About learning Kung Fu
Kung Fu has become a generic name that is associated with most Chinese martial arts in the West. Kung Fu translates as 'to achieve merit through hard work' and as such can be applied to any skill.
White Crane Kung Fu is all about learning (and most importantly practicing) a type of shadow boxing which we call forms. These forms are set movements formulated into short routines that when practiced help to improve control, accuracy, balance, strength, flexibility, posture, breathing, health, focus and patience (basically everything!). The beauty within them is that once learned they can be practiced anywhere in the world without the need for apparatus, fitness machinery, special clothing, dvd's or even much space.
Alongside all of these aspects concerned with making your body work better, they also teach the student self-defence. Through persistent repetition of the movements the body begins to learn to move in a way that is more efficient and relaxed which puts it in a much better position to defend itself in every aspect of the word.
Far from providing a rigid and unrealistic structure, these forms are simply an enjoyable tool designed to teach the concepts of White Crane Kung Fu. Once the concepts have been learned the practitioner has complete freedom to use them in any way they wish. Our system of forms shares common names and characteristics with many of the other Fujian styles of Gong Fu, including at its core San Zhan (San Chin in Karate) which translates as Three Battles and also versions of Four Doors/Gates or Si Men (Su Men).
These forms are similar to what Karate practitioners call Kata and what boxers and kickboxing practitioners call combinations or shadow boxing. They are an excellent learning method as the student can progress at their own pace dependent on their personal ability and determination. There is no pressure to advance beyond a natural pace and as a result each class will have a mix of students of all abilities training together. Even the most senior practitioner can learn from an absolute beginner.