Chinese Kungfu or Chinese Martial Arts is a series of fighting styles developed in China over the centuries. Although Kung Fu is a form of fighting, it advocates both virtue and peace, not aggression or violence. These tenets are universal values that have been upheld by martial artists from generation to generation. With many boxing styles, weapon skills, and some fighting stunts, Kungfu still holds deep roots in its original function: self-defense. Now its value in body-building and fitness is also highly appreciated.
Below are all of the styles of Chinese Kung fu that are part of our weekly training schedule. Some of these classes are offered as optional add-on classes, or you can train them full-time if you wish to.
Shaolin Kung Fu is not a style created by a single person, but rather an accumulation of forms and techniques developed by millions of people throughout the centuries. This style has a long history and strong influence, and it is an integral part of traditional martial arts in China. Shaolin Kung Fu is primarily a striking style of martial arts that utilizes blocks, kicks, and punches to stop attackers.
This style is a beautiful form of practice combining a mixture of open and closed hand strikes to defend against attackers. When you learn Shaolin Kung fu, the technique focuses on throws and joint locks and the discipline of using both hard (meeting force with force) and soft (using an aggressor’s strength against them) techniques. These aspects are part of what makes up Shaolin kungfu:
External/Hard: Meets force with force, using techniques that require strength for successful execution.
Internal/Soft techniques: Deflects an attacker’s force to his or her disadvantage while using minimal power and requiring minimum strength.
Light Kung Fu: The focus on agility and movement.
Qigong: The practice and maintenance of Qi.
Shaolin Kung fu can also include hand-to-hand defense as well as the use of weapons. Weapons such as a staff, spear, broadsword, straight sword, and various other weapons are standard in combat, performance sparring, and daily training in Shaolin Kung fu.
Shaolin boxing is hard, strong, and fast, but according to the Chinese, it is “filled with softness inside.” It is also plain and practical with every action, from attack forms to defense and body posture. One of the Shaolin Kung fu styles, Shaolin boxing, embodies a single word — hard. This style is practiced with both attack and defense forms, but the primary focus is on the attack. It is a beautiful and practical form, with flexible steps and repetitive actions.
Shaolin boxing training teaches the action of forward momentum, retreat motions, and how to react and punch directly in front of you. With this style, it is paramount that the body remains not too straight and to keep all forward and backward motion natural. Foot technique must be stable but flexible, and eye technique requires staring at your opponent’s eyes while practicing calm and quiet breathing. It is said that Shaolin boxing forms need to be “fast as a flash and a spin. Like a turning wheel. A stance like a pine and a jump like a fly.”
Translated into English, tai chi roughly translates as: “supreme boxing,” “the root of all motion,” and “optimal fist fighting.” While it is still considered a martial art, it is unlike any of the other combative styles. Tai chi is based on fluidity, and circular movements and mastery of this art take “the flexibility of a child, the strength of a lumberjack and, eventually, the wisdom of a sage.”
Tai chi embodies the Chinese philosophy that all life is based on life energy or qi. The ultimate purpose of tai chi is to focus on the qi energy force and cultivate its power so it can grow flow smoothly and powerfully throughout the body. Where other Kung Fu Styles are fast and abrupt, tai chi forms incorporate slow movement of the arms and legs that look as if you are gently moving a giant beach ball. These movements are intended to integrate the mind and the body through the control of movements and breathing, focus, and mindfulness.
Many have said that tai chi improves strength, flexibility, fitness, immunity, relieves pain, and enhances the quality of life. Often called “meditation in motion,” there is growing evidence that consistent tai chi training has value in treating and preventing many health problems. Tai chi is a slow and gentle art, but it addresses many critical components of mind and body, making it a great Shaolin Kung fu style to offer you peace and tranquility.
At our Kung Fu Academy, all of our tai chi classes are taught by experienced Shaolin kung fu masters. We specialize in teaching traditional Chinese martial arts to international students, which includes Tai Chi. We also offer an all-inclusive rejuvenating Tai Chi Retreat in China that will help reduce stress and promote health!
Qi Gong (pronounced chee-gong) is an ancient exercise that involves a combination of healing techniques and meditation that is controlled by breathing and movement exercises.
“Qi” means energy, and “Gong” means work. Combined together, this martial arts art is based on the concept of the Qi energy that flows throughout the body. This meditative, self-healing practice is used primarily to focus on improving one’s mental and physical self while practicing through the various forms of martial arts.
Understanding “Qi” is a fundamental part of studying Qi Gong martial arts. While there are many forms of Qi Gong, they are all focused on the importance of “Qi.” Traditional Chinese culture emphasizes that the most basic “Qi” is “Yuan Qi,” which is the origin of all living things. Yuan Qi is an engine for personal growth, metabolism, and physical development. The Yuan Qi is also thought to play an important role in fighting off illnesses and balance, and much of Chinese medicine teaches that life all depends on the proper circulation of Yuan Qi. When you begin to practice this form of martial art, it is vital to focus on the following forms:
Adjust your mind in peace;
Adjust your body into its best condition;
Adjust your breath in balance.
