Northern Shaolin Kung Fu is an external style directly descended from the system taught at the Shaolin Temple. The temple, located on Mt. Songshan at Dengfeng in Henan Province, was originally built for the Indian Buddhist monk Ba Tuo by Emperor Wen Di of the Liu Song period in 495. The history of Shaolin kung fu begins later, in 527, with the arrival of the Indian monk Bodhidharma (Ta-Mo in Chinese). Ta-Mo, the twenty-eight Buddhist patriarch, noticed upon his arrival that many monks displayed symptoms of improper nutrition and lack of exercise, and thus could not concentrate properly during meditation. Ta-Mo reasoned that a healthy body lead to a healthy mind and ultimately to the full development of Qi, or one's vital energy.
Retreating, Ta-Mo meditated for nine straight years in a cave on Wu Ru peak behind the temple. When he emerged, he had devised an exercise regimen (among other things) that he taught to the monks, the Lohan shi bas hou (18 hand methods of the Lohan). These excercises would become the basis of the Shaolin boxing style. As Shaolin's reputation grew, martial artists would travel great distances to this temple to become monks. Each would bring his unique martial skills with him. Additionally, generals and other warriors would retire to the temple as monks, and brought their styles and expertise with them. The Shaolin system thus became a dynamic system that was always evolving.
Shaolin, meaning young forest, has historically and culturally been regarded as the greatest Chinese temple boxing style. This style developed as a branch of the original Shaolin teaching. It shares its name with the temple to pay respect and homage to its origin. As a style, it is no longer taught at the shaolin temple today. This shaolin style's popularity is due in part to the famous master Ku Yu Cheung (1894-1962). He was one of the top ten champions in the first national martial arts examination by the Guoshu institute of Nanjing in 1929. Traveling south with four other renown masters, Ku Yu Cheung came to Canton city to teach his art.
Today, the Wing Lam Kung Fu School teaches the traditional Northern Shaolin System in its entirety. Northern Shaolin (Bei Shao Lin in Mandarin, Bak Sil Lam in Cantonese) has a core of ten hand forms, an extensive array of weapons forms, combat sets, iron palm training techniques and iron body training techniques. Northern Shaolin Kung Fu developed as a "long-fist" style emphasizing kicks over hand techniques. Such a long-range system stresses full extension of the limbs so that kicks and punches are extended as far as possible without compromising balance or power. The Northern Shaolin practitioner generates power from a combination of great speed and large, flowing movements, picturing his hands and feet as strong and compact as stones while his arms and legs are ropes. The limbs remain supple and relaxed during movement and only tighten when fully extended. Characteristically, a practitioner of this system moves back and forth on a straight line. His hands move like lightning. He retreats like the wind. His feet are as solid as rocks, his legs attack like shooting stars to the front, back, left and right sides, high and low, and his body flows like a flying dragon. With six internal and six external harmonies, the practitioner attacks like a ferocious tiger with violent yet appropriate attacks. He is hard and strong but not excessively so and bends like a reed in the wind as he changes from one attack to another. His defense is gentle and soft but never weak.
The Shaolin practitioner is also renowned for acrobatic but devastating kicks. Shaolin's repertoire of kicks covers everything from a basic front toe kick to a jumping back kick, from a low sweep to a tornado kick. Northern Shaolin Kung Fu is well suited to the student who is agile and flexible, who has good endurance and speed, or who wishes to develop such traits.
At the Wing Lam Kung Fu School, the Northern Shaolin curriculum includes hand, weapon and sparring sets. The hand sets cover the ten Shaolin sets and four supplementary sets from other styles. Each Shaolin set has its own theme and together they teach a complete repertoire of hand techniques. Weapon sets are taught to augment a practitioner's skill, since each weapon stresses different basics. The four fundamental weapons - staff, broadsword, spear and straight sword - are complemented by a variety of other weapons, such as the nine-section chain whip, three-section staff, double hook-swords, double-hook spear, long handle knife (Kwan Do) and double straight swords, to name a few. Lastly, sparring sets complete the curriculum. These include hand and weapon sets, such as the two-man empty hand sparring set, Kwan Do versus spear, broadsword versus spear and empty hands versus double daggers.
|Hand Sets Taught||Weapons Sets|
|Lin Bo Kuen
Siu Lum (Shaolin) #1 - Koy Moon
Siu Lum (Shaolin) #2 - Leng Low
Siu Lum (Shaolin) #3 - Jou Mah
Siu Lum (Shaolin) #4 - Chum Sam
Siu Lum (Shaolin) #5 - Mo I
Siu Lum (Shaolin) #6 - Tun Da
Siu Lum (Shaolin) #7 - Moi Fa
Siu Lum (Shaolin) #8 - Bot Bo
Siu Lum (Shaolin) #9 - Lien Wan
Siu Lum (Shaolin) #10 - Sik Fot
Two Person Hand Sparring
Look Hop Kuen
Eighteen Deadly Hands
Eight Section Brocade
Iron Palm Technique
Nine Province Short Staff
Dragon Movement Straight Sword
Spring Autumn Guan Do
Dragon Head Walking Cane
Two Person Staff Sparring
Twin Flying Dragons Straight Sword
Five Tigers Catch the Lamb Staff
Lok Hop (Six Harmonies) Spear
Lok Hop (Six Harmonies) Broadsword
Two Section Staff
Spinning Chain Whip on the Ground
Hook Blade Spear
Double Tiger-Head Hook Swords
Guan Do vs Spear
Broadsword vs Spear
Three-Section Staff vs Spear
Empty Hand vs Double Daggers