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Hung Kuen - The powerful horse and iron bridges from Guangdong in Southern China

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Taiping Hung Kuen



The Solid Horse Stance of Hung Kuen

In Hong Quan the foundation training is essential and commences with the most basic yet important of elements - Stance Training. Most Chinese martial arts styles emphasize stance training but in Hong Quan this is a quintessential part of the system. Hong Quan is renowned for its amazingly strong, deeply rooted and powerful stance. It was common for masters to stand whilst having many people standing on top as a show of proficiency in Hong Quan, and it was said that master would hold one foot on land another on a boat holding the boats for passengers, even in strong currents.

Zhan Mabu (Sit in Horse Stance) is a method of Zhuan Gong (Standing Pole Skills) is an essential practice for Hong Quan practitioners can be thought of a way of standing meditation. The longer the practitioner can withstand and overcome the stress of the training the longer they can stand, the more rooted they become, the more focused and the more powerful. Such simple training develops strength, structural alignment, the right spirit, focus and concentration. In the past students would learn nothing in the first 6 months also other than stances.

The process of stance training often not understood by beginners is a wonderful one, it commences with issues of not being able to stand for more than a few minutes, the truth is the mind gave up first. Then the student can stand for maybe up to 5-7 minutes relying on their muscular strength and the persistent mind, excepting that the muscles start to burn and pain sets in resulting in the body telling the mind to give up. Later the mind and body are strong the student learns to relax in their stance, the calmer they become the longer they can go, this is then followed by uncontrollable shaking like waves through the legs, and again the body and mind cannot go on. By now the student can reach 15 maybe even 20 minutes and this is the beginning. The next stages the student is more experienced and in more control so that they last longer but also know how to sink into their stance, focus the mind, relax but control the body and achieve the Horse stance foundation which 30-60 minutes is an acceptable target.

So something so simple is an adventure in itself, this is the beauty of Hong Quan. In the past the Horse stance was used to test students, if they could last or pass the requirement it proved that they either did not have the required fundamentals or that they were not dedicated and serious enough. Nowadays the practice may not be so stringently enforced by stance training remains an extremely important component of Hong Quan. Stances are practiced in stationary (Zhan Ma) and then moving stepping (Zou Ma) as the training of transitions is also very important.


Hong Quan is not a highly complex system requiring high jumping aerial like motions. However it does require much more precision than such large motions. In Hong Quan something as simple as punch or palm must be mastered, a block has exact angles and motions to excessive and the motion does not have ample time to return, insufficient and the block may be unsuccessful, unangled and the block maybe ineffective etc. These basic concepts end up coming again in the advanced stages when learning the bridges of Hong Quan but the principles are built progressively from every single technique that is mastered.

Gong - Strength and Power Training

There are many exercises that include both stretching and strength development as focus points. In addition to the stance training, techniques, physical exercises and Dynamic Tension, Hong Quan uses a lot of apparatus to support the development of the power required to effectively execute its techniques. These include the use of brass rings for forearms, Heavy rolling polls, boulders, sand bags and weight locks. The use of common striking bags and focus mits is of course part of the general drills training as well. Hong Quan emphasises the training of the bridges so there are many partnered drills to both train the techniques but also strenthen the arms and other parts of the body. The San Xing (three stars) conditioning, the chun Qiao (Sinking bridges) exercises and more are used for such purposes.

Drills and Techniques Practice

As students progress they study the various techniques learnt, so often the individual techniques are mastered, applications understood and drilled and then the progression to the practice of forms. The importance of progressive basic applications practice cannot be understated as it forms the basis for the learning of Hong Quan techniques, theories and combat strategies


There are some disparity amongst the three main branches, usually the older Huadu Hong Quan has higher more upright positions, then followed by the Zhanjiang Hong Quan which has slightly lower centre of gravity, then this is practiced even lower by the Foshan Hong Quan branches which usually follow the widest and lowest stances. This is possibly a historical evolution. Irrespectively of the branch, the principles of Ling Nan Hong Quan are all the same.

The emphasis is on a strong Stance, Bridges (Qiao Shou), well rooted and grounded movements, powerful strikes and the inspirtations of the 5 animals including their respective striking and defensive actions. One of the key set of principles are the 12 Bridges:

  • 12 Bridge Principles: Gang (Hard), Rou (Soft), Bi (Press Force), Zhi(Straight), Fen(Divide), Ding (Set), Cun (Inch), Ti(Lift), Liu (Flow), Yun (Send), Zhi (control) and Ding (set)

  • 12 Bridge Hands: Chuan (Pierce), Chen (Sink), Fen (Split), Jia (Support), Mo (Feel), Tui (Push), Xun (search), Mo (rub), Gua (Hang), Zhuang (Smash), Suo (Lock) and Pi (Hack)

