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scohen0300
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2022 3:39 pm    Post subject: Can someone explain Shaolin Kung Fu? Reply with quote

Iíve never been able to figure out what exactly Shaolin consists of. I know thereís a LOT, but can someone lay out what a curriculum or syllabus might look like? Could you include names of forms? Does it consist of different styles, like the animal styles?

For example, hereís my old karate syllabus. If you could share what the equivalent of it would be for Shaolin Kung Fu, or share a source, I would really appreciate it

Kihon
- punching
- ďblockingĒ
- kicking
Kata
- Fukyugata 1-2
- Pinan 1-5
- Naihanchi 1-3
- more advanced kata, etc
Kumite
- Yakusoku Kumite 1-7
- Applications, etc
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bushido_man96
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2022 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What Shaolin is now, and what it may have been before, are probably two different things. From what I understand, I think the Chinese government pretty much controls what Shaolin is now, and hence I believe who gets to accepted to learn it is limited by the government in some way.
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scohen0300
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Joined: 09 Feb 2016
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2022 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well thatís interesting.

Do you happen to know what ANY version of Shaolin consists of? Names of styles? Names of forms? Thatís more of what Iím looking for.
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bushido_man96
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2022 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's not something I've done much in-depth studying on. I may have read some history at some point, but anything out there now isn't really anything I'm interested in.
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Wado Heretic
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2022 5:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a student who studied Shaolin Quan'fa in China, though not at the Temple, but in Henan Province. From what I can gather, Shaolin is an umbrella term for a huge amount of distinct styles and systems, which have become collected into the Shaolin Temple. You are not going to find a "Shaolin Style" equivalent to how we categorise other systems.

According to the literature, which is not propaganda, the modern Shaolin is largely a reconstruction effort. Its modern content largely follows what was identified as "Shaolin" by the Central Guoshu Institute in the 1920s, and the Northern Shaolin of the Chin Woo Athletic Association. This is because former members of those organisations were the leading force in returning martial arts practices to the Temple when it was permitted.

The only syllabus I can find of a Shaolin System is that of Ku Yu Cheung. Which admittedly strikes me as akin to the effort by WŠng Xiāngzhāi, in his creation Yiquan, to synthesise the essential aspects of the arts called Shaolin without really being THE Shaolin style.
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tatsujin
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2022 7:13 pm    Post subject: Re: Can someone explain Shaolin Kung Fu? Reply with quote

scohen0300 wrote:
Iíve never been able to figure out what exactly Shaolin consists of. I know thereís a LOT, but can someone lay out what a curriculum or syllabus might look like? Could you include names of forms? Does it consist of different styles, like the animal styles?

For example, hereís my old karate syllabus. If you could share what the equivalent of it would be for Shaolin Kung Fu, or share a source, I would really appreciate it

Kihon
- punching
- ďblockingĒ
- kicking
Kata
- Fukyugata 1-2
- Pinan 1-5
- Naihanchi 1-3
- more advanced kata, etc
Kumite
- Yakusoku Kumite 1-7
- Applications, etc


Assuming that you are referring to the Northern Shaolin Temple....

It would be difficult to quantify all that is and has been taught at Shaolin. In recorded history, the have been (I believe) of 1,000 arts recorded at Shaolin. Obviously, not all of them are still being taught and some of them have died out over the many years they have been around. That number is much smaller now and would consist of empty handed, weapons and qigong work (in, of course, addition to Chan Buddhism - 禅 as well as Traditional Chinese Medicine).

Shaolin seems to be a bit of an umbrella that took in most martial systems and it has even been written that Shaolin was the "mother" of all martial arts.

Often you will read or see folks making a difference in Chinese martial arts referred to as neijia (內家) or internal arts and waijia (外家) or external arts. Many define this distinction as having to do with whether or not the arts are "internal" as in the use of qi or "external" as in the use of li (physical skills or force/power). While this can be correct in specific contexts, the division really has to do with whether or not the arts are internal or external to China. The arts from Shaolin (and comprises almost all arts taught in China) are considered external as the original skills developed at Shaolin were based upon knowledge brought to China from India. Who did this is a whole other can of worms, so I will leave that one alone! LOL! Neijia, by the way, would be primarily the arts Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan...as well as arts that developed from them (i.e. Yiquan from Xingyiquan). Some add other arts like Bajiquan, etc. But that is another topic for discussion and debate. Basically, those are the internal (to China) based arts with direct links to Taoism.

