To avoid misunderstandings we want to make clear that our Shaolin curriculum consists of traditional forms and that we do not teach the modern wushu forms named Chang Quan nor Nan Quan that are often referred to as shaolin.
Our curriculum is build on a traditional practice of Shaolin Gongfu as it has been passed on from one to the next generation.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN IN THE FIRST PHASE
Before you start learning forms you should get familiar with the stances, footwork and movement that are found in the form. Without drilling these basics chances are you will never get good at traditional gongfu.
The basics are:
|Zhuang Gong||Bu Fa||Shen Fa||Shou Fa|
stances: ma bu, gong bu,...
footwork or movement of the feet up to the hips
body movements or from waist up to the head
movements of the hands, fist, palms
|Jibengong ||Gong Fa||Nei Gong|
basic excercises: kicks, punches,... basic movements with "Gun" or staff
single movements: shang bu tui zhang, xie xing, ma bu dan bian,...
breathing and meditational excercises
To reach the point where you easily learn these first traditional Songshan Shaolin Taolu
Open hand Weapons
Xiao Hong Quan (Shi DeDing)
Da tongbei Quan (Shi DeDing)
Long set with Shaolin Pole (Shi Xing Peng)
For every movement of these forms the student will be explained and shown its function, the concepts contained within and how to use them for self defense to avoid ending up "dancing" the taolu.
However in Shaolin classes there will be no sparring so if you want to try out the techniques on a resisting partner with higher levels of intensity this will be done in the SANSHOU sessions with the use of protective gear.
THE SECOND PHASE IS MORE PERSONALISED
Gong Fu means a skill obtained through a lot of hard work and so from now on we could say the student starts to develop Gong Fu in the area of martial arts and starts to understand the underlying ideas of gong fu which becomes more logical and simple while before it all looked very complicated.
This is the time to deepen the art and when Shaolin Gong Fu turns into a healthy lifestyle. The student decides together with the instructor how he or she wants to evolve and according to constitution, interests and possibilities choose from:
Songshan Shaolin Si Quan Fa
| Shaolin Xinyi ba||Shaolin Rou Quan||Animal forms |
same style as the first phase
jibengong/gong fa of Xinyiba of WuGuLun lineage
a system closer to Taiji, Xingyi and Bagua
Liu He Gong
Chan Yuan Gong
Luohan 13 Gong
| More performance oriented forms|
|Da Hong Quan, Tai Zu Chang Quan, Chaoyang Quan, Pao Quan, Qi Xing Quan,......etc. Weapons as gun (pole), dao (knife), jian (sword), san jie gun (three sectional staff),|
Xiao Hong Quan,
Da Tongbei Quan, Da Hong Quan,....
Rou Quan 18
Wu Xing Quan
Rou Quan 36
Rou Quan 108
Article: "The importance of breathing"(by Gene Ching for kungfumagazine)For those who may not be familiar with Shaolin culture, there are some essentials. According to Ven. Shi Guolin, Shaolin culture the real way is not only Kung Fu or Buddhism, but it is a combination of both. They must be combined as one. Some may know there is a combination of both, but most do not really understand Cha'an Kungfu, which is the true combination.
According to Ven. Shi Guolin, breathing is the first step in training because it is during breathing that we adjust and balance our body for our movements. While inhaling, we are re-adjusting our body for our future movement. In most forms, while we are moving into the posture, we are inhaling. This is our body re-adjusting. When executing a movement through, we exhale. This is the use of energy. Without proper balance of readjustment and use, our movements are stilted.
Shi Guolin notes, "As Qi is the essence of life and flows throughout the universe, the basic movements of Qi - in & out, up & down, contracting & expanding - are also the basic elements of breathing."
As the universe is made up of 4 elements: earth, water, wind, fire - so is our body: bone (earth), blood (water), breath (wind), temperament (fire). Breathing is as essential as wind is for maintaining the universe. If an area has no wind, the air becomes stagnant, begins to smell, and is unhealthy. The same thing can happen with our body and breathing.
Even when you are breathing, it is still a movement. To view breathing as a movement in your form takes concentration, but is essential. Breathing is not a straight movement. It is not a simple up and down. It is more of an "S" curve. Upon inhaling, imagine your chest expanded and your gut contracted. This creates an "S," with the high curve at the top. Upon exhaling, imagine your chest contracted and your gut expanded. This creates an "S," with the high curve at the bottom. When combined, this creates the ying yang.
Notes Shi Guolin, "The Spirits guide Qi and Qi guides the body; we guide our movements by our breathing."
One of the main ways of focusing and balancing our Qi is through breathing. It allows one to adjust, centralize, and channel their Qi. While learning Qigong and kungfu, you learn postures and stances. These are to assist you in your breathing and practice in channeling Qi.
