Wong Fei Hung

Wong Fei Hung was born in 1850 in Guangdung, Lam Hoi Province, Sai Chu County, Luk Huern Yan villiage, China. His father was Wong Kei Ying, a disciple of Luk Ah Choi and one of the earlier 10 Canton Tigers of the late Ching Dynasty. Wong Fei Hung was known as one of the later “Ten Tigers”.

There were many famous masters of martial arts in southern China at that time. On the Hung Shuen or Red Boats, which carried the Chinese opera companies, Leung Yee Tai and Wong Wah Bo, both Siu Lam descendent were very well known. Though on land, the strongest masters were known as the “ten tigers of Gwan Dung”. Their names were Wong Yan Lum, Tit Kiu Sam, Jao Tai, Wong Kay Ying, Sou Hak Fu, Tit Ji Chan, Wong Ching Haw, Sou Hut Yee, Tam Jai Kwan, and Wong Fei Hung. These were the ten best martial artists as seen by their peers in south China. After Wong Fei Hung’s induction, it was known that his martial skills had to be good.

Both Wong Kei Ying and Wong Fei Hung were inducted into the “Ten Tigers” while they were still in their early twenties. The other 8 Tigers were all at an advanced age and of a higher kung fu generation. The positions of the “tigers” was chosen according to Chinese tradition. The oldest or most senior holds the highest position. This placement was given out of respect and had nothing to do with level of skill. It was also apparent that the induction showed great respect and had honored the Wong’s in that their skills were compared with the Sifu’s of a higher generation.

Wong Fei Hung was a compelling person and his life story has been immortalized in books and movies. He has been portrayed in 77 movies played by the great Kwan Tak Hing. The first such movie being made in 1949 (http://hongkongsfirst.blogspot.com/2009/08/wong-fei-hung-movie.html). (Kwan Tak Hing passed away at the age of 92.  1 year has officially been added to his age do to his many humanitarian accomplishments). Others had portrayed Wong Fei Hung over the years with the most recent and well known Jet Li.

During a party at the Ying Ging restaurant in Hong Kong for the opening of Wong Fei Hung’s school, the plans for the movie starring Kwan Tak Hing were made. The first movie played to a packed house and this continued throughout the 77 Wong Fei Hung pictures filmed with Kwan Tak Hing. These movies made his name famous and his legend grew steadily to the status of a folk hero. Today, Master Wong’s life is still often the subject of cinema films.

Young Wong Fei Hung began his martial arts training at the age of five. By the age of 13 he was already an accomplished martial artist and often went out with his father to demonstrate Kung Fu and sell medicine in different villages. On one occasion a famous teacher of another style, named Sifu Gwan Dai Hung was demonstrating on the same day. He became jealous because the Wong’s had a much larger crowd watching their performance. Every time he demonstrated his famous left handed fishing pole techniques the size of the crowd would be unmatched. Sifu Gwan felt these two were invading his territory, so, with pole in hand he approached Master Wong Kei Ying and issued a challenge to fight. Master Wong smiled and told his 13 year old son, Wong Fei Hung, to take up a pole and match skills with this Sifu using the Ng Long Ba Gwan Gwun (8 diagram pole techniques). Wong Fei Hung eliminated the challenger and the word spread far and wide. Wong Fei Hung even though still a child was a great fighter. This incident started young master Wong’s fame.

Wong Fei Hung is credited with formalizing the orthodox Hung System and creating the styles’ most famous set, the “Tiger Crane Double Pattern Fist Form” (Fu Hok Seung Ying Kuen). According to Master Frank Yee’s Grandmaster, Tang Fung, the tiger/crane set was developed from Tiet Kiu Saam’s horse stance and hand bridge combined with Wong Fei Hung’s fighting techniques. Hung-Ga system’s strength was in the tiger/crane techniques, the twelve bridges, horse stance and Wong’s secret “Sup Juet Sao” or 10 Killing Hands which was only taught to “in the door” disciples.

Wong Fei Hung was also famous for the tiger tail kick & shadow less kick. Many people believe that Wong Fei Hung invented the Mo Ying Gerk (shadow less kick). But, he learned it from a famous man named Sifu Song Ton Fai. The story is, Sifu Song was staying at a hotel and at night he used to practice in the courtyard. One evening he heard a woman laughing, he turned and asked the woman “Why are your laughing”? She stated “You only have hands with no kicks”. He couldn’t believe this woman would say this. Sifu Song asked the woman to show him, Song Ton Fai and the lady sparred. He couldn’t believe that each time he made an advance within striking distance; he would be kicked, although he never saw it coming. Afterward he got to know and eventually married the woman and learned this skill from his new found wife. Wong Fei Hung and Song Ton Fai were friends, Song wanted to learn Wong’s Tiet Sing Kuen, and Fook Fu Kuen and Wong wanted Songs no shadow kick. So they exchanged and the Hung system inherited a new technique.

