Regardless of what instructor, school, sub-style or flavor encountered, the Core Curriculum of the Northern Shaolin Boxing School (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) of the Gù Rǔzhāng (顧汝章) lineage consists of several categories.
For example, some Northern Shaolin schools have Lion Dancing included (which can, in addition to being an additional topic of study, be an additional income source for the school – performing for Chinese New Year and other celebrations) however currently, 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 varying additional courses of training as well.
It’s also worthy of note that special 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 available, yet not promoted publicly. Often-times, these old skills are falling by the wayside, due to various issues of modernity.
Kung Fu Salute to You!
Northern Shaolin Kung Fu Curriculum
The common 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 the serious student.
And of course, quite a bit of learning How to Apply what you learn in the forms – Applications and Crossing Hands. Here’s 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).
Ji Ben Gong or Basic Skills Training
Introduction to Basics
Some of what you will learn in 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 (意 Yì 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
- 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 will, once mastered, educate your further physical development & intelligence, will more than educate your form and eventually your application and fighting strategy.
- 忠義拳 / Zhōng Yì Quán / Zung1 Ji6 Kyun4 / Righteous Fist
Also known as Loyaly 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 simple to learn, yet contains direct and powerful martial applications.
- 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 and will develop your hand-eye coordination and teach you many interesting, yet extremely practical combat techniques.
- 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 system unto itself, developing power, flexibility, and an impressive array of martial tactics and applications. Although there are many versions, we offer the 12 road, 10 road, and partner sets.
- 功力拳 / Gōng Lì Quán / Gung1 Lik6 Kyun4 / Power Generating Fist
An interesting 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.
- 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.
Ten Traditional Empty-Hand Forms of Northern Shaolin
- 開 門 / Kāi Mén / Hōi Mùn / Open the Gate
Includes essential entry-movements and diverse leg attacks
- 領 路 / Lǐng Lù / Ling5 Lou6 / Lead the Way
Leading the Attack. Balances the body; learning to fight with either side
- 坐 馬 / Zuò Mǎ / Co5 Maa5 / Mount the Horse
Builds stamina; learn follow-up combinations when your first attack fails and counter-attacks
- 穿 心 / Chuān Xīn / Cyun1 Sam1 / Pierce the Heart
Combinations alternating quickly from side to side. Increase reaction speed. Coordination of Left hand / foot.
- 武 藝 / Wǔ Yì / Mou5 Ngai6 / Martial Skill
Trains in aggressive, charging attacks, combinations and powerful conditioning routines. Includes the triple kick
- 短 打 / Duǎn Dǎ / Dyun2 Daa2 / Close Combat
Close-range fighting. Short power. Introduces the Tornado & Sweep.
- 梅 花 / Méi Huā / Mui4 Faa1 / Plum Blossom
“Breaking the Ambush.” Deception. Palm Strikes. Back Kicks.
- 拔 步 / Bá Bù / Bat6 Bou6 / Uprooting Step
From dynamic sweeps to flying kicks, this set contains many rapid combative techniques, which show you how to follow through with your attack and take advantage of openings. Open-space fighting combinations.
- 連 環 / Lián Huán / Lin4 Waan4 / Chain of Rings
Chained multiple strikes. Unusual surprise attack maneuvers that are characteristic of advanced Shaolin fighters.
- 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 sets, Sik Faat challenges your mind and body by taking you to the next level of Kung Fu skill.
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.
- 劈掛單刀 / Pī Guà Dān Dāo / Pek3 Gwaa3 Daan1 Dou1 / Hanging Thrust Single-Edged Saber (Chinese Broadsword)
- 齊眉棍 / Qí Méi Gùn / Cai4 Mei4 Gwan3 / Eyebrow-Height Staff
- 龍形劍 / Lóng Xíng Jiàn / Lung4 Jing4 Gim3 / Dragon Shape Sword
- 劈掛槍 / Pī Guà Qīang / Pek3 Gwaa3 Coeng1 / Hanging Thrust Spear
Auxillary Kung Fu Training
Auxillary Training can consist of many different things, either sprinkled throughout the learning career of the student or perhaps as “Advanced” material. Topics could include:
- Two-person fighting choreographed forms (Empty-hand vs Empty-Hand, Empty-Hand vs. Weapon, Weapon vs. Weapon, etc.)
- Lion Dance
- Dragon Dance
- Additional forms of the four standard traditional Chinese weapons
- Other weapon forms (some consider there to be 18 basic 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, in fact, we offer such.
Although all of the above seems like it might be fairly comprehensive, there are a great many things that we can not include, simply due to the possibility of overwhelm. Be that as it may, have no doubt that 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 to get a feel for what a typical class is like. Read one student’s story Good to be Back! A Kung Fu Class Review.