The first step in understanding the importance of breathing is to understand the 3 stages:
1. Natural breathing,
2. Deep breathing, and
3. Natural breathing.
The trick is to understand that 1 & 3 are not the same. Before you practice Qigong or kungfu, you already use natural breathing, but after practicing your understanding of the importance of natural breathing changes. This is due to learning the postures and stances and the understanding of channeling Qi. More oxygen can be channeled throughout your body, making focusing and balancing Qi easier.
The body is made up of 3 sections, and each section can be divided into another 3 sections. Each being a root, middle, or end. The 3 sections of one's body are the legs (root), torso (middle), and arms (end). These 3 main sections also have 3 sections: the legs have the hip (root), knee (middle), and feet (end); the torso has the abdomen (root), chest (middle), and head (end); the arms have the shoulder (root), elbow (middle), and hands (end). These sections make up the 9 meridians.
We utilize our breathing to focus our Qi and learn to channel it to our ends. In training, movements may be slow to accentuate the process; however, postures and stances use our breathing to channel and focus Qi. Each time a body movement is initiated, we inhale. This is one adjusting and channeling Qi. Each time a movement is being executing, we exhale. This is the Qi being channeled. For instance, if you kick, you concentrate your Qi from the root (the hip) and contract your leg, using the knee (middle) to focus the Qi, while you inhale. This result is your kick, channeling the Qi to your foot (the end) while you exhale.
While training, we use Deep breathing and slow down the movements to focus on the channeling of Qi. This allows one to adjust and develop Qi. By doing this, we achieve the proper balance of movement, Qi, and Natural breathing when we do the movements fast. This is the same basic concept as in all martial arts: empty/full, open/closed, and slow/fast.
Deep breathing can focus our power and maintain the balance of empty/full, open/closed, and slow/fast. The proper balance will show in our postures and stances. The function of breathing is to keep everything balanced.
Without control of breathing, it is impossible to have full control of your movements. Without control over breathing and your movements, you are unable to train your spirit. In Shaolin, there is a true combination of training your mind, spirit, and body.
Breathing is not only essential to living, but it is one of the keys to mastering any martial arts. Your breathing should always be even. This assists in keeping your mind focused and your body movements correct. Ven. Shi Guolin used the example of a person who is upset; they tend to breathe heavier and faster when angry-huffing and puffing. This is not conducive for a clear mind. Energy is being wasted and our body, mind, and spirit are not balance.
The importance of learning to control breathing is often taken for granted. As it is an everyday function, it is one of the hardest to teach. Regardless of how often you practice your forms, there is no benefit without proper breathing. It is important to view breathing as a step or movement in doing forms. Incorrect breathing not only may cause you to be more fatigued, but also can hinder proper movement of your body.
Article: "The concept of Liu He"
LIU HE OR SIX HARMONIESMost people distinguish between external and internal martial arts and think that they are separate. They are not. Both the internal and the external elements have to be practised together. The hardest combination is that of “Xin” and “yi”. “Xin” is known as the heart, “Yi” is known as intent/mind.
Liu He means the combination of six sections of the body, of which 3 are external and 3 are internal. When the six sections of the body are combined, including the Xin Yi, limitless power can be developed in the body.
The three external combinations
There are three combinations: feet and hands, knee and elbow and waist and shoulder.
Training in traditional Shaolin movements, one learns how to incorporate the three sections of the body and, through constant practice, learns how to set them in motion as a seamless whole. It then becomes difficult for an opponent to win. Through practising the physical aspects of training and maintaining a vegetarian diet, one builds and stores more Qi within the body, and will thus be ready for internal training.
The three internal combinations
There are three combinations: Xin (Mind) and Yi (Intent), Yi and Qi (Energy) and Qi and Li (Power).
The most important aspect of internal training is one's mind and intention. One's intention must be combined with the Qi and focused on each movement. Qi-gong is the art of breathing and the majority of people who have read about Qi-gong will know that many theories are similar. However, the methods of practice may vary.
Normally peoples’ breathing is never fully completed, but the practice of deep breathing through the Dantian, your lower abdomen, can achieve this. Your breathing can then guide more oxygen to every organ and nerves, which activates the nerves to be more sensitive. The immune system is consequently made stronger and more resistant to viruses and illness and the body can generate more internal energy. This is how some people who practice Qi-gong are able to cure their illness themselves when conventional medicine has failed.
