‘Longfist’ Kung Fu
Shaolin Longfist Kung Fu owes its origin ultimately to the ancient battlefields of Northern China. The same notions of striking, stabbing, sweeping and cutting etc at long-range were extensively systemized and codified at Bei Shaolin Si, the Northern or ‘Grandfather’ Shaolin Temple for over 150 years, before their first open display at the start of the Tang Dynasty,
The Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) apogee of Chinese Culture to date owed its existence to the Shaolin Temple’s support of Emperor-to-be Li Shi-Min whose far-sighted generalship is redolent of Shaolin long-range thinking. General Zhao Kuang-Yin, who established the Sung Dynasty (960-1279 CE) acknowledged as the founder of Nothern Shaolin Longfist Kung Fu, was similarly Shaolin trained.
Kung Fu Forms
Forms, predetermined sets of inter-connected Kung Fu moves, embodying certain themes or particular aspects of their parent style, are an essential aspect of Kung Fu training. Varying in length from less than 30 to more than 300 moves, Forms become more sophisticated, advanced and demanding as Students progress with an entire Section of Kung Fu Contests devoted to Forms Competition.
Sometimes described as the ‘Spirit of Kung Fu’ Forms repeated performance imprints Students’ Technique with the parent style’s fundamentals. Demanding recall of long sequences and their accurate physical performance, Forms are also renowned for invigorating the mind and sharpening the intellect, whether individuals are at School, College, work or in retirement. Through Form practice coordination and balance are acquired, kicks, blocks and hand-strikes are ‘polished’, speed, stamina and flexibility enhanced and body, mind and breath linked together until they operate as one. Northern Shaolin Longfist forms usually embody the extended circular movements, power and, athleticism that typify the style.
Lien Bu Chuan/’Continuous Step Sequence’
Developed Circa 1910 by Huo Yuen-Jia (played most notably by Jet Li in ‘Fearless’) at the Chin Woo (‘Pure Spirt’) Association in Shanghai. Lien Bu Chuan’s upright stances show its affinity with the Crane. Fighting on-the-move (albeit in straight lines) is emphasised, sometimes against multiple opponents. The form’s success led to its adoption by the Central Kuoshu Institute of Nanjing for Chinese Army Kung Fu Training purposes. The opening and closing salutes reveal its Northern Shaolin origins, representing the Northerners’ custom of tying up and untying their long tunics before and after Kung Fu practice, whilst the moves in-between are full of kicking, striking and Qin Na applications.
Gung Li Chuan/ ‘Power Training Sequence’
Gung Li Chuan, also known as ‘Power-Training Sequence’, like Lien Bu Chuan, a basic training Form at Huo Yuen-Jia’s Chin Woo Association, was similarly selected by Chinese Military Authorities for Army-Training purposes. However, the Form was created by Chao Lian (1657 – 1748) during the early part of the Qing Dynasty. Gung Li Chuan’s deep stances help to develop lower body strength and endurance:
“Zuo fu mian, Heu hu tuo xin, Xia da zai hu xi qian.”
“Sweep left-face, Black Tiger Steals the Heart, Double fists hammer downwards to stop knee.”
Thus runs Verse 3 of ‘The Song of Northern Gung Li Chuan’, describing moves 5-8 of this classic, flowing ‘Longfist’ Form. Apart from its dynamic strength and stamina-enhancing qualities, and a certain aesthetic appeal, Gung Li Chuan also has curative and health-giving properties and is conducive to longevity!
Many films have depicted Huo Yuen-Jia’s untimely death and the way his Senior Student, Chen Zhen, avenged this, including: Bruce Lee’s ‘Fist of Fury’ (1972); Jet Li’s ‘Fist of Legend’ (1994) and ‘Fearless’ (2006); and ‘Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen’ (2010) starring Donnie Yen, currently on release.