I enjoyed watching kung fu action films as a child. I’m amazed with how Bruce Lee, Jet Li and Jackie Chan fought. Fists as hard as steel, kicks as fast as lightning, and movements as fluid as water. Years later, videos of various martial art styles sparring another became available online. Chinese Kung Fu practitioners were often on the losing end. Even worse was that i saw them get knocked out without much of a fight. With that kind of fight record, it is easy to think that “legendary kung fu” is just a fantasy made to entertain people. Or is it?
I continued thinking that kung fu is an impractical martial art for a long time. But this changed when I met practitioners of the Shaolin Hung Fut Kung Fu – Philippines. This 400 year old kung fu style was able to preserve its authentic martial arts training. One of their traditional practices is the iron palm and fist tempering. Diligent students can break unhusked coconuts with their bare fists as early as 6 months through continuous practice.
Breaking husked coconuts (no outer armor) is the norm for iron fist demonstrations. But breaking unhusked coconuts with your bare fists is super badass. Do you know how tough coconuts are? There are death reports from coconuts falling on people’s heads. Adding insult to the injury, those coconuts didn’t even crack. Now imagine what an authentic iron fist can do to a person’s head. Yikes!
“Dropping a coconut on a person’s head will crack the skull but… NOT the coconut…”
The search for authentic kung fu
Online sparring videos often show that modern kung fu practitioners lose the fight. The best examples of these are the viral fight videos of a Chinese Mixed Martial Artist. This guy took it upon himself to expose “Fake Kung Fu” by duelling with “masters” or even “grandmasters”. There were even times he showboated by putting his hands down and taking punches to the head on purpose. And you got to give credit to the guy because he handled each one of these “masters” with ease.
So, is anything Kung Fu related a load of BS?
In my experience, no. What we are seeing may be a case of the McDojo epidemic. These schools churn out “black belts” left and right due to the demands of their clients. Most martial art schools focus on sustaining the number of their students. And passing of genuine martial knowledge becomes secondary.
“McDojos produce ‘black belts’ that are just on par to beginners of Authentic Kung Fu such as Hung Fut”
This is a problem for most martial art schools and not unique to Kung Fu. And you can’t blame these schools that want to earn a profit. Most students simply don’t have the patience for countless hours of “basic training”. Having strict training discourages paying clients from trying their school.
Lay people only want to learn self-defense techniques or train as a hobby and they want to “progress” fast. But traditional kung fu requires a lot of dedication in developing its fundamentals. These include exercises, stances and forms. Imagine spending an hour or two doing only horse stances. Sounds boring and mundane, right? This requirement makes the transfer of deep martial knowledge very difficult.
You can only gain deep martial knowledge through blood, sweat and tears. This is what makes Shaolin Hung Fut Kung Fu Philippines an authentic Kung Fu style. It is one of the longest running traditional kung fu styles in Manila. They chose to preserve their traditional training over the profitable “layman friendly” curriculum.
What is Shaolin Hung Fut Kung Fu?
Hung Fut Kung Fu has roots from the legendary Shaolin Temple. The same place where Shaolin Monks came from. The monks might look very skinny but they are quite ferocious when they show you their skills. Shaolin Monks are very consistent with their display of superhuman strength. They can bend spears with their throat, break rocks with their fists and et cetera. They spent countless hours training in traditional kung fu to achieve that strength.
Shaolin Hung Fut Kung Fu is a 400 year old martial art style. Masters of several generations combined their knowledge to develop and polish the style. Traditionally, only Shaolin monks learn the art. But on the 5th grand master’s time, Hung Fut started accepting students outside the temple.
Hung Fut is a hybrid kung fu style. It is a combination of the powerful hard style of Hung Gar and the flowing soft style of Fut Gar.
Philippine TV featured Hung Fut Philippines several times doing incredible feats of strength. And these demonstrations were on par with the Shaolin Monks!
So how does the training of Hung Fut Philippines look?
Hard / External training
There is basic muscle conditioning. Most commercial martial arts have this type of training though. So yeah, nothing special about this one.
10 Animal Styles
There is the usual forms practice that you see from every Chinese martial art. The basic ones are the 10 Animal Styles that mimic the movements of mighty beasts.
These forms include the following:
The forms help train your flexibility, balance and endurance.
Forms are pretty to look at and has deep meaning. But fighting using the forms without proper body tempering is suicidal. Let us take the ever famous “snake fist” or “spear hand” for example. Now imagine your fingers hitting the fist or any other hard body part of your opponent. Without any proper finger tempering, the word that will come out from your mouth is “ouch!”.
A Hung Fut master explained to me that most kung fu strikes are only effective if you practice proper body tempering. And this brings us to the next topic…
Hung Fut Body Tempering
There is truth to the “legendary strength” from kung fu!
