There are three forms which form the core of the Hung Gar system. While many schools use differing supplemental forms, Gung Ji Fuk Fu Kuen is the first of the core forms to be taught in nearly all Hung Gar schools. Gung Ji Fuk Fu Kuen is a very long form which will challenge the beginner and test their physical endurance and mental fortitude. The next of the three is Fu Hok Syong Ying Kuen. This form will bring the student to a new level where physical strength can start to be replaced with fine precision. The third form is called Tit Sin Kuen, and is the crown jewel of Hung Gar. It is a very demanding set which has the internal as its focus.
These are not the only forms used within the Hung Gar system. It is my feeling that if you train only these three hands sets, your knowledge of Hung will only grow and grow. As stated above, there are other forms used within the system by different schools. There are many are more schools which do not see three forms as the core of the art, but rather four. The schools which hold to this view add the form Sup Ying Kuen, also known as Five Animals, Five Elements, or the Ten Form Fist. And still other schools feel that no one form is supplemental, and all are essential. Below I list all of the forms that I have been able to find practiced in various Hung Gar schools.
· Gung Ji Fuk Fu Kuen: Literally, “Gung Character Subdue the Tiger Fist”. This form has its roots in the very beginning of Hung Gar, and further back still, in the Shaolin curriculum as well. This form has gone through many changes through the centuries. In its most common version in modern times, it is much longer than the traditional forms of many other systems. This set will really challenge the beginner and test their dedication and desire to learn Hung Gar. In some schools, this will be the first set taught, in others it is saved for some time beyond a few of the supplemental forms. The biggest point for the beginner to focus on when training this set is the heavy emphasis on stances. In sections of this from, the beginner is taught to measure off the stances properly. This set also trains both sides of the body.
· Fu Hok Syong Ying Kuen. Literally “Tiger and Crane Two (or Twin) Shape Fist. Personally, this is my favorite form of all. It is also probably the most famous set from Hung Gar, even inspiring entire systems based solely on this set! Variations of this form appear in systems as diverse as Modern Wu Shu and Kenpo. As the name implies, the form has an emphasis on the techniques from the Tiger and Crane arts of Shaolin. The form is an amalgamation of these two Shaolin systems. Later still, the form was further modified by Wong Fei Hung. This form contains the Ten Killing Hands of Hung Gar.
· Sup Ying Kuen. Literally, “Ten Shape Fist”. This form is believed to have been created by Wong Fei Hung. This set is so named because of teaching and training the Five Animals and Five Elements. The Five Animals are as follows: Dragon (Lung), Tiger (Fu), Leopard (Pao), Snake (Sare), and Crane (Hok). In Hung Gar, the Dragon movements do not resemble what one may imagine as a Dragon technique. The Dragon techniques are done with internal and external power, and are in Hung Gar’s classification of “internal training”. The Tiger techniques display external power. Performed with an open claw hand position, the Tiger techniques are used for grabbing, redirecting, locking and breaking. The Leopard techniques are fast. The quick techniques are combined with strong execution. The Snake techniques are performed with the fingertips, and are quick in execution. The Snake techniques also have built in deflection techniques, and this allows the practitioner to block and strike at the same time, with the same movement. The Crane techniques are performed with the hand forming a crane beak or crane wing position. The Crane uses little physical strength. In Hung Gar, the Five Elements are Gold (Gum), Wood (Mok), Water (Soy), Fire (Faw), and Earth (Tow). The gold element in hung gar involves strong and heavy hand and forearm movements where the whole arm is used as a one powerful unit to destroy any on coming attack and/or punish the attacker with strong and heavy blows. All the gold movements are done with the arm slightly bent at the elbow. Movements such as fun gum kiu (dividing gold bridge) are typical gold technique. The wood element generally involves short-medium range movements to simultaneously block and strike. Ghat mok choy (squeezing wood punch) is a typical example of the wood element where both arms are used simultaneously to block and attack and strike at the same time. The water element involves long, swinging movements of the arms which are powerful and destructive. A typical example of the water element is the soy long pow choy (water wave punch) which was also one of the favorite techniques of the famous Wong Fei Hung. The fire element is characterized by lightning-fast and rapid straight punches. It is used to rush an opponent with extremely fast and powerful punches until the attacker is knocked down. A good example for this would be the fire arrow punch (faw gin choy). The fifth and the last element earth are characterized by externally strong attacks coming from ground up.
· Tit Sin Kuen. This form is regarded by many schools as the crown jewel of the Hung Gar system. This form is not about public display or tournament competition, it is solely for the development of internal strength. There are many rumors that improper training of this set will result in physical damage to the practitioner. I have my doubts about this, as I have personally seen people without root, and with extremely poor fundamentals practice this form with no damage to themselves. This form will also educate the practitioner in the Twelve Bridges.
· Ng Ying Kuen. The Five Animals form.
· Lau Gar Kuen. The Lau Family Fist.
· Chin Cheung. War Palm/Arrow Hand/Heart Penetrating Palm/Heart Splitting Palm.
· Mui Fa Kuen. Plum Blossom Fist.
· Wu Dip Cheung. The Butterfly Palm.
These are not all of the forms practiced in every Hung Gar school. This is merely an overview of some of the forms which may be practiced in some of the Hung schools you may visit. Listed above are only the empty hand sets. You should also see weapons training as part of any Hung curriculum. Nearly every Hung Gar school teaches three basic weapons; staff, broadsword, and butterfly swords. Other weapons will differ from school to school and may include Gwan Dao, Chain Whip, Spear, Straight Sword, Wooden bench, and more. Having more or fewer weapons taught, just as in the case of empty hand forms, does not add to or take away from the legitimacy of any Hung Gar school.