Kung Fu Self-Defense Six Sparring Levels


Free Sparring with Low Kicks

This level focuses on using and learning how to defend against kicks aimed below the waist level. The two defenses against these low kicks are moving out of the way and counter-kicking. These kicks are very practical. With low kicks you can attack the opponent and injure their legs before they can reach you with their arms. This allows for effective non-lethal defense. There are surprisingly few martial arts styles that really train low kicks.

Although, Northern Shaolin is a style famous for its high kicks, the forms contain many low kicks as well. If you have not trained low kicking tactics and the defenses against them and you are facing an opponent skilled in them, you are going to have a hard time because it is very difficult to approach someone skilled in kicking the legs. Leg kicks can be a perfect opening attack. The same counter-kicking techniques used against low kicks also work against high kicks. To stop the high kicks, we simply kick the opponents’ legs before their kicks get too high. For most opponents, facing our boxers skilled in low counter-kicking is painful!

Free Sparring with Hand Techniques

This level includes a variety of drills designed to teach freestyle sparring skills. Both participants will throw punches at each other. At the same time, they will evade and counter punches thrown at them. If both partners have trained their defensive tactics and remain calm, this is really fun. We usually spar with light contact. Light contact means we touch lightly with control. The idea is to deliver a punch with the correct distance and position that could be powerful but not actually deliver the force of the blow. This way no one gets hurt. These are realistic skills. By using light pressure the partner who failed to evade the technique knows that their dodge or other defensive tactic did not work and they have to improve it. Sparring with no contact is counterproductive because although it is very safe it trains the wrong distance and timing. People are essentially training to miss. You do not want a tendency to miss in a real fight where your life might be in danger.

Free Sparring with High Kicking

The first part of this level is learning how to counter high kicking. These tactics include dodging and slipping, counter kicking, and trapping the kicking leg and throwing the opponent. Kicks to the body are delivered with controlled light pressure. Kicks to the head are delivered at realistic distance but pulled to avoid contact and potential injury. By the time Northern Shaolin students reach this level, free sparring is exciting and is a lot of fun.

Free Sparring with Sweeps, Trips, and Takedowns

Most of these techniques are actually rather sneaky. They involve closing with the opponent and causing them to end up on the ground. The hands are used in some of the techniques. In the others, an adroit positioning of the legs while in a stance or a quick movement of the legs brings the opponent down. Northern Shaolin is famous for its fast powerful “Broom” sweeps that knock an opponent’s legs out from under them. The broom sweeps can be dangerous, so we usually do them in drills or only with partners that have well developed falling and tumbling skills.

Sparring with Throws

At this level students train a repertoire of throws and perfect their tumbling skills. This is the full expression of Northern Shaolin boxing all the techniques are used in freestyle sparring. It is exciting and fun. At this level the student has excellent self – defense capability. With practice, partners will gradually reduce and eliminate most of the safety equipment because they have the control not to hurt each and the capacity to successfully evade most of the attacks.

N. Shaolin Free Sparring – Shaolin Boxing – Lan Shou Boxing

This includes the use of all the techniques trained in the other levels. The student is expected to take and have developed the ability to use a number of techniques straight out of the forms. There is an expectation that the student should be able to win and look good while doing so.