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Review of Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in Toronto, Canada, May 2007

Tantui, the Essence of Northern Shaolin -- Part 1


Shaolin Tantui Sequences
Sifu Michael Chow demonstrating Tantui, the essence of Northern Shaolin

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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.

We are, of course, assuming that you and your opponent are of similar level of skills, or even if your opponent is of a slightly higher level of skills. If he is overwhelmingly more skillful, it does not matter what he uses or what you use, he will defeat you.

“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.

Tantui was first developed at the Long Tan Temple in Shandung Province of North China. “Long Tan” means “Dragon Pond”. Long Tan Temple was a subsidiary temple of the northern Shaolin Temple in Henan, and the monks practiced Shaolin Kungfu. The version of Shaolin Kungfu practiced here was famous for its kicks. “Kicks” in Chinese is “tui”. Hence this style of Shaolin Kungfu was known as Shaolin Tantui, which is a concise way of saying “the style of Shaolin Kungfu practiced at Long Tan Temple famous for its kicks”.

“Long Tan” is in Mandarin pronunciation. In Cantonese it is pronounced as “Loong Tham”. Hence, “Tantui” in Cantonese pronunciation is “Tham Thui”.

In Mandarin pronunciation, “tan” can also means “spring”, though the written words are different. Hence “Tantui” may also mean “Spring Kicks”, as the type of kicks in this style springs or snaps from the knee. In Cantonese, “spring” is pronounced as “than”, so “Tantui” meaning “Spring Kicks” is pronounced as “Than Thui”.

The twelve sequences of Tantui are demonstrated in video clips below by Sifu Michael Chow of Canada. Sifu Michael Chow won a few gold medals in international Northern Shaolin and Wushu competitions.

Please note that you can download the video clips onto your own computer and view them at your leisure. Place your computer pointer at the picture or one of the links, and right click. Choose “Save Target As”. Select the directory or sub-directory where you wish to keep the video clip. Click “Save”.

Note 1

Tantui is presented in the video clips below as separate sequences. Presuming that the practitioner starts facing "north". each sequence runs from "east" to "west". When performing Tantui as a set, the sequences are normally performed from "east" to "west", then from "west" to "east" etc, with the end-pattern of one sequence continuing as the start-pattern of the next sequence, as follows

Sequence 1 - east to west
Sequence 2 - west to east
Sequence 3 - east to west
Sequence 4 - west to east
Sequence 5 - east to west
Sequence 6 - west to east
Sequence 7 - east to west
Sequence 8 - west to east
Sequence 9 - east to west
Sequence 10 - west to east
Sequence 11 - east to west
Sequence 11 - west to east

Note 2 :

Traditionally, the twelve Tantui sequences are technically named. For example the first sequence is named “Thrust Punch” after the principal technique in this sequence. Due to its long history, there are some variations in these technical names. Sequence 4, “Thread Palm”, is also named “Hook Thrust” which refers to another technique in this sequence, and Sequence 10, “Stretch Body Fist”, is also named “Side Fist”, which is another name of the same technique. (In the list below, we have changed to the two new technical names.)

These techniques are implemented through patterns, which are more poetic. The same technique “Thrust Punch” can be implemented by different patterns like “Big Boss Offer Wine” as in the Tantui Sequence 1, and “Black Tiger Steals Heart” as in Sequence 1 of our Basic Sixteen Combat Sequences. The poetic names of the techniques in the Tantui Twelve Sequences are also given below.

