Shaolin Kung Fu, having a history of more 1500 years, originated from the specific environment of Buddhism in Songshan Shaolin Temple. Shaolin Kung Fu followed a traditional cultural system, which was based on the belief of transnatural Buddhism. This traditional cultural system was full of the wisdom of Zen Buddhism, and was followed by the Shaolin Monk. Shaolin Kung Fu had s theme of “Zen”, “Martial Art” and “Medicine”, which interacted with each other. “Zen” could make you feel calm, which further made you wisdom. “Martial Art” trained you with good health. “Medicine” could regulate the inner balance of your body, which made you to use the martial art healthily. Therefore, “Zen”, “Martial Art” and “Medicine” was fully integrated. Shaolin Kung Fu was a large of technical system, and was not a conventional “section” or “type of Boxing”. Chinese martial arts were complex and had various schools. As recorded by the history literature, Shaolin Kung Fu was one of the sections with long history, perfect system and high technical boundary. According to the literature in Shaolin Temple, the traditional Shaolin Kung Fu had hundreds of patterns. And only less than one hundred of the pattern was systematically spread. Shaolin Kung Fu had another 72 unique skills, and also had various Kung Fu patterns like the “Catch”, “Grapple”, “Hitting a vital point” and “Qigong”. All of these contents organically formed the Martial Art based on their types and complexity.
Shaolin Kung Fu followed the core of attacking and defending and grapples and had the basic patterns. Patterns were formed by a system of movements. The design and the integrating of the movements formed the pattern, which was based on the ancient Chinese Body Medicine and was compatible with the body’s movements. Movement and pattern focused on the association of activity and inertia, the balance of Yin and Yang, the combination of softness and hardness, and the interpromotion between spirit and body. The unique of Shaolin Kung Fu was that it can be trained in a small area and followed in a line. Shaolin Kung Fu was naturally from easiness to difficulty. When you practice the Shaolin Kung Fu, you should practice the breath, the inner peace and the willingness, and mainly focused on the balance of the whole body. Another characteristic of Shaolin Kung Fu was that you should bend your arm and leg when you practice, which will give you the space to move and change flexibly. The balance of your inner and outer will give you the power when you practice the Shaolin Kung Fu.
The most important part when practicing Shaolin Kung Fu was to practice the basic skill, which was aided by the fluentness of your breath. Bad mood was unhelpful when you practice the Kung Fu, while good mood will give you more flexible movement. Therefore, the practice of Kung Fu required you to know something about the Zen and Medicine. The practice of Kung Fu essentially was to practice the metabolism, which was the source of human’s power. To practice the inner body was to practice the mind. Without calmness, you could not concentrate on anything, which would hinder you to practice the Kung Fu. Only with calmness, you could focus on your natural body and could practice the Kung Fu. In the daily life, you could practice the Kung Fu once you could concentrate. In fact, Kung Fu was just around your life, like the cooking, the walking, the sleeping, et al. The ancient thought in China, ”the integral of human and nature” believed that the most suitable movement was the one that followed human’s body structure. Shaolin Kung Fu has experienced long history, and has innovatively developed, which fulfilled human’s potential and was the optimized movement of the human.
Just like the proverb “all the martial arts in the world came from the Shaolin”, most of Chinese martial sections evolved from the Shaolin Fist, like Tai Chi. Chen’s Tai Chi was developed by Chen Wangting, who first learned Shaolin Fist and further added some innovative idea. This formed the unique characteristic of Chen’s Tai Chi and made Chen’s Tai Chi became another new section of Kung Fu. Sun’s Tai Chi and Yang’s Tai Chi was further developed from Chen’s Tai Chi. The famous section of Wudang was developed by Zhang Sanfeng, who also first learned the Shaolin Fist as a monk. He leaved Shaolin after graduation and then came to Wangdang Mountain, where he developed the Wudang Kung Fu. Besides, the famous martial arts of “Wing Chun” was also developed from Shaolin Fist.
There were various methods to spread Shaolin Kung Fu in history, and the pithy formula was a method that was mostly used, since Shaolin Kung Fu was learned by the monks from their Master in tradition. The high level of learning Shaolin Kung Fu depends highly on the Master’s mind-to-mind instructions and the monks’ perception, which was achieved from the daily practice. This was usually difficult to do. However, this was the aim of the “combination between the Zen and the martial” in Shaolin Kung Fu.
Shaolin Baduanjin (Eight Silken Movements), was first developed by the Shaolin Temple. It was one of the Kung Fu esotericas in Shaolin Temple and also was one of the earliest martials developed by monks in Shaolin Temple for body-building. Ancient people figured this martial as “Jin”(means “Silken”), which means diligent movement like the silk. The name of the form generally refers to how the eight individual movements of the form characterize and impart a silken quality (like that of a piece of brocade) to the body and its energy. Each movement is soft and smooth, and is stretched continuously and fluently and liquidly. The motion and repose are integrated in Baduanjin and is healthy for the body. The eight individual movements includes:
Holding the Hands High with Palms Up to Regulate the Internal Organs. This move is said to stimulate the “Triple Warmer” meridian (Sanjiao) and could promote the circulation of blood in the body, which is beneficial to cure the chronic illness.
