His name is also romanized as: Won Hon Fun / Wohng Hon Fan / Won Hon Fan / Wong Hon Funn.
He was born in the Shunde county (Guangdong province), was probably the most famous of shifu Luo Guang Yu’s students. Shifu Huang Han Xun, was known in Hong Kong as the “Mantis King.”
He joined the Hong Kong Jing Wu Association in 1932 and began his instruction under shifu Luo Guang Yu. Apparently, shifu Huang Han Xun worked as a janitor in the Jing Wu association, therefore as an employee of the place, shifu Huang had the ability to take classes taught by instructors of various styles.
At the age of twenty he was encouraged by shifu Luo Guang Yu to establish a school in Macau. He then went to Hankou to teach at the Hankou Jing Wu Association branch. Shifu Huang Han Xun was asked by shifu Luo Guang Yi (who was teachig at the Hong Kong Jing Wu) to go to Wuhan, Szechaun province to teach at the Ching Wu branch there.
It is said that although shifu Huang Han Xun did not receive all of the sets that shifu Luo Guang Yu had available, he would not speak badly of him. It’s not necessary to know all the forms of a style to capture the essence of a the system. Basically shifu Huang Han Xun had fighting ability and was able to play the forms in a very “Mantis Like” manner – and he got approval from shifu 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 shifu Huang Han Xun was still young.
At shifu Huang Han Xun school regular students were not taught directly by him until they had become disciples. Usually junior students were taught and corrected by their seniors until they became disciples themselves and even then, only those that shifu Huang Han Xun favored would receive personal teaching, correction, and lessons on power generation (fa jing) and body power. In fact, shifu Huang Han Xun usually did not even touch the student’s hand during lessons unless that student was a disciple.
At a certain point of time there was a rift between shifu Huang Han Xun and shifu Zhao Zhi Min (falling out supposedly originated over money) that has being carried on by the lineage followers.
Anyway, shifu Luo Guang Yu granted that shifu Huang Han Xun could start teaching mantis but some shifu Zhao Zhi Min followers say it was done with the understanding that shifu Huang Han Xun could not use the banner / logo of the 7 Star school (re: the same banner / logo that shifu Chui Chuen Luen, shifu Zhao Zhi Min and shifu Lee Kam Wing use) because shifu Huang Han Xun had not really gotten the full curriculum from shifu Luo Guang Yu.
We do not know the reason if shifu Huang Han Xun did not receive the “entire curriculum” and was not granted the right to use the banner. The ardent shifu 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 shifu Huang Han Xun practitioners.
The facts are that in his over 30 books and dozens of articles written or co-authored by shifu Huang Han Xun, he never used the term “seven star” as the name of his style but he used “northern mantis”. Shifu 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 shifu Huang Han Xun clan states that shifu Zhao Zhi Min was a student under shifu Huang Han Xun in the original Hong Kong Jing Wu Association, and it was later that shifu Zhao Zhi Min went to follow shifu Luo Guang Yu, what is an interesting twist on the whole story.
Shifu 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 shifu Chuen Luen / shifu Chen Zhen Yi / shifu Zhao Zhi Min lineage methods.
Factually, shifu 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 held not so positive views of shifu Huang Han Xun until the day he passed away.
This said, shifu Lee Kam Wing has indicated his willingness to rejoin the seven star mantis world to include the shifu 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 shifu Huang Han Xun, just as shifu Huang Han Xun did not learn all the sets from shifu 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.
Shifu 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 shifu Huang Han Xun Mantis community. In fact there was, in some cases, great support for students teaching despite not having the “license” from shifu 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 Wu Association.
Throughout his long teaching career, shifu Huang Han Xunng 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 shifu 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. Shifu 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 shifu 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 shifu 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 & 3rd Essential and the Fei Yan Zhang form). These series books are out of print but sometimes they are still available in USA Chinatown bookstores.
In addition to those books, there were two special books published for the shifu 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 shifu Huang Han Xun students.
Shifu Huang Han Xun retired from teaching in 1972 and passed away in 1973.