Features of Shaolin Wushu Martial Art

Shaolin Wushu is one of the most influential genres of Chinese martial art, and it’s named after the Shaolin Temple located in Dengfeng County, Henan Province. The monks in the Shaolin Temple began to study martial art during the Southern and Northern Dynasties and this tradition prevailed during the Sui and the Tang dynasties.

Shaolin Wushu is famous both at home and abroad as a highly effective method of self-defense and health-building. Combining both external and internal, and “hard” and “soft” exercises, Shaolin Wushu involves various methods of fighting techniques, consisting of barehanded boxing and weaponry combat. The Shaolin boxing has compactly designed routines. Its movements are quick, powerful and flexible; both practical for defense and attack.

The most outstanding characteristic of Shaolin boxing is that the practitioner works on one straight line. It means that his movements of advancing, retreating, turning around, sideways, or jumping are restrained on one line. His arms are kept slightly bent so that he can stretch out to attack or withdraw freely for self defense. Another characteristic of Shaolin Wushu is to maintain the body in perfect balance, as stable as a mountain. The practitioners should keep a tranquil mind but strike with great force and speed. He should be good at “borrowing” force from the opponent. That is, he should not meet the opponent’s strikes head-on, but take advantage of the striker’s force and go along with it to bring him to ward off a force of a thousand weights. The practitioner should know how to make feigned strikes and when striking, hit the vital parts of the opponent. The movements should be as dextrous as a cat, the shaking as a tiger, the moving as a dragon, the advancing as lightning and the yelling as thunder.

Shaolin Wushu is a very convenient sport, for the practice does not need a large space and is not affected by weather or the kind of weapons used.

There are many routines. External exercises include Minor Hong Boxing, Greater Hong Boxing, Old Hong Boxing, Chaoyang Boxing, Chang Boxing, Plum Blossom Boxing, Cannon Boxing, Luohan Buddha Boxing, Tongbei Boxing, Seven-star Boxing, Dragon-out-of-the-sea Boxing and Shooting-star Boxing; for internal exercises there are Xingyi Boxing and Juji Boxing. Shaolin boxing can be practiced singly or in pairs. The dual routines include: Banshou Liuhe Boxing, Yaoshou Liuhe Boxing and Kick and Strike Liuhe Boxing.

Nicole Thomas

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