Posing as an Archer Shooting Both Left-and-Right-Handed. While in a lower horse stance, the practitioner imitates the action of drawing a bow to either side. It is said to exercise the waist area, focusing on the kidneys and spleen.
Holding One Arm Aloft to Regulate the Functions of the Spleen and Stomach. This move could be used to strength the body with positive regulation and is beneficial for the curing of illness related to the spleen and stomach.
Looking Backwards to Prevent Sickness and Strain. This move is to stimulate the gallbladder channel. Besides, this move is said to treat the illness of cervical vertebra and sacral vertebra caused by the over- strain of the body.
Swinging the Head and Lowering the Body to Relieve Stress. This move could stimulate the pericardium channel, the heart channel and the small intestinl channel. This is said to regulate the function of the heart and lungs. Its primary aim is to remove excess heat (or fire) (xin huo) from the heart. Xin huo is also associated with heart fire in traditional Chinese medicine. In performing this piece, the practitioner squats in a low horse stance, places the hands on thighs with the elbows facing out and twists to glance backwards on each side.
Moving the Hands down the Back and Legs and Touching the Feet to Strengthen the Kidneys. This move is to stimulate the kidney channel and the urinary bladder meridian. The movement could strength the bones and muscles and is beneficial for the kidney. This move could be used to treat symptoms like the pain in one’s back, the numbness of hand and foot, and the soreness and weakness of waist and knees.
Thrusting the Fists and Making the Eyes Glare to Enhance Strength. This resembles the second piece, and is largely a punching movement either to the sides or forward while in horse stance. This, which is the most external of the pieces, is aimed at increasing general vitality and muscular strength.
Raising and Lowering the Heels to Cure Diseases. This is a push upward from the toes with a small rocking motion on landing. The gentle shaking vibrations of this piece is said to “smooth out” the qi after practice of the preceding seven pieces. This move could stimulate the governor and conception vessels, and makes the blood circulation more fluently in the body, which is healthy for the treatment of various illness.
I Chin Ching (Yi Jin Jing), which is uniquely taught in Shaolin Temple, was first developed by Master Damo. I Chin Ching is a Qigong manual containing a series of exercises, coordinated with specific breathing and mental concentration, said to enhance physical health dramatically when practiced consistently. In Chinese yi means change, jin means “tendons and sinews”, while jing means “methods”. This is a relatively intense form of exercise that aims at strengthening the muscles and tendons, so promoting strength and flexibility, speed and stamina, balance and coordination of the body. There are twelve steps in I Chin Ching with the prepared step of standing with legs apart, mouth close slightly, adjusting the breath, shrinking bosom and straightening back, regulating the abdomen, relaxing the shrug, and relaxing the whole body with calmness and with no distracting thoughts.
The twelve steps are listed following:
Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle 1. Step open and hold up your hands, stand and straighten your body. Open arms and embrace. Holding and breathing. Sink your shoulders and let your elbows fall naturally with back-elbow bones pointing to the ground.
Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle 2 First open your arms and stretch out. Spin arms push out hands. Expel impurity with eyes wide- open.
Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle 3. Hiding tigers. The towering king. Tiptoe and hanging eyes. Retracting.
Plucking a Star and Exchanging a Star Cluster Picking Stars: hang your hands naturally by the sides. Sifting movement: shift your weight to the left back to the standing position with your weight spreading evenly on both feet. Inhaling the essence of the universe. Changing sides.
Pulling Nine Cows by Their Tails The horse-riding stand (left direction); Embracing Taiji；Pushing hands；Shooting arrow；Breathing technique；Standing prayer hands；Repeat the above movements in opposite direction
Displaying Paw-style Palms like a White Crane Spreading Its Wings Tuning hands (inhale); Out-stretch (exhale → exhale); Extending claws (exhale → exhale); Sprawling hands; Retraction and repeat.
Nine Ghosts Drawing Swords Inward feet/Cross hands; Hooked fingers and slicing hands; Withdrawing the sword; Back to the crossed hands.
Three bodily squatting position. Holding a ball (horse-riding stand, Ma Bu); Pulling from water; Pushing hands; Twist; The prayer hand.
Black Dragon Displaying Its Claws Pressing hand and extending claw; Put your focus on the Lao Gong Xue and Zhong Chong Xue; Retract your left hand to in front of your chest, and press it down passing the abdomen, thigh and knee, to the ground; Draw a circle counterclockwise with your left hand; Continue from the right-side movement.
Tiger Springing on Its Prey Crook the right leg downward and extend the left leg out into a hopping tiger posture. Move your weight from the center to the left. Keep the left bow-step posture and retract your hands. Hold hands into tiger claws and put them in front of your left foot. Place your focus on the hand San Jiao Jing. Maintain the same posture. Continue from the previous posture. Move your hip backward and sit on your heels. Move your left leg back to the earlier position and step out into a bow-step (Gong Bu).