If you are looking for specific arts taught at Shaolin, then the two oldest would probably be Luohanquan (羅漢拳) which is Arhat Fist (Arhat being in Buddhism a person who has reached a state of perfection and enlightenment) and Hongquan (洪拳) of Flood Fist/Boxing. And even that system is broken down in sub-systems.

When you say you are looking for an equivalent to the mini curriculum you posted, do you mean you are looking for something that might have directly influenced your art or are you looking for an art from Shaolin that has a similar type of break down? Maybe if you were to post more specifically as to what you are looking for, I or someone else could help you further.

Most Chinese martial arts are going to be broken down into the kinds of categories that you list. Jibengong (基本功) would be similar to kihon as those are the basic fundamental skills. They also have taolu (套路) or forms/katas. Free fighting would fall under sanda (散打) or combative methods (more along the lines of oyo combined with kumite if you will). Some have weapons included some have weapons only, so akin to kobudo. And most include some form or another of qigong or kiko (energetic work). And, all of those things are going to be style specific.

If you are looking for an art that is going to be a specific influence on your art, then you would need to look to Southern China. The arts taught there would be a more direct influence on Okinawan arts (and therefore Japanese arts). While the arts taught there may share a history with those taught at the Northern Shaolin Temple, they would still be some changes and variations. I don't know of any of the old Okinawan masters that ever made it out of Southern China and had exposure to strictly Northern based arts. Perhaps someone can correct me on that.

So, again, knowing what you are specifically looking for would be of more help I think. My knowledge and information on Chinese arts is limited mainly to the neijia or internal arts...with the exception of being a bit of a history buff and reading alot. If you can be more specific, I'd be happy to take another swing at answering you or reaching out to folks I know that are much more knowledgable.

Sorry to not be of more help to you.
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Appledog
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2022 3:11 am    Post subject: Re: Can someone explain Shaolin Kung Fu? Reply with quote

If you look deep into the history and read widely what you will find is that the Shaolin Temple was a sort of nexus point for martial arts; a hub. But it was not the only one. A lot of places were like smaller Shaolin temples. What would happen is travelers would visit Shaolin, and other similar places and would share their martial arts in exchange for learning. The temple martial arts would then be disseminated, albeit slowly, among the local villages.

Then you will find that the fall of the Ming dynasty aroused a sort of panic and "monks" began travelling into the population and spreading martial arts. For whaever reason, let's leave that aside for now It is for this reason however that there is an explosion in martial arts knowledge in the 1600s.

You will find this again in the 1800s as the Qing begins to fall.

Thus, what Shaolin is, is what it was; an ecclectic system of evolving theories and practices. It's difficult to put a finger on everything. There were different parts of it that even contained different groups. If you want to know what was taught in Shaolin there are a few reflections of it that you can take a look at. One famous example is Five Animals Hung Gar. Another is White Crane (ex. Feeding Crane in Taiwan).

The problem is that what it was, was so large and fluid that it was more about being there or being around there, at the time, than it being packaged into something saleable. What was passed down today was merely a snapshot of one person's training -- a reflection -- a memory. If you go to something like hung gar your looking at five animals shaolin, for example. Thats old technology, but not as ancient as 72 methods. Praying mantis would be a relatively newer development after this, as would eagle claw, so both of those frequently include tantui as a beginner's form. (IIRC sometime in the 1700s Muslim 10 roads Tantui got adopted by Shaolin as a beginner's form).

If you wanted to try and reconstruct it, I would almost give up hope. All roads lead "somewhere" here, so just pick some art like praying mantis which appeals to you and learn the snapshot of the prevailing trends of that era. Since praying mantis is relatively late, 1800s, and still retains the main ideas in the same vein (in general) it might be a good place to start. Hung Gar is another great shining star. But there are so many. I chose Chen Tai Chi. A little further off the beaten path but it's still a pencil.
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