Kungfu Styles

Chinese Kungfu (Martial Arts or Gongfu or Wushu) is a series of fighting styles which has developed over the centuries in China. Although being fighting styles, Kungfu advocates virtue and peace, not aggression or violence. This has been the common value upheld by martial artists from generation to generation. With a number of movement sets, boxing styles, weapon skills and some fighting stunts, Kungfu keeps its original function of self-defense. Now its value in body-building and fitness is also highly appreciated.

All of the following styles of Chinese Kungfu are part of our weekly training schedule. However, some of them are offered in optional classes, but all of them can be trained full-time if you wish to.

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Shaolin Boxing Kung Fu Style

Shaolin Boxing

Shaolin boxing is hard, strong, fast and according to the Chinese it is “filled with softness inside.” It is also plain and practical with every action, both attack and defense as well as in pose. As the old saying goes: practice in a place where only a cow can lie; such is shaolin boxing, you’re not limited by the place and its size.

The shaolin style embodies a word — hard. It is practiced with both attack and defense, but mostly attack. The form is not only beautiful, but also practical. The steps are flexible. Shaolin teaches you actions forward, actions of retreat, reaction and to punch directly in front of you. On body and fist, it is required that the arm is not too straight and to keep all the forward and backward motion natural. The foot technique must be stable and flexible, the eye technique requires staring at the opponent’s eyes and for the breathing, the Qi should be “down to your dan tian'” before the Qi is released. “The action is as fast as a flash, a spin- like a turning wheel, a stance like pine and jump like a fly.”


Tai Chi (Taiji)

Translated into English, tai chi roughly translates as: “supreme boxing,” “the root of all motion,” and “optimal fist fighting.” It is considered a martial art, but unlike the most combative styles, tai chi is based on fluidity and circular movements. Tai chi masters say that this gentle dance develops the flexibility of a child, the strength of a lumberjack and, eventually, the wisdom of a sage.

Tai chi embodies the Chinese idea that all life is based on life energy, or qi. Many tai chi forms incorporate movement of the arms as though one is gently holding a big beach ball of chi. Based on the Chinese world view, tai chi divides qi into two equal, opposite and complementary parts, yin and yang.  Tai chi incorporates the yin-yang unity of opposites in many ways, for example, during tai chi routines, the weight shifts repeatedly from one leg to the other and the arms move in opposite, yet complementary directions.


Chi Kung (Qigong)

Qi Gong is an ancient Chinese energy (Qi) practice. Qi means energy, Gong means work. It is based on the concept of Qi energy which flows through the body. It is used for both medical and health purposes and to improve ones martial arts practice. Most Qi Gong is now a mixture between Taoist & Buddhist energy cultivation practices. Qi Gong is a self-healing art that combines movement and meditation.

When speaking of Qi Gong, firstly, we should understand what the essence of “Qi” is. There are many kinds of “Qi,” but Chinese traditional culture emphasizes that the most basic one is “Yuan Qi” – the origin of all living things. Yuan Qi is an engine or an anchor for human’s growth, metabolism and physical development. Yuan Qi also plays an important role in fighting off illnesses. So Chinese medicine teaches that the life all depends on the circulation of Qi.

Qi Gong is founded on a whole life outlook, related to the law of nature. When practicing it, you mainly take the initiative of your own consciousness .The content includes 3 adjustments: to adjust your mind in peace, to adjust your body into the best condition and to adjust your breath in balance .If you keep training regularly and persisting, gradually the function of many parts of your body will be greatly enhanced and step by step, your health condition will be improved. The practice is able to improve quality of life, and naturally transmute and develop a deeper awareness of subtle energies.

Qi Gong and Kung Fu

All great Kung Fu makes use of energy training (chi kung) to develop internal force, without which it remains at the external, mechanical level, considered by Chinese martial artists as rather rough and inferior. Kung fu training with qi gong enhances harmonious chi flow, thus promoting health, vitality and longevity.

Qi Gong and Zen

There are three aspects in all types of qi gong, namely: form (xing), energy (qi) and mind. If you practice only the form, without the energy and mind dimensions, you are merely performing physical exercise; strictly speaking not qi gong, for there is no training of energy. For an effective control of energy, you have to enter what is called in modern terms a Zen state of mind. In the past, this was called “entering Zen”(ru chan) or “entering silence”(ru ding).

When you are in Zen or a meditative state of mind, you can, among other things, tap energy from the cosmos and direct that energy to flow into wherever you want in your body. It is this mind aspect of qi gong, even more than its energy aspect,  that enables qi gong masters to perform what lay people would think of as miraculous, or, depending on their attitude, fakery.

Qi Gong styles

Dynamic Qi gong, static Qi gong, dynamic and static Qi gong.
Dynamic Qigong means to combine the body’s moves with mind and to breath to achieve a peaceful mind through a moving body. The usually practiced forms in the Shaolin Temple are Ba Duan Jin, Yi Jin Jing and Xi Sui Jing.
Static Qigong uses standing, sitting and posing postures to combine the practicing mind, and high speed breath. The mind practices to gain, calculate, and control qi. This form of qi gong can be practiced through meditating standing still, in the sitting lotus position or through a meditation in pose.
Dynamic and static Qigong is based on static Qi gong, to use qi and blood to drive the body to move or even jump high and fly.

The practice of Qi Gong has three requirements.

1. Regulating your breathing (breath naturally)
2. Controlling your mind (get rid of your distracting thoughts)
3. Regulate your body (keep your body coordinated naturally)

Benefits of Qi Gong
According to Chinese medicine, practicing chi kung can cure as well as prevent all kinds of illness, including diseases like asthma, diabetes, hypertension and cancer which are generally considered “incurable” by conventional medicine. Practicing chi kung is also very effective for overcoming psychological problems.

