THE LEGACY OF WONG HON FAN



"Mantis King"
Grand Master Wong Hon Fan

He was born in the Shunde country (Guangdong province), was the most famous of Luo Guang Yu's students. Wong Hon Fan (mandarin: Huang Han Xun), was known in Hong Kong as the "Mantis King."

He joined the Hong Kong Chin Woo Association in 1932 and began his instruction under Luo Guang Yu. At the age of twenty he was encouraged by Luo Guang Yu to establish a school in Macau. He then went to Hankou to teach at the Hankou Chin Woo Association branch. Huang Han Xun was asked by Luo Guang Yi (who was teaching at the Hong Kong Chin Woo) to go to the Chin Woo at Wuhan, Szechaun province to teach at the Chin Woo there.
It is said that shifu Huang Han Xun did not receive all of the sets that Luo Guang Yu had available, what would not speak bad about him. It's not necessary to know ALL the form of a style to capture the essence of a the system). Basically Huang Han Xun had fighting ability and was able to play the forms in a very "Mantis Like" manner - and he got approval from Luo Guang Yu.

However, Huang Han Xun also wanted to install some changes to how some of the forms i.e. techniques were to be done, and this may not have been looked upon too well especially being that at the time Huang Han Xun was still young.
At a certain point of time there was a rift between Huang Han Xun and Zhao Zhi Min (Chiu Chi Man) that has being carried on by the lineage followers.
Anyway, Luo granted that Huang Han Xun could start teaching Mantis but some Zhao Zhi Min followers say it was done with the understanding that Huang Han Xun couldn't use the banner / logo of the 7 Star school (re: the same banner / logo that Chui Chuen Luen, Zhao Zhi Min and Lee Kam Wing use) because Huang Han Xun hadn't really gotten the full curriculum from Luo Guang Yu.
We do not know the reason if Huang Han Xun did not receive the "entire curriculum" and was not granted the right to use the banner. The ardent Huang Han Xun advocates hold to a story that Shifu Huang Han Xun was too busy fighting and opening schools for Shifu Luo Guang Yu. Some people from other seven stars lineages in the USA say that there was some negative reason and use that to discredit Huang Han Xun practitioners.
The facts are that in his over 30 books and dozens of articles written or co-authored by Huang Han Xun, he never used the term "seven star" as the name of his style but he used "northern mantis". Huang Han Xun lineage followers do not share the view that he was exempted from the use of any name. They believe, he was using the term "northern praying mantis" because it more fully represented the true make up of praying mantis system.
However, some members from the Huang Han Xun clan states that Zhao Zhi Min was a student under Huang Han Xun in the original Hong Kong Ching Woo Association, and it was later that Zhao Zhi Min went to follow Luo Guang Yuo, what is an interesting twist on the whole story.
The Huang Han Xun lineage is sometimes removed from the others because of additional changes that shifu Huang Han Xun installed to how certain forms were done and how some of the sets were played - as compared to the Chuen Luen / Chen Zhen Yi / Zhao Zhi Min lineage methods.
Factually, Sifu Chun Ho Yin says that only he, shifu Zhao Zhi Min and shifu Huang Han Xun knew the whole story and that he and shifu Zhao are not talking. It is known that shifu Zhao Zhi Min and shifu Huang Han Xun held no particular feelings for each other and that shifu Zhao Zhi Min still holds not so positive views of Wong Hon Fun to this day.
This said Lee Kam Wing has indicated his willingness to rejoin the seven star mantis world to include the Huang Han Xun lineage (if they were ever truly excluded). Shifu Brendan Lai is very strong on the point that he has great respect and a warm friendship with shifu Lee Kam Wing, stating that the division between these two groups are at an end with their generation. Shifu Lai says that the mantis generations represent a new day in this relationship and such historical differences should be forgotten. Shifu Brendan Lai has said many times that he did not learn all the sets from Huang Han Xun, just as Huang Han Xun did not learn all the sets from Luo Guang Yu.
Shifu Brendan Lai, shifu Henry Chung JR and shifu Lee Kam Wing have the same opinion about the matter of the different lineages. Thet say "we are all family and we treat each other that way" and they all reply the supposed rift is only among the American martial art community. When they visit each other they treat each other with respect, eat together and what is past is past.
Huang Han Xun left his legacy to a number of senior students. He gave only 20 people permission to teach. Permission consisted of his signing a banner. His measure of who was ready varied apparently, adapted to each student. It is agreed by all though that those licensed were representative of the best of his followers though not necessarily all knew the same things or were all of the best of his students. Shifu Brendan Lai was the last to receive such an honor though there were many other students who did teach without any cries of "foul" from the Huang Han Xun Mantis community. In fact there was, in some cases, great support for students teaching despite not having the "license" from Huang Han Xun. Apparently the spreading of the art in a credible fashion was more important than simply who had "license". As I have been told there were both those in Hong Kong and around and others in other countries. He mostly wanted his "seal of approval" to distinguish one group in his favor from another. It was not that they could not teach, it was just the extra high "graduate" status accorded to the best.
Although he had a very bad temper, he had over 4000 students though, since he was an instructor for the Jing-Mo Association.
Throughout his long teaching career, Wong published over forty volumes on the northern praying mantis kung fu system. These would serve to be a guide for future generations of the northern praying mantis system. Shifu Brendan Lai says that Master Huang Han Xun wished to spread mantis and share as much of the art as he knew with the world freely. He felt that the best way to preserve the theories and techniques was to openly share them with everyone. In doing this he used the best medium available to him. Sifu Huang Han Xun actually lamented not being able to complete the task of documenting the entirety of his corpus before his death.
For those interested in Huang Han Xun's books here it is a detailed account of the publications:
There was once a series of books that were published only once for Huang Han Xun's school in Hong Kong. Most of the fist and weapons form books of this series had a thin paperback cover that has sort of a green and white cover that shows a mantis. These are in a series that for all intent and purposes are no longer available.
Additionally, there were two books on theories, another on healing / medical things Law Horn Gung (Qi Gong Breathing Exercises).
This series did not have the "2nd and 3rd Second Route's Essential" books, nor did it have Fei Yan Zhang (Wild Goose Flying Palm). These books were published later on.
The more recent series that the Yih Mei Book company did, were a re-publishing of certain books out of the original series. Later they got contracted to do the other mentioned books (2nd and 3rd Essential and the Fei Yan Zhang form). These series books are out of print but sometimes they are still available in Chinatown bookstores.
In addition to those books, there were two special books published for the Huang Han Xun clan (by his students and family) that include reprints from his original writing.:
a) The 40th Year Commemorative Book (3 Advance Fist sets and the Drunken Dan Dao form)
b) The Shi Si Lu Book (Basically it has the 14 Rows form and some historical information, including about the history of the 14 rows. Mostly it's in Chinese Language, but there's a historical section that's in English).
Both of these are rare and very hard to find and actually the 14 roads book is even more rare than the 40th year Commemorative. These books were mainly made available to Wong Hon Fan students (now Shifus that belonged to Wong's lineage).

Wong Hon Fan passed away in 1973




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