. . . named for the famous Shaolin Temple in the Honan province of China, where martial arts were developed and practiced by Buddhist monks for hundreds of years, Shaolin Chuan generally refers to a wide variety of "external" Chinese martial arts, (although some of these arts actually also came from Taoist and Muslim sources.) They are also sometimes collectively referred to as "kung fu" in the west. Over 300 documented styles exist. Traditionally they have been distinguished as either northern or southern Chinese. While it is difficult to categorize all the branches of such a large tree, we can say that generally, northern styles tend to use larger, softer movements and are designed more for a long range type of fighting, while southern styles use smaller, harder movements and emphsasize close in-fighting. Although the word "chuan" literally means "fist" most systems also train with traditional Chinese weapons. Some of the "external" Chinese arts included in the Smiling Tiger curriculum are:
The southern Hung Gar system, famous for its solid stances, powerful hand strikes, and fighting techniques based on the traditional five animals, (tiger, crane, leopard, snake, and dragon.)
A southern Tam Tui system, (both northern and southern versions exist) known for its powerful low kicks and long range hand techniques.
The Choy-Li-Fut system, of both southern and northern origin, famous for its diversity of fighting techniques,(including the traditional five animals mentioned above,) and for its battlefield effectiveness.