Shaolin Fist – Chun Yuen Quan is a martial art that supports our health with a different sort of energy from Dayan Qigong and is great fun to learn. A variety of forms, some bare fisted and others with weapons such as sword and staff, promote good posture, co-ordination, strength, flexible joints and increase circulation to warm the body. Forms can be practised with benefit at slower and basic levels, suitable for all ages and fitness levels, or faster and stronger for the younger and fitter students. It is important to get foundation movements and posture correct whether practising fast or slow and do a little every day.
Chun Yuen Quan originated as a Northern Shaolin Kung Fu from the Shaolin Temple in Henan Province in China. This particular style was adapted by actors in the Beijing Opera who needed to be fit and able to ‘perform’ martial arts in opera shows. What originally was a fighting skill changed into more of a performance, but still retained the essence of Northern Shaolin Long Fist traditions.
One of the actors in the Beijing Opera was Master Wang Ping who was responsible for training younger actors in the martial arts. He in turn passed the skills to Wu Chun Yuen who began learning as a young man in the 1950s and practised every day with his Sifu, eventually becoming a teacher himself.
Master Michael Tse met Wu Chun Yuen in a park in Beijing on one of his visits there in the 1980s. He could see from observing him teach and lead his students through long-tasselled sword forms and staff forms that his skill was very high level. His posture, flexibility, inner strength and light body were clearly outstanding. Wu Chun Yuen agreed to accept Michael Tse as a student and he studied with him for many years, returning to Beijing as often as he could, becoming like a son as well as a student to Wu Chun Yuen. When Wu Chun Yuen died aged 77 in 2003, his other students stopped meeting together. Michael Tse became determined to preserve these skills for future generations and renamed them Chun Yuen Quan in honour of his teacher.
“Chun Yuen Quan promotes good posture, coordination, strength, flexible joints and fitness.”
Chun Yuen Quan – What will I learn in class?
There are a number of Shaolin Fist – Chun Yuen Quan – some ‘bare fisted’ and some with weapons. All can be performed at a sedate pace with minimal jumping, or can be performed fast and energetically. Either way, the spirit of both the martial and the performance aspects are developed through correct posture and stances.
This is the first form in the syllabus and teaches you the basic movements, postures and gestures found in many other of the Chun Yuen forms. It is very good for bringing up strong Qi in the body, helping to develop correct posture, and strengthening legs and joints. Even practised at the ‘basic’ level, students find Xing Shou energising and the gestures interesting.
Da Bei Quan
This is a beautiful form and specifically strengthens the lungs, guarding against depression. In traditional Chinese medicine the lungs are associated with sadness and depression, and the name of this form translates as ‘Great Sadness’ .
This is not a Shaolin form, but is included in the Chun Yuen syllabus as the first one to use a weapon – a straight sword with no tassel. The movements flow beautifully, almost meditatively and it is a very good form to start learning how to handle weapons.
Many people have seen the Shaolin monks wielding their long wax wood Damo Staff – twirling around the head, banging on the ground, sparring and blocking. Beginning with staff warm up exercises, students learn to wield the staff as if an extension of themselves, in a sequence of movements covering many applications of the staff.