COURAGE AND INTEGRITY FROM IRON WIRE SET
Wong Fei Hung had a long and legendary career as a fighter, a physician and a defender of righteousness in his community. Please could you comment on the effect of learning the Iron Wire Set from Lam Fuk Sing on his development and career?
Sifu Andy Cusick
The Iron Wire Set contributed much to Wong Fei Hoong's fighting ability, healing success and defence of righteousness.
Wong Fei Hoong learned the Iron Wire Set from Lam Fook Seng, who in turn learned it from the nventor of the Iron Wire Set himself, Tiet Kiew Sam.
I believe Tiet Kiew Sam developed his Iron Wire Set from the Triple Stretch Set, which he learned from his teacher, the Venerable Cheng Choe, in Sai Sim Tzi or the Western Temple of Zen in Guangzhou (Canton). The teacher of the Venerable Cheng Choe was the Venerable Sam Tuck, whose specialty was the Triple Stretch Set, which he learned from his teacher, the Venerable Chee Seen, the Abbot of the southern Shaolin Temple on the Nine Lotus Mountain.
Wong Fei Hoong had three famous sets, namely Taming the Tiger, Tiger-Crane, and Iron Wire. In Wong Fei Hoong’s lineage, which is now known as Hoong Ka (Hung Gar) though Wong Fei Hoong himself called it Shaolin, the Iron Wire Set was the most advanced and was specially meant for developing internal force.
Obviously Wong Fei Hoong needed a lot of internal force to be a very good fighter. It is worthy of note that there were no records of Wong Fei Hoong trained hard in punching sandbags, striking poles or lifting weights, which many Hoong Ka practitioners today do. It was also worthy of note that Wong Fei Hoong was not muscular. How did Wong Fei Hoong develop his tremendous force? It was from his Iron Wire training.
The two specialties of Wong Fei Hoong, with which he defeated many opponents, were Tiger-Claw and No-Shadow Kick. But Wong Fei Hoong did not train his Tiger-Claw by jabbing his hands into beans or train his No-Shadow Kick by kicking sandbags. Where did he get his power for his Tiger-Claw and No-Shadow Kick? From his training of the Iron Wire Set. Internal force is versatile. Although Iron Wire training focuses on the arms, Wong Fei Hoong could channel his tremendous force derived from Iron Wire training to his Tiger-Claw and No-Shadow Kick.
Wong Fei Hoong was a famous physician specializing in “tiet ta” or traumatology. Hard conditioning like jabbing fingers into beans or striking sandbags would make his fingers insensitive, which would be detrimental to his medical practice, especially in feeling pulses, and feeling and setting fractures. But internal force derived from his Iron Wire training, which made his fingers sensitive and his grip powerful, would enhance these medical practices.
Iron Wire training strengthens the muscular and the bone systems, which directly strengthen the gall bladder and the bones. When one’s gall bladder is full of energy, he becomes courageous. When his bones are full of energy, he becomes upright physically and morally. In fact, the Cantonese term for being courageous is “tai tam” (“da dan” in Mandarin), which literally means big or strong gall bladder. The Cantonese term for integrity is “kuit hei” (“gu qi” in Mandrin), which literally means bone energy.
Hence, his Iron Wire training gave Wong Fei Hoong courage and integrity, which are essential for championing righteousness.
The above question-answer is reproduced from the thread 10 Questions to Grandmaster Wong on the Iron Wire Set in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum