Chapter 22

23 Oct

Self Taught Part Three: Hung Gar

My experience with hung gar was relatively short; My Baguazhang training was about a month, my Hung Gar lasted about three weeks. However, these three weeks were the most jam packed, kung fu oriented weeks of my life.

It began back when I watched Kung Fu Hustle; an excellent movie by both comedic and action standards. I watched it religiously, especially the first two fight scenes. There was the kicking guy, who was neat, and the staff guy, who was equally neat. One man, however, caught my eye: the gay fighter. His iron rings looked damn cool, and his techniques surpassed his fashion accessories in terms of awesome. I kept this on the back burner until I had decided to forsake Baguazhang for something else.

After some basic Wikipedia-ing, I had discovered that this was called “Hung Gar” kung fu, and that it was basically what I was looking for. It had arm swinging, but it wasn’t a one trick pony. It had your standard vertical fist punches, crane beaks, and Tiger claws. I’ve always been entranced by Tiger claws, for unknown reasons; perhaps it was the pure power they represented, or it was a style where I could show off my grip strength. Regardless, Hung Gar contained a multitude of things I had already thought to be cool, which meant it was next on my list.

After some basic web searching, I was overjoyed to find that there were 4 pillars of HG. The first form, which involved I shaped footwork, the second form, which was the Tiger Crane form, the third form, which had 5 animals 5 elements (Which didn’t make sense; why was Tiger crane separate when you had another animal form coming right after it? It’s called efficiency, China), and finally, Iron Wire form, which sounded amazingly awesome.

The fact that there were only 4 pillars meant I could master this style in a quick, time efficient manner. No wasting time finding rare forms; these guys had their stuff in order, told you what you needed, and let you have at it. After a little more web fu, I found the entire first form, online, for free. Hung Gar was definately my cup of tea.

Except, well, I found the first form to be kind of lame. It didn’t really show me anything I hadn’t picked up from my previous styles of choice. It was generic, bland, regular kung fu. Cat stance, punch, outside block, front snap kick, blah blah blah. Let’s get to the meat and potatoes.

I found the meat and potatoes when, thanks to an online MMA bittorrent site, I downloaded the Tiger Crane form. Not only that, BUT THE GAY GUY FROM KUNG FU HUSTLE WAS TEACHING IT. Yes, that’s right. The actual guy who got me interested in Hung Gar had an instructional for it. I was excited.

I watched it, learned it, mastered it.

On I went to the next form. This was far more elusive; the only pictures I could find were grainy crappy gif thumbnails. I couldn’t even make out the difference between a tiger palm, or one finger shooting zen. I eventually resorted to youtube, where I found a demonstration of it. However, due to shoddy camera work, it jumped around in some parts. He’d suddenly be facing a different direction, and I didn’t know if he had turned there or not. Regardless, I followed along, and eventually learned it well. The only possible differences between my form and the video were ones that involved random turning. It looked silly, but I didn’t care. This was kung fu. The real deal. Hell yea.

Finally, I reached Iron wire. I found a few crappy picture form walk throughs, and a few youtube videos. The only problem was, they all showed completely different things. I made a kind of globulation of the sources I had to make my own Iron Wire form. It wasn’t specifically for combat, according to my sources. But just in case it had some hidden meaning, I mastered it.

Next, as some may have expected, was the testing phase.

This testing phase was more difficult. Napoleon and I had ceased to be friends; he had become an extreme drug addict, and after I caught him trying to steal things out of my house (No one takes my Gameboy advance, asshole), I ceased communications. Combine that with the, well, worthlessness of Dynamite, all I had was Tall boy and my dad. To make matters worse, Tall boy was on vacation in Canada (?!?!?). The perfect storm.

This meant I had to jump straight to dad. We donned the equipment, and had at it.

I knew better than to jump into a hella deep horse stance. That meant leg kick city. So what I did instead was a cat stance, with a forward tiger palm, and my other arm a chambered fist. Classic entry stance. He moves forward, and I throw a snap kick with my front leg; mostly to warn him, keep him on his toes. I throw another. I throw a third, and launch straight into a tiger palm for the throat. No mercy.

I tiger claw the throat, and apply gradual pressure. I don’t want to break his windpipe, but I want him to know that I’m choking him. He responds to this by punching me in the face.

It knocked me off balance; the stance I was using was off, I assumed. I go back into tiger stance.

He throws a few jabs that I slap aside. I go for a Tiger snatches at heart (I thrust a tiger palm at his heart) to grab some pressure points. He lets me grab, and just slaps me while laughing. I pause and say “Slapping?” To which he replies: “I’m just going to slap you from now on, because I’m afraid you’ll do some stupid crap and I’ll punch you too hard.”

He had not only insulted my style, he had insulted my dignity.

I had been saving this for last. The whole reason I started Hung Gar; the arm swingery. I start off with a left vertical punch, which he parries. I thin do a swinging wide right hammer fist at a 60 degree angle. It was fast, but he blocks it. I follow his energy, and do a left upward swinging hammerfist. He parries that too. I use this time to employ some advanced tactics I came up with on my own. As he parries my left upward swinging hammerfist, I open my palm in the face of his mask. I use that to do a right lunging punch into his gut. I make contact.

“Oh really?” He says.

“Yea really.” I say. (I am not making this up. Seriously.)

I start a flurry of punches, then go to swinging hammerfists. As I try them, he jabs me in the face between each hammerfist, then blocks. Lather rinse repeat. My hammer fists are getting taken apart. I switch back to the tiger mid swing, and grab his throat again. He goes to slap me, but I deflect it, then try to wrap over his arm with my other arm. Think guillotine, but I’m choking his arm instead of his head.

As I have secured his one arm, and arm tiger clawing him with the other, I feel secure. This is working, it’s working for christ sake!

Then he starts slapping/hooking me with his other hand, laughing. Then he slaps, then slaps with the back of his hand, like he’s pimp slapping me.

“Am I choking you?”

“Not really.”

“Could you get out of this?”

“Yea.”

“Alright then.”

We both heartily laugh.

Hung gar wasn’t what I expected. The swinging punches, although good for trickery and massive powah, were too predictable, telegraphed, and took too damn long.

The tiger claw has some promise. I was doing well; I believed my mistake to be the fixation on choking from a standing position. But all I knew about tiger claw was from my Hung Gar. How would I ever know if there was a Tiger Claw form, one that had the tools I needed for victory?

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