Learning the Kung Fu Basics: A Guide for Beginners : If you’re just stepping into the world of martial arts, it can be a little overwhelming trying to determine what you need to learn first. In fact, kung fu is a generic term for all the martial arts of China – there are hundreds of different styles of kung fu!
Shaolin Kung Fu is one of the most popular styles of martial both in China and abroad. It’s primarily a striking style of martial art that uses kicks, blocks, punches, and agility to quickly disable opponents. It can also be considered a form of art.
Read on for the kung fu basics that you should know!
Kung Fu Stances
Stances serve as the foundation for all kung fu moves you’ll learn, and you’ll probably find that kung fu classes focus on them first. If you aren’t comfortable with these stances, your moves will fall apart. This is because a stable stance improves the power and effectiveness of your moves.
As you become more familiar with the stances, you’ll begin learning how to move around and transition. Then you’ll combine the basic techniques of striking and blocking along with your stance movements.
There are five main stances you’ll need to learn. Other stances are slight variations on these basic ones.
1. Horse Stance
This is one of the first stances you’ll learn in kung fu; it improves both your physical and mental training. Place your feet shoulder-width apart and point your toes outward slightly. Then, squat down until your knees are almost at 90 degrees. Some schools will recommend you hold the stance for as long as possible.
Besides strengthening your legs, becoming comfortable in the Horse Stance teaches you to lower your center of gravity.
2. Forward/Bow Stance
This stance helps you generate power and further forward movement. With your front knee bent and your back leg straight, shift your weight to the front leg.
3. Cat Stance
The Cat Stance focuses on transitional movements and mobility – you want to be as agile and limber as a cat. Your front leg will rest on the toe or ball of your foot with the majority of your weight in your back leg. The front leg is then used to transition into another stance or kick an opponent.
4. Twist Stance
This is another transitional stance to advance, retreat, or change the direction of your body. Your legs will appear twisted as your front foot is turned outward while the back foot rests on the ball of your foot.
5. Crane Stance
Used to kick opponents or avoid attacks, the crane stance requires a great deal of balance and coordination. This requires you to stand on one leg while you lift the other.
Kung Fu Foundational Forms
Once you’re comfortable with stances and basic kicking and striking movements, your training will move on to forms. A kung fu form is a series of movements that are designed to exercise the body in various ways.
There are three foundational forms that you need to learn before attempting the ten core forms, which are significantly more challenging and take a lifetime of practice to perfect. These ten forms in the order of easiest to hardest difficulty are:
- Close Fighting
- Plum Blossom
- Penetrating Heart
- Martial Practice
- Jumping Step
- Enter The Gate
- Leading Steps
- Riding Horse
- Connecting Links
- The Method
Based on your body type and preference, as you become more familiar with the forms you can choose your favorite moves and develop a completely different fighting style than someone else.
Tan Teui/Spring Steel Legs
This is the first beginner’s form that combines the horse and bow stance along with powerful punching and kicking techniques. It’s believed to be a 400-year-old form that was created at the Shaolin Temple.
By practicing Tan Teui, you’ll be drastically strengthening your legs and flexibility. This form has a total of 240 movements that takes three minutes to complete at full speed.
Lian Bu/Continuous Steps
This form expands on your knowledge of stepping length and skill. It’s the shortest form in the Northern Shaolin system with only about 30 movements. With its practical applications for combat, it was taught through the Chinese military in the 1930s.
It’s a great form to practice in order to perfect your Bow Stance along with defense skills. You’ll train your legs to control the distance between yourself and the opponent along with improving your posture and mechanics. With practice, you’ll also become proficient at aggressive linear stepping and turnarounds.
Xiao Yuan/Small Circles
This form focuses on hand coordination and contains a variety of techniques, including punches, kicks, joint locks, sweeps, and elbow strikes. Compared to Lian Bu and Tan Teui, it’s the most difficult form to learn with its complex, circular movements.
Kung Fu Basics: Building the Foundation to Mastery
As you begin kung fu with stances, you’ll realize that the movements and forms all relate to one another. A powerful stance leads to more efficient movements. Efficient and powerful movements lead to powerful forms.
What’s important to remember is to remain patient with yourself and focus on mastering the kung fu basics before moving on to the more challenging movements and forms. Building a solid foundation in kung fu will serve you well for the rest of your practice, which will hopefully last your entire life.
Want to learn more about martial arts? Continue reading our blog for more informative articles.
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