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Styles Introduction

Chinese Martial Arts Introduction

Chinese Martial Arts more commonly known in the west as Kung Fu has hundreds of styles originating from main land China, which is commonly related to in China as 'Zhongguo Wushu' or 'Gong Fu'.

Zhongguo Wushu literally translates to Chinese martial arts and Gongfu means hard work. Wushu is a more precise term for general martial activities.

The term Wushu is also the name for the modern sport Wushu also known as contemporary Wushu or Modern Wushu, an exhibition and full-contact sport of bare handed and weapons routines.

Chinese martial artsChina probably has the longest history of martial arts with many distinctive styles with their own sets of techniques and ideas. Some focus on mimicking animal movements, some focus on harnessing Qi (energy), while others just concentrate on performance for competitions and exhibitions but no matter which style you choose to learn they all have their own approach to solving martial arts combat common problems such as self defence, health and self cultivation.

Chinese martial arts can be split into different categories such as External, Internal, Northern and Southern.

  • Northern styles are fast with powerful kicks, high jumps, acrobatics and generally more fluid and rapid movements.

  • Southern styles focus more on strong arm and hand techniques, stable immovable stances/footwork and generally no kicks above the waste.

  • External styles are characterised by fast and explosive movements and a focus on physical strength and agility, most Chinese martial art styles are classified as external styles with the most famous being Shaolin.

  • Internal styles focus on awareness of the spirit, mind, Qi (Energy) and the use of relaxed leverage rather than muscular tension. The 3 main internal styles are Xingyi quan, Bagua zhang and Taiji quan, Tai Chi being the most famous in the west.

Chinese Martial Arts training consists of basics, routines, applications, body conditioning & weapons. Each style has its own unique training system with a varying emphasis on each of those components.

Sun Style

Sun Style consists of the 3 major internal martial arts of China, TaiJi, XingYi and Bagua and was created by Sun Lu Tang (1861-1933). Sun Lu Tang first mastered the arts of XingYi Quan and Bagua Zhang and a long with his study of Wu Yu Xiang TaiJi under Hao Wei Zhen, master Sun Lu Tang developed an extremely sophisticated yet practical synthesis: Sun Style TaiJi Quan.

Recognising the principles of XingYi, Bagua and Tai Chi as fundamentally the same, Sun Lu Tang was one of the first masters to begin referring to these arts as being "one family" and it is due to him that the 3 styles are customarily referred to as "internal" styles to this day.

Sun Style Taiji is unique in many ways with its inclusion of Bagua footwork, XingYi's hand and waist movements, and most famously the stance 'San Ti Shi'. Sun TaiJi is well known for its smooth & flowing movements, which omit the more physically vigorous crouching, leaping, and deep stances of other styles of Tai Chi.

The footwork of Sun style is deceptively simple looking but very practical for when one foot advances or retreats the other follows. It also uses an open palm throughout the entirety of its main form, and exhibits small circular movements with the hand. Its gentle postures and high stances make it very suitable for geriatric exercise and martial arts therapy. Last but most Scoot receiving an award from Sun Lu Tangs grand son.importantly Sun TaiJi is practiced exactly how it is to be applied in a fight.

As the Vice President of the International Sun Lu Tang Martial Arts Association, Scott Bird is now offering students who study for 1 year or longer the chance to become certified Sun Style teachers recognised by the Chinese Martial Arts Association and the Int Sun Lu Tang Martial Arts Association.

At the end of your stay you will go to one of many Sun Style training bases around China and take part in a one-week special training course and finally be tested at the end of the week by Sun Style Masters.

After passing the course you will be awarded an officially stamped certificate from the association proving your status.

Certification can be done in all 3 internal styles of Sun Style Quan.

Shaolin Quan

The Shaolin Si (Shaolin Temple), is a Buddhist temple located in Henan Province founded by Indian Buddhist Priest 'Bodhidharma' or 'Damo' over 4000 years ago.

In the early years immediately following the founding of the Shaolin Temple in 495AD, the first soldier monks created a set of eighteen different actions (the original kung fu), which utilised all parts of their bodies. These were combined with the use of various weapons made from simple farming tools and were initially a means of providing daily exercise and as a form of meditation, later they were used as a means of self-defence.

