Essence of Shaolin

Second Auntie Catches Crab


Is there a signature or essential pattern / patterns in the Essence of Shaolin set, such as the "Dragon Manifests Miraculous Majesty" pattern in the Dragon-Form Set?

If not, can you tell us which pattern or patters are your favourites in the Essence of Shaolin set, and why?

Sifu Markus Kahila


There are no signature or essential patterns in the Essence of Shaolin set because all the patterns are special. All the patterns are selected to be included in the Essence of Shaolin set because of their special, sophistivated or marvelous combat application.

If any one of the 108 patterns is used in an ordinary set in the same way as it is used in the Essence of Shaolin, that pattern will become a signature or essential pattern.

Take the first pattern of the Essence of Shaolin set, “Show Dragon Conceal Tiger”. This pattern is found in many other kungfu sets in an ordinary way. Most practitioners regard it as a poise pattern. So it is not a signature or essential pattern. But if it is used in the way in Essence of Shaolin, it becomes very special. It will become a signature pattern of that set.

Let us take another pattern, “Dragons Return to Den”, which is found in every kungfu set, often called “Two Tigers at Ready”. It is bringing two hands of a practitioner to his waist after completing a pattern, like bringing back his two hands after a Shaolin greeting at the start of a Shaolin kungfu set. There is nothing special about this movement, so it is not a signature pattern.

But if this pattern, “Dragons Return to Den” or “Two Tigers at Ready”, is used in a special way like in Essence of Shaolin, it becomes a signature pattern. All the patterns in Essence of Shaolin are signature patterns as they are used in very special or sophisticated ways. But because all of them are special by themselves, they become normal when considered as a whole.

We can have an analogy using our school, although other people may think we are being arrogant. As I have mentioned often, that is their problem.

Having chi flow or having internal force is normal in our school. It is nothing special. Every student in our school has chi flow. Every student in our school has internal force.

If a student of our school goes to another school, he becomes very special. No other students in another school have chi flow. No other students have internal force. He is the only one to have chi flow and internal force.

It is the same with Essence of Shaolin. Every pattern in the set is special, but because all the patterns are special, they become normal or common.

In the same way it is not easy for me to identify my favorite patterns in Essence of Shaolin. Because every one of the patterns in the set can be used in a special way, it is not easy for me to say which one is more special.

Moreover, and I really don’t mean to be boastful, I didn’t have to use these patterns in a special way to defeat my opponents in sparring or actual fighting, except in some special occasions like when I used “Hook-Spring Chop Sword” and “Fu Sing Kicks Bushel”, which were special techniques for hook-spring leg and no-shadow kicks.

However, if I have to pick some favorites, I would, quite randomly, mention the following patterns: Show Dragon Conceal Tiger, Second Auntie Catches Crab, and Cross Step Horse-Riding. The first pattern contributes to dim mark, which is regarded as a lost art by many people but is still alive in our school; the second pattern contributes to chin-na, which is one of my specialties; and the third pattern demonstrates the marvelous, causing even opponents to exclaim why they didn’t think of such application before.

The Essence of Shaolin not only enabled me to understand combat application deeply, but to apply techniques in a marvelous way. I can look at any kungfu set, including one that I have not seen before, and tell the combat application of every pattern. Most kungfu practitioners do not know the combat application of most patterns in their sets. I am glad that a few instructors and senior students have this ability. Essence of Shaolin may not be the only kungfu set that develops this ability, but it is certainly very effective in this development.

A more important and deeper benefit of Essence of Shaolin is to apply any kungfu techniques, which may not necessary from Essence of Shaolin, in a marvelous way. There are 108 patterns in Essence of Shaolin, which means there are 108 marvelous ways to apply these techniques! If a practitioner knows just 3 or 4 marvelous ways, he has the material to arrive at the marvelous level, which is the highest level.

The Essence of Shaolin is once-in-a-life-time course, and I do not intend to repeat it.

Essence of Shaolin

Cross-Step Horse-Riding

This question and answer are reproduced from the thread 10 Questions on Essence of Shaolin in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.