SHAOLIN KUNGFU SETS AND TEACHING
What are the most fundamental Shaolin Kung Fu movements and teachings?
— Danny, USA
The most fundamental kungfu set in Southern Shaolin is "Four Gates". It was the fundamental kungfu set taught at the southern Shaolin Temple at the city of Quanzhou before it was burnt down by the Qing army around 1850s.
We are lucky that this set was passed down in our school by our First Patriarch, the Venerable Jiang Nan, who escaped from the burning of the southern Shaolin Temple. You can view this set here.
The most fundamental kungfu set in Northern Shaolin is Tantui, which means "Spring Kicks". It is the set Northern Shaolin practitioners practice before they branch to other Northern Shaolin styles like Eagle Claw and Praying Mantis.
It is the first set taught in Chin Woo Association, the association dedicated to the spread of Chinese kungfu and has branches in many parts of the world. It was also the set practiced by such great Shaolin masters like Huo Yuan Jia (the master made famous in the West by the movie "Fearless") and Gu Ru Zhang (the Iron Palm master who killed a horse with a gentle tap). You can view this set here.
Historically the most important teaching of Shaolin Kungfu was to strengthen monks at the Shaolin Temple to attain the highest spiritual achievement any being could attain, namely Enlightenment, or in Western terms, to return to God the Holy Spirit.
While this is the supreme aim of the Shaolin teachings, we in Shaolin Wahnam aim at a relatively lower level while we still live and work in this phenomenal world. To us the fundamental teachings of Shaolin Kungfu are to have good health, vitality, longevity, mental freshness and spiritual joys irrespective of religion.
While it is not our top priority, we also aim to have combat efficiency. One may legitimately ask why we practice a martial art if fighting is not our top priority. This is because Shaolin Kungfu training is an excellent way to achieve the results we desire. For example, while having good health is the climax of many types of chi kung, it is the starting point of Shaolin Kungfu training. This gives an indication of the level of good health we want.
The base of our Shaolin teachings is the Ten Shaolin Laws, which every student has to abide and which are shown here.
The above is taken from Question 1 of September 2014 Part 1 of the Selection of Questions and Answers.
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