With regular training and persistence, your overall health and form will improve greatly. The persistent practice of Qigong is thought to improve your overall quality of life, and naturally transmute and develop a deeper awareness of your subtle energies.
Sanda, often called “technique fighting” or “striking,” is the concept of two people fighting against each other without the use of weapons. In Sanda, there are four different methods of attacking: kicking, hitting, wrestling, and controlling. Sanda combines these four methods using skill in pose and technique.
The Sanda pose is called the “ready” stance, where the fighter is prepared for combat. Combining movements of step, fist, leg, knee, wrestling, defending, and constant attacks, training Sanda helps keep your body strong and powerful.
Quick reflexes and the use of fast movements to attack or defend, gives a Sanda fighter little of their body to be exposed. The Sanda technique is very effective in protecting the key parts of your body, while you focus on quickly attacking your adversary.
Sanda movements are considered a fighting sport as much as a martial art. However, there are distinct differences that make it stand apart from other styles. Sanda fighting has strict rules to ensure the safety of the two fighters. Sanda training rules state that attacking the back of the head, neck, and crotch of an opponent is prohibited.
Sanda masters will have very fast defensive and offensive reflexes if suddenly attacked. In comparison to an ordinary person, a Sanda athlete has a much higher ability to resist and very quick defensive reactions. Sanda not only improves physical qualities such as strength, endurance, flexibility, and sensitivity but also develops a person’s physical body and improves mental awareness.
Wing Chun, or (Wing Tsun or Yong Chun), is a Chinese internal Southern kung fu style that is said to be created by a female Shaolin Master called Wu Mei. Wing Chun uses the awareness of one’s own body movement that is derived from muscular, tendon, and articular sources (joints). The correct Wing Chun stance is like a piece of bamboo. Firm but flexible. Rooted but yielding. This strong foundational stance is used to either deflect external forces or redirect them.
Wing Chung martial arts has a high, narrow stance. The elbows are kept close to the body and the arms are positioned across the vitals of the centerline. Momentum is carried out within the heels, balls, or middle of the foot. All Wing Chung attacks and counter-attacks stem from a firm, stable base.
Wing Chun form focuses on steady stances, and a variety of force movements. Fists and feet are held close to the body for better protection, as well as to prepare for both attacks and defense at close range. During practice, Yongchun boxers close off their chest, arch the back, close their elbows and knees, draw in their ribs and keep their thighs closed to protect the groin. When they kick to attack, they do not expose their groin, and when they deliver fist blows, their hands do not leave the front of their body.
There are six common Wing Chun forms. Three empty hand forms, one “wooden dummy” form, and two weapons forms. The following forms are:
Siu Nim Tao 小念头; means “little idea” or “little imagination.”
Chum Kiu 寻桥; means “seeking the bridge.” Alternately “sinking bridge.”
Biu Tze 镖指; means “darting fingers.”
Muk Yan Jong 木人桩; means “wooden dummy.”
Baat Jaam Do 八斩刀; means “Eight Chopping/Slashing Knives.”
Luk Dim Boon Gwun 六点半棍; means “Six and A Half Point Pole.”
To learn more about Wing Chung or to actively practice this martial art – you are welcome to train at our academy!
Bagua Palm (Zhang), or the eight-diagram palm, is one of the most popular styles of martial arts in China. Other names for Bagua include Youshen Bagua (roving eight-diagram), Longxing Bagua (dragon-shaped eight-diagram), Xingyi Bagua (Xingyi eight-diagram boxing), Yinyang Bapan Zhang (positive-negative eight-plate palm).
It is one of three Neijia Fists (Neijia Fist means a martial art style that mainly focus on the training and refinement of your spirit, internal energy, and potential). The two main elements in Bagua are the interaction between the palm and feet movements. It combines the internal and concentration of breath with the external form of movements.
There are different stories about the origin of Bagua. Some say it originated among the anti-Qing Dynasty cliques, while others believe that it was created by the two Taoist priests Bi Yun and Jing Yun on Mount Emei, Sichuan Province, during the late Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty and then passed down through its nine generations of practitioners.
The eight-diagram palm is based on the old Chinese philosophy of eight combinations of three whole and broken lines used in divination. While practicing, the practitioner moves according to the eight diagrams. There are eight basic palm plays. A total of 64 palm tricks and moves have come from the original eight basic palm plays. Apart from solo practices, there is also sparring: Sanshou (free sparring) and fighting with weapons, such as Bagua sword play, Bagua saber play, and Bagua cudgel play, and Bagua play of 7-star decorated-shaft, etc. While practicing these routines, practitioners move around like a dragon moving amidst clouds.
