HUNG GA'S INTERNAL METHOD OF EXTREME HARD AND SOFT POWER
The Hung Ga style is well-known for the famous Tiger and Crane Form, 12 bridges, 5 Animals, and 10 Killing Hands. Underlying all of this, however, is Hung Ga’s strict attention to stance training and its incredible power.
The expression of explosive power is a crucial part of the Hung Ga legacy, and the famous masters of this style were always known for this ability. Hung Ga uses the combination of the stance, bridge, body connection and sound to produce its fearsome power.
Many systems train techniques and utilize supplemental exercises for internal power development. In Hung Ga the internal power training has been seamlessly integrated into the technique training- so much so that one might say that, in Hung Ga, the technique and internal power training are one and the same. The external aspects of hand, eye, trunk/body, waist, and stance are combined with the internal aspects of heart, spirit, mind, energy, and strength. This allows the Hung Ga practitioner to easily and quickly translate the power gained from his training into the techniques and the application of them.
Hard and soft and their unlimited possible combinations can be described in terms of Yin and Yang. Extreme soft, for instance is not 100% Yin, nor is extreme hard 100% Yang, as both of these conditions are lifeless or dead power. Extreme soft is potential, and thus must hide the active (Yang) within the inactive (Yin). Therefore, extreme soft is 90% Yin and 10% Yang and is also known as the dark or hidden power (hak ging). In Hung Ga, movement must be natural, hiding the force (extreme soft) until the proper time to explode the power. This explosive expression reverses the Yin/Yang percentages in an instant, making the power manifest at the extremities. This is extreme hard, or 90%Yang, 10% Yin; apparent or bright power (ming ging). To achieve this ability it is necessary to first:
Strengthen and grow the energy at the core of the body. This is normally achieved through proper alignment of the structure via static posture training, and in Hung Ga, the Sei Ping Dai Ma Sum Faht.
Open and increase the energy in the Yum Mai and Duk Mai channels. This is called the Siu Jow Tien or Small Circulation, and in Hung Ga as taught by Grandmaster Yee Chee Wai, is achieved by our Regulation Breath Method.
Increase the energy in the 12 meridians, which are the interface between the inside of the body and the extremities. This is called the Dai Jow Tien or Grand Circulation, and is achieved by using the mind to lead the energy from the inside of the body to the outside, and is notably trained in Hung Ga’s Iron Wire form.
12 Regular Meridians
3 descending from chest to hand (sau sam yum/3 hand yin)- Lung, Pericardium, Heart
3 ascending from hand to head (sau sam yeung/3 hand yang)- Lg. Intestine, Triple Heater, Sm. Intestine
3 descending from head to foot (gurk sam yeung/3 leg yang) -Stomach, Gallbladder, Bladder
3 ascending from foot to abdomen (gurk sam yum/3 leg yin)- Spleen, Liver, Kidney
The purpose of the 12 regular meridians is to connect the internal organs with the outside surface of the body. They are bilateral, and consist of both an interior pathway deep inside the body and an exterior pathway along the surface of the body. It is through these meridians that the outside environment communicates with the internal organs, and how we get the internal ging from deep inside the body out to the extremities. Because of the function of the 12 regular meridians as an interface between the inner core of the body and the outside world, the energy in these meridians flow according to cycles that are connected to, and influenced by, the outer environment. The flow cycle follows a 24-hour pattern, and begins with the Lung meridian, continuing in a specific order through each other meridian, ending at the last point on the Liver meridian.
8 Extraordinary Vessels
The purpose of the 8 Extraordinary Vessels is to connect the 4 limbs to all parts of the body, and to serve as reservoirs of energy to balance the 12 regular meridians; with the energy moving between deficient and excess areas in the regular meridians. As reservoirs they don’t have a specific or continuous flow pattern and are not associated with the organs specifically. Only the Yum Mai and Duk Mai have their own acupoints; the other 6 vessels share points found on the regular meridians. These vessels are easily influenced by the Yi/intention and also massage, and are directly related to the Brain, Womb, Liver and Kidney. This makes these vessels the ideal starting point for Noi Gung training.
