I thought it would be interesting to start expanding the interviews beyond just WC people. After all it is very unlikely that you are going to fight or compete with a WC guy or gal.
For this interview I managed to get Sifu Pavel from practicalhungkyun.com.
He is a full time Hung Kyun teacher and we were happy to hear from him on the blog!
Lets get it started and learn about the Wing Chun vs Hung Gar mindset!
1. How did you start your training and what made you choose Hung Kyun over other styles?
I am afraid I am a very typical story – small kid, but weak and sick, wanting to be strong. Did some Judo when I was a kid, and joined a Gung Fu school when i was 14.
Why Hung Kyun? Well, it was a coincidence – it was one of the very few Chinese martial arts schools here. Later on I went to learn directly from the source and traveled to San Francisco, Hong Kong and China to learn authentic Lam family Hung Kyun form the best. My teachers, their skill and teaching method were more important to me than the actual style.
2. What is the “prime directive” or main theories in Hung Ga? For example in Wing Chun we often talk about the “center-line.”
Our arts share the common roots “Old Hung Kyun” (Lou Hung Kyun) is very, very similar to Wing Chun. Many of the concepts and principles are similar, compatible or complimentary. Together with my very good friend Sifu Ivan Rzounek we have done extensive research of various mainland China Wing Chun and Hung Kyun families.
Hung Kyun principles and concepts are very rich and profound: “Live and Death Road” (Sang Sei Lou), “Five Gates” (Ng Mun), “Swallowig, Spitting, Lifting and Sinking” (TanTou Fau Cham)… Core principles are summarized in “Twelve Bridges” (Sap Yi Ji Kiu Sau).
Pratical Hung Kyun prefers aggresive, pro-active self-defence, or if you prefer, self-offence. “If the Bridge is coming, cross it, if the Horse is coming, charge in!” (Kiu Loi Kiu Seung Gwo, Ma Dou Ma Faat Biu ). Not much stepping back – “Hung Kyun school – buffalo heads! Fight to the death – never turn your back!”
3. What kinds of drills do you train for horse stance?
The main aim of the basic “Stance Training” is not necessarily strengthening the legs, but correct posture and functional flexibility, mobility and alingement of all joints (ankles, knees, hips, thoracic, spine, scapulae, shoulders).
Stance training actually encompasses three interconnected parts: “(Static) Stance Training” (Jaat Ma), “Stance Turning” (Jyun Ma) and “Footwork” (Jau Ma). Beginners learn the basic stance, short set of all eight stances and a short set of eight footwork drills. Senior students work on advanced internal exercises like “Golden Bridge” (Gam Kiu).
Stance training is important, but it is just one side of the coin (the other side being the footwork) and definitely not a panacea for all problems – you have to move on and work on other stuff.
4. Is their any drills similar to Wing Chun sticky hands?
Hung Kyun has a set of drills called “Asking the Bridge” (Man Kiu) – compared to commonly seen Chi Sau drills, Hung Kyun bridging is more offensive and destructive; not much sticking, adhering and chasing the hands, but more crossing over, charging in, smashing, grabbing, pressing, lifting etc.
Although this is a written interview, I (Scott) would like to jump in for a second and state, As a Wing Chun Side note, good Chi Sau never over sticks or chases the hands 🙂
5. If i were to fight or spar with a Hung Ga person, what are the main things I should look out for?
We use full contact free sparring as one of our main combat skills development methods (and Hung Kyun stand up skills are very well adaptable to sport fighting), however our “sparring” it looks a bit differently than in other combat sports. The mindset is different – we do not want to learn how to spar, but how to fight, get the job done quickly and aggressively.
Be ready for surprise attacks, aggressive entry, bridges that will smash you guard, kicks that you do not see, strikes that you feel, continuous pressing attacks. Fierce, accurate, powerful and fast.
Apart from sparring we use various application drills (Saan Sau), combat sequences (Wui Hap) and reality-based self-defense scenarios – one on one, one vs. multiple opponents, vs. armed opponent etc.
6. In your opinion, how is it that Hung Ga people are able to generate so much power? Is there any drills that help illustrate or enhance this?
Old masters say clearly: “If you practice only sets and techniques and ignore strength and conditioning training, you won´t achieve anything even if you have practiced your whole life.”
Hung Kyun emphasizes strength and conditioning from day 1: Stretching and mobility drills, stance training, squats, push ups, pull-ups, back bridges, forearm conditioning (famous “Three Stars Conditioning”, Da Saam Sing) etc.
Practical Hung Kyun uses several traditional and modern tools: A hanging pole, punching bags, focus mitts, kicking shields, heavy weapons, brass forearm rings, rattan ring, three-section punching pads, iron palm bags, barbells, kettlebells etc. We lift stuff and hit stuff a lot.
Last but not least let’s not forget about “Iron Thread Set” (Tit Sin Kyun), one of the secret treasures of Hung Kyun. It is said that by practicing Tit Sin Kyun correctly you can get nine times stronger. I don’t know if exactly nine times, but much, MUCH stronger – and healthier as well.
Hung Kyun masters boast not only power, but longevity as well – my Si Gung, Grand Master Lam Jou, lived a long, fruitful life – 102 years, practicing since he was 6 and teaching since 16 – for almost 90 years! He always attributed his health, longevity and power to Tit Sin Kyun.
7. What makes Hung Ga unique compared to other Martial arts?
It’s not the hammer, it’s the smith. I don’t believe in better or worse martial arts – just better or worse teachers, practitioners and methods. There are just few really good Hung Ga schools, just like Wing Chun, Karate or any other style.
Our Practical Hung Kyun curriculum is very systematical, methodical and progressive, the system is a complete art for self-defence, strength and conditioning as well as personal development. People realize we do things differently – practical traditional martial art for modern world.
8. Do you have any final words of wisdom?
Learn from the best teachers – if it takes to travel thousand miles, pack you bag and go.
Good health and solid basics are the prerequisite – first move well, then move often.
Lift, hit stuff, spar.
Cross-train – “train one family, watch hundred other families”.
Don’t do drills for a sake of drills, keep it practical and real.
Train hard, train smart.
Learn Chinese, study the classics, be both “Scholar and Warrior“.
The higher you grow, the lower you bow.
Scott’s Final thoughts & Conclusion
First I would once again like to thank Sifu Pavel for interviewing with us.
If you would like to contact him or learn more about Hung Gar, feel free to go to his website:
In any type of fighting arts I personally believe it is really important to keep an open mind and never knock or speak down upon other styles. As Sifu Pavel stated in this interview, it is not about the art, it is about the person. Do not get me wrong, I love WC, but I do not believe you should walk around thinking “you are going to win the fight simply because you do Wing Chun.” As a marital arts person it is our duty to understand other arts and understand their strengths. Not discount them because they are different. This is why I think it is important to learn about the Wing Chun vs Hung Gar mindset.
What do you think? have you ever trained with a Hung Ga person?