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Beyond combat: A journey through Hung Gar Kung Fu

A Hung Gar Kung Fu - image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Roberta Rennie

In the world of martial arts, mastery extends beyond physical prowess; it intertwines with identity, ethics, and cultural heritage. For those who dedicate themselves to disciplines like Hung Gar Kung Fu, each movement becomes a testament to centuries-old traditions and a commitment to personal discipline. I recently had the privilege of speaking with an experienced shifu,  practitioner and teacher of Hung Gar, Philip Leung.


​​In the realm of martial arts, particularly in the profound discipline of Hung Gar, I find myself immersed in a rich cultural and philosophical journey. With three decades of dedicated practice, guided by the wisdom of my shifu, my knowledge has evolved. Embracing humility and dedication in teaching is the core of my identity.

Being a martial artist, to me, is an ongoing pursuit of perfection. It demands unwavering passion, patience, and a commitment to persistent training. These three qualities form the foundation of my martial journey, where the struggle against rushing, impatience, and a lack of persistence becomes an art in itself. It's an intricate dance of training, passion, and persistence that shapes not just the body but also the mind.

Hung Gar, as a traditional Southern Shaolin style, holds a profound influence on my worldview. Beyond the physical aspects, it peels layers like an onion, revealing deeper insights. It goes beyond the surface of mere fighting techniques, emphasising inner control, personal growth, and a continuous quest for improvement. In a world where youth violence is notable, martial arts, particularly Hung Gar, plays a vital role in instilling self-discipline and restraint. The calmness learned through continuous training becomes a source of strength in navigating life's challenges.

The power of one's strength, as emphasized in Hung Gar, is not just about physical prowess but awareness. Tai chi principles of yin and yang, integrated into the training, underscore the importance of understanding and controlling one's strength. It's about knowing limits and the delicate balance between hard and soft.

Philosophically, Hung Gar draws deeply from Chinese traditions, embodying the balance and harmony of the five elements. It aligns with the principles of Chinese medicine, highlighting the importance of connecting with nature, mindfulness, and the internal and external harmony of the body.

Ethical obligations, worldview, and tradition

With the skills gained from martial arts training comes a heightened sense of responsibility, especially in the face of violence. While advocating for wellness and self-defence, martial artists understand the nuances of intervention, always striving for a balance between action and restraint. In this sense, Hung Gar isn't just a series of movements; it's a way of life that shapes worldviews. From profound philosophical roots to practical applications in daily life, Hung Gar instils a deeper understanding of oneself and the world, fostering qualities of resilience, calmness, and respect.

Modernity and the future

In an era of rapid change, preserving the essence of Hung Gar becomes paramount. Community engagement, public demonstrations, and cultural celebrations serve as pillars in passing down traditions and promoting the beauty and benefits of this ancient art form. Despite the challenges of cultural erosion, the future of Hung Gar remains promising in the hands of dedicated practitioners. By embracing tradition while adapting to the needs of modern society, Hung Gar continues to thrive, enriching lives and communities.

My experience with shifu Philip Leung taught me that Hung Gar Kung Fu is not just about mastering physical techniques, but rather a journey of self-discovery, cultural preservation, and community enrichment. As practitioners continue to embody its principles and share its wisdom, the legacy of Hung Gar will endure, inspiring generations to come.




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