The Four Lower Tigers Meet Canton
Hung gar is famous for its animal sets. The Canton school is famous for a set known as "sup ying" (ten forms).
These forms are the five animals (dragon, snake, tiger, panther and crane) and the five elements (gold, wood, water, fire
and earth). Frequently, students neglect the elements, giving rise to the set known as five animals. The dragon form uses
intense internal power exercises while the other four animals train fighting techniques that mimic the spirit of their respective
beast. In ha say hung gar, these five animals each get their own respective set. Each set has a different focus upon internal
power. Each of these animal sets rely heavily upon yee gee kim yeung ma (withdrawing the gonads horse stance) instead of the
sei ping ma (four corners horse stance). This stance is shorter, the width of your hips plus a half, with the toes pointing
inward like the wing chun stance.
|Grandmaster Wing Lam and Master Saleem Alamudeen|
The hung gar salute has an elevated mystique. Because of its associations with Hung Tong, secret gestures
were used to so underground rebels could recognize each other, like the Masonic handshake. This carried over into hung gar.
The salute is a fist and a tiger claw, made with two steps forward then two steps backward. Both the salutes of Canton and
Ha Say Fu hung gar fit this description, but their salutes are distinct. The Canton school steps forward to a cat stance while
Ha Say Fu uses a stance with the heels together and the toes pointed outward.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Ha Say Fu is its emphasis upon unusual ancient weapons. Ha Say Fu contains
many weapon sets that are seldom seen anymore, such as the thunder hoe, the double tiger-head shields, the gen (a precursor
to the Okinawan sai), the nine-pointed rake, the dragon-head wooden bench and the double-headed dragon chain whip. Both schools
share the same distinctive weapon, the butterfly swords. However, each school has its own individual version of this set.
Another fascinating aspect of Ha Say Fu is that it has a unique iron palm training method. Ha Say Fu hung gar favors the tiger
claw to attack, just like the Canton school. So, its iron palm trains the tiger claw strike in addition to palm strikes. This
iron palm method utilizes a special training table where the iron-filled striking target can move. The moving target is struck,
grabbed and moved with the tiger claw within the designated sequence of palm strikes.
Sifu Wing Lam believes Ha Say Fu may well be Monk Gee Sim's original unmodified system, but acknowledges it
is impossible to prove. It does fit the descriptions in the history books and preserves many of the characteristics of "Canton"
hung gar. Furthermore, according to Wing Lam, the feel of Ha Say Fu is deeply rooted in traditional Shaolin. If it is the
true original, the modification was far too long ago to have been properly documented. Unlike the "Canton" school, the lineage
of Ha Say Fu is murky.