Shaolin Kungfu-syllabus
Monday, 11 October 2010 12:02

The Wahnam Institute Shaolin Kungfu Syllabus offers the student a holistic methodology for Shaolin arts in all their combatitive, mental, spiritual and health-related functions. It is used in all our kungfu schools all over the world.

The syllabus is divided into 12 levels, and every level takes roughly 12 weeks to complete (also depending on the student). A level is completed only when the student has succesfully acquired the skills and techniques relevant to the level, and has learned to apply them succesfully.


Although our syllabus is quite comprehensive, it only scratches the surface of the true wealth and richness of the Shaolin arts. However, this framework is an excellent tool to provide the student with the fundamental skills in combat, force training, tactics and strategies, which are gradually deepened during progression in levels, and can be effectively used in all Shaolin arts and techniques, whether they're included in this syllabus or not.



1.   The Fundamentals of Shaolin Kungfu

Form:   Basic patterns, stances and footwork

Application:   Specific techniques

Force:   Zhang Zhuang (basic stances), One Finger Shooting Zen, leg stretching

Philosophy:   Dimensions, aims and brief history

- 8 basic patterns of hand attack and defence.
- Basic stances: Horse–Riding, Bow–Arrow, False–Leg, Single–Leg, Unicorn, Goat
- Footwork: forward, backward and sideways
- Specific Techniques: Against simple punches, kicks, holds on wrist, and throws from standing position.Use "Single Tiger" against punches, "Lohan Strikes Drum" against kicks, "Rolling Thunder" against holds on wrist, and appropriate shifting step to Bow–Arrow Stance against throws

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2.   Lohan Asks the Way

Form:   Basic set "Lohan Asks the Way"

Application:   4 basic hand attacks and defence from poise patterns

Force:   Zhang Zhuang with hand forms, Spacing, Timing, breath co–ordination

Philosophy:   Principles of attack and defence

- Sparring mode: Pre–choice and self–choice
- Principles: Three Arrivals, Ask the Way, Safety First

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3.   Black Tiger Steals Heart

Form:   Application Set 1: "Black Tiger Steals Heart"

Application:   Hand attacks in three–step sequences

Force:   Flow of movement, quick decision making, instant modification

Philosophy:   Principles of force training

- Sparring mode: Changing patterns
- Principles: Gradual Progress, Perseverance, Techniques and Skills

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4.   Fierce Tiger Speeds Through Valley

Form:   Application Set 2: Fierce Tiger Speeds through Valley, patterns for kicks and defence

Application:   Further hand attacks in three–step sequences, one–step kicking attacks and defence

Force:   Leg–stretching exercises

Philosophy:   Techniques, tactics and strategies

- Sparring mode: left or right, run–on sequence
- Principles: Soft against hard, exploiting opponent's weakness, avoiding his strong points

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5.   Happy Bird Hops Up a Branch

Form:   Application Set 3: "Happy Bird Hops Up a Branch"

Application:   Combat sequences with kicking attacks

Force:   Exploding force

Philosophy:   Use of tactics

- Tactics: Feign weakness, pressing attack, breaking opponent's momentum

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6.   Felling Tree with Roots

Form:   Application Set 4: Felling Tree with Roots

Application:   Combat sequences with holds and falls

Force:   Performing movements flowingly with force but without panting for breath

Philosophy:   Use of Strategies

- Strategies based on "Know Thyself, Know your Opponent"

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7.   Crossroads at Four Gates

Form:   "Crossroads at Four Gates" kungfu set

Application:   Combination Set of Four Gates

Force:   Solo performance as well as sparring with picture–perfect form, force speed but without panting

Philosophy:   Different levels of combat

- "Crossroads at Four Gates" is a treasure of Shaolin Kungfu, enabling us experience profundity in simplicity

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8.   Shaolin Staff

Form:   "Flowing Water Staff" staff set

Application:   Against staff and other weapons

Force:   Hit, thrust, and eye sight training.

Philosophy:   Principles of weapon combat

- Safety, certainty and decisiveness; avoiding strength and attacking weakness

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9.   Shaolin Sabre

Form:   "Plum Flower Single Sabre" sabre set

Application:   Against sabre, spear and other weapons

Force:   Accuracy and "sabre force" to cut an apple or any suitable object for testing

Philosophy:   Characteristics of major weapons

- Major weapons: Staff, sabre, spear, sword, dagger, big Knife, trident, soft whip

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10.   Unarmed Against Armed

Form:   "Empty Hands Enter White Blade"

Application:   Unarmed against dagger, staff and knife

Force:   Countering feign moves

Philosophy:   The principles and practice of Apparent and Real

- "Over Bridge, Flow with Water"

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11.   Single Unarmed Against Multiple Unarmed

Form:   "Tiger Enters Herd of Sheep"

Application:   Single unarmed against multiple unarmed

Force:   "Bamboo Man" or "Through the Woods"

Philosophy:   "Back–wall battle" and "Dodge–hit battle"

- Agility, stamina and endurance

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12.   Single Unarmed and Armed against Multiple Armed

Form:   Dodge Hit

Application:   Single unarmed and armed against multiple armed

Force:   Dodging skills and using enemy as shields

Philosophy:   "Catch the Leader First" and "Break Through the Weakest"

- Importance of mind and energy control

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After Level 12


It bears mentioning that completing level 12 certainly does not represent reaching a pinnacle in a practitioners kungfu training. Instead, this means that the student has reached a high enough level to take more responsibility of his own further training, although his Sifu will also still continue with his teaching and assistance. Level 12 typically marks increasing specialization and focusing in different areas of kungfu practice.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 March 2011 09:26