Huo’s Fist for Practice: The National Spirit of Kung Fu
As a martial art coach and an offspring of Huo Yuanjia, Huo Jinghong is now named the inheritor of "Huo's fist for practice." Huo Yuanjia was a legendary kung fu master famous for the complicated art called Mizongyi(literally "lost track fist"). He helped established the Chin Woo Athletic Association in 1910 when the country was vulnerable to imperialism.
Huo Jinghong began to learn kung fu forms at the age of five and a half. She then majored in martial arts at the Beijing Sport University. However, she learned kung fu out of personal interests, not to follow in her ancestor's footsteps, since she didn't care much about the history of her family and the heritage of her ancestors' martial art.
In 2014, some people wanted to film Huo's fist for practice as a special martial art form. They asked Huo Jinghong for the favor because she was a professional coach and a member of the family. Therefore, Huo Jinghong began to practice the form according to the manual published by the Chinn Woo association in 1984.
Huo's fist for practice is for beginners of Mizongyi. It has a set of 72 moves. With more than 30 years' experience, Huo still faces difficulties in her learning.
"It has too many moves, and the combination of techniques are very complicated. The moves change smoothly and swiftly. The first second you are striking forward, but the next second you have to defend or attack towards a different direction, which can confuse the practitioners and their rivals."
Huo's fist for practice also has some unique hand positions, which can be totally different from her former training and thus hard to get used to. The number of moves prolongs the time of a complete performance to up to three minutes, which requires much physical strength.
That's why great grandfather Huo Dongge said that it's easy to learn the skills but hard to get the essence.
Huo's fist for practice gave Huo Jinghong a reason to look back at her family history.
"Before I learned the fist, I only regarded it as a drop in the ocean of Chinese martial arts," she said, "But knowing more about the stories of our ancestor Huo Yuanjia and the Chin Woo Athletic Association, I gained a whole new perspective of him and the art. I was deeply moved when I learned that my ancestors strived to resist the enemies with their abilities when the country and the people were weak."
After becoming the inheritor of Huo's fist for practice, Huo Jinghong felt that the responsibility on her shoulders became even heavier to improve herself to fit the requirements. Aside from teaching and practicing, she hopes she can gather and research more about the history of the Huo family and their martial art forms.
“We live in a peaceful era with abundant material resources,” she says. “To me, Huo Yuanjia is a hero. By learning Huo's fist for practice, we can feel his sense of responsibility.” The spirit of martial art is worth learning as much as the forms.