I was amazed a man could spend so much time crouched in that low position. Even when I was young, my lean six foot three inch frame would never have allowed me to do that.

    Posted February 17, 2016 at 7:31 am | Permalink
  5. Robert,

    There’s an old joke whose setup I’ve forgotten. It has to do with two guys bragging about how well-hung they are. One of them claims that when he is sitting on the toilet, the water feels very cold. To which the other’s punchline is, “Yes; and it’s so shallow!”

    Posted February 17, 2016 at 1:11 pm | Permalink