„Three Treasures“, Three Hints: „Hard as Iron, Soft as Thread“

Lam Sai Wing - "Iron Thread Set" (Tit Sin Kyun)

Secret „internal“ set of Siu Lam/Old Hung Ga, last of the „Three Treasures of Hung Kyun“, passed to the current generation by Tit Kiu Saam’s disciple Lam Fuk Sing to Wong Fei Hung – legendary “Iron Thread Set”. Tit Sin Kyun finishes what Gung Ji Fuk Fu has started – it completes the circle.

Only selected few learned “Iron Thread Set”. Lam Sai Wing has learned Tit Sin Kyun after 16 years of study under Wong Fei Hung. It is a harsh and unspoken truth that even many very famous Grand Masters a well as current Masters have never formaly learned Tit Sin Kyun from their Sifu – the either learned it from (watching) their Si Hing, from Jyu Yu Jai’s book, or a video, usually using the Dragon Form part of „Five Animal Set“/“Ten Forms Set“ as the basis for re-construction of Tit Sin Kyun.

I have been fortunate not only to learn Tit Sin Kyun from my Sifu, Grand Master Lam Chun Sing,  but also to receive detailed corrections and advanced tips by my Si Gung, his second son, daughter and many of my dear Si Hing Dai.

One of my trips to Hong Kong and China was devoted to „Iron Thread Set“ only – I have extensively trained Tit Sin Kyun at Lam Gwun, Leung Sifu’s Gwun, in Kowloon park with Ng Sifu, as well as researching „Iron Thread Set“ in China – not only commonly known Wong Fei Hung’s version, but pre-Wong Fei Hung era „Three Extensions Iron Thread Set“ (Saam Jin Tit Sin Kyun).

Traditional Chinese maxim describes the core principles of the set in following words: “Hard as iron, soft as thread” (Gong Yu Tit, Yau Yu Sin). This is the reason why I prefer to translate Tit Sin Kyun a s „Iron Thread Set“ instead of „Iron Wire Set“.

Iron Thread Set - Tit Sin Kyun

Harmony, interchange and interplay of Hard and Soft, Internal and External (Gong Yau Bing Jai, Noi Ngoi Seung Sau) are general principles of the whole system, not just Tit Sin Kyun – they are used not only in advanced „internal“ exercises, but fundamental „external“ exercises as well.

Practical Hung Kyun disciples learn the fundamental Tit Sin Kyun principles from day one (check out the fundamentals of Internal Training in our PHK Intro Kit). I have been famously quipped that our way of performing the basic „external“ strength and conditioning drills like stance training, pushups and pullups is more „internal“ that 99% of „Iron Thread Set“ versions I have seen – trust me, I have seen lots of them, both in USA, Europe, Hong Kong and China, in person or on video.

Seriously? Well, just open YouTube, type in „Iron Wire“ (or copy and paste 鐵線拳) and judge for yourself. What do you see? Stiff (supposedly „hard“) spasmodic show, or Soft-Hard harmony?

Most of the cases are „Iron“ only – no „Thread“. Some went the other extreme and started borrowing principles from Taijiquan and apply them to Tit Sin Kyun and Hung Ga Bridges in general – no surprise, I personally do not subscribe to that either.

Hard-Soft (GongYau), Internal-External (NoiNgoi), Angular-Straight (Waang Jik), Fake-Real (HeuiSat) and other complementary opposites are just another way how to say Yin-Yang (YamYeung).

Pavel Macek Sifu, Practical Hung Kyun

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  • Ny San Da

    It is, as I understand it, just “wire” (“iron thread” = a wire); wire is strong yet also flexible… that “flexible” (yau) that is often translated as “soft” but isn’t really “soft”

    • True, but: the saying above: “Hard as iron, soft as thread” (Gong Yu Tit, Yau Yu Sin) imho suggests “Iron Thread” as better translation.