On this page you will find most of the information that you require to learn, train and pass Post Red Sash level of Shaolin Academy Cannon Fist Kung Fu. It is a style for the big and strong, not the quick and agile.
Sifu James R, the first to successfully complete the Cannon Fist Style at the Shaolin Academy
The concept of a Kung Fu 'style', as just being just limited to a series of movement and possible sounds, as often depicted in Hong Kong Cinema is only part of the story. A complete and true style will have a number of facets and the purer styles will have specific key tactics and strategies uniquely paired with the movement and techniques. Often these are also specific to an area and even to a particular type of person with the view to maximize the practitioner's skills, natural abilities, attitude, body size, reach and intelligence.
As part of the Shaolin Academy Black Sash graduation, senior students are given the choice to either go down the well defined path of the 5 Animal or 5 Temple Style (which is the core and key Shaolin Academy Style), join another style and achieve understanding and competency within this or search out and/or recreate unique, unusual and for the meaningful styles that coordinate together and compliment their being and Kung Fu development
The creation of this WEB page documents the result of one of these choices, taken by Sihing James R, who took the journey of re-discovering the Cannon Ball Fist Style. It is a joint collaboration between Sihing James and Sijo and this is their journal of development, a record of the style.
What is normal? Is there a shoe that fits everyone, a car that everyone likes, a piece of music that all agree, is the best for everyone? Usually, the answer to such all encompassing questions is no and as such also the reason that 5 Animal Kung Fu over a period of 5000 years plus, have seen over 1000 styles and variations of Kung Fu.
These styles can be divided in many different ways. Many Kung Fu practitioners like using the terms of North vs South, Internal vs External, Long vs Short, Power vs Speed, Practical vs Athletic, Fighting vs Sport; yet this is a very simplified view that leads to may misinterpretation and misunderstandings. For the purpose of the Shaolin Academy Senior Student Driven Workbooks we seek to find a set of Key Descriptors, Key Characteristics that define the style best for our purposes.
Shaolin Kung Fu is a Buddhist based style and thus, from these come a set of Key Style Indicators (KSI);
|Safety||Is always at the forefront, never do any harm, even if attracted, if possible. But also consider the long term effect that your training and practice of the martial art has; will it cause long term damage to your body, mind or spirit; will it create health issues through its practice or use (excessive impact on training objects) and even to the point; will it mark your body in such a way that everyone will recognize that you are a fighter and assume that you are also a thug!|
|Consideration||Is a key element of Shaolin Style Martial Arts. Think and Consider before you Act. If you feel that you are becoming aggressive, emotive and possibly out of control, the style should be one that promotes a calming, reconsidering process rather than a "Strike First - Think Later" action. A true Shaolin Academy supported style places Thinking and Consideration before Action and Violence.|
|Peace||- and Safety are the reason for Shaolin Martial Arts. It is not about War Style that seek to kill and destroy. The level of skill needs to be such that no one needs to be hurt or damaged more than the situation requires; martial art is used for;|
|Management||not Domination of a volatile situation. It is a tool for conflict situations which has a number of options, tactics, strategies and methods of dealing with these, backed up by the possibility (not inevitability) of an active response (which also gives the confidence not to need a physical action).|
|Appropriateness||is a far reaching concept. Do you really want to spend year learning to bash someone or does your training have considerable other benefits? Is the style right for you; your physical, mental and spiritual aspects. If you are a non-violent person how can a martial art help you or if you are a violent character, how can it support you in finding human and intelligent outcomes.|
So, when we choose to recreate lost or fringe styles, we seek always follow these rules. This may effect the finished product but we feel that it is not conscionable, not right to create more violence in our world. There is enough of that already.
Cannonball style is a Counter Attacking style of Kung Fu for big short stature persons that operates on Explosive Power rather than endurance. A Cannon Ball practitioner will have a long reach and will not be excessively agile or flexible. Not an attacking style but a counter-attacking, it relies on a strong defence and guard. Finding a solid center both physically and mentally, the Shaolin Cannon Ball Fist practitioner waits for the aggressor to come to them. If no attack occurs, no counter attack will follow. If the attack occurs, the Shaolin Cannon Fist (SCF) practitioner will wait for the attacker to fully commit to the attack before taking any counter action. Without retreating, the SCF practitioner will hold their ground waiting for the attacker to be in a position where they can not easily retreat or evade. At this point the SCF practitioner will 'explode' into action with a two pronged aim; one to demolish the attackers defence and attack; and then to finish the attackers ability to launch any further aggressions. Then in keeping with the Cannon Ball style; the SCF practitioner resets and recovers ready for any further attack.
As usual there are many accounts of Cannonball Fist styles; from the time of the Three Emperors to as recent at the 17th Century. So we need to gain some perspective first.