NOI GUNG AND HEI GUNG (QIGONG)
First we would like to differentiate between the terms “hei gung” and “noi gung.” The character “noi” depicts the placing of the character for “man” inside a container, and therefore implies the placing of a higher human attainment (vitality, energy, etc.) inside a “container” in the body, namely one or more of the dantiens, or the body itself. Noi gung (internal work/training) speaks of the training and development and/or transformation of the internal structure; specifically the organs, glands, fascia/connective tissue, bones, and the deeper muscular tissue.
Hei gung (qigong) refers to a specific strategy in creating balance and regulating the body, specifically the heart. By strategy we offer this simple example. The breath is a sort of temperature gauge for the body. When you are angry or excited you inhale more than you exhale. This causes the body to sustain a more Yang state. Conversely if you are sad, depressed or sleeping you exhale more than you inhale, giving the mind and body a Yin nature. By being aware of this simple fact, you can regulate your mind state and your body by altering the length and duration of either inhalation (which makes the mind/body more Yang) or exhalation (which makes the mind/body more Yin).
It can be said that hei gung utilizes the breath to regulate the heart and mind to create the requisite balance for smooth and strong energy flow in the body. Breathing is also how we connect the internal parts with the external. Lastly, with a clear and focused mind, the practitioner can then use the mind in the noi gung training to more efficiently focus, guide and move the energy wherever desired.
The 3 dantiens must be properly aligned. This allows the development and strengthening of a mutual interaction and relation between the upper, middle and lower dantiens, forming an energetic standing column, if you will.
In Hung Ga as taught by Grandmaster Yee Chee Wai, the middle dantien is in the area of CV-5, while the lower dantien is the “Hoi Yum Yuet” (GV/DU-1). This differs from other systems, where the Sin Jung Yuet (CV-14) is used as the middle dantien, and the area of CV-5 is used as the lower dantien.
By rotating the pelvis (by slightly pulling up the front and extending the back downward) and placing the body’s weight directly over the K-1 points on the bottom of the feet aligns the lower dantien and orients it to a point on the ground directly between both K-1 points on either foot. The result is that the Essence (Jing) is contained, preserved and transformed.
By expanding the back and relaxing/rounding the chest, the energy/emotions pass through the Sin Jung Yuet (CV-14), clearing and unblocking that point. This prevents energy from being “stuck” in that point and cause injury to the heart. The emotions/energy is then transformed in the middle dantien (CV-5). The result is that the middle dantien is aligned and the chi grows and develops in it, digestion, respiration and circulation improve.
By suspending the head upward at the Bat Wui Yuet/GV-20 and opening the ‘Yuk Jum Gwan’/Jade Pillow Point (BL-9) point, a detached focus develops, and allows for the aligning of the upper dantien (‘Yum Tong Yuet’) with the other two dantiens. The result is the eyes brighten and the mind is cleared, calm and centered.
One must develop the “yin mind” and use the sense of “inner silence” to develop the “inner observer,” which in turn develops the inner awareness. In Hung Ga, this is first taught in the Sei Ping Dai Ma Sum Faht/Four Levels Big Horse Method, specifically the Four Sinkings Method of the stance training, which is the internal component to the external “four levels” alignment.
In Hung Ga, the “four levels” refer externally to the eyes/shoulders, waist, knees, and feet:
Eye - The head should be held even and erect, evenly balanced and suspended on the top of the spine, so that the “jade pillow” area is open and not obstructed. This will cause the energy to reach the crown point/DU20 and the Yin Tang point, raising the spirit and causing the eyes to brighten
Shoulders - Shoulders should be straight and even; the upper body should not slouch forward or backward, but the spine should be held straight. The fists assist in the posture of the upper body by being held firmly to the sides with elbows back with effort.
Waist - The waist should also be evenly sunken, along with the middle and lower back, which, coupled with the above points, will create a slight stretching/straightening effect on the spine.
Knees - The knees are pushed evenly out so that the forelegs are perpendicular to the ground. The knees should not go past the toes.
Toes/Feet - The feet should point directly forward and be parallel to each other. The feet should be directly under the knees.
