Being a composite school, Shun Wu Tang employs the principles of many systems and styles, both hard and soft, internal and external, Yin and Yang. While Luohan Chuan/Quan is the elementary style of Shaolin Warrior monks and has given birth to many other styles, these other styles also contribute to the SWT system.
The Shun Wu Tang system consists of 3 major influential styles:
Tai Tsu Chuan – Grand Emperor Style
Luohan Chuan – Enlightened one Style
Dazun Chuan – DaMo/Bodhidharma revered Style
While these three are the major influential styles in the Shun Wu Tang System, there are quite a few other styles that contribute to the school of movement. Chin Na (Chinese grappling, trapping and seizing) and Shuai Jiao (Chinese Wrestling) contribute to this list, as well as Bai He (White Crane), Tai Chi Chuan (Grand Ultimate fist), Bagua Zhang (8 trigram palm), Xing Yi Chuan (Form/Intention fist) and a few others. Add to this list Western Boxing, Tae Kwon Do, Military Chin Na and Shuai Jiao, that Master Su has studied, and you have a very comprehensive, “complete”system.
All instructors in South Africa,also come from unique backgrounds consisting of various martial arts such as: Goju Ryu Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Jujitsu, Ninjitsu, Wing Chun, Muay Thai, Aikijitsu, Amok knife fighting, Escrima and Kail, and various forms of Chinese Martial Arts. Put all these combined years of experience together and you have the largest collection of martial knowledge and skills available, under one organisation: Shun Wu Tang Martial Arts Academy.
Tai Tsu is also another great contributor to martial styles that are available today. It is responsible for two of the most popular Tai Chi styles (Chen and Yang) and well as the ever popular Chang Chuan (Long Fist style). There are two styles that come from the original strain: Tai Tsu Chang Chuan (northern) which means Grand Emperor’s Long Fist, and Sun Tai Tsu Chuan (southern) which means Grand Emperor Sun’s Style. It initially translated to Great Ancestor’s Long Fist, but was changed later on in honour of its founder; Sun Tai Tsu. During the Sung dynasty, the first emperor, Sun Tai Tsu, created his own style of Martial Arts which combined the 3 internal styles of Tai Chi, Hsing I, and Bagua, as well as the various different styles of Shaolin. He had access to the Martial documents of Shaolin and combined his Martial knowledge with that of Shaolin and documented this new style which was later passed on to evolve into various other styles. Due to the combination of the 3 internal styles, Tai Tsu’s movements are all very circular and involve a lot of trapping, rolling, and intercepting. These movements are very evident in the Bagua Zhang system where the use of the 8 diagram symbol plays a major role. Interestingly, this is also where Feng Shuai comes from. Combine this with the devastating power of Tai Chi and the deceptive and complex striking and evading of Hsing I, and you have a highly effective style, which was used extremely successfully in battles and wars during and after the Sung dynasty. The southern style of Tai Tsu is very unlike any other Traditional Chinese Martial Art, excepting Southern Lohan. Both these styles are so similar that it very difficult to tell them apart. This is probably do to the fact that Lohan diverged into the many different styles and eventually converged into Tai Tsu. Obviously not all the techniques were carried over and new ones were added. Both these styles are very power orientated and resemble the Okinawan style of Goju Ryu Karate, to a certain extent. The more accurate statement would be that the Okinawan arts resemble Lohan and Tai Tsu. (See the article entitled “History of Okinawan Shuri-te)
Lohan/Luo Han Chuan was named after the 18 warrior monks of Shaolin. These were bandits who converted to Buddhism, became monks and were so devout that they attained Nirvana. Each of these 18 warriors was a skilled martial artist prior to joining Shaolin. They became the defenders and warrior monks of Shaolin. Their unique fighting styles contributed to the very first documented fighting style of Shaolin, aptly named Lohan/Luo Han Chuan. This fighting style was pasted down through generations to disciples and further developed and evolved into various other styles. There are many legends and stories about how Lohan spread throughout mainland China, and then to the rest of the world. One of them is that during the Burning of the Temples, many of the Lohan fled and spread out throughout the lands. Some ended up in Taiwan (where most of the traditional Kung Fu masters are), some fled to Okinawa (where Lohan contributed to the development of Karate), and the rest fled to all other parts around China; Korea, Japan, etc. Taiwan was considered a place of exile, so to speak. So it was not uncommon for great masters to have changed their names as well as the name of the style they were teaching, in order to not be found. This explains why there is so much of overlapping in the various styles today. Hence tracing any marital art to its true origins becomes very difficult. The earliest record of the origins of Shaolin Kung fu credits an Indian Brahman (priest) prince of a warrior cast, named Bodhidharma, who travelled east to spread his knowledge. Along the way he attracted disciples and scholars who documented his accounts. His journeys brought him to the Shaolin temples where he discovered that the monks were too weak and frail to conduct their normal daily duties and routines, and so set out to find a solution to this problem. There were, however some monks that arrived before Bodhidharma’s time that were skilled fighters with some degree of martial skills. The common form of combat at this time was known as Shuai Jiao/Di (Chinese wrestling). There is a legend that states Bodhidharma meditated for nine years facing a wall in a cave near Shaolin. After these nine years he left behind an iron chest containing two books called Yi Jin Jing(muscle change classics) and Xi Sui Jing (marrow washing classics). It is rumoured that the second book was taken by one of his disciples never to be seen again, while the Yi Jin Jing was kept by the monks of Shaolin. They could not read it because it was written in the language of the Buddha, so the monks set out to find someone who could translate it. They eventually found another Indian Brahman in the Emei mountains named Pramiti who gave his explanation of the writings of Bodhidharma. The monks then practised the teachings that Bodhidharma wrote in the Yi Jin Jing and saw a dramatic increase in their mental and physical abilities. Southern Lohan places a lot of emphasis on power and strong stances. It is a close distance fighting style and employs principles of both internal and external techniques. There are no flashy/fancy moves and students must endure hard and rigorous training. Focus of hard style Chi Kung and body conditioning is paramount in this legendary and well respecting fighting style
Arguable the most influential style of modern day Martial Arts, from which two of the most popular styles have evolved, namely; Wing Chun Kung fu and Okinawan Karate. While there are plenty of other styles that have grown out of Bai He, these two have had the most amount of influence on other styles in their respective fields. Crane is clearly visible in most styles of Karate. This style from the Fukien/ Fujian province was actually created by a woman, Fung Chi Niang, to defeat her much stronger male counterparts. Her father taught Shaolin Kung Fu and trained her in the ways of Shaolin, but she could not overcome her male colleagues, so she developed a method to strike vital spots and pressure points. Her main aim was to learn how to evade, trap and counter her opponents’ attacks. Thus White Crane employs a lot of grabbing, trapping and pressure point fighting. She became a famous and master and teacher in Yong Chun County in Fujian and her disciples later became the founders and masters of the 5 styles of Crane : Zong He (jumping crane) Fei He (flying crane) Ming He (shouting crane) Fan He (feeding crane) Bai He (ancestral crane)