Forum Thread: How to Learn Shaolin Martial Arts the Proper Way

My name is Douwe ter Horst and i live in Zutphen in the Netherlands. Since i was a child i was always fascinated about Chinese martial arts. Movies about Kung Fu with actors like: Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Donnie Yen and other drawed me into the practising of CMA Chinese martial arts. After having trained in multiple styles i ended up with Shaolin Temple Kungfu which became my main martial art.

After having trained for quite a while i thought i was ready to start my own martial arts academy. So i started Shaolin Kung Fu Zwolle, The Way of Shaolin. So since i am a martial arts teacher, i also wanted to write this article to teach my views on learning Shaolin Kungfu with the world.

Wat are good steps to learn Shaolin Kungfu? How to learn it properly? My 5 step guide is here to support Shaolin Kungfu practitioners.

Step 1: Do Research on Good Shaolin Martial Arts Schools

There are many Shaolin martial arts schools in the world, many use the name Shaolin and the name is much used and misused because of the fame and popularity of the name. So understand that everything that is called 'Shaolin' does not always have a lineage to the real Shaolin martial arts.

In the 1980s but also through the 1990s you could find styles like: Shaolin Karate, Shaolin Kempo, Shaolin ryu ninjitsu and even Shaolin Kickboxing. You should look for a Shaolin Martial Arts school which is connected and recognized by China or a Chinese master of Shaolin Kungfu.

Step 2: Do at Least 2 Trial Lessons at the Shaolin Kungfu School You Found

To try and experience a lesson is the way to see if the school fits you. Some schools of Shaolin Temple martial arts are only practising forms. So , if learning forms for health and well being is your goal then yes, it might be the school for you. Forms make you fit, flexible and develop your warrior spirit.

Shaolin Kungfu as i know it, has many subjects like: Forms, Weapons, Selfdefense with partner, Groundfighting, Sanda Chinese Kickboxing and Chen Tai Chi and Qi Gong So if you want to learn Shaolin Kungfu fully and properly, find a a school who is teaching the art in a complete way.

Do at least 2 trial lessons, to feel, to experience and to see if the school fits you

Step 3: Practise Shaolin Kungfu Basics and Ask Enough Questions

When you found a good school and enrolled in it. The next step is to practise the basic stances, punches, kicks and movements until they are good. Better stay a little longer at the basics practise before mook moving to other skills and more complex forms. Basics are essential for Shaolin Kungfu.

Also ask enough questions when you are stuck, or when it becomes difficult. To become good at Shaolin Kungfu you need a good foundation. So keep on going with: frame hammering through practising basics. When your basics become good and strong then it is much easier to learn the more difficult stuff.

Step 4: Train Shaolin Kung Fu at Home and Repeat Repeat Repeat!

To just follow classes at your Shaolin Martial Arts academy only is not enough. To fully understand it, it must be a "way of life' . Integrate, practise, mindset, motivation in your daily life and make Shaolin Kungfu a natural habbit in your life. That is the way to become really good at it and it helps you grow.

Repetition is key, so do things as much as possible and try to become better each repetition. Do the Wu Bu Quan, Lian Huan Quan, Lian Bu Quan, Ba Bu Lian Huan Quan and other stuff and skills you learned on a daily bases. You will experience that by repetition you will get better, step by step.

Step 5: Try to Do Competitions to Become Better at Shaolin Martial Arts

Not everybody likes competitions but it can help you enormously to become better. If you do forms then go to a form competition to perform your skills under pressure. Then your forms will become much better, because of the fact you did it under pressure.

The same goes for fighting, to become better in fighting you should fight a lot to increase the skills. Just practising techniques and never fight in a ring or a point spar competition is dangerous. Many martial artists think they can fight but they actually can not.


This are my views on becoming better at Shaolin Martial Arts and Shaolin Kung Fu in general Just my views and cerntainly not the 'gospel' truth. Thank you for reading and much succes on your journey within Shaolin Martial Arts. My name is Douwe ter Horst the owner of Shaolin Kungfu Zwolld, The Way of Shaolin in the Netherlands.

Shaolin Martial Arts master: Douwe ter Horst with a traditional Twin Hooks form, Tiger Hook Swords style of Shaokin Kungfu.

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