Shaolin

 Tang shou dao
"bridging" forms

 

 

 

     

 

 










 
   

Introduction

The Wu-Wei Dao system includes drills and forms that are part internal and part Shaolin (external) from the Tang shou dao (ie. "karatedo") system of the late Hong Yi Xiang in Taibei, Taiwan.  These serve as a vital "bridge" to the internal arts, introducing techniques and a form of movement based on an entirely different set of principles in a paradigm that a senior external student can readily understand and apply.

The forms are the creation of master Hong and were passed down via Nenad's and Dan's principal instructor Laoshi Bob Davies.

Luo De Xiu1, a former student of Master Hong states: "At the T'ang Shou Tao school Hong Laoshi created some forms as a program for beginners... We started at the beginning with what looked like Shaolin forms, but weren't really Shaolin.  They were modified Xing Yi and Ba Gua forms, changed into a more Shaolin style.  At the higher levels we learned the traditional Xing Yi forms."

 


Hong Laoshi teaches a student Shaolin Peng (from the Way of the Warrior BBC TV series)

 
   

Luo's designation of these forms as suitable for "beginners" is however a matter of perspective:  while they mark the beginning of internal arts, they are highly sophisticated forms in their own right.  It would be a mistake to regard these half external / half internal forms as somehow "inferior" to the purely internal arts such as Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan (or, for that matter, purely external arts such as karate). 

As the famous martial arts master Chen Pan-Ling said: "Shaolin goes from hard to soft and wutang [internal]... goes from soft to hard.  The final goal for both styles is the same: to train people to use a combination of soft and hard strokes to fight."2

Hong Yi Xiang's "bridging forms" can be viewed as such a combination.  It is possible that, as the creator of these forms, he accorded them a lesser status than older forms, partly out of custom (ie. to elevate knowledge that is older) and partly because they marked the beginning of his particular teaching sequence.  In the end, the various types of external and internal martial arts are best presented as points in a circle (neither superior nor inferior) rather than points in a linear progression.  A "soft" external artist is as effective as a "hard" internal artist.

The "Shaolin" component in the bridging forms is very likely taken from Hong's father's art, a school of Taiwanese white crane, considered by some to be among the "softer" external arts.  The white crane heritage is not only identifiable in the techniques and principles of the bridging forms, but also in the names: for example a counterpart to the form Wu Hu Xia San exists in White Crane Silat's Wun Fie Loa (which also means "5 tigers coming down the mountain").  Although this form might look radically different at first glance, a closer observation reveals the same "embusen" (lines of movement) and corresponding techniques, indicating that Hong Yi Xiang may have used an ancestral crane form as a template for the creation of his hybrid.

At present the Academy teaches 2 of these forms and various basics and drills derived from these forms.  They are taught as electives from Shodan to Sandan.

1. From Jess O'Brien (2004) Nei Jia Quan, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California

2. Chen Pan-Ling (1963) taiji Chuan Chiao Tsai translated by YW Chang and Ann Curruthers, Blitz, New Orleans Louisiana

 
   
Basic exercises
     
   

Wu shou
"5 hands" (basic techniques)

The Wu-Wei Dao system teaches 5 basic movements found in the bridging forms as a precursor to teaching the forms themselves.  These are analogous to the 5 elements of Xingyi and provide the essential building blocks of the forms.  As with Xingyi's 5 elements, these can be combined into a "linking" form that doubles as a simple 2 person sparring drill, called "Wu shou yi" (or "5 hand change").

Wu shou is not separately examinable, although the elements are found in the bridging forms below.

 

 

 

 
    Forms      
   

Wu hu xia shi shan 
"5 tigers come down from the western mountain"

Wu hu xia shan is a medium length form.  It contains elements of Taiwanese White Crane.  As noted above, the only other form of that name in existence today appears to be White Crane Silat's Wun Fie Loa.  The reference to "5 tigers" is presumably to the legendary 5 northern Shaolin practitioners who traveled to the south to spread their knowledge.  The form features aggressive advancing/wedging deflections and power body strikes.

Wu hu xiai shi shan is required for Yondan 1, 2 and 5

 

 
   

Da peng zhan chi 
"Great peng/tai/roc (a mythical bird) spreads its wings"

This form, known for short as "Shaolin peng",  is the counterpart to Xingyi's tai bird form and the 6th palm change in bagua.  The peng, also called the tai or  roc, is a mythical gigantic bird of prey.  Shaolin peng is the longest and most complex of the bridging forms, containing techniques from Xingyi, Bagua and Taiji.  It is characterised by its swift, cutting attacks and subtle but complex deflections and parries.

Da peng zhan chi is required for Yondan 3, 4 and 5