HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF
SHAOLIN LOHAN FIST

San Zhan of Wuzuquan

Grandmaster Wong demonstrating a pattern from the Eighteen Lohan Fist


From the "Eighteen Lohan Hands" was evolved the "Eighteen Lohan Fist", which became the prototype of Shaolin Kungfu. In other words, the Shaolin Kungfu first practiced at the Shaolin Monastery at Henan in the 6th century was called "Eighteen Lohan Fist", or "Shi Ba Luo Han Quan" in Chinese.

Shaolin Kungfu expanded extensively, but it maintained the characteristics of "Eighteen Lohan Fist", though much later Shaolin Kungfu practiced at the Shaolin Monasteries at Quanzhou and on the None-Lotus Mountain was characterized by the Five-Animal Set. The set, "Eighteen Lohan Fist", also underwent many changes. Due to its long history, about 1500 years, there are many versions of "Eighteen Lohan Fist". The "Eighteen Lohan Fist" practiced now may be very different from when it was first practiced in the 6th century.

Gradually the "Eighteen Lohan Fist" became quite a long set. A shortened set was created, and it was called "Little Lohan Fist", or "Xiao Luo Han Quan" in Chinese. There were also many different versions of "Little Lohan Fist".

For convenience, we may divide the long development of "Eighteen Lohan Fist", as well as the "Little Lohan Fist", into three periods -- early, middle and modern. The early period of "Eighteen Lohan Fist" may be represented by "Cross-Roads at Four Gates", the middle period by the "Righteen Lohan Fist" set I composed for the Lohan Fist Course in Frankfurt in 2014, and the modern period by the 108-Pattern Tiger-Crane Set practiced in Wong Fei Hoong's lineage.

There are two points worthy of consideration. One, although the two sets are called "Four Gates" and "Tiger-Crane", they are Lohan Fist in characteristic, the former at the early period, and the later at the modern period. Two, while these sets have the characteristics of Lohan Fist, or in other words, they can be easily identified as Shaolin Kungfu (and not as Baguazhang, Praying Mantis or Wing Choon Kungfu) by the initiated, the "Eighteen Lohan Fist" composed by me and the "108-Pattern Tiger-Crane Set" contain sophisticated techniques not found in the versions of Lohan Fist of the early period.

For example, in the "Eighteen Lohan Fist" composed by me, patterns like "Reverse Kicking of Purple Bell" and "Immortal Stretches Waist" are sophisticated. In the "108-Pattern Tiger-Crane Set", patterns like "Hook-Spring Leg Technique" and "Butterfly Palm" are sophisticated. These patterns are unlikely to be found in the early versions of Lohan Fist, which consisted mostly of striking techniques and some kicks.

Wong Kiew Kit
22nd December 2015

LINKS

Eighteen Lohan Fist in Video and Pictures
Little Lohan Fist in Video and Pictures
10 Questions on Eighteen Lohan Fist

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