Internally, the four levels refer to the four sinkings. Energy from the eyes should sink evenly to the shoulders, then to the waist, then to the knees, and finally through the feet to the ground via the “bubbling spring” point/K1. Combining the external structure with the internal sinking through these four levels makes Hung Ga’s square horse stance training complete.
While training the points above form a foundation for noi gung attainment, they also form the core for Hung Ga’s San Faht, or Body Method; the proper alignment and body attitude for combat:
JUNG TAO– Keep the Head Upright
TING YU-Connect and Align Structure
HONG JAI– Keep the Spine Vertical/Properly Aligned
LOK MA/CHUM HEI DAN TIN-Lowered Stance; Sink Power to the Dantien
MA LEK– Power from the Stance
SAI LEK-Proper Power/Full Body Connection-Power from Posture
JAHNG DAI LEK-Forward Bridge Power from Elbow
CHUM JAHNG– Sink/Lower the Elbow and Shoulder
SAAM JIN JIU-”3 Points Sighting”; Focused Power from stance, Waist and Bridge pointing to target, or alignment of eyes, hand and target
SAI JAN-Proper Reaction; being soft or hard when needed, using proper shapes and energy for the situation
The inner structural alignment spoken of above is achieved and maintained by a light, detached focus on the above points. One must avoid excessive mental focus, as this can cause stagnation, leading to obsession and other issues. Strong mental focus is used only in the martial sense and only for the moment of internal power release.
Basic noi gung attainment can be summed up in the completion of the Siu Jow Tien, or Small Circulation, more commonly known as the Microcosmic Orbit. This consists of the opening and completing of the energy circuit of the Yum and Duk channels, commonly known as the Conception and Governing Vessels, respectively. The “Ji Ng” or “meridian” philosophy could be construed to refer to this circuit, as the phrase refers to the 12 o’clock position (Bat Wui Yuet/Crown Point, GV-20) and the 6 o’clock position (Hoi Yum Yuet, GV-1). These points are important, as they mark where the energy changes polarity from Yin to Yang and back as it travels along the circuit.
From the Yi Ji Kim Yeung Ma stance, start with the fists behind the buttocks. Eyes should look directly forward parallel to the ground, with the mind focused on the Hoi Yum Yuet (GV-1) point. Raise the fists about one-third of their full range of motion, inhale one-third of the breath capacity, and use the mind to bring the power from the Hoi Yum Yuet through the Mei Loi Gwan to the Gaap Jik Gwan (between the kidneys). Hold the movement, mind and breath there until you feel the energy gather there, then inhale the 2nd third, raise the fists accordingly, and use the mind to bring the energy from the Mei Loi Gwan to the Yuk Jum Gwan at the base of the skull. Hold there until you feel the power collect, then inhale the remainder of the capacity, raise the fists to their limit, also raising the eyes to about 45 degrees upwards, using the mind to bring the energy from the Yuk Jum Gwan to the Bat Wui Yuet at the top of the skull. When the energy reaches this point the eyes will immediately brighten and the sight will become sharper and clearer. Round the shoulders, bringing the fists to the sides of the chest while beginning to exhale; this will bring the energy safely from the Bat Wui Yuet to the Yum Tong Yuet just above and between the eyes (NEVER bring the energy directly to the Yum Tong Yuet without going first through the Bat Wui Yuet; this can over-stimulate that point and lead to mental problems). As you exhale your fists should follow the mind in guiding the energy smoothly past the Sin Jung Yuet and down to the Middle Dantien. The eyes should also fall to 45 degrees downwards; both fists should end up directly over the Middle Dantien (CV-5). Hold here until you can feel the power collect in that area, then bring the hands back to the starting position, while simultaneously bringing the eyes back to parallel and the mind and energy back to the Hoi Yum Yuet. This sequence is repeated at least three times.
Once you are able to feel the energy pass through the 3 gates on the Duk Mai channel, it is not necessary to pause at each one; you can raise the energy from the Hoi Yum Yuet to the Bat Wui Yuet in one inhalation. Also, upon exhalation, it is important to think through the Sin Jung Yuet and not to concentrate on it, as this will cause energy to focus and stick in the heart. The trick to avoiding this is to not focus attention on that point. In practicing this method, timing is extremely important. The actions of the fists, eyes, mind, and breath should be perfectly synchronized.
