Organized by Master Li Chan Wo and his school and supported by Wong Fei Hung’s descendants and the World Hung Kuen Association, this annual gathering celebrates the legacy of our style’s ancestral master. It is a very traditional event with no gimmicks, with unchanged old school lion dance and ancestral worship rituals; we can only find these in traditional Chinese countries like Hong Kong and Taiwan.
This is Hung Gar’s most glamorous annual celebration. I can see many different branches who also attend this event. While I have met Master Li Chan Wo and his disciples, it is the first time I met instructors from lineages such as Ho Lap Tin lineage and other Tang Fong lineages. There are also instructors from many internationally known lineages such as Lam family Hung Kuen whom I frequently see their work and activities on the internet but not in person. Getting to meet well known Hung Gar schools from different lineages and countries is a rewarding experience as an instructor of the style.
Wong Fei Hung is the man with shadowless kicks and shields the commoners from unreasonable bullies, government or thug alike. His style of Kung Fu is Hung Gar Kung Fu, his students and grand students taught the art to the younger generations, and today we have Hung Gar Kung Fu in Singapore, which I am teaching to our new generation. Sifu Li Chan Wo said, ‘ The essence that Wong Fei Hung left for us is not just his Kung Fu, but his righteous spirit.’
Today due to the swaying influence of pop culture, Wong Fei Hung may not be as synonymous with Hung Gar Kung Fu as Ip Man is to Wing Chun. To most they might even think that Wong Fei Hung was not in Canton, he was in places like Beijing or Henan. It is evident that much work has to be done by us Hung Gar schools to educate the masses about the truth, both by fist, and by film.
Sigung Ong Ah Yong once told us, ‘Unlike the post war Hung Gar teachers, Wong Fei Hung is not famous for his taolu (forms). He is well known for the efficiency of his fighting tactics.’
Li Chan Wo, Disciple of Wong Fei Hung’s Wife
Today there is hardly anyone in such a senior generation in Wong Fei Hung’s lineage as Master Li Chan Wo. I can tell you more about this plain looking elderly man. He is a Hung Gar teacher; he is a Chinese physician who specializes in treating sports injuries and sprains; he makes an honest living by giving his full attention to his students and his patients.
The most suitable praise for Master Li Chan Wo is that he is a steadfast, honest man. While he may not have won countless duels with powerful opponents like Wong Fei Hung, you can count on him to teach Wong Fei Hung’s martial art without reservation. Sometimes, teachers do not reveal every aspect of their art to their students and they have hidden terms such as only teaching and trusting family and relatives. Some teachers put on a stoic and aloof front, boasting their senior status and their financial and political achievements. They will not look you in your eyes if you are of lower social or financial status.
Unlike them Master Li Chan Wo is one who does not discriminate. He will help any good person, and he has a code of conduct for his students and himself. He does not boast about what he doesn’t have or isn’t capable of, but he is sure what he will teach his students. Treating injuries by day and guiding his disciples by night, he is contented with his honest livelihood of passing on the art.
Foshan Lion Dance
Do Singaporeans know that traditional lion dance comes from Foshan? Today in Singapore and among other Diaspora Chinese communities, many Cantonese Kung Fu schools that traditionally uses the Foshan lion has replaced it with the lighter, smaller and cuter Heshan lion. We can still see the traditional Foshan Lion Dance in Hong Kong, Taiwan and some parts of mainland China.
In this traditional event, Foshan Lions are used, to respect the ancestral grandmaster Wong Fei Hung. Hung Gar schools and lion dance troupes will send their lion dancers and percussion team to participate in the rituals and spice up the atmosphere. Foshan Lions (also known as Futsan Lions) uses actual Kung Fu stances and movements such as the Sei Ping Ma (Four Level Stance) and Kei Lun Ma (Unicorn Stance). Lion Dancers call it the Seven Stars Footwork (Chat Sing Bo). The contemporary lion dance we see in Singapore does not use this kind of footwork, and even the drumming is modified.
Newcomer to the Circle
We are newcomers to the Hung Gar circle that frequents this long running celebration event. We hope in subsequent years we will be acquainted and affiliated with more Hung Gar organizations, we want to stay in the loop and contribute to the action. It has been my pleasure to meet fellow Hung Kuen practitioners; we are as close as kinsmen. I also hope to bring more students and disciples to this event and introduce them to the international Hung Gar circle.
To our delight, despite being a newcomer, some Hung Gar practitioners already saw our work on the internet. We Singapore’s Hung Gar school is already being recognized for some of our contributions. They know us for
1. Demonstrating Hung Gar techniques in the movies
2. Conditioning methods like the Stone Mallet, Iron Palm Bag and Lok Kiu Beam.
3. The Hung Gar school that teaches techniques and applications broken down from set patterns.
To all our worldwide Hung Gar Kung Fu schools and followers, we want to thank you for your support. We will carry on the work of educating the masses about our cultural treasure, and till then we hope to have your support. Let us work together to let the world know the goodness of Hung Gar Kung Fu.