TANTUI, THE ESSENCE OF NORTHERN SHAOLIN

shaolin tantui sequences

Yamada Naoko, an assistant instructor of Shaolin Wahnam Japan, and Sifu Michael Chow, an instructor of Shaolin Wahnam Canada, practicing combat application of Shaolin Tantui

Shaolin Kungfu is classified into two main traditions, Northern Shaolin and Southern Shaolin. Northern Shaolin Kungfu originated from the northern Shaolin Temple at the Song Mountain in Henan Province in North China, whereas Southern Shaolin Kungfu originated from the two southern Shaolin Temples, one at Quanzhou City and the other at the Nine-Lotus Mountain, both in Fujian Province in the south.

Although both Northern Shaolin and Southern Shaolin share the same philosophy, techniques and skills, the emphasis of each style results in some characteristic differences. Northern Shaolin is is well known for its long-range combat, agility and kicks, whereas Southern Shaolin for its stances, power and hand techniques. An understanding and experience of Northern Shaolin, therefore, would enhance the performance of Southern Shaolin.

In his effort to provide a wider perspective to members of the Shaolin Wahnam Family, Grandmaster Wong offered a rare opportunity of Tantui, the essence of Northern Shaolin Kungfu, in the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in Toronto, Canada , as well as in the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in Frankfurt, Germany . He will also offer this rare opportunity to have a comprehensive experience of Northern Shaolin Kungfu at the UK Summer Camp 2007 in July 2007. To help those who may not have this rare opportunity, as well as to provide a source of reference for those who have taken the course to review it, and those who wish to attend the course at the UK Summer Camp to prepare themselves so as to derive the best benefit when taking the course, a series of video clips with appropriate explanations are provided below.

1. The Twelve Sequences of Shaolin Tantui

Would you believe that irrespective of whether your opponent is attacking or defending, whether he is striking, kicking, gripping or felling, whether he is blocking, deflecting, dodging or retreating, whether he uses Northern or Southern Shaolin, Taijiquan, Baguazhang, Praying Mantis, Eagle Claw, Wing Choon, Hoong Ka, Monkey Style, Karate, Taekwondo, Boxing, Kick-Boxing, Muay Thai or any other martial art, by applying Sequence 1 of Tantui, you can effectively press him against a wall? This is hard to believe, but it is true.

“Tantui”, or “Spring Kicks”, is the essence of Northern Shaolin Kungfu. There are 12 sequences, hence the set is called “Twelve-Sequence Tantui”. The first sequence is the essence of the set.

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2. The Combat Sequences of Tantui

Tantui is considered by many as the essence of Northern Shaolin Kungfu. There are literally tens of thousands of people practicing Tantui today. But what is practiced is only the external forms. How to apply Tantui to manifest internal force as well as for combat is almost never taught. The video clips below show the 12 Tantui combat sequences, with each combat sequence highlighting some main techniques in each of the 12 solo sequences.

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3. Tantui Combat-Application Sets

Tantui is considered by many as the essence of Northern Shaolin Kungfu and is practiced by thousands of people all over the world. It was formalized at the Long Tan (Dragon Pond) Temple in Shandong Province in North China, and was famous for its “spring-kicks”. However, Tantui has been practiced only in its solo sequences, and most Tantui practitioners today do not know its combat applications. Lamenting this situation, Grandmaster Wong has devised a series of Combat Applications of Tantui. These twelve Tantui combat sequences are linked into three sets as shown in the video clips below.

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4. Tantui against Boxing and Kick-Boxing

To use kungfu techniques for combat is already difficult for many kungfu practitioners today. To believe that you can use just one sequence from Tantui effectively against any attacker who may use any martial art or fight haphazardly is indeed hard to believe. That was what participants, including some beginners, at the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in Toronto (May 2007) and in Frankfurt (June 2007) did. The series of videos here and the one following capture some of these lessons. As usual, the videos were recorded at random, and are released here without editing.

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5. The Technical Advantages of Shaolin Kungfu

Many kungfu practitioners discard their kungfu patterns in their sparring and adopt Boxing or Kick-Boxing because they find that using Boxing or Kick-Boxing enables them to be faster in combat. What they do not realize is that technically kungfu movements are faster than Boxing or Kick-Boxing. This series of video clips show the technical advantages of Tantui over Boxing, Kick-Boxing and many other martial arts. But merely knowing the techniques is insufficiently. You have to train systematically and diligently to be skillful. Otherwise, despite the technical advantages, you would still be defeated by a more skillful Boxer, Kick-Boxer or any other martial artist.