In traditional Shaolin training, there are some advanced methods and forms for internal training such as Yi Jin Jing and Xi Sui Jing. These forms enable one to manipulate the Qi and produce more physical power in fighting movements. The movements are led by the mind. Only when the mind is purified and combined with intent, can it control the Qi to flow through all the nerves smoothly and utilise the power generated through the Qi in one’s movements. To achieve this power, your Mind, Intention, Qi and Power must be well combined.Article on XINYI BA:XINYI BA
Xin Yi Ba is the highest level of the secret skills of traditional Shaolin gongfu. It is of considerable interest to many people. The information given below has been translated from a copy of the original manual, combined with some explanations from Shi Xingxiao’s own training experience at the Shaolin temple. The theory of Xin Yi Ba is very difficult to translate, but a brief outline has been attempted here.
Xin Yi Ba is also known as Chu Jue Tou (锄镢头). It was developed by Shaolin monks through using Gongfu movements while farming. The exact date of the founding of Xin Yi Ba can not be traced because of the number of disasters which befell the Shaolin temple -- resulting in the loss and destruction of many valuable historical manuscripts. Xin Yi Ba was, however, already very famous during the Song Dynasty.
At present some wushu practitioners in Dengfeng claim that they know Shaolin Xin Yi Ba. They may have been taught a few movements when Master Wu Shanlin was invited back to the Shaolin Temple to teach for three years in the 1960’s but in actual fact the Xin Yi Ba they claim to know is not the real thing.
Xin Yi Ba consists only of a few main sequences of movements and some secondary movements. When one becomes proficient in mastering these movements, he can create infinite postures of his own. In fact, the study of Xin Yi Ba is to practice and fortify one’s Qi and one’s outer strength with the purpose of manipulating one’s Qi to nourish one’s internal organs and to enrich the muscles of the body. Then one can move the Qi out of the body as well – even, in some situations, protecting the body from being injured. It also helps to create a calm mind, prevent illness and make the body strong.
The study of Xin Yi Ba includes many aspects of different theories and practical training, such as: the three sections (Ming San Jie), the four sensations (Qi Si Shao), guarding the five elements (Bi Wu Xing), The Three Voids -- as well as an understanding of the six combinations (Liu He).
Ming San Jie明三节 – the understanding of the three sections
The body has three main sections: hands to shoulders (upper section), chest to waist (middle section) and hips to feet (root section).
Each main section consists of three other sections:
Upper section: hands (upper), elbows (middle) and shoulders (root).
Middle section: chest (upper), heart (middle) and lower abdomen (root).
Root section: feet (upper), knees (middle) and hips (root).
The relationship between the three sections has its own unique function. For example, when a movement is performed from one of the three sections, the other two sections must be in harmony in order to generate the power from the movement performed. This means any movements must be supported by the power generated from the whole body. This is explains how important it is for practitioners to understand the San Jie.
Qi Si Shao-齐四稍 – the four internal sensations
According to the original gongfu theory, all parts of the body are connected to the central nervous system; for example, the hair is assumed to be the ending of the blood, the nails are the ending of the ligaments, the teeth are the ending of the bones and the tongue is the ending of the muscles.
While practicing, it is possible to experience sensations such as the hair lifting the scalp, the nails trying to penetrate the bones, the teeth biting through steel and the tongue trying to push the teeth out of place. These sensations are symptoms of the internal power that is being generated. As the Qi rises from the Dantian, an involuntary sound is produced with each movement, all parts of the body are set into motion and the internal power can expressed maximum effectiveness.
Bi Wu Xing 闭五行 -- guarding the five elements
Our Chinese ancestors used the theory of the five elements to explain the relationship between the five major organs of the body. They considered the world consists of five elements: metal, wood, water, fire and earth -- which should exist in a balance and harmony with each other. In later years, the ancient gongfu practitioners use the theory of the five elements in gongfu training as well. For example, the hand is linked to the heart which represents the element of fire and the nose is linked to the lung which represents the element of metal. Fire is capable of melting metal, thus the nose can be damaged easily by the hand. The five major organs are like five entrances of the body: one has to guard one’s own entrances and restrain one’s opponent from attacking them.
San Kong -- three voids
The key points of practicing are about the “void” -- also known as “Emptiness”. These consist of “the Emptiness of the heart” (心空), ”the Emptiness of the body”(身空） and “the Emptiness of the eyes”（目空）.
The Emptiness of the heart, (心空) Xin Kong, enables one to purify the heart and calm the mind, which makes one thought-free and fearless.
The emptiness of the body, (身空) Sheng Kong, enables one to release any tightness in the body so that one can move fluently and smoothly.
The emptiness of the eyes, (目空) Mu Kong, enables one to consider everybody and everything as beneath one’s notice so that one assume superiority and thus shows no fear when facing the enemy.
When practicing gong-fu, it is very important to understand the theory behind the method. Only by understanding what every part of the body is used for in each movement will one's practice be effective and efficient.The theories explained above are only some of the requirements of the practice of Xin Yi Ba. There are many more which can not be put into words but must be experienced personally through training.