Northern or Southern, Internal or External?

Baguazhang, demonstrated here by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit, is often considered an internal style of kung fu. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

Baguazhang, demonstrated here by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit, is often considered an internal style of kung fu. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

Someone asked the very good question of what kung fu system would be best for them. Naturally, this is informed by many factors such as what you want to get out of kung fu, what you are willing to put up with, if a master is willing and able to teach you, etc. Here is what I replied with:

Continue reading

Does form follow function or function follow form?

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit demonstrating Black Tiger Steals Heart. Many generations worth of lessons and fighting experiences were crystallized into this basic pattern. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit demonstrating Black Tiger Steals Heart. Many generations worth of lessons and fighting experiences were crystallized into this basic pattern. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

We had a great discussion on G+’s martial artist forums regarding the question posed above. On the kung fu side of things, first there was random and haphazard fighting. Eventually, people figured out (and more importantly, passed on) the idea that certain ways of moving and fighting were better for their purposes; folks moved from the typical “boxing” jabs and hooks to crystallized kung fu patterns like Black Tiger Steals Heart (a level punch to the chest at the Bow-Arrow stance) or Hang a Golden Star at Corner (a punch to the side of the temple at the Bow-Arrow stance) because of certain advantages (a protected groin, more agile footwork, and being able to use waist rotation to generate and send spiral force from the abdomen into the opponent to deal injury).

Continue reading

The historical relationship between Eagle Claw and Xingyiquan

Golden Leopard Trains Claws, an exercise from the Eighteen Lohan Art force training set used by many Northern Shaolin kung fu systems, including Eagle Claw kung fu. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

Golden Leopard Trains Claw from the Eighteen Lohan Art set, from which internal force training in Eagle Claw kung fu is derived. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

One of my kung fu “uncles” has been on a Youtube uploading frenzy lately and recently compiled the Fifty Sequences of Eagle Claw kung fu as practiced in Shaolin Wahnam to his Youtube account: 
鷹爪五十路連拳 50 Sequences of Eagle Claw Kung Fu

Continue reading

Hidden salutes in Eagle Claw kung fu?

Eagle Claw kung fu is a famous style of Northern Shaolin kung fu and was developed by the great general Yue Fei in the Song dynasty for use by his soldiers. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

Eagle Claw kung fu is a famous style of Northern Shaolin kung fu and was developed by the great general Yue Fei in the Song dynasty for use by his soldiers. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

A discussion on the G+ martial artist forums turned towards Eagle Claw kung fu. One master contributed his insight into the classical set “50 Sequences of Eagle Claw” and we had a brief discussion about military versus temple systems of kung fu:

Continue reading

Developing and exploding force in kung fu

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit teaching the horse riding stance, perhaps the most important and fundamental exercise in all of kung fu. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit teaching the horse riding stance, perhaps the most important and fundamental exercise in all of kung fu. Force must be developed before it can be used for combat. You wouldn’t try shooting an empty gun, would you? Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

A discussion on the G+ forums back in 2013 May led to the subject of fa jing, or “exploding force.” This is the usual term used by kung fu practitioners to describe manifesting their force in various ways, usually an explosive or powerful strike.

Continue reading