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There is a wide variety of teaching styles, from instructor to instructor, school to scho style to style, nuance to nuance, and so on. So the answer to “What are the Northern Shaolin Kung Fu forms?” is a bit involved…

However, any traditional school offering the “Core Curriculum of the Northern Shaolin Boxing School, or 北少林拳門 Běi ShàoLínQuán Mén (boxing here refers to Chinese Boxing or Chinese Martial Arts, more commonly known as Kung Fu (功夫)); and, in particular of the Gù Rǔzhāng (顧汝章) lineage consists of several categories.

Some Northern Shaolin lineages have more or fewer categories than others. They might include Lion Dancing, Dragon Dancing, Chin Woo curriculum, Auxillary Training, extended curriculum, and more.

For example, some Northern Shaolin schools have Lion Dancing included (which can be an additional income source for the school – performing for Chinese New Year and other celebrations) PATHS Atlanta Kung Fu does not.

Due to historical connections with the Chin Woo Athletic Association, the Central Guoshu Institute, the Shaolin Monastery, and various other associations, some schools might offer a wide variety of additional training.

Some particular training methodologies, such as 鐵掌功 Tiě Zhǎng Gōng or Iron Palm Skill, 金鐘罩 Jīn Zhōng Zhào Golden Bell Cover, and others, may or may not be included in the curriculum of different lineages. They might be in ones’ hands, yet not promoted publicly. Unfortunately, these old skills are dying due to various issues of modernity.

Kung Fu Salute to You!

Northern Shaolin Kung Fu Curriculum

The standard core curriculum of Northern Shaolin that you can count on in almost any school is as follows:

  • 基本功 / Jī Běn Gōng / Gei1 Bun2 Gung1 / Basic Skills Training
    • Introduction to Basics
  • 3 Training Forms (more or less, some offer 3), with additional training 套路 TàoLù, or forms, available
  • 10 Traditional Empty-Hand Kung Fu Forms
  • 4 Standard Traditional Chinese 兵器 BīngQì Weaponry Forms
  • Auxillary Training

Much more is available for serious students.

And quite a bit of learning How to Apply what you learn in the forms – Applications and Crossing Hands. Here are some Tips for Learning a Martial Art.

Now let’s look at how this breaks down. (Not comprehensive, but it gives you a taste of what you might learn with us). 

In the below section, the names of the forms are listed first in Chinese characters, then in Mandarin Pinyin, followed by the Jyutping romanized version of Cantonese and ending with English.

Chinese / Mandarin / Cantonese / Generic English 

Ji Ben Gong or Basic Skills Training

Introduction to Basics

Some of what you will learn at the beginning level of our curriculum are:

  • “Kung Fu” related terminology
  • Basics of Class Etiquette (and some broad Martial Virtue applications)
  • Style Classifications
  • Physical Fitness Exercises
  • 基本 步法 / Jī Běn Bù Fǎ / Gei1 Bun2 Bou Faat / Basic Stance Methods
  • Basic Kung Fu Concepts (Root, Structure, 4 Combat Methods, and more)
  • Basic Kung Fu philosophical theories ( or Intent, 無極 WúJí, 太極 TàiJí, 兩儀 LiǎngYí, 陰陽 Yīn & Yáng, 三寶 SānBǎo and more)
  • Basic Solo and Partnered Application training forms
  • Introduction to 氣功 QìGōng Breathing and Relaxing Drills
  • 五步拳 / Wǔ Bù Quán / Ng5 Bou Kyun4 / Five Stance Fist, a Northern Shaolin (as a catetgory)
  • And even more 

Five Kung Fu Training Forms

As you can see, we’re one of the schools that offer more than the typical three training forms. These forms take the least amount of time to learn, practice, learn from, and master. However, they, being seed forms – or those that, once mastered, educate your further physical development & intelligence, will more than educate your form and eventually your application and fighting strategy.

  1. 忠義拳 / Zhōng Yì Quán / Zung1 Ji6 Kyun4 / Righteous Fist
    Also known as Loyalty Justice Fist, among other names, this is a relatively young form, being created by several masters in the 1980’s. It has a distinct 八極拳 BāJíQuán (another Northern style of Kung Fu) flair, is short and easy to learn, yet contains direct powerful martial applications.
  2. 練步拳 / Liàn Bù Quán / Lin Bou Kyùn / Continuous Stepping Fist
    AKA Linked Stepping, Chained Stepping, Footwork Practice, and so on, this form was widely practiced by the Chinese Nationalist troops as basic military training. It would develop your hand-eye coordination and teach you many practical combat techniques.
  3. 譚腿十二路 / Tán Tuǐ Shí Èr Lù / Tàam Teúi Sap6 Ji6 Lou6 / Springing Legs 12 Roads
    Tan Tui is a widely-popular form that is a complete standalone system, developing power, flexibility, and an impressive array of martial tactics and applications. Although there are many versions, we offer the twelve roads, ten roads, and partner sets.
  4. 功力拳 / Gōng Lì Quán / Gung1 Lik6 Kyun4 / Power Generating Fist
    Gong Li is a 長拳 Cháng Quán or Longfist form consisting of strength-training principles and long-range martial tactics, entries, and even some short-hand combinations as well.
  5. 譚腿十路 / Tán Tuǐ Shí Lù / Tàam Teúi Sap6 Lou6 / Springing Legs 10 Roads
    Although similar, in some aspects, to the 12 Roads, this form offers some new complexities in footwork patterns, martial applications, and more. 