Northern Shaolin Kung Fu is known as an external martial art and emphasises long range techniques, quick advances/retreats, wide deep stances, high kicks, leaping/ jumping, whirling circular blocks, quickness, agility and aggressive attacks, it is considered to be the oldest martial art in the world therefore the root of all martial arts.

Shaolin is also famous for its amazing hard Qigong performances such as bending a spear on the throat, breaking wooden poles over the body, smashing stones and bricks to pieces with the bare hands and standing on 1 finger.

Modern day Shaolin training is mainly geared towards performance/competition form training with little to no application or conditioning but at Rising Dragon our Shaolin masters try to keep the training as traditional as possible with iron palm/body training, applications to the forms/basics you learn and hard/ soft Qigong.

The Shaolin training at Rising Dragon is physically demanding and very tiring with many students opting to join another style but if you can stick with the training you will be rewarded at the end of your time here with a very fit, healthy and strong body.

Rising Dragon School is officially connected to The Shaolin Temple and the Song Shan Shaolin Warrior Monk training base. During 2010 Scott Bird had several meetings with Shaolin warrior monk general 'Shi Yan Lu' and it was down to Yan Lu's support that Scott and the Rising Dragon students got to meet and perform with Jackie Chan.

Due to the constant promotion of Chinese martial arts including Shaolin Quan at Rising Dragon School, on behalf of the Shaolin Temple and Warrior Monk training base Shi Yan Lu supports and offers their best Warrior Monks to teach at Rising Dragon School.

Taiji Quan

More commonly known in the west as Tai chi and famous for its Yin/Yang symbol, Taiji Quan literally means "Supreme Ultimate Fist" and is a Taoist Internal Martial Art. There are different styles of Tai chi such as, Wu Dang San Feng Taiji, Chen style, Yang style, Wu style, Wu Yuxiang style and Sun style Tai chi. Taiji is one of the most popular martial styles practiced today by millions of people world wide and is very good for both health and combat.

There have been different stories on the origin of Taiji quan. The traditional legend goes that the wise man Zhang San Feng created Taiji quan after he had witnessed a fight between a sparrow and a snake. While modern Taiji originated from the Chen family Style during the 19th century and Yang, Wu, Wu Yuxiang, and Sun style Taiji can all be traced back to Chen Style Taiji.

Tai chi martial art is a very powerful art, for both internal power and longevity. Taiji Quan is a Martial Art, which embodies Taoist Philosophy and when Tai chi was developed, Martial Arts were very aggressive. Ones proficiency was measured by the strength and aggression of attack, In terms of Taoist principles of Yin & Yang this was a purely Yang conception of Martial Arts. What was revolutionary was the incorporation of the Yin element to fighting. In Tai chi one uses a balance between yielding and attacking. It is for this reason Tai chi is described as a needle in cotton or hardness concealed in softness. Taiji follows the simple principle of "subduing the vigorous by the soft."

Clinical studies have shown that Tai chi can lower blood pressure, reduce nervous tension and benefit the immune, digestive, cardiovascular and respiratory systems and is all round good for keeping your body young and healthy.

Tai chi can be practiced for health benefits and to circulate Qi around the body and it is said that if you practice Tai chi as a Martial Art for ten years you would be an amazing fighter.

The training involves two primary features: the first being the solo form Quan (fist), a slow sequence of movements, which emphasize a straight spine, relaxed breathing, and a natural range of movement. The second being pushing hands for training stickiness and sensitivity in the reflexes. Through various motions from the forms used in concert with a training partner you learn leverage, timing, coordination and positioning.

Bagua Zhang

Along with Tai chi and Xingyi Quan, Bagua Zhang is one of the three major internal Chinese Martial Arts and literally means Eight Trigram Palm, referring to the trigrams of Yijing, one of the canons in Taoism.

The practice of circle walking is Bagua's characteristic method of stance and movement training. Practitioners walk around the edge of a circle in a low stance, facing the centre and periodically changing direction as they execute forms. Students first learn flexibility through such exercises, and then move onto more complex forms and internal power mechanics. The internal aspects of Bagua are very similar to those of Xingyi and Tai chi, eventually many distinctive styles of weapons training are practiced, sometimes including the uniquely crescent shaped deer horn knives, and the easily concealed scholar's pen.