Particular attention is given here to the 3 Gates on the Duk Mai channel. They are the Mei Loi Gwan (tailbone area), the Gaap Jik Gwan (the Ming Mun area between the kidneys), and the Yuk Jum Gwan (Jade Pillow point/BL-9). These are areas where there is little muscle tissue, and so it is more difficult to feel and bring the energy through these areas, thus they are referred to as “gates” that must be opened so that the energy can pass through.
Later, once the Small Circulation is completed, one progresses to the Dai Jow Tien, or Grand Circulation/Macrocosmic Orbit. This brings the abundance of energy cultivated in the Small Circulation out to the 12 regular meridians to strengthen and nourish the organs, and build a stronger energetic connection between the inside of the body and the outside extremities. It is this aspect that allows the internal ging to strongly reinforce and support the external shape of the techniques. My sifu, Grandmaster Yee Chee Wai, and my sihing, Pedro Yee, covered this well in a previous article on the relationship between the 12 meridians and the 12 bridges of Hung Ga’s Iron Wire set.
The benefits of the above-mentioned structural and energetic foundation can now be carried over into the fighting techniques of Hung Ga. Here we add the use of sound to call up, shape the quality of, and project the power. Wu Lap Gong, in his commentary on the Iron Wire set, describes breathing as the “Body” and sound as the “Utilization.” This can be said to mean that the breath is used to grow and strengthen the energetic body, and the sound is used to mobilize the energetic body. Now we will discuss five types of sound quality, which consist of three basic sound levels and two extremes:
Naturally, the three sound levels can also be expressed within the two extremes, so that rising, straight, or sinking power can be manifested as either extreme hard or soft, or with varied combinations in between the two extremes.
RISING SOUND AND TECHNIQUE (‘HIGHT’ or ‘HAWW’ sound)
Tong Tin Kuen Faht
Seurng Bik Jahng
Seurng Song Yat Yuet
MID-LEVEL SOUND AND TECHNIQUE (‘HUT’ or ‘HA’ sound)
Seurng Lung Chut Hoi
Seurng Biu Jahng
SINKING SOUND AND TECHNIQUE (‘HAA’ or ‘HORR’ sound)
Lin Wan Jat Kam
Catch Moon in the Sea
Seurng Jai Kiu
REGULATING SOUND WITH MOVEMENT (‘HEEYAAAH’, ‘HMMM’ or ‘HORR’ sound)
Yi Sau Jieh Tao
Seurng Yat Ji Kiu
Seurng Fook Sau
EXTREME HARD SOUND WITH MOVEMENT (‘HIGHT’, ‘HMMGH’, or ‘HEYAH’ sound)
Seurng Gong Sau
Sahp Ji Fun Gum
Lin Wan Jat Kam
These are my humble thoughts on this subject; the combined product of what I have absorbed from my sifu, and my own experience, and thus I can only take credit for the mistakes. My sifu, Grandmaster Yee Chee Wai, taught us that a diligent student of martial arts should seek to understand the art from three perspectives. First, the student should gain the foundational understanding, which is the perspective of the founder. Second, the student should seek to capture the essence, or “steal the hand” of his sifu and sigung (if he has access to his sigung). Third, when his understanding has matured, the student should give back by adding his own perspective from his own experiences. While some instructors are content to live off of the reputation of their sifu or their ancestors, my training brothers and I often talk about how we are very fortunate to have such a hard-working sifu, who labors tirelessly to improve and advance our great art. Great Grandmaster Wong Fei Hung’s contributions to the art totally changed the face and appearance of the style, without changing the essence and root of the art, thereby expanding, advancing and improving it. In this way he demonstrated the highest respect and honor to those that passed the art to him. We are proud to say that our sifu follows this tradition, and we balance his labor for us with our dedication to him and his efforts, and diligence in our studies, with the idea to advance and uplift the great art of Hung Ga even further for the benefit of the future generations.