Shaolin Kung Fu
Many people will have heard of Shaolin Kung Fu as the name is steeped in the history and deepest origins of the martial arts. It refers to a collection of martial arts in China and these martial arts have an association with the Shaolin Monastery. There were thousands of Kung fu styles, although from this vast number, possibly only a few hundred are truly associated with the Shaolin.
In the 1970's, a television series was launched called Kung Fu and this depicted the story of an exiled young monk on the run, this monk was played by David Carradine although it was originally meant to be played by Bruce Lee who later went on to increase the popularity of martial arts in general with a succession of martial arts films, the series Kung Fu however, brought the Shaolin movement to the fore.
The Kung fu student has to have a strong mental and physical discipline and this aspect is an integral part of the Shaolin way. The student would learn how to defend himself against almost impossible situations; through study of the first basic fist sets and the movements would become more and more complex as the student progressed.
Shaolin Kung Fu is divided into two main areas and that is:
The Northern Shaolin styles- Black Crane, Black Tiger and the Northern Praying Mantis.
The Southern Shaolin styles –White Crane, Dragon and Southern Praying Mantis.
Many of the styles mimic the behaviour and movements of animals, the dragon movements for example were to develop concentration and alertness within the student and did not rely on the strength or power of that individual, instead the emphasis was on the breath, deep abdominal breathing coupled with mind, body and spirit coordination.
There are combinations of different systems which incorporate these individual styles and these can be depicted then as per the following:
Full High Systems
Lower High Systems
Higher Low Systems
Kung fu is a wonderful martial art to watch and an intricate and exciting martial art to learn. Shaolin Kung Fu is a complex combination of styles coupled with breathing and the development of mind, body and spirit. For the devout student, it provides an inner contentment coupled with knowledge and physical fitness and is more a way of life than merely a set of exercises and as such, to gain the maximum from the style, the student should be dedicated and willing to open up to learn life as from the Shaolin principle.