Cannon as such were first recorded in an inventory listing from 1340 referencing portable firearm. By 1364, references to hand held firearms become common. These were miniature cannon barrels, some mounted on poles or handles, some simply built with a hook to fit over a fortifications wall and soak up the recoil. The earliest known metal cannon, with a positive date, is a Chinese bronze piece from 1279 AD, with prototypes from earlier years being constructed of bamboo.
But there is another "Canon" (Pao) and it is part of Chinese Chess and this is much older; according to words from Song Yu and Liu Xiang's articles, some said that people started to play Chinese Chess during the Warring States, 403-221 BCE.
This is not possible, so that relevant chess piece will either have been added later or the name changes as the analogy of the cannon suited it better! Thus we can also speculate that the origins of the Cannonball Fist and such, may be much earlier than the earliest cannon and that the name changed, morphed or sun such at a later date. There are a number of such styles mentioned that could be the origins, inspiration or even earliest appearance of the SCF.
There is a mention of a Long Range Boxing set in several old text but it can not be dated. There is also a style called the Great Hammer Fist which core elements greatly correspond with SCF. Today many style though have some style of punch called Hammer Fist. meteor Fist is another technique that appears very early in Chinese Martial Art texts and is greatly used by the SCF style. This technique is also intrinsic to many traditional Kung Fu styles and suggests that is has an early origins.
Chinese 3 Barel Pole Cannon. some 400 to 500 years old
There is one other point that may need to be considered and resolved, possibly by linguistic experts. Many Chinese Characters can have same sounds and different meanings and same meaning from different sounds. Just like the number four sound like death and thus is considered to be bad luck, the Pao Chuan may have really originated in the Three Kingdoms period but meaning something different than it means to day. There is a possible source in a slightly different place.
We are not seeking some form of credibility with this or trying to link to a lineage; we only seek to try and be true to the spirit of the style of Cannon Ball Fist as part of the Shaolin Academy Kung Fu development program. As there is no credible historical accounts of the Cannon Fist or such except for the self interested style accounts, we feel we have dome due diligence in researching what is there before we sough to develop a Shaolin Academy version. With that said, onwards.
There are two halves to the SCF; Attacking the Fort and Defending the Fort.
Attacking the Fort; consists of finding the reach of the attacker and maneuvering just outside this reach, to far for the attacker to be effective but close enough to encourage them attacking you (wasting their arrows so to say). This part of the Style uses evasive stepping and a minimum of blocking. If the strategy is executed correctly you need to choose a time to 'fail' (Entice the tiger...) which should encourage the attacker to commit to a fuller slightly less cautious attack. the depending on your strength and the attackers strength you either their Attack (Defeat the enemy by capturing their chief) with brute force and toughness by shortening the distance from the attackers optimum long reach (compared to yours) and stepping in to your optimum attack reach and effectiveness. Once in, you 'explode' ie. use a series of techniques to incapacitate the attacker from further action.
Defending the Fort; is you stand and defend your ground with the Cannon Fist system of Blocks and Defence (Iron Shield and Iron Bar blocking). Again, this needs to be a good (fort) defence whereby you again wait for the attacker to over commit to get through your defence. Again, in this case you move in and shorten the distance and stop the attacker from any further action.
NOTE - this strategy works exceedingly well in street combat, self defence and full contact tournaments but is less effective in non-contact events. In full contact and real situation, the success of your style is evident in the outcome and effectiveness of your techniques on the attacker. But in non-contact, where judges need to see the techniques, the close quarter engagement that is the mainstay of the Cannon Fist stylist is difficult to see and thus award points.
Sifu James R
|Unshakable Foundation||A solid earth connection is essential at all times. The SCF stylist upsets the opponents grounding but never the other way around. Like a real Cannon Ball, even if you don't quite get the counter in, your footwork and close proximity to the attacker should upset the center of balance and footwork; but never yours!|
|Impenetrable Defence||is almost an oxymoron but "almost' impenetrable defence is stupid. Your ability to defend your vital parts; Head, Major Organs, Joints; Groin, Solar Plexus is essential. Allowing the attacker to hit your Stomach, Hips, Shoulders, even thigh or forearms is a good substitute for hitting your Vital Points. Serious Cannon Fist practitioners will also be versed in iron Body Kung Fu to some degree.|
|Hunters Patience||is the patience of a person who will go hungry, possibly die if they are no patient. Hunters waiting in ambush have to overcome fatigue, cramps, irritations and distractions. the SCF stylist needs to have this endurance and patience; for if they 'explode' at the wrong time, they are spent for a short time and thus very vulnerable. Timing and patience is everything!|
|Explosive Action||is the difference between a racing car and a dragster. Once you deem the moment right you give it ALL for a short but super bright burst of action; and then like a cannon, you need to recharge. Timing is everything.|
|Guarded Recovery||is the need to recover from your counter-attack-explosion. Hi value Chi Kung Breathing with Minimalistic but Effective avoidance and blocking strategy is essential. Although, as a SCF stylist your 'explosion' should have taken out the attacker, you need to have a fall back strategy in case human nature (imperfection) prevailed or there are multiple attackers.|
To understand; or to remember the Shaolin Cannon Fist Strategies best, consider you are an attacking force in front of a well fortified fort. What are the main ways of attacking this fort and bringing it down. But before we look at this let's review the fundamentals.
