Northern Shaolin #1 Enter The Gate – Ultimate Kicking Form
Enter the Gate is the ultimate kicking Form of Northern Shaolin. With forty kicks or sweeps it seems like the entire form is made of kicks. There are sequences of three, five, seven, and eight kicks in a row. Often these kicking sequences will be separated by only one or two hand techniques. This form includes seven total flying kicks. It also includes the full splits, and several sweeps. In addition, there are deadly hand strikes and elbow strokes.
Enter the Gate introduces the Swallow, or Butterfly, Kick. The Swallow kick involves throwing the entire body in the air horizontally with arms and legs extended and back arched. The arms and legs resemble the wings of a butterfly. This is a trademark Northern Shaolin technique that was borrowed by modern Wu Shu and is one of modern Wu Shu’s most dramatic techniques.
Northern Shaolin #1 Enter The Gate – Attacking Low
In addition, Enter the Gate includes several unique leg sweeps and ground fighting techniques. There are two sequences that are especially vigorous. The first is used to exit the full splits after a high heel kick. In this instance the left leg is to rear and it is pulled in from the full split position. Then the right leg sweeps counter clockwise underneath it and left leg momentarily hops into the air. This is followed by eight more kicks in a row.
The second is a dramatic cartwheel, or aerial, or leap into a push up position followed by the ground rolling leg sweeps. In the ground rolling leg sweeps the practitioner is on their back on the ground. They roll quickly from side to side doing lotus kicks and crescent kicks. This sequence is very valuable to learn for self defense on the ground. All of these techniques are designed to attack a standing opponent who is attacking you while you are the ground. The attacks can be used to break their knees or ankles, throw them to the ground, or to deflect incoming kicks, or punches. If the opponent leans forward enough to to punch while you are on the ground these kicks can easily target their face, throat and ears.
Northern Shaolin #1 Enter The Gate – Ground Fighting Techniques
In a real fight, falling, or being thrown, to the ground is very dangerous. In traditional martial arts the throws are usually executed after the joints are locked so the a limb is broken, or dislocated, by the fall. Often the opponent is held in such a way that they cannot roll free, or break, their fall. In many cases the throw is designed to specifically hit the opponents head on the ground and knock them out or kill them. While you are on the ground you are very vulnerable to being kicked by everyone around you. Kicks aimed at someone on the ground are powerful and can often hit the head. Therefore a Kung Fu fighter aims to avoid being thrown at all costs, to avoid going to the ground with an opponent, and strives to safely stand up as soon as possible.
The techniques in Shaolin #1 teach effective ground fighting and a great method to stand up.
Being thrown in real combat is deadly. When you are on the ground your enemies can kick or stomp on you easily. Often these kicks will be aimed at the head. In a one on one fight it is not as dangerous as against multiple assailants. In the case of multiple assailants it is very hard to protect oneself. Rolling side to side makes it much harder for the enemy to land a solid blow. In addition the kicks can drive them away so you can stand up again.
The two person forms frequently include this sequence and there are several very effective leg locking and ankle, shin, or knee breaking moves that are concealed within it. If you understand these techniques you will be able to protect yourself on the ground and cripple or throw your attackers and then stand up.
Northern Shaolin #1 Enter The Gate – High Kicks & Low Stances
One of the interesting things about this form is not only are the kicks themselves challenging, but they way the kicks are combined makes them even more difficult. If you take a simple kick like a high toe kick and then put it after a full spin from a low stance it is much harder. Another example is the tornado kicks. By the time someone is learning this form they should be able to do a tornado kick or triple kick. However, to make more challenging in Northern Shaolin #1 we a Triple Kick (Jumping Double Toe Kick, Tornado Kick, Dragon Chases Pearl Kick combination – all three are flying kicks) that ends in a rock bottom low stance followed immediately by a left Tornado Kick that also ends in a rock bottom low stance. That sequence will push your athleticism to new levels.
Northern Shaolin #1 Enter The Gate – Conclusion
I have always loved this form. It is so challenging and fun. It takes skill, balance, strength, flexibility, and coordination to new levels. In the 1980’s this was one of my favorite forms to compete with. It is so difficult to do in a tournament without making a single mistake that picking a different form is often a better idea. However, if you can perform it flawlessly few other competitors can match it especially in a traditional division. This form is just over the top dramatic compared to most traditional forms and people often wonder is that really an unmodified traditional form? Yet it is totally traditional and it is awesome! When I competed in tournaments I never modified my forms to make them more flashy and thus it was really hard to win against modern wushu people or people doing creative forms in the traditional divisions. That’s why I used this form and I did win with it. the irony is that sometimes people just have no way of knowing how difficult the transitions in this form make it unless they have done it themselves. This is because by the time you are performing it you have smoothed out the form so you can flow through these places easily and they don’t think they are hard until you fumble and then they think you are clumsy!
Therefore Northern Shaolin #1 is an awesome form both for its practical deadly content and for its extreme athletic development and show off potential. I hope that one day you will enjoy it as much as I have.