Hung Gar is the last complete fighting style developed in Shaolin and the crystallization of Shaolin’s doctrine: the fearless confrontation and subduing of evil. Tiger boxing methods and metaphysical principles align with the fire element first and metal second. Ferocity, power, and courage serve as the three virtues expressed by the wild Tiger, the heart and soul of Hung Gar Kung Fu.
Both the Tiger and the fire element are straightforward and explosive. The Tiger latches on and clings to its target like fire, devouring its host as fire on a log. The Tiger is heavy but sharp, like metal. The Tiger possesses a springy, mechanical pounce and maintains its durability while transitioning shape. As the ax head splits wood, so does the Tiger divide and separate another’s power with unrelenting force.
Tiger martial applications are directed against the heart and will of an adversary. Much of the Tiger’s tactics are swathing away an adversary’s guard to deliver cruel and stiff shots straight to the chest and solar plexus. Disrupting the heart’s functions and seizing up the lungs. From the author’s experience, causing blunt force trauma to an adversary’s chest resulting in sudden heart arrhythmia and inability to breathe ends a conflict very quickly.
Tiger training develops a uniquely rugged and focused person. Forging robust bones, thick muscles and tendons, and leg, back, and hand strength well beyond the majority. Adherence to grueling dynamic tension sets. Long durations spent in low stances and the manipulation of heavily weighted implements. The claws of the Tiger tear away any illusion of separation between mind, body, and spirit.
In Hung Gar, the Tiger’s martial strategy is about entering, occupying, and controlling the adversary’s space. The Spartans truly embodied the Tiger’s tactics. You give them nothing but take from them everything. When they retreat, you follow, carefully but confidently. Everything belonging to your adversary is a target of forfeiture. The application of the Tiger tactic deprives the adversary of their balance, strength, game plan, health, and especially their sense of safety.
The doctrine of Shaolin is Buddhist. The Tiger shaped the Buddhist conception of what Christianity would call the devil. It was a fearsome and terrifying power that often went unseen until too late. The fear of being hunted by a Tiger encroached into Buddhist spiritual matters.
The Shaolin and the Hung Clan concluded that Tigers, physical or spiritual, natural or supernatural, would never disappear. So they embraced its spirit. Tigers, by nature, are hunters. Why not apply their qualities to hunting evil? The endeavors which have culminated in the creation of Hung Gar Kung Fu have proven so valid they echo loud and clear throughout the 21st century like a Tiger’s roar.