Cannons and Catapults are bulky, heavy to move and need to be recharged. This metaphor is used for large people who can not bounce around and move a lot and; who can expend a lot of energy and force in a short time but then need to take a breather afterwards; recharge the catapult or cannon so to say. That means that most of the strategies below function of the basis that a lot of force and effort is put into the major attacks but then the Cannon Fist Kung Fu practitioner needs some time to recharge. Be in defence mode without a lot of energy expenditure. There fore, the 1st of the 6 strategies is an energy management strategy that allows you to observe your opponent whilst not expending a lot of effort.
Tossing out a brick to get a jade gem - sometimes losing a little can gain a lot; let the attacker in so that you can take control
Overview of Cannon Fist Kung Fu Techniques & Tactics
A solid earth connection is essential at all times; so a there are a whole array of medium to semi-low stances. Together with this some simple but powerful posture and stance disruption techniques but almost no kicks (as a solid person, falling to the ground is tantamount to absolute defeat). The SCF stylist upsets the opponents grounding but never the other way around. Like a real Cannon Ball, even if you don't quite get the counter in, your footwork and close proximity to the attacker should upset the center of balance and footwork; but never yours!
Hand techniques for both defence and counter-attacking are usually short, sharp and powerful. For defence we draw on the Shaolin Academy Iron Shield system of Blocks and Iron Bar System of Intercepts. For counter attacking the three main Punches plus a number of supporting techniques.
Keep a good center of gravity, reduce the amount of movement, keep a good solid guard and defence and wait for your opportunity to shine. Along the way you may use some of the 'enticing' tactics (Entice the Tiger, Startle the Snake, Borrow a Corps, etc) but nothing that costs a lot of energy and nothing that exposes you more than you are prepared to expose or able to take; and be patient. When the opportunity arises, give it all and then retreat to recharge and recover.
This could be almost seen like the Shaolin Eagle Kung Fu, where by you hover out of reach, harrying your attacker until they make a mistake or get tired; except as the Cannon Fist Kung Fu practitioner, you wait for the attackers weakest moment to attack and take down their greatest strength. This is what you do!
The Cannon Fist practitioner does not need a second opportunity (and often doesn't get it.).
Cannon Fist Stylist
Stomp the grass to scare the snake
it may be a benefit to do something seemingly stupid if you have a guarded attacker
but be totally ready to capitalize on this as a Cannon Fist Practitioner does not seek 2nd chances!
Cannon Fist Skills
This is a style of Earth and Fire; powerful explosive techniques based on a solid and deep earth connection. Superior and solid Stances, almost impenetrable Blocking and Jamming Techniques, Iron Body abilities and the force of a lightning strike (or a Cannon ball hitting) when counter attacking. You need a strong and tough body that can take a little punishment. You do not need to be enduring but need to be able to fire up and deliver 100% for a short period of time. Sihing James, pictured, shows a fairly ideal physical characteristic of a good SCF Kung Fu practitioner.
Mentally and spiritually, you need to be a person who does not necessarily seek a violent solution. Cannon Fist strategies and principles can be also applied to verbal defence and situation as well as many other aspects of life. So you need to be prepared to explore your abilities beyond just the physical confrontational to include everyday situational.
You are Suited for the Cannon Fist
If you prefer not to 'start' things. If you do not have a lot of stamina, even have an explosive choleric nature. If you are usually well balanced and centered; and are able to manage your nature. If you prefer to have dignity and occasionally the last definitive word. If you believe that your home is your castle and that disrupting someone's home is one of the wort things that can be done. If you are more on the quiet side, slow to anger and wish to learn hot be quick to act. Or if you wish to learn and/or practice these life qualities then the Cannon Fist Style may be a good way to discovering your strengths, you being and your way of operating (MO).
Training from this materials will not make an expert out of you, or a Champion or a Warrior; but it will give you a good grounding upon which you can choose to build, if you wish. Some have chose to enter competitions and have done well using the 72 Fists and principles; especially the movement groups. Some have had opportunity to defend themselves using 72 Fists and this has also been successful. We at the Shaolin Academy have even used our Kung Fu as action stand-ins in theater, movies, music videos and shows and when we visited China we put on a demonstration at the Shaolin Temple in Henan China, Xian Wushu School and the Beijing Wushu Institute. But mostly, we use our Kung Fu for Fun, health and Fitness!