“Shaolin Sequence 1: Thrust Punch -- Big Boss Offers Wine

Tantui is the essence of Northern Shaolin, and Sequence 1 is the essence of Tantui. It may be difficult for many people, including those who have practiced Tantui for many years, to see how this sequence can be used for combat. Yet, if you are competent you can apply this sequence against any opponent irrespective of what techniques he uses.
The size of the video clip is 516 kb.
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“Shaolin Sequence 2: Kicking Attack -- Rising Dragon Galloping Tiger

The sequence is simple, consisting of a horse-riding punch, a bow-arrow punch, and a punch-kick combination. But a skillful exponent can use it to press an opponent to a wall.
The size of the video clip is 538 kb.
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“Shaolin Sequence 3: Chopping Attack -- Second Brother Chops Firewood

This is an effective sequence against opponents who frequently use kicks. It incorporates an important tactic called “windmill fists”, applying a pattern known poetically as “san huan tao yue” (“sam wan thow yuit” in Cantonese), which means “three rings round the moon”. It is like continuously hitting an opponent with two iron rods.
The size of the video clip is 836 kb.
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“Shaolin Sequence 4: Hook Thrust -- Green Dragon Exhibits Tail

This is a complex sequence with many interesting techniques, including “thread palm”, “stolen step”, “reverse jab”, “hook hand”, “separate palms” and “nail kick”. The “nail kick”, used in its combat sequence, is both exquisite and deadly.
The size of the video clip is 1.13 mb.
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“Shaolin Sequence 5: Lift Strike -- Crossroad Lift Strike

This is a relative simple sequence, but its application can be very profound. The lifted hand is not meant as a block, as some students may imagine it to be. Can you think of some useful applications of this lift-hand? One application, as used in its combat sequence, is to counter elbow strikes, like those frequently used by Muay Thai fighters.
The size of the video clip is 654 kb.
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“Shaolin Sequence 6: Double Spread -- Embrace Moon in Bosom

The technique of “double spread” found in this sequence can be used in numerous effective ways for combat. It should not used as a double attack at an opponent, with one fist attack his head and the other attacking his chest, as some students may do. Such an attack would expose you to much risk. Effective uses of this technique can be found in the Tantui combat sequences.
The size of the video clip is 903 kb.
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“Shaolin Sequence 7: Single Spread -- Single Strike Bell Sounds

Amongst other functions, this “single spread” technique is effective against Boxers. Using it in conjunction with a kick is quite formidable. Can you figure out how you would fight a Boxer using this Tantui sequence?
The size of the video clip is 1.32 mb.
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“Shaolin Sequence 8: Thrust Kick -- Shoot Spear at Yun Pavilion

This sequence introduces a remarkable tactic of tricking an opponent to attack you. As he moves in, you strike him with a punch and a kick. There are, of course, many other combat functions. Try to figure out what these other combat functions are.
The size of the video clip is 1.76 mb.
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“Shaolin Sequence 9: Break Lock -- Second Brother Breaks Lock

As the name of this sequence indicates, it is effective for breaking an opponent's locks and grips. But how can this be accomplished? The sequence looks simple enough. Herein lies the depth of Tantui. It is simple and profound.
The size of the video clip is 893 mb.
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“Shaolin Sequence 10: Arrow Spring -- Swallow Flies through Clouds

This is a formidable sequence to implement a pressing attack. Unless they are well trained, opponents are often pressed helplessly against a wall when such a pressing sequence is applied on them. This sequence incorporates the famous Northern Shaolin kicking technique, “shuang fei tui” (“seong fei thui” in Cantonese), or “double flying kicks”.
The size of the video clip is 858 kb.
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“Shaolin Sequence 11: Hook Hang -- Arrest Horse at Cliff

This sequence incorporates a few felling techniques. They are a “backward sweep”, a “forward sweep” and a “waist throw”. Can you tell where these felling techniques are?
The size of the video clip is 1.09 mb.
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“Shaolin Sequence 12: Side Fist -- Turn Body Strike Rock

What would you do if your opponent presses you down with his hand pressing on your elbow and the other hand gripping your wrist, as in the pattern “Lohan Tames Tiger”? An effective counter is “Stretch Fist” in this sequence. There are of course other combat functions for Stretch Fist. Can you think of any?
The size of the video clip is 833 kb.
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We wish to thank Sifu Michael Chow and Sifu Emiko Hsuen for providing these video clips

Tantui, the Essence of Northern Shaolin
Review of the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in Toronto, Frankfurt and Caterbury in May, June and July 2007

Tantui at the UK Summer Camp

Intensive Courses and Regular Classes