Basic training in Northern Shaolin provides a foundation for all subsequent training in traditional kung fu systems, both internal and external. If you plan to specialize in one or another of the traditional kung fu styles, or any of the many other Far Eastern martial arts (Karate, Judo, Tae Kwan Do, etc …), Northern Shaolin postures and kicks will help you with the agility and coordination needed to perform those styles more than any other practice.
The eight basic postures should be practiced in place to develop inner strength. Once the position is aligned, moving those postures in succession will help you to become rooted, strong, centered, agile and mobile. There are a few variations, such as high tiger, low lotus, low rooster, and closed empty.
Practicing punches and palm strikes in the Horse posture strengthens the legs, while improving the waist movement, timing and coordination. The goal in basic training is 1,000 punches each training session, which can be divided into 500 palm strikes or wipes, and 500 punches, resulting in about twenty minutes in Horse posture, which goes by really fast while breathing rhythmically and counting all those strikes.
Kick drills begin with stiff-legged, un-jointed kicks for stretching the hamstrings and hips, and end with jointed kicks (toe kicks, heel kicks, side kicks) and finally, jump kicks. Kicks are a great way to improve balance on one leg – the single standing leg – which is the root of the kick. Kick drills provide an aerobic work-out that is challenging and enervating.
Leg sweeps and trips can be high or low, and close or far-reaching. These movements will increase leg strength and mobility. When trips are coordinated with arm movements in opposing directions, the results are exponentially expanded.
Tan Tui (springing leg form) is the best foundation for developing mobility, leg strength, endurance and coordinating the legs and arms through the waist. It is fun to practice because it works the lungs while stretching the arms and legs. Tan Tui is beautiful, with its streamlined power and long range techniques. Basic training includes seven star blocking drills, which toughen up the forearms, the simplest of the Chin Na joint locks, and throws. All movements are taught with counters, and even counters to those counters …