Shaolin Training Forms: Taolu and Dui Da


The following films are a few examples of traditional Shaolin Taolu and Dui Da.



About Shaolin Form Training

Forms or taolu (Chinese: 套路; pinyin: tào lù) in Chinese are series of predetermined movements and principles grouped with combat logic in mind so they can be practiced as one linear set of movements.  Forms are intended to preserve the lineage of a particular style, designed to contain both the key principles and representative techniques which can be extracted and trained by students. 


There are two general types of forms in Chinese martial arts. The first those which are performed by a single person, the second type is are "contact" forms which are choreographed fighting sets performed by two or more people. Sparring forms were designed both to acquaint fighters with basic measures and concepts of combat, and as in the case of weapons, safe ways to develop skills in otherwise lethal techniques. 


The term “taolu (套路)”is a shorten version of the term: “Tao Lu Yun Dong (套路运动)”. In traditional Chinese martial arts 'sets or forms are

divided into three categories:

 ▪ lian quan tao (練拳套) – practicing sequence of fist, also called, lian quan jiao (練拳腳) – practicing fists and feet;

 ▪ lian bing qi (練兵器) – practicing weapons;

 ▪ dui da (對打) and dui lian (對練) – fighting sets. These include three types: barehand vs barehand; weapon vs weapon and; barehand vs weapon.


Traditional contact sets, called dui da, 對打 or, dui lian, 對練, were an important part of Chinese martial arts for centuries. Dui lian (對練), literally means, to train by a pair of combatants opposing each other (the character l練, means to practice; to train; to perfect one's skill; to drill). As well, often one of these terms are also included in the name of fighting sets: 雙演, shuang yan, 'paired practice'; 掙勝, zheng sheng, 'to struggle with strength for victory'; 敵, di, ' match – the character suggests to strike an enemy; and 破, po, 'to break'. Generally there are 21, 18, 12, 9 or 5 drills or 'exchanges/groupings' of attacks and counter attacks, in each dui lian, 對 練 set. These drills are considered only generic patterns and never meant to be considered inflexible 'tricks'. Students practiced smaller parts/exchanges, individually with opponents switching sides in a continuous flow. 

© 2012 by Honan Shaolin (Cultrual & Historical) Association