One of the things that drew me many years ago to Hung Ga was the use of Iron Rings.
Because of my attraction to the idea of training with the Ring, I searched for posts and literature on them. I have read many documents and posts about why people think they are a valuable training tool and also why many people think that they are pointless or have been superseded by modern tools.
Even between the two lineages of Hung Ga Kyun in which I have trained my two different Sifu’s have had different views as to which forms you are allowed to use them to train with.
I have trained with both professionally made Iron Rings (my preference) and homemade rings. I have read about the difference between Iron and Brass and personally have come to the conclusion that the choice of metal was primarily due to the wealth of the practitioner. I also consider Iron Rings a signature training tool of Hung Kyun. If I ever see somebody practicing with them, I instantly think of Hung Kyun.
Firstly, my view on Iron Rings. When I am good form I will play through Gung Ji Fuk Fu with three rings on each arm. At this stage i don’t feel I am ready to add more rings.
I believe that training with Iron Rings have the following benefits:
- They help you develop explosive power in certain techniques. Because you have to pay attention to each move in your form, and because you have to be more precise in your movements your speed and power will improve.
- They help you develop better focus and control of other techniques. Again, because you must pay attention when you use them with force, you will develop more focus and control.
- As they are an “active” training aid, when used well, they will attempt to unbalance you. As such they force you to sink into your stances better. If you punch with force, because the weight will shift on your arm, the rings will move you. This makes you again pay attention to your stance and posture.
- They are heavier than just your arms and do help build endurance and endurance strength. Playing through Gung Ji Fuk Fu multiple times with or without rings helps build your endurance. Adding weight while training improves your endurance strength.
- They help condition the wrist, the back of the wrist, and the forearm. In a different way to Da Saam Sing (please check out the detailed video instruction of “Three Stars Conditioning” plus .pdf manual in the PHK Intro Kit). They also help condition your mind to accept sudden impacts to your wrist/hand. This prevents you from reacting in shock if your wrist receive similar impact, such as from a grab or Fu Jaau to the hand/wrist.
- For me, they just plain feel cool. This helps me maintain my love for Hung Kyun. (this may vary for different people).
- They also help you focus and deal with loud noise. When using the rings they make quite a racket. I have found that for some people that this can be highly distracting and jarring. Being able to focus your mind to ignore this and train is another benefit.
My first Hung Ga Sifu (Sifu Andrew Wu) of the Chiu Wai lineage, explained to me that the only forms/sets/exercises that you should ever use Iron (or Brass) Rings with are the Tiger forms, and the Elements.
My current Hung Kyun Sifu (Sifu Jim Wilkinson) of the Dang Fong lineage, explained that in our lineage, there is no restriction on which forms/set etc that they can be used with.
About the Author: Douglas Elmes has trained in various styles since 1988 starting with Tae Kwon Do as a youth until he was 20. Searching for a style that he could really connect with he gained an insight into different styles including Wing Chun, Aikido, Wrestling, Fencing, European Broadsword, and Hung Ga (Chiu Wai lineage). On finding Hung Gar he realised that he had found the style of martial arts that spoke to his spirit and since then has trained in this style exclusively. After a hiatus of several years and just after the birth of his first daughter in 2011 he found both a renewed reason for training, and Sifu Jim Wilkinson of Australian Hung Kuen (Dang Fong Lineage). One of his life goals is to be able to be in a position to teach or be involved in teaching his two daughters Gung Fu (when they are old enough).
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