Liu He Men
Liu He Men (Six Harmonies Kung Fu) is a branch of Yue style Shaolin Kung Fu. It combines soft and hard, internal and external techniques. Liu He is based on the theory of six combinations: internally, cultivate essence, energy and spirit. Externally, cultivate hands, eyes and body. The purpose of this training is to develop an ideal state of health, protect the body’s energy and master self defence and retaliation. This leads to a superior level of martial arts skill, total freedom of defence, a healthy body and a long life.
‘Eyes go with the mind, Mind goes with the Qi,
Qi goes with the Body, Body goes with the Hands,
Hands go with the Feet, Feet go with the Hips.’
Liu He movement is firm, forceful, steady and accurate. The heads moves like an inquisitive ghost, the chest sinks in defence and extends in attack. The body floats, sinks and soars, jumps like a cat, dodges like a dog, rolls like a rabbit and turns like an eagle.
When one part moves, Every part moves,
When one part is still, Every part is still,
Move when the enemy moves, Move like an avalanche.’
Liu He Men Two Man Practice
Liu He Men was the style practiced by Grandmaster Wan Lai Sheng before he took up Zi Ran Men (Natural Boxing School). However Wan Lai Sheng also continuously developed his Liu He Men skills as he deepened his knowledge of martial arts. Wan Lai Sheng then constructed a curriculum of Liu He Men forms which he felt was important for developing skills as a martial artist, so in this way, Wan Lai Sheng’s Liu He Men curriculum could be seen observed as the forming foundation for the study of martial arts. It was Wan Lai Sheng who once stated that “All Gong Fu requires understanding of the Six Harmonies (Liu He). Without understanding it, your Gong Fu will not be substantial.”
Liu He Men practice generally consists of essential muscle, flexibility and self-defence training techniques and follows with the study of various traditional Shaolin Liu He Men form sets. This method of training continues over many years until the student can effectively utilize these techniques if required in genuine combat. There are many form sets in the Liu He Men system. Some of the more common ones include:
Liu He Men Empty Hand Form Sets
- Basic Fist Form
- Liu He Form
- Green Dragon Form
- Black Tiger Form
- Mother and Son Form
- Two Man Fighting Form
Liu He Men Weapon Form Sets
- Basic Cudgel
- Golden Phoenix Single Wing Saber
- Nine States Cudgel
- Eight Immortals Straight Sword
- 24 Golden Spear
- Hacking Forest Double Straight Sword
- Two Person Straight Sword
Zi Ran Men (Natural Boxing School)
Zi Ran Men is based on ancient Taoist philosophy, Traditional Chinese Medical Theory and most importantly, the philosophy of ‘One and Zero’. Not unlike Liu He Men, it combines essential muscle, flexibility and physical training, plus Qi Gong, Meditation and practical self-defence techniques.
As a result of this training method, Zi Ran Men enhances the spirit of the mind, regulates the circulation of Qi and develops physical sensitivity. When the body & mind has learnt to exist in its natural flow and harmony, your preference will be to live a long and healthy life.
‘There is no beginning or end of movement,
There is no beginning or end of stillness,
There is no beginning or end of change.
Actual attack is hidden within fake attack,
Movements are within stillness.’
When you can successfully apply these theories, you will experience a sense of freedom and flow within all movement. Your assaults and defences will be fluid and agile.
Zi Ran Men training can be divided into three components: Physical Training, Self -Defence Techniques and Conditioning.
These three components combined are for one purpose, which is to develop the health of one’s body and mind.
Qian Ba Zhuan
‘1008 Movement Qigong’. Developed to stretch the tendons, stimulate the flow of blood and Qi and lighten the body.
Ai Dang Bu
‘Lower Hip Step’, disperses heart fire, opens the body’s meridians and brightens the vision.
Shaolin Ba Shi
‘Eight Movement’ Qigong to develop internal power.
Zou Luo Kuang
‘Circle Walking’. Develops strength, balance, speed and ‘lightness skill’.
Initially, students learn particular forms and follow certain guide lines. Through observations and practice, these movements progress from awkward to natural. When this level is attained, you can defend yourself more successfully. The methods of Zi Ran Men self-defence capabilities adhere to the rules of nature – apply technique without thought, and movements appear from nothing.
When still, the stance resembles an ancient Chinese General holding a decree tablet. This is known as ‘Bao Bei Shou’. When moving, the feet remain in the shape of the letter ‘T’ and the hands hold the form of ‘Ghost Hands’.
The hands have the feeling of grabbing like a steel hook. Punches are unseen by the opponent, thrown like a knife. Block like iron, stick to the enemy like glue. Thus, your opponent will be unable to avoid the attack.
Avoid the attack like being blown by a gust of wind. Retreat like drawing a sword from its scabbard. The body sinks like a crane, the palms strike like a biting snake. Movements are agile like a monkey, the head turns like a floating ghost.
The hands attack as softly as cotton and land with the force of steel. Hardness is within softness. Softness first. Hardness follows.
Fighting an adversary
Evade their attack. Retaliate when their energy is spent before they have time to regather. Move when the adversary moves, strike when they strike. Exploit their position, be light and nimble. Attack is within defence. Defence is within attack, both unquestionable and apparent.
Ziranmen training also contains a number of conditioning techniques in order to strengthen your muscles, bones and tendons, and make the body resilient to attack. It should be stressed that this conditioning is not intended to cause any harm to your body. Hard force is never utilised during these exercises.
Mother and Son Ball
Two iron balls are used, one 8kg and the other 10kg for conditioning the hands. You should train twice a day, gradually increasing you power, qi and repetitions. Do not use hard force. Here the practitioner would assume horse stance and practice lifting, catching, pushing, pointing, and drilling the balls with their fingers.
Iron Hand Training
Fill a deep wok or pan with dried green beans, assume horse stance and spear the hands into the beans up to the wrists. Repeat 36 times, twice a day, replacing the beans as they split. After a year, mix in 50% yellow beans and continue training. After another six months, add 50% sand, finally switching to 100% sand at the end of the second year. From here on, you can gradually mix iron pellets into the sand.
Brass Ring Training
Start with two rings on each arm, the hands are held at the hips in an ‘eagle claw’ shape, palms up. The arms are alternately extended straight forward, with the palm facing away from you at the end of the outward movement. Add one ring per arm per month, up to a maximum of 32 rings. The rings themselves are 0.5kgs each and about 1.1 inches thick.