As an adult Wong Fei Hung taught martial arts to the navy in Canton and held a position in the General’s office. Later in his life, Wong Fei Hung left Canton and moved to Fukien to become the right hand man of General Tong Gin Cheung. General Tong was a resistance fighter of the Ching Dynasty, eventually the resistance fell. Wong moved back to Canton and started teaching Hung Kuen and also established his Po Chi Lum medicine shop. Wong was an undefeated fighter throughout his life. He also produced many famous students and disciples.

During his lifetime, Wong Fei Hung was married four times. His first wife, surnamed Law died three months after they were married from an illness. His second wife, surnamed Ma, bore him two sons. Hawn Sum and Hawn Lum. She died soon after. Wong’s third wife also bore him two sons, Hawn Hei and Hawn Hsu, but she also did not live long. By this time, the word was out that Wong Fei Hung was bad luck for women and no women wanted anything to do with him. Even Wong Fei Hung resigned himself to this belief, and stopped trying to remarry.

Wong Fei Hungs son, Hawn Sum, unfortunately was killed by gangsters with pistols after an altercation. This caused Wong to withhold his knowledge from the other sons, in order to protect them. He had nine famous disciples.

Lian Foon – His #1 disciple. Famous for cracking the ground under his feet when he sat in horse stance.

Ling Wan Gai – Famous for his “Gwai Gerk” (ghost kicking skills).

Chan Din Biu

Lam Sai Wing – Famous for his saber techniques and writing 3 books on Hung Ga.

Tang Fung – famous for his strict, rigorous training and his stubborn” Old Square Mind” mentality.

Sui Low Ngan

Sui Low Yuk

Tak Gan Jow

Luk Jin Gun

Lueng Foon  and Ling Wan Gai hese had died at a young age and did not go on to have their own schools and disciples. Other famous students of Wong Fei Hung include popular Lam Sai Wing, a former pork butcher who had many students and wrote three volumes on Hung Kuen. And another well known student by the name of Tang Fong.

Many years later, in Fatsan Gao Heung, Wong’s school was performing a lion dance in honor of the anniversary of the Lam Hoi Association. Wong Fei Hung’s good students Leung Foon and Ling Wan Gai performed the head and tail respectively. After the lion dance, a martial arts demonstration was held outside on the stage. After all the students had shown their kung fu, Wong stepped up to the platform to perform the Yu family trident, a type of weapon now considered the king of southern Chinese weapons. During his performance, he accidentally kicked off his shoe into the crowd. The shoe struck a young woman and she was infuriated.

Despite attempted apologies by Wong, she slapped him in the face, yelling he had no excuse since he was a famous master of martial arts. “What if that had been your weapon?!” she retorted “I could have been killed!”. After this, a rather chastened Wong returned to the stage to perform his set.

Later on he could not get this women out of his mind. She was young and strong and he thought maybe she would live longer than his previous wives. He found out later that her name was Mok Gwai Lan and was in town with her number two aunt looking for a husband. As it turned out, the aunt, fearing Wong would want revenge for his humiliation sought him out to apologize and he told her of his feelings. She agreed to act as a go between and eventually Mok Gwai Lan and Wong Fei Hung were married. Mok Gwai Lan had a strong foundation in her Mok Ga kung fu, so Wong Fei Hung taught her Hung Kuen. She eventually became the instructor for all women’s classes in Hung Kuen. This provided an opportunity to learn martial art, an opportunity they had not had before.

Mok Gwai Lan did indeed live long. She survived her husband by many years and later became an assistant teacher alongside Tang Fong.

Wong Fei Hung was a great martial artist but he also had exceptional Mo Duk (martial virtue) and was also well known for his knowledge in herbal medicine. During the late Ching Dynasty he owned two herbal shops, one in Canton and the other in Futsan. At his Po Chi Lum herbal shops, he would make his own Dit Da medicine which became very famous. This led him to be known as one of the four top doctors in Southern China. These four doctors are still remembered even today. They were:

Wong Fei Hung, Jow Hong Gon, Lei Gam Chuen, So Hut Yee

At the end of the Ching Dynasty and the founding of the republic in 1912, Wong became the head instructor of martial arts for the Special Forces elite military unit, under the direction of the General Lau Wing Fuk in Canton City.

In October of 1924 there was a strike against the government by all the businesses. Canton city fell to riots and Wong Fei Hung’s home and herbal shop were burnt to the ground. He lost all his belongings and money. Later on, his son Wong Hawn Sum lost his job and was shot dead in an altercation with a drug gang. After all this Wong took ill and died in his home at the age of 83, in 1933. His wife moved with their sons to Hong Kong, Wan Jai Go Si Da Do, and taught Hung Kuen there. She also produced many well known disciples.