Our style encompasses striking, kicking, aiki-jitsu, locking and throwing aspects. We train to respond with these aspects in mind not as separate parts of our martial practice but as the complete tapestry of adaptation that defines Shaolin Kempo. A hand strike does not equal a hand strike response. A grab does not automatically elicit a grappling response. We respond with Kempo and flow into what is natural given the situation and circumstance of any encounter.
utilizes close-in fighting and therefore almost all responses to engagement seeks to draw close to the attacker. The continuous destructive motion off a powerful yet mobile base with multiple strikes, while simultaneously manipulating the opponent’s upper, and lower body mass and structural integrity until the threat is over.
above can teach a seeker a great deal about our theory of movement, control and our perspective of an opponent and engagement.
The continuous purposeful motion of Shaolin Kempo utilizes circular and straight patterns of striking, a strategy to close the gap with the intent to neutralize an attacker, flows from striking to trapping to locks, breaks, to disruption of the root and structural integrity, to folding, to takedowns, to striking…
The advantage and one of the core principles of Shaolin Kempo are to blend the different ways of fighting into one powerful expression.
Through training in Shaolin Kempo the forms, the self defense techniques, Chinese boxing, aiki-jitsu, chin na and five animal gung fu, we learn to develop and understand the six principles which are: relaxation; body alignment; centre of gravity force; dynamic centre point of mass: internal and external circle sphere and the co-ordination of force; along with the core principles and Master Keys of engagement that is at the heart of Shaolin Kempo and personal growth.
The animals represent distinct ways of fighting. Most people will find themselves gravitating to one particular animal due to body type and personal preference. However, Shaolin Kempo represents the power of adaptability, so we strive to learn and master each way of fighting. Especially since a self defense situation may determine that the best response comes from a combination of strategies. Animal techniques are taught right from the beginning, and at green belt, we begin to focus on an animal per belt in preparation for shodan, a first-degree black belt.
Claw strikes, tiger palms, tiger mouth strikes are associated with this style of fighting. The tiger is known for using the attributes of a low centre of gravity and body weight to its advantage. There is a strong emphasis on chin na, locking joints, ripping muscle and tendons with devastating effects on an attacker. The tiger is simple, honest and direct. The tiger style represents dominance, strength, power and action, overwhelming an opponent with superior force.
Leopard paw strikes, claws, elbows, forearms, knees, coupled with quick shifting motions from the waist distinguishes the leopard. Another characteristic of the leopard is powerful driving blows that keep an attacker uprooted. The leopard does not carry as much mass as the tiger, therefore, it cannot crush its prey as a tiger does. Instead, it relies on speed, and agility to compensate. The leopard attacks with a relentless series of attacks. Unlike the tiger, the leopard has less use for deep rooted stances. The leopard style of fighting itself, roots only momentarily for power generation and for quick leaps and directional changes off of a strong, yet mobile base.
Crane's head strike, cranes beak, wing strike, front, back and crescent kicks and multiple kicking attacks. The Crane posesses the ability to grip the ground for balance, can deflect most attacks by creating angles with its footwork. This animal is very unique in comparison to the other animals. It is graceful, light, patient, watching and never initiating the attack. It, rather, evades and if it thinks that it is appropriate it will teach, finding a point to counter, an obvious vital spot like eyes, nose, ears, crown of the head and anything else that is suitable for its light long claws and sharp strong beak. The Crane would counter-attack from any angle except the front. It would always side-step the attack, possibly using its wing to hide the movement.
Inner strength (chi), precision, order, wisdom, endurance, two-finger pokes, spearhand poke, snake strike, snake kicks, snake stances. The Snake is unique among animals because it has no external limbs. This style focuses on speed, accuracy, knowledge, timing, precision and pressure point strikes and sequences. There are two types of snakes: The viper and the constrictor. Someone who practices the Snake style is never the attacker, much like the Crane. The viper waits for the right moment, the right spot for its precision attack. The constrictor uses deception and any contact to trap, wrap, and crush the attacker breaking and straining limbs or creating chokes and locks. The Snake style of fighting usually will incorporate both the constrictor aspect and the viper. The Snake’s style of blocking is evasive using more slips, bobs and weaves than direct blocks. It relies on its agile body and quick reflexes to avoid contact besides its own counter-attacks.
The dragon uses any hand strike, spinning kicks, multiple kicks and uses whipping motions powered by rotation generated through the waist. In legend, the dragon often arrives with a storm cloud and can strike like the wind and lightening, from all directions. There are many rising and falling motions in the dragon that represent the motion of smoke and wind. Some consider the dragon as the “fifth element” unifying the other four animal styles into one. Although, the dragon has its preferred weapons, the legend of its shape shifting ability is demonstrated by the fighter using all the weapons of the other animals in an adaptive and indomitable manner. Another important note to this approach to fighting is that the dragon is a mythical creature. Dragons are not really there and so influences this style of fighting to focus on the strikes not being “seen” or “coming out of no-where”, and indeed the person to often “disappear” while engaged. The dragon fights with wisdom.