This class teaches the foundational Shaolin from Shísān Quán (十三拳) or Thirteen Fist. This is the ideal first form for people with a more muscular/bulky physique as well as people with less mobility and agility, as the form focuses on powerful, grounded strikes and straightforward, stable footwork. Shísān Quán emphasises the following Shaolin Kung Fu characteristics:
Short and powerful movements: the form utilises a strong root to drive compact, powerful strikes.
Contraction and expansion: this is an important Shaolin Kung Fu characteristic, especially for forms like Xiǎo Hóng Quán (小洪拳), which is also clearly expressed in the movements of Shísān Quán.
Advancing and retreating in a straight line: this is a key characteristic of traditional Shaolin forms also evident in Shísān Quán, with the form moving forwards and backwards along a single line.
Able to be practiced in a confined space: there is a saying in Shaolin Kung Fu that if there is enough floor space for a cow to lie down, there is enough space to train traditional forms. This means that this form can be trained indoors in a relatively compact place if you do not have a gym or suitable outdoor location for training.
The form presents a strong blend of techniques and applications, including different punching angles as well as kicks, blocks, elbows, trapping, throws and joint locks (擒拿, Qínná). The fist is the featured hand shape of the form, used to both strike and grab, reflecting the form’s powerful character.
Adjusting the Form to Your Requirements
This form is well suited to two groups of people: those who are more muscular/powerful, and those who are less mobile/older. Those who are more muscular/powerful should focus on keeping strong and stable footwork, using the stance transitions to drive solid strikes at full speed. This dynamic style of training focuses on muscle contractions and improving the health of the meridians and bones. Those who are older or less mobile should try following the form slowly, using each posture as a static exercise and adjusting the movements to fit their ability. For example, this could mean making each stance higher and narrower than shown in the video and kicking at a lower height. This slower, more static form of exercise nourishes the Qì, spirit, mind and blood, helping to regulate your health and providing an excellent low-impact form of exercise.
Follow the movements in the video carefully with good attention to detail, learning 2-4 movements per training session rather than rushing to learn the entire form in one go. This will help you to be precise with each movement, forming good habits and understanding the form's characteristics and key features. Good luck!