There are many wonderful benefits derived from practising Shaolin Cosmos Qi Gong:
Curing illness and promoting health.
Enhancing vitality and developing internal force.
Promoting youth and longevity.
Expanding the mind and the intellect. Spiritual cultivation.

In a word, practising Qi gong can strengthen your body and mind, which can help you in combat or competition . The longer you practice, the more Qi you will obtain.

photo of Sanda Chinese boxing


Sanda, ‘Chinese Kickboxing’, is also called Sanshou ,which roughly translates as “actual combat”. In the past, Chinese called it “technique fighting” or “striking”. The simple concept of Sanda is two people fighting against each other without weapons.

The four attacking methods are Kicking, Hitting, Wrestling, and Controlling. Sanda combines using skill in pose and technique. The Sanda pose is normally called a “ready” stance, where the fighter is prepared for combat. Training in Sanda can help you keep your body in powerful condition, and develops the quickest of reflexes. The skill of Sanda is in combining movements of Step, Fist, Leg, Knee, Wrestling, Defending and Constant attacking.

Making use of fast movements to attack or defend, the fighter leaves little of their body exposed, very effective in protecting the key parts of your body and all the time, your eyes focus on the upper body of your adversary.

The movements of Sanda are that of a fighting art, however it is distinct from fighting martial arts that cause injury and disabilities. Sanda has strict rules to ensure the safety of the two fighters. Rules state that attacking the back of the head, neck and crotch of the opponent is prohibited. In Sanda, you are allowed to exercise the skills of different Wushu schools.

After long-term training, having mastered Sanda skills a Sanda practitioner will have very fast defensive and offensive reflexes if suddenly attacked. In comparison to an ordinary person, a Sanda athlete has a much higher resisting ability. Sanda not only improves physical qualities such as strength, endurance, flexibility, and sensitivity but also develops people’s health both physically and mentally. Sticking to the training makes the body strong and strengthens bones and muscles.


Wing Chun (Yongchun)

Wing Chun (Wing Tsun or Yong Chun) is a splendid Chinese internal southern kung fu style. It is said Wing Chun was created by a female Shaolin Master called Wu Mei. She was also a great master in Shaolin white crane style. In Qing Dynasty (1644—1911), the Southern Shaolin Temple was set on fire by the government. Five great Shaolin Martial Artists (Wu Mei, Zhi Shan, Bai Mei, Feng Dao De and Miao Xian) managed to fight the enemy and escape. In order to avoid the Persecution for the government, Wu Mei hid in the DaLiang Mountain, which is situated on the boarder of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. In this duration, she kept practicing Kung fu. Occasionally she saw a snake and crane fight which enlightened her, so that she created her own unique style on this basis. Later on, she passed this style to Yan Yong Chun (Yim Wing Chun). After Wing Chun gained this, she systematized it and widely spread the form. Then people named this style Wing Chun to memorize her.

Wing Chun trains the awareness of one’s own body movement derived from muscular, tendon, and articular sources. A correct Wing Chun stance is like a piece of bamboo, firm but flexible, rooted but yielding. This structure is used to either deflect external forces or redirect them. Wing Chun favors a high, narrow stance with the elbows kept close to the body. Within the stance, arms are positioned across the vitals of the center line. Shifting or turning within a stance is carried out on the heels, balls, or middle of the foot depending on lineage. All attacks and counter-attacks are initiated from this firm, stable base.

Wing Chun features: steady stances, generation of forces, three tricks with six forces, fists playing close to one’s own body, usage of explosive power, stressing on real combat, focusing on completion of movements, combination of offence and defense by forcing up or crushing down the fists or feet from the opposing side. This style of Chuan emphasizes speed of play, keeping fists and feet close to one’s body for better protection, as well as to prepare for attacks and fighting the opponent at close range. When fighting, Yongchun boxers contain their chest, arch the back, close their elbows and knees, draw in their ribs, keep their thighs closed to protect the groin. When they use their feet for attack, they must also use their hands in cooperation. When they kick they do not expose their groin and when they deliver fist blows, their hands do not leave the front of their body.

What’s commonly seen are six Wing Chun forms: three empty hand forms, one “wooden dummy” form, and two weapons forms.

  • 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; “darting fingers”.
  • Muk Yan Jong 木人桩; “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”.

Read much more about the history of Wing Chun and Wing Chun at the academy »

Ba Gua

Bagua Plam (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 fists 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 sabre 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 moving around looks like endless circles overlapping each another. The body turns around from the waist during 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.


Xing Yi

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 Mind dominating Qi, the physical movements and mind join together and 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’s creation by Li Luoneng in 1856. Xingyi means to imitate the shape (Xing in Chinese) while fully understand 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 movement regulations. The technique and theory can be summed up by the 5 elements) metal, wood, water, fire and earth. The content and theory of the 5 elements, based on traditional Chinese philosophy, inspired the Xingyi Fist and weapon forms. The 5 elements correspond to the 5 forms of Xingyi Fist: Chopping Fist, Beng Fist, Zuan Fist, Pao Fist and Heng 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 6 combinations, which includes 3 internal combinations and 3 external combinations. The “3 Internals” are namely 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 shoulder of a bear, the nimble way of an eagle and 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 Continuance staff, complex staff, Xingyi 13 spear, and some rare weapons like horn sword, antler hoe and iron chopsticks etc.


Liang Yi

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 part. 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 which 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 for traditional Chinese beliefs).

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. 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. Besides the Liang Yi Quan pressure point system, all Kung Fu styles based on pressure points have been lost.