Choose wisely the reason for your training and if you are not wise; consider the following words;The Universe will conspire to make you thoughts come true; both what you want and what you don't'; be careful on what you focus your mind.
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The Nine Tests of Cannon Fist Kung Fu
This is what you need to be able to do well!
1st test - Foundation and Basic Skills
To attempt for the Shaolin Cannon Fist Kung Fu Level you need to either be qualified as a Shaolin Academy Red Sash (around 4 to 5 years Kung Fu experience) or be a Certified Black Sash in a recognized Traditional Martial Art Style Style. Why this you ask? Well, Shaolin Cannon Fist Kung Fu is an advanced level form and there is scope to hurt yourself if your body and mind is not prepared. To have a chance at succeeding safely in this advanced level you will need to understand the way of Shaolin Kung Fu and Techniques. For this, we have an extensive Cyber Program on line for $29/y. The Tiles below are direct links to the 5 Temple Levels which are the foundation to the Shaolin Advanced levels. The 1st Tile links you to the overview page for the Shaolin Kung Fu Academy Cyber Training Program. Have a look at this first if you have not already done so. Each page will open in a new window so when you finish reading it just close it and you will be back at this page!
2nd Test - Cannon Fist Techniques
The Cannon Fist style is based on solid Stances, superior Defence and sudden Counters. The following are the Key & major Cannon Fist techniques but not the only ones; remembering that this is post Red Sash.
9 Cannon Fist Stances
11 - Cannon Fist Blocks
The Cannon Fist uses the Iron System of Blocks and you need to have body parts of Iron for the style. Aside from this the techniques are very basic and easy.
Cannon Fist Strikes
4th Test - Safety & Control
Application of the techniques in the form os Systems and Application and with great power...... It is essential that the Superior Cannon Fist Stylist is able to control their power and on occasion pull it; stop it from reaching the intended target. And this control needs to be managed, practiced and in this case demonstrated in the following 5 ways;
5th Test - Cannon Fist Form
The Shaolin Cannon Fist (JR) is a form of power and strength, strong medium stances, sudden explosive movement and almost direct line of counter-attack. You need to demonstrate the Shaolin Academy Cannon Fist Form twice in one go; once to show you know the form, understand the movements, demonstrating solid ground work, explosive techniques and Cannon Fist movements and; secondly, show that you have been able to make the form yours. That in spite of the narrow
6th Test - Sparring
This is possibly the easiest of the triple Application Tests, practical sparring. All you have to do here is spar several rounds against various opponents using the principles, stratagem systems and tactics of the Cannon Fist Practitioner. So, show us how the Canon Fist practitioner manages conflict but without hurting anyone.
7th Test - Knowledge
You need to do some research on the Cannon Fist and add the the Background and History already listed on this WEB page. In other words, add to the knowledge and history of the style.
8th Test - Style
Describe the Cannon Fist in your words, what you have learned from it with and example of how you have used it, and how it could benefit you in the future in life and living.
9th Test - Strategy & Tactics
There are many strategies and tactics for defending, winning, not loosing, when you have advantage, when you are over-matched, etc., Using the information on this page as a basis, which Strategy or Tactic is NOT listed and possibly should be for the Cannon Fist. Or, if you can not find one, find a strategy that you feel would counter the Cannon Fist best!
Need any help? Just e-mail us immediately and we are happy to assist, usually within 72 hours or less.
This will not make an expert out of you, or a Champion or a Warrior; but it gives you are good grounding that will enable you to specialize, if you wish, in a direction you care to take. Some have chose to enter competitions and have done well in All Styles Comps, Kung Fu Comps, Internationally and Nationally. Shaolin Academy students have even been used as action stand-in's in theater, movies, music videos and shows. We even put on a show at the Shaolin Temple in Henan China.
You may choose to want to use the style for Acting, Stage Work, Shows, Street Theater and such but it also applies for everyday life. Recognizing when you are confronted with a Tiger Style personality, you will know what you are up against, be it in the office, at a party, in the street or elsewhere. And the more you immerse yourself in the understanding of your Tiger, you will find that you are able to manage it within yourself better, both to restrain it when it will harm and to use it when appropriate. You will also learn the weaknesses of the each animal and relies that, for example, a Tiger can only be defeated by a Greater Tiger or by a mouse (and you need to work this out).
Level Review Application (and Certification)
Before you attempt the next level, ensure that everything you have learned in this level is correct. As you progress, many, many of the techniques that follow are based around, founded or along very similar principles as the ones from the 1st levels. Fix any problems and details now before you learn new techniques and carry through the errors thus doubling and tripling the effort to fix them later. And as an old and new wisdom stated "It is 5 times more difficult to fix a habit then it is to establish it!
Apply for a Level Review before you commence on the next level! When we receive the PayPal confirmation we will contact you with further instructions.
Links to other Shaolin Kung Fu Academy pages.