The Northern Shaolin/Praying Mantis Kung-Fu System is an extensive and thorough martial art system, teaching authentic kung-fu and Internal styles.
Northern Shaolin kung-fu is considered to be the "grandfather" of all kung-fu styles and is renowned for its rigorous training and calisthenics. It uses every conceivable way of moving one's hands, feet and body. Extensive stretching exercises, body movements, elevated jumps and leg techniques with particularly high extension are commonly seen. Intricate hand combinations, low floor and acrobatics techniques are also some of the unique characteristics.
The Northern Shaolin Monastery system contains elements of animal movements - notably the tiger, leopard, snake, crane, monkey, eagle and the mystical dragon. In the Northern Shaolin system, none are a complete kung-fu form or style in itself. However, there are two major animal styles that evolved from the Northern Shaolin system: Eagle Claw (Ying Jow Fann Tzi Pai or Ying Jow Pai) and Praying Mantis (Tang Lang), the latter of which was the first singular animal style to emerge from the Northern Shaolin Monastery.
Seven-Star Praying Mantis
The Seven-Star Praying Mantis system uses short "shuffle-like" steps with a variety of close and long-range techniques, including low and high kicks, quick leg sweeps, hooking and trapping hand combinations (emulating the mantid's swift forelegs), elbow and backfist techniques, as well as simultaneous kicking and punching maneuvers. "Drunken" movements are also featured in this system. From a self-defense perspective, it is perhaps the most "aggressive" Praying Mantis style, emphasizing direct and continuous movement while using straight-line and circular counterattack techniques designed to penetrate an opponent's defense for a speedy finish.
Tai Chi Praying Mantis
As with Seven-Star Praying Mantis, the Tai Chi Praying Mantis system has a strong Shaolin foundation and shares many of the techniques found in the Seven-Star system. The two styles, however, are quite distinguishable. Tai Chi Praying Mantis (or "Tai Mantis") bears little outward resemblance to Tai Chi Chuan, but embraces its principles of Internal energy distribution, circular movement and "re-directive" defense. Tai Chi Praying Mantis also incorporates Tai Chi's philosophy of using an opponent's own force against himself. Tai Mantis stresses quick steps and footwork while executing formidable long and short-range punches, grapples, hooks and trapping techniques. Locking and throwing techniques, in addition to ground fighting movements are also seen in this system. Many kicks are featured - both low and high - as well as knee strikes and leg blocks.
Seven-Star and Tai Chi Praying Mantis systems both include "hard" (External) and "soft" (Internal) movements as well as many locking and throwing techniques that rely on a flexible body, sure footwork, breath control and speed. The movements allow the practitioner to perform techniques and combinations from any number of unlikely angles, which not only increase his/her own unpredictability, but also makes him/her a difficult target to hit.
18 Law Horn
The 18 Law Horn ("Northern Shaolin Lohan" or "Shaolin Lohan") from the Northern Shaolin Monastery is said to contain many of the original exercises developed by Bodhidharma. It is very similar in style to Northern Shaolin and is known for its firm positioning and sweeping, long-range techniques. The forms also feature movements and patterns that are based on principles of leverage. Leaps and dynamic footwork are used to quickly cover long distances and close the gap between opponents. The 18 Law Horn is also occasionally referred to as Lohan Chuan ("Buddha Fist").
My-Jong Law Horn (or My-Jong Lohan) is a Northern-style variation of the 18 Law Horn. It is influenced by the My-Jong I or "Lost Track" style, a relatively obscure form of kung-fu that stresses liberal, darting movements, rapid turns, sudden changes in direction, flashy hand movements, and powerful long-range attacks. Its sweeping, acrobatic style further enhances the leaps and footwork inherent in the original Law Horn style. My-Jong I is particularly effective for hybridizing with other Northern systems.
Small Circular Fist
Small Circular Fist (Syau Wan Kuen) is a kung-fu style originating from the Northern Shaolin Monastery. Consisting of only one known form (or kuen), it utilizes precise footwork and quick kicking techniques, along with circular fist movements designed to defend against one or more opponents. It is commonly taught within the curriculum of many traditional Northern Shaolin schools.
Northern Shaolin Tan Tui
Tan Tui ("Springing Legs") is a Northern form of kung-fu that is used to help establish the basics of Northern Shaolin training. Characterized by low and high kicking techniques with an emphasis on strong, yet mobile stances, Tan Tui aids in improving overall coordination while conditioning the lower body. Although not actually a stand-alone system itself, it is occasionally practiced as such in some schools. Generally, there are 10 and 12-routine versions of Tan Tui, sometimes called the "10-Road Style" and the "12-Road Style", respectively. The Association teaches the 12-routine set and often colloquially refers to them as the "12 Combination Exercises". These effective exercises have also been adopted by other Northern-style systems in their basic training. The 12-routine set is usually practiced as one of the first forms of Chang Chuan (the Northern "Long Fist" style).
Tai Chi Chuan
Tai Chi Chuan can be called a form of "active meditation". It is noted for its unique therapeutic and health benefits. It's fluid, circular movements are generally practiced slower than kung-fu, and is beneficial for the joints, tendons, tissues, and circulation. It is an exercise widely practiced in China, especially by the elderly. The Northern Shaolin/Praying Mantis Kung-Fu Association currently instructs the Wong, Chen and Wu styles of Tai Chi.
Hsing-I Chuan ("Mind Form Fist") is based on the five-element principle of Chinese cosmology (fire, water, earth, wood and metal). Hsing-I is a Northern Internal style of kung-fu that uses strong, low stances and linear movement, coupled with swift, re-directive counterattack techniques. Of the three Internal styles, Hsing-I is the most physical or "External", with its powerful - yet practical - form. The Association instructs the Sun style of Hsing-I Chuan.
Pa-Kua Chang ("Eight Trigrams Palm"; often phonetically spelled as "Ba-Gua") is a Northern Internal styel of kung-fu. Pa-Kua derives its name, rationale and philosophy from the I Ching (Book Of Changes). Similar to its parent-style Tai Chi, Pa-Kua emphasizes soft, circular and coiling movements performed in a continuous, fluid manner. Many of the techniques in Pa-Kua are executed open-handed, stressing the displacing of horizontal force and turning of the palms. The Association instructs the Fu and Sun styles of Pa-Kua Chang.
Chi Kung is an Internal exercise that often incorporates breathing, slow or minimal movement, and meditative techniques to develop and control Chi in the body. Certain forms of Chi Kung have specific purposes. There are Chi Kung exercises for healing; Chi cultivation; vitality; relaxation; muscle/bone/tendon condition; and internal organ health. It is used in conjunction with many other Internal styles, especially Tai Chi, and is also incorporated in the training of Iron Palm and Piercing Hand Techniques.