Terms Hung Ga, Hung Kyun, Hung Ga Kyun are used today as synonyms. It is perhaps better to speak about so called „Old Hung Kyun“ (Lou Hung Kyun,”Short Briges, Narrow Stances”), ie.pre-Wong Fei Hung, sometimes also called “Village Hung Kyun”, and „New/Modern Hung Kyun“ (San Hung Kyun, “Long Bridges, Wide Stances”), ie. after Wong Fei Hung, also called “Tiger and Crane Hung Kyun” (Fu Hok Hung Kyun).
According our research, there are many other lineages in China: “Opera Boats Hung Kyun” (Baan Jung Hung Kyun), “Five Animals Hung Kyun” (Ng Ying Hung Kyun), “Three Extensions Hung Kyun” (Saam Jin Hung Kyun), Laan Tau Ho’s Hung Kyun, “Flower Hung Kyun” (Fa Hung Kyun), Seung Dak Hung Kyun etc. We will introduce them in the future articles.
The name Hung Ga/Hung Kyun become popular quite recently. Manuals written by Jyu Yu Jai speak simply of “boxing” (Kyun Seut) or Siulam, and mention “Hung Kyun”/”Hung Ga”/”Hung Mun” only on few ocassions, obviously as a one of the many styles/sources of the Wong Fei Hung’s/Lam Sai Wing’s art.
The question is – why Hung Ga/Hung Kyun? The most popular theory, ie. that it is named after its founder, Hung Hei Gun, is not the only one. In this article we well examine 3 different and interconnected theories.
Southern Siulam/Ji Sin Sim Si theory
Some theories claim that (Old) Hung Kyun was a generic term for the martial arts of Southern Siulam, coming from the Venerable Abbot Ji Sin as taught in Siulam or in Gwong Dung province, when Ji Sin was hidding on the Red Junks of Chinese opera troups.
The biography of Tit Kiu Saam says that his teacher, Siulam monk Gwok Yan, was a Hung Kyun Paai master, although there is not proof of of him being student/grand student of Hung Hei Gun. Moreover, most of the today’s lineages of “Modern Hung Kyun” trace their roots to Luk A Choi, Hung Hei Gun’s junior gungfu brother.
Grand Master Gu Choi Wa (Baan Jung Wing Cheun Kyun) writes that Hung Kyun refers to southern Chinese martial arts of late Ming dynasty – Han, cant. Hon nation (ie. Chinese) dynasty, as opposed to foreign Ching (Manchu) dynasty.
If you take Chinese character Hon (meaning ethnic Chinese) and remove the components Jung (“middle”) and Tou (“earth”), you will get a Chinese character for Hung.
This is confirmed by our extensive field research in Gwongdung, especially in Fatsaan and Canton area. Whenever there is a performance of some unidetified Southern style (meaning different from Choi Lei Fat, Wing Cheun, Hap Ga, Southern Mantis or any other well established systems), people refer to it simply as “Hung Kyun”.
Hung Hei Gun Theory
As we already stated, this is probably the most popular one: After the burning of the Siulam monastery any connection to it meant great danger. Hung Hei Gun could not openly teach a Siulam Kyun or “Siulam Martial Arts”. Therefore, he named his style Hung Kyun, “Hung’s Martial System” to camouflage its Siulam origin. The name of the style thus not only reflects the surname of its “founder” but also the memory of the above named first Ming emperor, Hung Mou.
There are still schools both in Fukgin and Gwongdung (especially in Fa Dou district of Canton) which trace their roots to Hung Hei Gun.
Chinese Secret Societies/Hung Mun Theory
Grand Master Lam Chun Fai writes in his “Preamble on the Origin and Development of Hung Kuen”:
“What is noteworthy is tha Hung Kuen’s origin story is fundamentaly the same as the Hong Men (cant. Hung Mun – note P.M.) Society’s foundation myth; the earliest information on the destruction of the southern Shaolin comes from Hong Men’s surviving texts. Indeed, Fujian’s specific soci-historical and cultural background made it a breeding ground for secret societies in late Qing Dynasty, notably Hong Men, and according to contemoprary historical research, secret societies often used local temples as centers for their activities, towards which the state pursued a steadfast policy of persecution and suppressionm and regularly destroyed the illicit temples. The precise relationship between Hung Kuen and Hong Men is scholar’s specialist domain, and their underlying relationship awais further historical research. But i am certain that it is not pueryl accidental that Hung Kuen and Hong Men share a common origin myth.”
Was the same name used for different (but in the end interconnected) systems? Was Hung Hei Gun a Hung Mun member? Were the Siulam martial arts of Hung Mun members referred to as Hung Kyun, “Martial art of Hung [Society]”? Names of the techniques, secret signs of our system etc. definitely point to that direction. More research needed.
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