Question: Sifu, everybody says that Hung Ga should be practiced in very low stances. I have noticed that you are sometimes using higher stances, sometimes lower stances – but still a bit higher than I usually see. Can you explain why?
Answer: Hung Ga = low stances, period. Right?
„Low stance, low stance!“, the Hung Ga Sifus shout out loud all over the world. „Don’t be lazy!“ Pain is good.
Well, stance training might serve as leg strengthening in the beginning phases of your Hung Ga journey, but the true aim of “Stances” (“Horse” in Chinese, Ma – take a hint why!) is different: Structure, body mechanics and power generation.
And the stances are not always low.
Check out Lam Sai Wing’s stances in two disctinctive patterns of „Modern Hung Kyun“ (San Hung Kyun) above:
- „Breaking the Row Hand Technique“ (Po Paai Sau Faat) on the left, also called „Black Tiger Breaks the row“ (Hak Fu Po Paai) a prime example of „Short Bridges, Narrow/High Stances“ (Dyun Kiu Jaak Ma) of Old Hung Kyun (Lou Hung Kyun).
- „Throw Ball in the Water Waves“ (Seui LongPaau Kau) on the right is a typical example of „Long Bridges, Wide/Low Stances“ (Cheung Kiu Daai Ma) of Hap Ga/New Hung Kyun (San Hung Kyun, ie. post Wong Fei Hung). Notice that even so called „Low Stance“ is actually not really that low, ie the thigh of the bow leg is not parallel to the ground.
Note: There are some exceptions/combinations – eg. „Tiger Form“ (Fu Ying) principle orders to „Stretch the Waist, Drop the Stance“ (Taan Yiu Lok Ma), yet uses „Short Bridge“ hand structure.
Grandmaster Simon Lam Chun Chung, a son of the late Grand Master Lam Jou, writtes:
„Unlike common misconception that the thighs and Kiu Sau (Bridge Hands)“ must be parallel to the ground when practicing Hung Ga, in Lam Family Hung Ga the Sei Ping M ais practiced with the thighs being at angle to the ground.“
I would add – not only Sei Ping Ma, but all other stances as well. Many of the Hung Ga techniques are actually performed in a higher stance!
My stance on “Stances”
Whenever I see a Hung Ga practioner to go through his set in high stances, I know he is lazy.
Whenever I see too low/collapsed stances, I know it is completely wrong – hard working guy, but dragging his butt on the floor is not going to make him any better.
And finally, when I see a practioner to change from low/wide to high/narrow when appropriate, I know I see an expert who understands the stances, footwork and power generation correctly. Good job.
How about you?
We have covered the three fundamental stances in great detail in our PHK Intro Kit: Beginner’s Guide to Chinese Martial Arts. Check it it HERE!
Pay attention to your stances, experiment, and drop me a line how does it feel.
Pavel Macek Sifu, Practical Hung Kyun
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