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6. The Wonders of Tantui Sequence 1

It is very hard to believe that by applying only Tantui Sequence 1 a skillful practitioner can defend against or attack any opponent who may use any kungfu, Boxing, Kick-Boxing, Karate, Muay-Thai or any martial art techniques! As most martial artists today, irrespective of what styles of martial art they actually practice, use Boxing in free sparring, Grandmaster Wong demonstrates as a typical example how participants could use Tantui Solo Sequence 1 as well as Combat Sequence 1 against a Boxer no matter how he attacks or defends.

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7. Making Kungfu Alive

An important advice Grandmaster Ho Fatt Nam gave to Grandmaster Wong was that kungfu was alive. The Combat Sequence illustrated in this video series is a manifestation of this advice. If you have wondered where the pattern you employ to intercept an opponent's swinging fist, comes from, it is from solo Sequence 2. Indeed the whole of Combat Sequence 2 is a direct unfolding of solo Sequence 2 except that you hold your left hand in transition and turn your body to align with the opponent.

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8. Two Combat Sequences Adequate to Handle Most Ordinary Opponents

In sparring after you have completed a sequence in your attack, you can continue with the same sequence or with another sequence. In our sparring methodology it is called “Continuation”. If make the continuation, you will have the following variations: AA11; AA12; AA22; AA21. If your sparring partner makes the continuation, you will have the following: AB11;

AB12; AB22; AB21. This is the base from which you can have a lot of fun, and combat efficiency, with “Subtraction and Addition”. Other people may find it hard to believe, but if you just practice this “Subtraction and Addition” on the two combat sequences, you can handle most ordinary opponents.

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9. A Counter against Any Kicks!

There are a few patterns that can be used to counter any kicks! Two of them are “Lohan Strikes Tiger” and “Lohan Chops Firewood”. Although these two patterns can be applied separately, they are linked together in this sequence. If “Lohan Strikes Tiger” is followed by “Lohan Chops Firewood” three times instead of once, they form a series of patterns collectively known as “Three Rings Around the Moon”. In this combat sequence, an opponent uses a side-kick, followed with a punch. The side-kick here is a representative kicking attack. The opponent may use any other forms of kicks, and you can effectively use the same combination of “Lohan Strikes Tiger” and “Lohan Chops Firewood” to counter-attack him.

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10. The Formidable Three Rings Around the Moon

Imagine you are holding two powerful iron rods. When an opponent punches or kicks or attacks you in any way, you simply strike your iron rods on his attacking arm, leg or any part of his attacking body. If your opponent does not attack you, you still strike him with your powerful iron rods. If he tries to block, you strike his blocking arm. If he tries to avoid by stepping back or side-stepping, you follow accordingly and strike him continuously. If he tries to run away you chase after him with your striking. This formidable technique, tactic or strategy — the terming of which depends on how you use it — is called “Three Rings Around the Moon”.

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11. Penetrating the Impenetrable

If an opponent swings his two powerful arms continuously and systematically on you, how would you counter? Such an attack is formidable and appears impenetrable. But Grandmaster Wong says a master can easily penetrate it. Then, Grandmaster Wong explains and demonstrates the reverse, that a skillful practitioner can use the swinging attacks, formalized in the pattern “Three Rings Around the Moon”, to counter the counters that are meant to counter them. The surprise continues. Grandmaster Wong says that a master may use just one pattern to counter any and all continuous swinging attacks, and he goes on to demonstrate it. Isn't it fun to train combat application in Shaolin Wahnam?

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12. Countering Elbow and Knee Strikes from Muay Thai Fighters

What would you do if a Muay Thai fighter grips your neck and throws continuous knee jabs to your ribs? And what would you do if he strikes you with his elbows at close range? Many people are quite helpless when faced with such ferocious attacks. There are many counters in Tantui against these attacks, and this video series shows some of them. Some of the Tantui leg techniques are profound and fascinating. They are, however, quite unlike the kicking techniques in other martial arts. They are hidden in this and other video series. Course participants may be able to spot them.

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13. The Fascinating Combat Applications of Tantui in Striking, Kicking, Felling and Gripping

Northern Shaolin is well known for leg techniques. As Taekwondo and Muay Thai kicks are very popular today, many martial artists think that leg techniques only involve kicks. This is not so. Although there are many different kinds of kicks in Shaolin Kungfu, Shaolin leg techniques are more extensive and profound than merely kicks. But Tantui, the essence of Northern Shaolin, is not just leg techniques. It is a complete art incorporating all the four categories of attack and their defence, therefore including the other three categories of strikes, felling techniques and grips.