northern shaolin kung fu forms

Ten Traditional Empty-Hand Forms of Northern Shaolin
  1. 開 門 / Kāi Mén / Hōi Mùn / Open the Gate
    Includes essential entry movements and diverse leg attacks
  2. 領 路 / Lǐng Lù / Ling5 Lou6 / Lead the Way
    Leading the Attack. Balances the body; learning to fight with either side
  3. 坐 馬 / Zuò Mǎ / Co5 Maa5 / Mount the Horse
    Builds stamina; learn follow-up combinations when your first attack fails and counter-attacks
  4. 穿 心 / Chuān Xīn / Cyun1 Sam1 / Pierce the Heart
    Combinations alternate quickly from side to side. Increase reaction speed. Coordination of Left hand/foot.
  5. 武 藝 / Wǔ Yì / Mou5 Ngai6 / Martial Skill
    Trains in aggressive, charging attacks, combinations, and powerful conditioning routines. Includes the triple kick
  6. 短 打 / Duǎn Dǎ / Dyun2 Daa2 / Close Combat
    Close-range fighting. Short power. This form introduces the Tornado & Sweep.
  7. 梅 花 / Méi Huā / Mui4 Faa1 / Plum Blossom
    “Breaking the Ambush.” Deception. Palm Strikes. Back Kicks.
  8. 拔 步 / Bá Bù / Bat6 Bou6 / Uprooting Step
    From dynamic sweeps to flying kicks, this open-hand Kung fu form contains many rapid combative techniques, which show you how to follow through with your attack and take advantage of openings. Ba Bu teaches fighting combinations for the open space.
  9. 連 環 / Lián Huán / Lin4 Waan4 / Chain of Rings
    Chains of multiple strikes. Unusual surprise attack maneuvers characteristic of advanced Shaolin fighters.
  10. 式 法 / Shì Fǎ / Sik1 Faat3 / Skilled Method
    Essential techniques from other styles. All of the previous sets prepare you for this one. After working through the other nine forms, Sik Faat challenges your mind and body by taking you to the next level of Kung Fu skills. 

Four Standard Traditional Chinese Weapons Forms

Although we offer a wide variety of traditional Chinese 兵器 BīngQì weapon 套路 Tàolù or forms, here are the standards that you can expect in any Northern Shaolin Kung Fu curriculum.

  1. 劈掛單刀 / Pī Guà Dān Dāo / Pek3 Gwaa3 Daan1 Dou1 / Hanging Thrust Single-Edged Saber (Chinese Broadsword)
  2. 齊眉棍 / Qí Méi Gùn / Cai4 Mei4 Gwan3 / Eyebrow-Height Staff
  3. 龍形劍 / Lóng Xíng Jiàn / Lung4 Jing4 Gim3 / Dragon Shape Sword
  4. 劈掛槍 / Pī Guà Qīang / Pek3 Gwaa3 Coeng1 / Hanging Thrust Spear 

Auxillary Kung Fu Training

Additional training might include:

  • Two-person fighting choreographed forms (Empty-hand vs. Empty-Hand, Empty-Hand vs. Weapon, Weapon vs. Weapon, etc.)
  • Lion Dance
  • Dragon Dance
  • Additional weapon forms of the four standard traditional Chinese weapons (for example Horse Gate Broadsword, Yang Family 24 Spear and more)
  • Other weapon forms (some consider there to be 18 standard weapons hint-hint)
  • Content from other styles
  • Special conditioning methods
  • Meditation methods
  • Qigong techniques
  • Chinese Language
  • Chinese History
  • Studies in Psychology
  • Teacher Training
  • Body language
  • Performance sets
  • TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) or CCM (Chinese Classical Medicine) [See the TCM Podcasts]
  • Spiritual & Philosophical Pursuits
  • There could be much more. And we offer such.

Although all of the above seems like it might be comprehensive, there are a great many things that we can not include here, simply due to the possibility of overwhelming. Be that as it may, there are a lot of topics covered throughout the student’s progress not covered here.

If this does seem overwhelming, it might help to learn more About Us, hear some of What our Students Say, or get a feel for a typical class. Read one student’s story, entitled “Good to be Back! A Kung Fu Class Review.” 

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