E’ accaduto un evento eccezionale l’altro giorno, perché – almeno da quanto mi risulta – mio fratello maggiore Cheung Yee Keung non aveva mai dimostrato in pubblico il nostro “filo di ferro”. Lo ha fatto pochi giorni fa in occasione della serata di commemorazione del maestro Chan Hon Chung, a cui non ho potuto partecipare perché impegnato con l’evento di Accordo che si svolgeva nello stesso weekend.
Compio in questi giorni di fine 2016 i 40 anni esatti di pratica dell’Hung Kuen. Ho cominciato nel 1976 a Milano con “Benjamin” Fung Hon, fratello di “George” Fung Kyu, allievo prediletto prematuramente scomparso del maestro Chan Hon Chung. Benjamin mi ha insegnato le prime posizioni e Mui Fah Kuen.
In spite of some technical inaccuracies, the article “Exit the Dragon? Kung Fu, once central to Hong Kong life, is waning” (Charlotte Yang, The New York Times, August 22, 2016) describes the profound – not to say epochal – social, economical and cultural changes I recently found returning to Hong Kong 20 years later. From the Lantau airport to the new creative dimsum recipes, from the spread of Korean fashion to the gigantic shopping malls grown everywhere, Hong Kong is not anymore the town I left in the Nineties. Leggi tutto “Keeping the Dragon alive in spite of the Hong Kong Millennials”
“This is a great fact that I am sharing now, for the benefit of whoever wants to get it: in our family’s Hung style breathing in never happens while contracting the muscles or even worse executing a technique. For this reason we do not breath in while pulling the hands, as many people of other schools do.” This phrase written in a previous article produced a significant quantity of messages from students interested in a more exhaustive explanation of the matter.
“In fact, the author seems to make a very pointed argument that Hung Gar is in its essence not a technical system of physical movements, but is instead an expression of culture. He doubts the ability of anyone who was not born within the Chinese language and society to genuinely master the art, let alone teach it. In fact, one cannot help but escape the impression that for him the Chinese martial arts are “authentic” precisely because they emerge from (and ultimately reduce to) an expression of Chinese culture. Still, reading between the lines it seems that he felt that being immersed within his network of Kung Fu Brothers was enough to give him access to some of the inner aspects of the art, and make up for his own lack of deep cultural background.”
In every martial art the forms are basically a symbolic (if not “metaphoric”) way to avoid any contamination, aimed to keep and hand down the set as pure as possible. But every student should know that – albeit in a full respect of the tradition – a significant quantity of realism must be kept in the practice. Master Chan Hon Chung granted a great importance to this realism, that was part of his teaching starting from the stances, the actual pillars of the whole system. Our master always pushed us to keep realism in our practice of the forms, explaining that the Hung style is not about dancing or showing off, but it’s about fighting, for real.
A few words about the “one finger bridge” and the “three extensions”. Back in the days in the Hon Chung Gymnasium in Hong Kong this gesture – so peculiar to Hung Kuen and a significant symbol in the Chinese secret societies tradition – was held in great consideration and trained with care.
Back in the days – late Seventies to late Eighties – when I was spending most of my free time in Hong Kong to learn the Hung style from master Chan Hon Chung, there was no the “lineage” thing, nor there was the rivalry that creates a climate of suspicion and a somehow wary atmosphere in today’s Hung Kuen world. Master Chan was the undisputed noble father of our style and – in many terms – of the Honk Kong Chinese martial arts world. No one questioned his role, after all he was Lam Sai Wing’s best known student and a respected bonesetter, had a four pages business card crammed with “chairman” and “president” titles, a prestigious martial curriculum. And – most of all – to no other kung fu master had been offered the honor of receiving the Medal of Glory and being introduced to Elizabeth II, queen of the British colony of Hong Kong, oddly not hated, if not respected, by the Hong Kong people.
I had the honor to learn Tit Sin Kuen, the ultimate form of the Hung Kuen school, 30 years ago from master Chan Hon Chung, in his country house and to refine it with my elder brother Cheung Yee Keung. I kept a daily written trace of what I learned and spent a few hour asking question to master Chan with the help of my elder brother Chan Kwoon Kwok. In my old paper notebook I still have pages of pages of notes, memories, drawings, comments.