Bowing Down in Salutation Stretch out your arms all the way up, passing by the back of your ears. Slowly retract your arms to the positions of your ears. Adjust your breathing (3 -5 times). Flick your hindbrain (the back of your head) with your index and middle fingers for 24 times. Step out to the left and squat down. Stay focused, and clink your teeth for 36 times. Squat down slowly and keep your elbows on the knees.
Swinging the Tail Overlap your hands (right hand over the left hand). Bend your body forward. With natural and even breathing, press your hands down. Cross your hands and lift your heels.
T’ai chi ch’uan or Taijiquan, often shortened to t’ai chi, taiji or tai chi in English usage. The term “t’ai chi ch’uan” translates as “supreme ultimate fist”, which follows the mechanism of motion/repose and ebb/flow in I Ching (Classic of Changes in Englishi). T’ai chi ch’uan is famous for its slow movement, which is natural and is purported that focusing the mind solely on the movements of the form helps to bring about a state of mental calm and clarity. In T’ai chi ch’uan, people move slowly and continuously from one step to another. Some of the step would be cycled and other steps would change constantly. T’ai chi ch’uan evolves from the traditional Shaolin fist. The Chen-style established by Chen Wangting is the first generation of the T’ai chi ch’uan. Based on the Chen-style, other styles like the Yang-style, Sun-style, Wu-style, Wu (Hao)-style, were further developed.
The philosophy of t’ai chi ch’uan is that, if one uses hardness to resist violent force, then both sides are certain to be injured at least to some degree. Such injury, according to t’ai chi ch’uan theory, is a natural consequence of meeting brute force with brute force. Instead, T’ai chi ch’uan did not insist to directly fight or resist an incoming force, but to meet it in softness and follow its motion while remaining in physical contact until the incoming force of attack exhausts itself or can be safely redirected. T’ai chi ch’uan is an internal Chinese martial art practiced for both its defense training and its health benefits. Besides, T’ai chi ch’uan is suitable for people with various ages to practice.
Sanda or an “unsanctioned fight” is a Chinese self-defense system and combat sport. Sanda is a martial art which was originally developed by the Chinese military based upon the study and practices of traditional Kung fu and modern combat fighting techniques; it combines full-contact kickboxing, which include close range and rapid successive punches and kicks, with wrestling, takedowns, throws, sweeps, kick catches, and in some competitions, even elbow and knee strikes. Not seen as a style itself, rather it is considered as just one of the two components of Chinese martial arts training and is often taught alongside with taolu (forms) training. However, as part of the development of sport wushu by the Chinese government, a standard curriculum for sanda was developed. It is to this standard curriculum that the term “Sanda” is usually applied. This curriculum was developed with reference to traditional Chinese martial arts. This general Sanda curriculum varies in its different forms, as the Chinese government developed a version for civilians for self-defense and as a sport. The generalized modern curriculum practiced in modern wushu schools is composed of different traditional martial arts fighting styles from China, but mainly based on scientific efficiency. Sanda is composed of Chinese martial arts applications including most aspects of combat including striking and grappling, however when Sanda was developed as a sport, restrictions were made for safety reasons as well as to promote it as a non-violent sport. Examples of such restrictions included no blows delivered to the back of the head, throat, spine or groin and the discontinuation of the combat when any of the fighters fall to the ground. However many schools, whether traditional or modern, practice it as an all round martial arts system with no restrictions, only adapting their training in relation to competition rules prior to the event. Sanda tournaments are one of the two disciplines recognized by the International Wushu Federation. One can see Sanda as a synthesis of traditional Chinese fighting techniques into a more amorphous system and is commonly taught alongside traditional Chinese styles which Sanda techniques, theory and training methods are derived from. The emphasis of Sanda is on realistic fighting ability.
Yongchunquan, also was known as the Wing Chun, which means eternal spring time. Wing Chun is one of the southern fist in Chinese martial arts and is also one of the martial arts directly evolved from the Shaolin fist. It is generally accepted that Wing Chun was first developed by the Master Supreme Good (Master Zhishan in Chinese). Wing Chun was then spread to Fujian and Guangdong Province along with the Shaolin Temple. Since Wing Chun was first distributed in Wing Chun County of Fujian Province, the Wing Chun martial art was thus named and had the same name as this place. Wing Chun integrates the Internal fist (Neijia quan) and the Punches at close range. Based on the actual combat, Wing Chun moves variously and flexibly. It’s fast in the movement and is strictly for defense. Wing Chun emphasizes the attack and the defense simultaneously, and also demonstrates the integration of softness and hardness. Besides, Wing Chun would be strength-saving. The famous characteristic of Wing Chun is the punches at close range. Bruce Lee first trained in Wing Chun under the Wing Chun teacher Yip Man, who was a famous Wing Chun master in Hong Kong. Bruce Lee then developed the Jeet Kune Do (The Way of the Intercepting Fist) based on the Wing Chun.