Shaolin Kungfu free sparring

The following picture series and video clips are for participants attending the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course conducted by Sifu Wong in Sungai Petani, Malaysia.

The first is our basic Shaolin Kungfu set, called “Lohan Asks the Way”. It comprises of the four main directions of typical hand attacks coming from the top, middle, bottom and sides, and their typical defences. Practicing this set helps students to be precise in their forms, to explode force and to regulate their breathing so that they can be powerful, fast but not out of breath.

The other sets provide the material for combat application training during the course. As the course is very intensive, it will be very helpful if you familiarize yourselves with the sequences, so that you can focus on developing combative skills instead of worrying over how to perform the forms correctly or in the right order.

Shaolin Kungfu Sets:

Shaolin Kungfu Combat Sequences:

Sparring Methodology:

NOTE: You can download the video clips onto your own computer and view them at your leisure. Place your computer pointer at the picture or one of the links, and right click. Choose “Save Target As”. Select the directory or sub-directory where you wish to keep the video clip. Click “Save”.


Lohan Ask the Way

Lohan Asks the Way

“Lohan Asks the Way” is the fundamental set in Shaolin Wahnam where students learn basic hand techniques, body adjustment and footwork. They also learn basic skills like fluidity of movements, breath control and mental focus. In other words, students are introduced to the “six harmonies” right at the start of their kungfu training.

Students should be able to perform this set with correctness of form, flowing force and good speed, and not panting for breath at its completion. In our school enjoying “Flowing Breeze Swaying Willows” at the end of a performance is a signature feature.

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Black Tiger Steals Heart

Black Tiger Steals Heart

“Black Tiger Steals Heart” is the first of the basic combat sequence sets. It is composed of the first four basic combat sequences.

The first sequence is also called “Black Tiger Steals Heart”, named after the most popular attack pattern called “Black Tiger Steals Heart” too. Hence, “Black Tiger Steals Heart” may refer to a pattern, a sequence or a set. The other three sequences are “Poisonous Snake Shoots Venom”, “Precious Duck Swims through Lotus” and “Hang a Golden Star at Corner”.

The “Black Tiger Steals Heart” set enables students to learn and practice all the four directions of attack and defence techniques involving hand strikes.

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Fierce Tiger Speeds Through Valley

Fierce Tiger Speeds through Valley

After learning the fundamental hand attacks and defences in “Black Tiger Steals Heart”, students expand the repertoire of their hand techniques in “Fierce Tiger Speeds Through Valley”.

While the first combat set focuses on the left leg mode, the second focuses on the right leg mode.

Students should pay attention to the “six harmonies” while performing the set, and should not be panting at its completion. The set should be performed in eight breaths, then in four breaths, and for advanced practitioners in two breaths.

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Happy Bird Hops Up Branch

Happy Bird

Kicking techniques are very effective in Shaolin Kungfu, but these kicks are purposely inconspicuous. There are some innate weaknesses when applying kicks which a skilful exponent must be aware of and he must also know how to neutralize them if his opponent exploits these weaknesses.

The “Happy Bird Hops Up Branch” kungfu set is practiced in Shaolin Wahnam to train kicking attacks as well as counters against kicks, and incorporates Combat Sequences 9-12 of our basic combat training programme.

This set is demonstrated by Ronan Sexton of England. You may also view photographs of different patterns in this set.

The size of the video clip is 4570 KB.

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Felling Tree With Roots

Fell Tree with Roots

Many people are not aware that there are more felling techniques in Shaolin Kungfu than in any other martial arts. Throwing an opponent, as in Judo, is only one of numerous categories of felling an opponent to the ground. There are many felling techniques in Shaolin Kungfu whereby the exponent can fell an opponent without having to hold him.

This kungfu set, “Felling Tree With Roots”, which incorporates Combat Sequences 13-16 of our basic combat training programme, focuses on felling techniques and their counters. You may also view photographs of different patterns in this set.

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You will learn how to apply these combat sequences in sparring, as shown in the video clips below.

Combat Sequence Training — Sequences 5 to 8

Combat Sequences 5-8

It is sad that most kungfu practitioners today cannot apply their kungfu forms for sparring or real fighting. Of course kungfu can be used for fighting, although even some kungfu masters today, ironically, think that it cannot be.

What is the secret to kungfu sparring or fighting? Different schools would have different sparring methodologies. In our school combat sequences form the core training.

