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Sifu Roger Engmalm with the Tiger Fork

Fu Pa - The Fierce Weapon of Hung Gar
by Curtis Kautzman

A lone man stood in the clearing, his knees and teeth chattering. In his hands he held something resembling a large farm implement. He held it tight while seeing a large shadowy figure appear, silently sneaking through the underbrush. It was the most feared beast in China – the tiger. It noticed the trembling man, for the tiger was on the hunt. But he wasn't the only hunter this night. While the tiger closed in, the man braced the end of the trident in the ground, its long prongs turned upward. The tiger lunged towards his prey. But the man stood fast and held the trident tight as the tiger crashed down on its sharp prongs. The sharpened steel drove through the mighty tiger's chest and pierced its heart and lungs. The enormous beast let out a roar of pain and fell to the ground where he lay still. The shaft of the trident had shattered and the man had fallen on his back, his hands cut and bloody from the force of the tiger's attack. When he got up he could see the once so fierce tiger lie still and quiet. For tonight the hunter had become the hunted.

The history of the Tiger Fork
     A long time ago the forests in Southern China (the Kwantung- and Kwangsi province) and the Southern parts of Asia were filled with tigers. These enormous beasts roamed freely through Southern China and were kings over their domains. But as civilization expanded, the tiger was forced deeper and deeper into the forests. Because of this the tiger was pushed to the brink of extinction. During this time a very effective weapon was developed that would later become the most powerful and feared weapon in Southern Chinese Kung Fu's arsenal – Fu Pa (Tiger Fork).

    According to legend the Tiger Fork was developed by the Yu family of the Kwangsi province and was later spread all over Southern China. The Tiger Fork's techniques formed a group of applications called Yu Gar Dai Pa (The Yu's Great Tiger Fork). They were later adopted by the Hung Gar style.

    Ha Say Fu (the four lower tigers) is a village style of Hung Gar Kung Fu and has its own Tiger Fork set called Dai Fa Fu Pa. The Hung Gar practitioners used the weapon primarily because of the powerful techniques and the useful fighting applications.


Powerful techniques
    In Hung Gar the traditional Tiger Fork is classified as a long and heavy weapon. Usually it is somewhat longer than the user and weighs at least fifteen pounds. It has three prongs, the middle one longer than the two outer side prongs. This allows the Hung Gar practitioner to catch the opponent's weapon and twist or break it out of his hands.

    The Tiger Fork's techniques are well suited for the Hung Gar style since they emphasize both strong footwork and the use of powerful forearm movements. The Tiger Fork is the heaviest weapon in Hung Gar. Other weapons such as the Kwan Do (great broadsword) are also considered to be weapons that develop Ging (power) for the Hung Gar practitioner. The Tiger Fork is considered by many as an advanced weapon taught on a master's level. These heavy weapons are used to strengthen the body through a form of weight training. But contrary to conventional weight training the Tiger Fork demands a flowing strength, which can be harder to develop. But it also works to the Hung Gar practitioner's advantage.

    The Yu's Tiger Fork uses some basic movements that are fundamental in Hung Gar Kung Fu. The Tiger Fork's movements are to a certain degree based on both the Kwan Do and the Sheung Tou Gwan (double ended staff), a combination of powerful forearm techniques and strong and flexible stances.

    The Tiger Fork's design makes it one of the deadliest weapons in the Hung Gar system. Some of the Tiger Fork's attacking techniques are Gong Pa (Up-ward strike), Kum Pa (Downward/Overhead pressing down strike), Chuim Pa (Twisting the fork technique) and Fei Pa (Flying fork technique).

Shield and Tiger Fork
Sifu Kautzman (with shield) from the Canadian Hung Kuen Assoc. and his student
Roger Engmalm (with tiger fork) of the Swedish Hung Kuen Assoc.

Tiger Fork versus the Shield
    One of the few defenses against a Tiger Fork is Tong Dep (the shield). It is said that a general of the Song dynasty, Nogk Fei, introduced this weapon. He developed the shield and a particular ground rolling technique to defend against the Tiger Fork's attack. The shield was woven in a special way, so thick that a spear, sword, or a Tiger Fork could not penetrate its surface. In Hung Gar the shield is used with a single Wu Dip Do (butterfly sword) that the Hung Gar practitioner holds in his right hand. The Tiger Fork uses its heavy weight and thrusting prongs to attack the opponent. The opponent would step aside with his shield and sword, rolls in, and performs hit and run techniques against the Tiger Fork.

A rare knowledge
    Using the weapons from Southern Hung Gar Kung Fu builds strength, physical stamina, and confidence, and also gives the practitioner a better understanding for the style. These weapons are both dynamic and classical Hung Gar Kung Fu weapons. They are rarely taught now a days, so by learning them you are preserving the past. To be fortunate enough to learn these rare Hung Gar Kung Fu weapons is to get an opportunity to glimpse into the past while preserving it for the future.

About the Author

Sifu Curtis Kautzman is the owner of the Canadian Hung Kuen Association and has dedicated over 20 years of his life to training in the martial arts. For a closer look at Sifu Kautzman, check out our special "Instructor Spotlight" and visit his web site at for more information.


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