Bagua is also known for sometimes practicing with extremely large weapons such as Bagua Dao or Bagua Broadsword.

In many schools students study both Xingyi and Bagua. These may be used together in fighting, as they are often complementary. Bagua contains an extremely wide variety of techniques, including various strikes, low kicks, joint locks, throws and distinctively evasive circular footwork. Bagua zhang practitioners are known for their ability to "flow" in and out of the way of objects. Bagua Schools in ChinaThis is the source of the theory of being able to fight multiple attackers. Bagua zhang's evasive nature is also shown by the practice of moving behind an attacker, so that the opponent cannot harm the practitioner.

Xingyi Quan

XingYi means Form/Mind, the Form of thousands of things that show outwardly and the heart and the thought of the Mind inwardly and is another of the 3 major internal Chinese Martial Arts, Xingyi's attack goes straight through the centre, Bagua goes around the centre and Tai chi gives up the centre.

Xingyi is based on the Taoist concept that natural forces are composed of 5 elements. This view of nature is related to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). In relationship to the Martial Art principles, each of the 5 elements applies to a specific organ as well as to different energies expressed by the forms of balance, and by the cycles of creating and destroying.

Xingyi is characterised by aggressive, seemingly linear movements and explosive power. Xingyi Quan features aggressive shocking attacks and direct footwork and the linear nature of Xingyi hints at both the military origins and the influence of spear technique alluded to in its mythology. Despite its hard, angular appearance, cultivating soft internal strength or Qi is essential to Sun Lu Tang Xingyiachieving power in Xingyi Quan.

The goal of the XingYi fighter is to reach the opponent quickly and drive powerfully through them in a single burst, this is achieved by coordinating ones body as a single unit and the intense focus of ones Qi.

Sanshou/ Sanda

Sanshou or Sanda (free fighting) is a modern Chinese self-defence system & combat sport; it is considered China's answer to Western kickboxing or Thailand's Muay Thai boxing.

Before Sanshou was made into a sport their used to be bare handed fights with no rules, this was common in the military between soldiers to test & practice martial skills, ability & techniques.

In Contemporary Wushu tournaments you will have the main Taolu Events (forms) and then the Sanshou Event. In these Amateur Tournaments contenders will wear protective martial arts gear, fight on a raised platform (Lei tai), and can use kicks, punches and throws. The professionals on the other hand always refer to the sport as Sanda; they wear only gloves and a mouth Sanda in Chinaguard for protection and fight in a full size ring similar to a boxing ring and also can strike with the knees. Both Professional and amateur Sanda is a full contact sport.

As a self-defence system you can use all of the above strikes as well as elbow strikes, chokes and joint locks.


Wushu is both an exhibition and full-contact sport derived from traditional Chinese martial arts. Created in the Peoples Republic of China after 1949, Wushu has spread globally through the International Wushu Federation (IWUF), which holds the World Wushu Championships every 2 years.

Wushu is composed of two disciplines: Taolu (forms) and Sanda (Chinese kickboxing).

The forms are similar to gymnastics and involve martial arts manoeuvres and patterns which competitors are judged and given points according to specific rules. The forms comprise basic movements, stances, kicks, punches, balances, jumps, sweeps, and throws based on aggregate categories traditional Chinese martial art style and can be changed for competitions to highlight Wushu in Chinaone's strengths. Competitive forms have time limits that can range from 1 minute, 20 seconds for external styles to over 5 minutes for internal styles.

Wushu Events/Categories:

  • Bare handed: Changquan (Long Fist), Nanquan (Southern Fist) and Taijiquan (TaiChi Fist)

  • Short Weapons: Dao (Single edged sword), Jian (Double edged sword), Taiji jian (TaiChi double edged sword) & Nandao (Southern single edged sword).

  • Long Weapons: Gun (Staff), Qiang (Spear) and Nangun (Southern Staff)

  • Sanda: Chinese kickboxing/Free Fighting.

Most of the events were set up in 1958.

These events are performed using compulsory or individual routines in competition. Compulsory routines are those routines that have been already created for the athlete, resulting in each athlete performing basically the same set. Individual routines are routines that an athlete creates with the aid of his/her coach, while following certain rules for difficulty, number of acrobatics, etc.

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