The Shaolin Halls

The shaolin monks, through chan, left us with a way of mastering our selves internally and externally as well as giving us an ethically based combat system. These are what we now refer to as the 3 treasure of shaolin. Concisely, these treasures are Chan, health, and combat.  Hung Lung Sin Fu Faat Mun Pai, or the Shaolin Halls, consists of four halls or areas of training that are based on these 3 treasures. Also, I must mention, that the halls are a vertical progression in that when training the third hall the first hall still exists. Just as in the six wisdoms all must be understood for the reality of the others to be realized.

The First Hall, known as Gei Bun Gong or basic exercises, stems from the breadth and depth encapsulated with in the first two treasures of shaolin , chan and health. It focuses on developing a human’s full potential in the areas of health and fitness. Briefly, the student is taught to fully understand that the only things in this world that we can control are our mind, our body, and our spirit. Through this realization and all that it entails the practitioner begins to understand that they are on a journey not only of physical fitness but of personal responsibility and personal freedom as well.

The second Hall, Gei Bun Dong Juk or Basic movements, stems from all three of the shaolin treasures. But, I want to mention it is only the beginnings of the third treasure of combat. It is not until the third and fourth halls that the full development of this treasure is realized. This hall takes us through training on the 36 basic movements of the body. Not only individually but how our total bodies can work as a single unit, what we call body unity. Also, the beginnings of body initiated power generation are realized at this stage.

The third hall, San Shou or practical and effective combat, is based on combat, the third treasure of shaolin. At this stage of a students training progression the focus is on becoming an effective fighter in all ranges of combat with all four combat skills of ti/kicking, da/striking, shuai/throwing, and na/control. The ranges are based on the distance between or time to your opponent and labeled consecutively moving closer to your opponent as follows; long kicking, long striking/short kicking, trapping, and grappling.

A practitioner is in the long kicking range when he can only reach his opponent with his back foot using a full hip extension. The long striking/short kicking range exists when you can reach your opponent with your hands but only through completely rotating your body to increase the distance your hand will extend. The trapping range exists when one or both of the participants can reach the other with both of their hands simultaneously. Finally, you are in the grappling range when there is body-to-body contact with the main trunk of the body or technically when your body is inside of your opponents elbow if his arm is fully extended. In relation to the 4 combat skills the first 2 long distance ranges contain kicks and strikes and the grappling range specializes in throwing and controlling. The trapping range, which I will discuss in detail in the following paragraphs, contains all 4 of the combat skills.

In first describing the shaolin halls system I briefly mentioned that it is a vertical system in that one hall builds on the next and each one is required for a student to be a complete person and martial artist. Also, along that same line, I mentioned in the previous paragraph that the third hall is based on practical and effective fighting through all ranges of combat using all possible combat skills of ti, da, shuai, and na. this linear progression prepares the students mind, body, and emotions for advancement from effective life and combat skills to ones of efficiency on both of these fronts. If this progression is not adhered to and the student is just taught efficiency in life and in fighting the breadth and depth of the material cannot be fully realized, understood, or utilized in real life application. Which leads us into the fourth hall training arena.

The fourth hall training arena, Wing Chun, is training for maximum efficiency and contains all three of the shaolin treasures. For human beings, maximum efficiency can only exist with in the trapping (a.k.a. human) range of combat. That being said what do I mean by maximum efficiency?

Maximum efficiency can exist only when nothing can be added or subtracted from a specific concept, theory, or technique for a given time and space without distorting the reality that exists at that moment. Looking at the perfect shapes of the square, triangle, and circle we can see a theoretical example of this. If anything were added or taken away from these shapes they would no longer be perfect. In short detail if I control the time/distance, space/structure, and energy of my self and my opponent for a specific moment in time then I can achieve maximum efficiency. 

By: Sifu Damian Raad