Lam Family Hung Kuen Today: Tradition, Progression, Diversity and Collaboration
Sifu Michael Goodwin, Founding Director SF Hung Gar (LGHK 2016)
Historically, it may be observed that our great Hung Kuen masters, of every generation, made use of all resources available in adapting to the challenges of their day. Wong Feihung, developed the Tiger and Crane Set from several different systems that he had mastered, used his martial arts in performance, and for military training. Lam Sai Wing, in turn, also a military trainer, expanded upon Wong Feihung’s work, establishing the Ten Pattern Set, and making many additional improvements. He was then able to offer Hung Kuen instruction to the general public. In addition, Lam Sai Wing published several books and many articles, something that had virtually never been done before his time. Grandmaster Lam Cho, in similar fashion, further streamlined and improved Lam Family Hung Kuen, by retiring certain outdated notions, such as excessively harsh external conditioning methods, and incorporating movement dynamics and techniques from Northern systems.
Many of us can recall Grandmaster Lam Cho telling us that what he found useful during his life and work, was different from what had served his own master, Lam Sai Wing. Likewise, he projected that the challenges and opportunities encountered by his own students, and their students, and on into the future, would be different as well. Therefore, rather than see students simply aspire to be “carbon copies” of his model, Grandmaster Lam Cho always gave his students to understand, that which was foundational to Hung Kuen, and that which was presentation, personal choice, or even a simple arrangement of convenience. Grandmaster Lam Cho, in carrying his master’s standard was, in fact, “an original,” and would regularly encourage others to be the same.
Through Grandmaster Lam Cho’s efforts, and the ongoing efforts of the Lam family, Lam Family Hung Kuen now enjoys broad popularity and respect throughout the world. At the same time, diversity of cultures, experience, and individual approach have also become significant factors in the growth of Lam Family Hung Kuen, as a martial art system, and as a world organization. Grandmaster Lam Cho spoke to this as well. He said, “When the spirit of collaboration is upheld as a value, communication is improved, the overall skill level can increase, and opportunities will emerge, to the benefit of everyone.”
History was made in November of 2014, when the first World Hung Kuen Tournament and Wong Fei Hung Cup was held in Foshan, China. This groundbreaking collaborative effort was led by Mr. Checkley Sin, Grandmaster Lam Chun Fai, and other leaders of the world Hung Kuen community. Hung Kuen schools from around the world attended, with all major Hung Kuen branches represented. Competitions were held, and all practitioners experienced, first hand, the richness of diversity that exists within our greater Hung Kuen family.
In my own experience, forms performance, and especially forms performance in competition, offers tremendous rewards, both as a creative outlet, and as an ongoing source of personal motivation. As practitioners, this challenges us to gain and maintain our peak athletic condition, even as we exercise broad creativity, in developing our presentation standards. Of course, as instructors, our greatest satisfaction is to share with our own students the self-confidence and command presence developed through performance competition.
Many practitioners enjoy competitive sparring as an adjunct to forms competition, because it provides a safe, and sportsmanlike environment in which to develop martial spirit, peak conditioning, and decision making ability under pressure. Of course, competitive sparring is enjoyable simply for its own sake.
According to Mr. Checkley Sin, the second World Hung Kuen Tournament is scheduled for November 2016. At next year’s Tournament, Mr. Sin says that we can look forward to a competitive sparring event similar to Sanda, with rules appropriate for Hung Kuen stylists, in addition to the Tao Lu set form competition presented in 2014.
Details of the 2016 World Hung Kuen Tournament will be announced in January.
Sifu Michael Goodwin <email@example.com>
The San Francisco Hung Gar Kung Fu Association <www.sfhunggar.com>
Sifu Michael Goodwin is the founder of the San Francisco Hung Gar Kung Fu Association (SF Hung Gar), in San Francisco, California, with branches in Toronto, Canada, and in Santiago de Chile. He has been a practitioner of Lam Family Hung Kuen since 1976.