Our Shaolin tradition has its roots in Shaolin Monastery in Honan Province, China. Its martial art includes both barehand combat and ancient handheld weapons practice and is referred to as Shaolin Wushu 少林武術 translated as Shaolin 'martial techniques' or 'military techniques'.
Only in recent years, since about 1965, the term 'wushu' has come to represent the artistic demonstration sport in China and worldwide. However, our use of the word, which has been used for centuries in China*, refers to 'marital methods. Wushu literally means "martial art". It is formed from the two Chinese characters 武術: 武 (wǔ), meaning "martial" or "military" and 術 or 术 (shù), which translates into "method", "technique", or "skill".
This tradition of Shaolin Wushu from Honan Province (河南) has a broad frame. It includes techniques, strategies, training methods, theories, and principles designed to teach and improve combat-related fighting capabilities in hand-to-hand and handheld weapon combat, focusing on efficacy and application throughout the spectrum of violence up to and including deadly force using weapons and 'pressure points'. For this reason, and integral to this tradition is its ethical code. Since ancient times, Shaolin wushu also includes an amalgam of self-defense, the development of physical and mental toughness, health practice, and a code of moral behavior toward others.
Broadly, Shaolin wushu training and practice includes:
Shaolin Neigong: includes the following three practices. The first is involves a specific types of diaphragmatic breathing and is practiced in a seated position Zuo Chan 麟禪. Its purpose is to calm the mind and to accumulate Qi (internal energy). The second practice is Yi Jin Jing 易筋經 a series of subtle movements designed to move Qi to the extremities. The third is Shaolin Lohan Qi Gong 少林羅漢氣功, a series of slow movements to develop martial Qi or “useful qi.”
Ji Ben Dong Zuo 基本動作 Basic Skills
Shaolin basics, the absolute, indispensable base, and foundation, include stretching, drills, training to strengthen and toughen the body, sandbag punching (Da Sha Bao 打沙包), finger thrusting (Cha Shou Zhi 插手指), sandbag snatching (Zhua Sha Bao 抓沙包), stone seizing ( Shi Zhua 柯謬), as well as other methods, to develop the ability to evade, strike with sudden heavy strength, to seize, and the 18 basics kicks.
Lian Quan Tao 練拳套: Barehand Sets/Drills
Lian Quan Tao - ‘practice sequence of ‘fists/hands”; also called Lian Quan Jiao 練拳腳 - ‘practicing fists and feet.’ Generally, Shaolin kung fu sets are structured in sections/parts or roads with techniques arranged in a line, so the practitioner travels back and forth as they practice the sets.
Lian Bing Qi 練兵器: Weapon Sets/drills
Lian Bing Qi - Weapons sets. These routines involve using more than 50 ancient Chinese weapons, with origins in the Tang, Song, and Yuan dynasties.
Dui Da 對打: partner sets/drills
Dui Da and Dui Lian 對練 partner sets/drills.
These drills are the 'bridge' training to combat in reality. The evident and principle characteristic of these 'fighting' drills is practical usage and includes – Barehand vs. Barehand, Weapons vs. Weapons, and Barehand vs. Weapons. Within this tradition of Shaolin, these partner drills represent an extensive part of the curriculum content and an indispensable part of training.
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