What makes Hung Fut Philippines unique is their own iron body and power development training. Their methods help transform your body into a lethal weapon (not a figure of speech). I was fortunate enough to witness some of these methods for strengthening.
Some of these traditional methods include the following:
- Iron Palm (Striking table)
- Iron Fist (Striking table)
- Iron Claw (Grabbing bag)
- Iron Grip (Bamboo twisting)
I tested the iron claw and iron grip training for a bit. And I found out that it did work out several forearm muscles that don’t get trained in weight lifting.
The result of diligent training is an iron fist that can crush even a tough unhusked coconut. You can achieve this strength with at least 6 months of training. And that is only the tip of the iceberg. Think of it as just the “blue belt promotion” of Hung Fut.
I saw 4 Hung Fut practitioners attempt the coconut break test. And each were successful regardless of height, weight and muscle build. Hung Fut Philippines consistently produced practitioners with this strength for several decades. So yeah, their unique traditional tempering is legit!
The traditional strengthening is definitely effective but it isn’t easy. You will need to devote countless hours for practice. It will be painful at the beginning and your progress will feel very slow. But this ground work will be your investment for your future exponential growth.
“Hung Fut power training help transform your body into a lethal weapon (not a figure of speech)”
Soft / Internal training
One of the guys that broke a coconut was Jan who has been training for 5 years. Frankly speaking, he is so thin that you wouldn’t think he can fight. But how was he able to break the coconut despite lacking the muscle mass?
The answer to this is internal strength training or the ancient practice of qigong. It has a lot to do with breathing exercises and manipulating the flow of energy in your body. Hung Fut practitioners concentrate their Qi to their fists when breaking coconuts.
Look, I also am skeptical whenever someone mentions breathing and meditation. I prefer doing exercises backed by scientific or statistical evidence. Which is why I definitely understand if this sounds like crazy talk to you. And that is also the reason why I dug deeper for information about breathing exercises.
It is interesting that science is starting to catch up with ancient eastern knowledge. And the good effects of “breathing techniques” now has solid scientific evidence to back it up.
A man named Wim Hof, also known as “the Ice Man”, claimed that breathing exercises work. And that it is because of breathing techniques that he achieved his Guinness Records. He proved to everyone that his breathing method works by undergoing several scientific tests. And he was able to replicate successful results from 12 people he trained.
I’m well aware that this is not common knowledge. And that you might still have your doubts since it isn’t mainstream. But keep in mind that scientific results already proved that breathing techniques work. And this definitely challenges the way you understand the human body.
The training process known as qigong isn’t fully understood yet in the western world. So whether you believe that qigong works or not is up to you. There are scientific results backing it up and the upsides are great. Breathing exercise is definitely something I want to explore.
The Right Training Attitude
Okay, I’ve hyped out Hung Fut Kung Fu Philippines but I haven’t gone over the most important aspect of being a disciple. I’m talking about your personal character.
You can achieve extraordinary strength with Hung Fut but it comes with sacrifice. You’ll need a lot of patience or grit. In fact, that is the single most important word that Hung Fut uses to describe their training process.
You make your spirit stronger every time you do the painful traditional tempering.
In this digital age, organizations optimize our daily tools and make our lives easier. Because of this, we tend to expect good things to come our way without much effort on our part. And as we grow up, we become so engulfed in the instant gratification mindset. We become impatient when it feels like we are “taking too long to progress” or that “the process is too hard”.
Hung Fut offers a very important life lesson that we all need to hear in today’s society. You can learn anything you want as long as you have the grit for it.
Hung Fut Philippines’ traditional training is time-tested. There are Sifus or teachers that can show you the way. But it is up to you to take the journey towards deep martial knowledge.
If you are looking for an authentic kung fu school, then your best bet is with Hung Fut Philippines. You can join their training even without a martial arts background. But don’t go there expecting that you can “break a coconut” after just a few sessions. An authentic kung fu like Hung Fut requires patience and hard work.
Hung Fut hasn’t competed globally in MMA yet. So I’m not sure about the combat effectiveness that comes from the forms practice. But what I’m certain of is that their striking power is the REAL DEAL.
I’ll be trying Hung Fut Kung Fu to see for myself how effective it is. I hope I’ll be strong enough to break a coconut as well within 1 year of training. And I hope that the Hung Fut forearm exercises also improve my rock climbing skills.
Update (June 30, 2019):
Shaolin Hung Fut Kung Fu Philippines currently train in Ninoy Aquino Wildlife Center, Quezon City, NCR. They train every Sunday 10am onwards. You can comment on this post if you want more details.
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