This video clip shows Mark and Simon, both assistant instructors of Shaolin Wahnam England, practicing the fourth step, “Continuation”, of this sparring methodology, using Combat Sequences 5 to 8. The movements here are pre-arranged.

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Combat Sequence Training — Sequences 9 to 12

Combat Sequences 9-12

Some of those who watched Mark and Simon spar in the video clip Combat Sequence Training — Sequences 5 to 8 may wonder why they did not use any kicks. The reason was that that combat training session was meant to train hand attacks and defences.

Then, how would one defend against kicks? A student at this stage would not be able to do so effectively because he has not been trained yet. Training in kicking attacks and defences is in the next stage, Combat Sequences 9 to 12, as shown in this video clip. Here, as in the earlier Combat Sequences 5 to 8, all the moves are pre-arranged.

Can these students defend themselves if their opponents attack them randomly? Not likely because again they have not been trained yet. Random attacks and defences will be trained at a later stage. Such stage by stage progression is a key factor in systematic combat training, which will eventually lead to effective free sparring and real fighting. Going straight to free sparring without systematic preparation is a sure way to fight like children.

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Shaolin 16 Basic Combat Sequences

shaolin Basic Combat Sequences

It is amazing but true that all our Shaolin and Taijiquan students can apply their kungfu patterns spontaneously and correctly for combat. Intellectually there is nothing amazing about this fact. If one practices Shaolin Kungfu or Taijiquan, of course he would be able to apply Shaolin Kungfu or Taijiquan for combat.

But it is not the case today. Most Shaolin and Taijiquan practitioners today, including advanced practitioners, cannot use what they have learnt in Shaolin Kungfu or Taijiquan for combat! The situation has become so ridiculous that some instructors even say that if you cannot take some punches and kicks, how can you practice a martial art. This, of course, is not true. The very reason why one practices a martial art, any martial art, is not to be hit at all. The key in our ability to apply our Shaolin Kungfu or Taijiquan for combat lies in our combat sequences.

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Transition from Pre-Arranged to Free Sparring

kungfu sparring

Many martial art students today make a big mistake thinking that free sparring is the way, often the only way, to learn how to fight. In all kungfu history, this was not so. Going straight to free sparring without systematic preparation is a sure way to fight like children. There are a few progressive steps between set practice and free sparring. Pre-arranged sparring as shown by Mark and Simon in Combat Sequences 5 to 8 and Combat Sequences 9 to 12 is one of these steps.

Having familiarized themselves with the appropriate skills and techniques to meet typical combat situations, students progress to a series of transitional stages where control over pre-arranged patterns is gradually released. One effective method we use in Shaolin Wahnam to achieve this purpose is what we call “Addition and Subtraction”, as shown in this video clip taken impromptu when Nicky and Hubert (both from Shaolin Wahnam England) practiced sparring on a windy winter morning by the side of beautiful Lake Killanary in Ireland in February 2005.

Is the sparring free or pre-arranged? It depends on the stage of development. The method can be programmed to range from totally pre-arranged at a beginners' stage to totally free at an advanced stage. This video clip shows the beginners' stage, where only some of the movements are free.

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Free Sparring at Shaolin Wahnam UK

free sparring

Free sparring practice by students at Shaolin Wahnam UK. The two in the foreground are Tim (left) and Gary (right). The combatants attack with only hand strikes because they have not been sufficiently trained yet to use kicks, throws and grips.

A basic tenet in Shaolin Wahnam is that in combat, apply what you have been well trained. All the students shown here have trained for about 10 months, and the techniques they use in the free sparring, where none of the movements are pre-arranged, are derived form our Shaolin Wahnam Combat Sequences 1-8. Their sparring is similar because they are at a similar level of development. As they progress they will have individual differences or preferences in their sparring as they widen or deepen their skills and techniques. Later we can see how this progression takes place as Emiko and Michael select techniques from their specialized kungfu sets for sparring.

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Important Note

You need not be worried over the abundance of material shown here. If you can have some idea of the form and sequence of the combat sequences sets below, you will be fairly well prepared for the combat training programme of the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course.

As you will be doing a lot of sparring, it will be helpful if you spend some time practicing your Horse-Riding Stance and your Golden Bridge .

Nevertheless, even if you for any reasons could not prepare yourselves well for the about sets and force training exercise, don't worry. Just attend the course and do your best. The fact that you have been accepted means that you qualify. The real learning happens at the course.


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