  • 12 Bridge Stances: Si Ping Ma, Zi Wu Ma, Fu Hu Ma (Tiger Taming Step), Qi Lin Ma (Unicorn Stance), Diao Ma, Du He Ma (Single Leg Stance), Zhong Zi Ma (Central Character Stance), San Jiao Ma ( 3 Angles Stance), Bai Ma (Loss Stance), (Er Zi Qian Yang Ma (Character two grab Sheep stance), Tiao Ma (Jump step), Ding Zi Ma (Character Ding Stance)


There are a lot of sets in Hong Quan as a result of different masters adding and developing during its evolution. Most lines/branches and sub-branches even have their own characteristics. Our curriculum includes elements of both Foshan and Zhanjiang Hong Quan. Each method contains new techniques and combinations. Although it is ideal to achieve mastery of all sets, the fact is that more than likely like masters before, practitioners after learning them end up specialising in a few that suits their own style or taste (for us it is usually one of the animals boxing sets. This also applies for weapons, which the Staff is the ultimate weapon in Hong Quan.

The basics of the contain all the material studied in the basics and places them in continuity to reinforce their absorption, these are of shorter length (averaging 36 techniques/methods) in comparison to the more advanced forms.

  • San Zhan Quan (三展拳,3 Extensions)

  • Shi Zi Quan (十字拳, Cross Fist)

  • Fu Hu Quan (伏虎拳, Tiger Taming Fist)

  • Qian Zi Shou (千字拳, Qian Character Fist)

  • Luohan Quan (罗汉拳, Arhat Fist)

These are more challenging sets aimed at further improving the fundamentals.

  • Ye Hu Chu Lin (夜虎出林, Night Tiger Emerges from Cave)

  • Hei Hu Quan (黑虎拳, Black Tiger Fist)

  • Er Long Zheng Zhu (二龙争珠, Twin Dragons Take Pearls)

  • Hu He Shuang Xing (虎鹤双形, Tiger and Crane Double Shapes)

  • Tie Xian Quan (铁线拳, Iron Wire Fist)

actice. Zhou Tai, one of the 10 tigers of Guangdong was villages in this area and his descendants of Hong
The core of Zhanjiang Hong Quan is its trademark "Wu Xing Tou" (5 Shapes Supreme). Sometimes also referred to Upper Five Pattern and Lower Five Patterns. There are 10 animals in Hong Quan, these being: Tiger, Snake, Leopard, Crane, Dragon, Lion, Elephant, Horse, Monkey and Wild Cat. These are considered the core of the system and unique to Zhanjiang Hong Quan.
veloped t

  • Hu Xing Quan (虎形拳,Tiger Shape Boxing)

  • She Xing Quan (蛇形拳,Snake Shape Boxing)

  • Bao Xing Quan (豹形拳, Leopard Shape Boxing)

  • He Xing Quan (鹤形拳, Crane Shape Boxing)

  • Long Xing Quan (龙形拳, Dragon Shape Boxing)

  • Wu Xing Quan (五形拳, 5 Animals Boxing)

  • Ma Xing Quan (马形, Horse Shape Boxing)

  • Shi Xing Quan (狮形拳, Lion Shape Boxing)

  • Hou Xing Quan (侯形拳, Monkey Shape Boxing)

  • Xiang Xing Quan (象形拳, Elephant Shape Boxing)

  • Biao Xing Quan (彪形拳, Wild Cat Shape Boxing)

  • Shi Xing Quan (十形拳, 10 Animals Boxing)

Once adequate mastery of the core sets are achieved, new combinations are often practiced (such as the Dragon & Tiger Set, Snake & Crane, and so on). Also, Many of the forms have matching partner sets that allow the practice of the application, defense and counter combinations at an elementary level. At the same time new matching combat sets are often developed to practice key skills (both empty hand and with weapons).

There are many weapons of practice and each generation has added and changed so there is quite some disparity. The Staff is the most important long weapon in Hung Kuen, whilst various knives/broadswords are emphasized as the short weapon. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Hu Dan Tou Gun (单头棍, Single end Staff)

  • Shuang Tou Gun (双头根, Double End Staff)

  • Ba Gua Gun (五郎八卦棍,8 Trigrams Staff)

  • Lan Lu Gun (拦路棍, Blocking Road Staff)

  • Fei Long Gun (飞龙棍, Flying Dragon Staff)

  • Yang Jia Qiang (杨家枪, Yang Family Spear)

  • Da Pa (大耙, Tiger Fork/Rake)

  • Guan Dao (关刀,Kwan's Long Handled Broadsword)

  • Zhan Ma Dao (斩马刀,Horse Cutting Broadsword)

  • Qi Xing Dao (七星刀,Seven Star Broadsword)

  • Hu Shou Dao (护手,Hand Protecting Broadsword)

  • Qing Long Jian (青龙剑,Green Dragon Sword)

  • Zi Mu Shuang Dao (子母双刀, Butterfly Swords)
  • Bang Deng (伏虎凳 Bench)




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