Bagua Zhang features dexterity and agility. When moving around, it is like walking in a muddy place, with footsteps changing all the time like running water. Palm tricks and body movements follow one after another. The moves look like endless circles overlapping each other. The body turns around from the waist while walking, moving, turning, rising, and falling. Palm tricks change with the movements of the body. When the upper body protrudes, the lower part of the body squats back to keep balance. When the arms are sent out, the feet draw back. When moving, like a dragon roaming; when squatting, like a tiger sitting; when looking around, like a monkey on the lookout and when moving, like an eagle circling.
Most of Bagua Zhang boxers are found in Hebei Province. Some of them learned Bagua Zhang from scratch from their tutors, while other martial art practitioners asked Bagua masters for advice to improve their skills. Over the years, various routines of exercises have been cultivated in different styles.
Xingyi boxing is known as one of the excellent Chinese traditional internal styles, emphasizing not only on training the body but, crucially, also: the mind. Xingyi is a unity between the external forms and internal energy.
It focuses on the mind dominating Qi and also the physical movements that join body and mind together, as well as Qi cooperating with strength. Through incorporating the physical forms, the concentration of mind with the combination of the internal and external practice, Xingyi is a very effective combat technique. However, it can also improve the learner’s health, cultivate the soul, and prolong one’s life.
Xingyi boxing originated from the Xinyi Liuhe boxing style and formed a unique character of its own. Xingyi boxing came to be well-known as a martial art style after it was created by Li Luoneng in 1856. Xingyi means to imitate the shape (Xing in Chinese) while fully understanding the meaning (Yi in Chinese). It pays much attention to the combination of both inner and outer exercise.
Xingyi boxing uses the Yin and Yang and the five elements theory (Wuxing in Chinese) of Chinese traditional culture to describe the movements. The technique and theory can be summed up by the five elements) metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. The content and theory of the five elements, based on traditional Chinese philosophy, inspired the Xingyi Fist and weapon forms. The five elements correspond to the five forms of Xingyi Fist: Chopping Fist, Beng Fist, Zuan Fist, Pao fist, and Heng’s fist.
In addition, these are 12 shapes of technique: Dragon, Tiger, Monkey, Horse, Crocodile, Bear, Sparrowhawk, Swallow, Eagle, Snake, Cat, and Crane. The movements emphasize six combinations, which include three internal combinations and three external combinations. The “3 Internals” are the combination between “right effort” and consciousness (mind), between the consciousness and the “Internal Qi” and between the “Internal Qi” and Internal strength. The “3 Externals” are the combinations between the hands and the feet, between the elbows and knees and between the shoulders and arms. The main points are having the agile waist of a dragon, the strong shoulders of a bear, the nimble way of an eagle, and to make sound like thunder.
The popular fist forms are Wuxing Continuance fist, Xingyi Eight Poses, 12 Hong Chui, Anshen Chui, Xingyi Continuance fist, Wuxing Continuance broadsword, Wuxing Continuance straight sword, Wuxing Continuance staff, Wuxing Continuous staff, complex staff, Xingyi 13 spear, and some rare weapons like horn sword, antler hoe, and iron chopsticks, etc.
Liang Yi Quan is also known as Tai Yi Quan. The term ‘Liang Yi,’ when literally translated, means ‘chaos.’ Liang Yi is thus based on the notion of that which existed in the universe before the yin-yang balance of complementary forces came into being. Hence, while the yin-yang balance is normally represented by the Tai Ji, the chaos which existed before this balance came into being is reflected in the Liang Yi symbol, in which yin and yang sit apart. As Liang Yi Quan combines fast and slow, soft and hard, and Yin and Yang, it is called the Two Extremes.
In appearance and style, Liang Yi Quan has been referred to as a ‘fast Tai Ji Quan.’ It is a decisive, dominating, and efficient form of Wushu that allows a knowledgeable practitioner to disable an opponent quickly and effectively. Whilst its physical origins are to be found in a combination of Tai Ji and Baguazhang, the theoretical and philosophical basis of the Liang Yi pressure point system lies in a combination of traditional Chinese medicine and the ‘Book of Changes’ (an ancient text which forms part of the basis of traditional Chinese beliefs).
A pressure point is one of the most important parts of Liang Yi Quan. Liang Yi Quan is an internal style of kung-fu originating in ancient China, with roots in traditional Chinese medicine. The pressure point is based on the theories of yin (negative) and yang (positive), and of the five external elements, which are metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. Apart from the Liang Yi Quan pressure point system, all Kung Fu styles based on pressure points have been lost.
At our Kung Fu Academy, we train every one of these styles weekly. If you want to learn about martial arts, each of our classes are taught by experienced Shaolin kung fu masters who specialize in this traditional Chinese martial art. From complete Kungfu novices to a trained martial arts practitioner, your martial arts training plan begins here at Maling Shaolin Kung Fu Academy.