For the school's calendar (click here)
The Hung Gar Kung Fu Academy of Mooresville is the region's only traditional hung gar kung fu school. Sifu Rick Panico is the academy's instructor with 30+ years of experience and a student of Cheung Shu Pui of Hong Kong whose school is located in Philadelphia's Chinatown.
Hung Gar is straightforward, honest style with a rigid philosophy. It teaches the student how to use self-control and to use his kung fu knowledge properly. Hung Gar students are guided to be firm believers in doing what is morally correct. These are the reasons why Hung Gar is one of the most popular southern kung fu styles in the world.
Hung Gar was developed during the revolutionary time in China. It was designed to teach the patriots the system as easily and quickly as possible. Therefore, they could use their martial arts to battle against the Manchurians. All of the Hung Gar training techniques are contained within just a few select forms. This is greatly different from many other kung fu styles which have a multitude of different sets, each used to teach a separate technique.
There are four most important forms in Hung Gar which are considered the heart and soul of the system. These are Kung Ji Fook Fu Kuen, Tiger Crane, Five Animal, and Iron Thread. Other minor sets such as Kow Chi Nin Wan Kuen, Plum Blossom Fist, Butterfly Palm, Law Family Fist, and others were added to further expand Hung Gar's fighting principle by the contemporary masters.
Hung Gar is basically a tiger system, but it also contains the fighting tactics of dragon, snake, leopard, and crane. Each animal has an important lesson to teach the Hung Gar student.
Click here for a list of Hand Forms
In weaponry, Hung Gar is famous for its single-end staff (Na Long Bat Kwa Quen), tiger fork, and double broad-swords. Other weapons in the system are the single broad-sword, spear, monkey stick, nine ring do, farmer hoe, kwon-do, double steel-chain whips, butterfly knives, bench, cane, umbrella, and monk's spade. Weapon two-person sets taught include spear vs sword, monkey stick vs monkey stick, spear vs spear, tiger fork vs shield-sword, kuon do vs spear, and spear vs double swords.
Click here for a list of weapons forms.
No matter what style of martial art you study, one very important aspect is having a strong, powerful fist. Most new students do not have a fist strong enough to punch even foam bags and need guidance to strengthen their fist without injury.
Hung Gar Kung Fu teaches students to proper way to strengthen their fists into powerful weapons, and that training starts with the students' very first lesson.
After reading the school rules, the very first thing a new student is taught, is the proper way to hold a tight fist. With the palm facing up, the fingers are curled and tucked into the palm with the thumb tight against the fingers, then the student is taught to hold their tight fists to their hips with the elbows pointing straight back. From that point on the student will hear the command "tight fists" shouted by his sifu a hundred times a class!
While the student learns the movements to first form, he is taught the one-finger "iron bridge hand" exercise. This iron bridge hand is a breathing/isometric exercise that teaches the student to focus his power to the forearms and the hands. This technique is repeated many times in the Hung Gar fist sets! Next the student is introduced to fish bowl training where wide mouth, round glass fish bowls are used. The student places his hands into tiger-claw, the grabs the edges of he fish bowl with his finger tips, holding the bowls at shoulder level. This exercise is used in conjunction with stance training and is repeated for 10-15 minutes. As the fingers, hands, and arms strengthen you may increase the weight of the fish bowls by adding water, rocks, or sand. Small sand bags are also used by the students for strengthening their grip. Again, this exercise is practiced in conjunction with stances. The student stands in horse stance holding a sand bag with the arm stretched out in front of his body. The student drops the sand bag and reaches out with the opposite hand in tiger-claw and grabs the bag. He then moves the hand with the sandbag up and repeats the exercise for 10-15 minutes. Another exercise with the bag starts in forward stance with the hand holding the bag outstretched to the side and then drops the bag, the opposing hand comes over the head and down to grab the bag while turning the body to face the opposite direction forward stance. The weight and size of the sand bag can vary as your skill increases.
The students are also encouraged to do tiger-claw pushups. These pushups are done by holding the hands in the Tiger Claw and only touching the floor with the finger-tips. As this training is progressing, the student starts striking objects starting with soft and graduating to hard. Foam punching bags are used first, followed by sand bags, ending with the Hung Gar Mook Jung (wooden-dummy). The student is encouraged to start soft when beginning to strike objects and to increase the strength and endurance slowly. Trying to hit the wooden-dummy or even a sand bag too hard before the fist is properly conditioned could cause serious damage to the hands.
When the student finishes first form (2-3 months) the hands are beginning to strengthen and another dimension is added to the fist training: iron rings. The iron rings, weighing from 2-4 lbs., are worn on the arms when form training. The force of the student's strike causes the rings to slide down the arms smashing into the back of the hands, reminding the students to hold a "tight fist." Besides the traditional fist described earlier, Hung Gar also uses several animal "fist."
The Tiger-Claw, which utilizes strong fingers for scratching and grabbing and a powerful palm for striking.
The Leopard Paw relies on strength in the knuckles and the bottom half of the fingers.
The Snake Fist requires the fingers to be straight when striking and again, powerful palms for blocking.
The Crane's Beak, as the snake, utilizes the fingertip power, while the fingers are pressed together to form a small striking surface, also the back of the hand is used for both striking and blocking!
The human body is capable of being hard as iron, as noted in the names: Iron body Kung Fu; Iron Bridge Hand Training; Iron Fist Training; and Iron Palm Training. But to reach that goal, the student first and foremost must learn patience. The practice must be slow, continuous, and disciplined. And to avoid serious injury you should train under a qualified Sifu who knows the use of herbal remedies, such as Dit Da Jow, is a required part of the training.
Sifu Rick Panico
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