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14. Spotting Secrets Hidden in the Open

A great martial art like Tantui makes sophisticated uses of strategies and tactics. Some of these strategies and tactics, like “flowing with an opponent's momentum” and “pressing in with continuous attacks”, are shown in this video series. Exotic techniques that are not normally found in most other martial arts, like hook and hang, are also explained. Following traditional Shaolin traditions, some secrets are hidden in the open. Course participants would have much fun spotting them.

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15. Helping One Another and Having Fun in Sparring

Injuries and tensed feelings are not uncommon during sparring in many martial art schools today. Some instructors go to the extent of telling their students that if they cannot take some punishment, they cannot learn a martial art!

Happily, this is not the case in our school. Indeed, helping one another and having fun are the norms in our sparring sessions. These happy scenarios are not our innovations. Being free from injury in any training, including sparring, was also the norm in great kungfu schools in the past. Not to be hurt at all as well as being relaxed even in demanding situations were, and should be, the main aims of any martial art cultivation.

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16. Laying Foundation Before Training Combat

Many people only pay lip service to the saying that the basics are very important. We pay great importance to the basics —- they form the foundation upon which all our future development depends. By basics, we refer to our stances, footwork, body-movement, hand forms as well as entering Zen, generating chi flow and exploding force. In all our courses we begin with our basics. But in this set of video series, the video clips showing Tantui sequences and combat applications were posted first to help participants at the UK Summer Camp 2007. In their logical time order, this video series and the one following, i.e. Part 16 and Part 17, should be placed right at the beginning.

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17. From Form to Flow to Force

How does a Tantui practitioner have power for combat if he does not hit sandbags or lift weights, or practice chi kung exercises like Iron Palm and Abdominal Breathing? He derives internal force from stance training as well as from performing his sequences as chi kung and meditation. The video series here, amongst other lessons, records the experience of participants at the Toronto course developing and exploding internal force. First they performed the sequences in picture-perfect form. Next they performed the picture-perfect form in flowing chi. Then they increased the volume of chi flow and exploded force at appropriate places.

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18. Linking Sequences to Form Sets

A Tantui stylist does not need to borrow from any other martial arts to supplement his training. Of course, if a Tantui student only practices the external form of the twelve sequences, as most Tantui practitioners today do, he will only have beautiful forms for demonstration. Grandmaster Wong has distilled the combat applications of Tantui into twelve combat sequences. These twelve combat sequences are linked together to form four combat application sets. The four sets are demonstrated slowly by Sifu Michael Chow, an international wushu champion, to enable students to observe the movements more easily.

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19. The Profundity of the Twelve Tantui Combat Sequences

The combat applications of these twelve Tantui sequences are profound. An example is that by mastering Combat Sequence 1 alone, you can handle any assailant, irrespective of how he may attack you! Another aspect of their profundity is that they look so simple yet they can be very sophisticated in their combat functions. Those who do not know their secrets may not understand how they can be used in combat. This is “Hiding Secrets in the Open”. Are you able to find these secrets in the combat sequences below?

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20. The Twelve Sequences of Shaolin Tantui at UK Summer Camp

Shaolin Tantui

Tantui, which means “spring kicks”, is a famous Northern Shaolin style. It is widely practiced, but unfortunately most Tantui practitioners today only practice the forms without their combat applications. The Twelve Tantui Sequences and their Combat Sequences can be accessed here.

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LINKS

Tantui, the Essence of Northern Shaolin

  1. The Twelve Sequences of Shaolin Tantui
  2. The Combat Sequences of Tantui
  3. Tantui Combat-Application Sets
  4. Tantui against Boxing and Kick-Boxing
  5. The Technical Advantages of Shaolin Kungfu
  6. The Wonders of Tantui Sequence 1
  7. Making Kungfu Alive
  8. Two Combat Sequences Adequate to Handle Most Ordinary Opponents
  9. A Counter against Any Kicks!
  10. The Formidable Three Rings Around the Moon
  1. Penetrating the Impenetrable
  2. Countering Elbow and Knee Strikes from Muay Thai Fighters
  3. The Fascinating Combat Applications of Tantui in Striking, Kicking, Felling and Gripping
  4. Spotting Secrets Hidden in the Open
  5. Helping One Another and Having Fun in Sparring
  6. Laying Foundation Before Training Combat
  7. From Form to Flow to Force
  8. Linking Sequences to Form Sets
  9. The Profundity of the Twelve Tantui Combat Sequences
  10. The Twelve Sequences of Shaolin Tantui at UK Summer Camp

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