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Wushu Warriors : Chang Quan Series
Wushu is the courage to never give up and the determination to become the best in life. There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing a seasoned champion overcome obstacles with great ease and confidence. On behalf of Wushu Shaolin Entertainment, Chinese Wushu Champion Yan Junqiang is invited to demonstrate the intermediate level compulsory northern long fist routine known as Chang Quan (長拳). After countless years practicing Chinese Martial Arts as a member of the Hubei Wushu Team, Shifu Yan Junqiang has developed a clear and concise understand of modern Chang Quan.
Chángquán (simplified Chinese: 长拳; traditional Chinese: 長拳; pinyin: Chángquán; literally “Long Fist”) refers to a family of external (as opposed to internal) martial arts (kung fu) styles from northern China.
The forms of the Long Fist style emphasize fully extended kicks and striking techniques, and by appearance would be considered a long-range fighting system. In some Long Fist styles the motto is that “the best defense is a strong offense,” in which case the practitioner launches a preemptive attack so aggressive that the opponent doesn’t have the opportunity to attack. Others emphasize defense over offense, noting that nearly all techniques in Long Fist forms are counters to attacks. Long Fist uses large, extended, circular movements to improve overall body mobility in the muscles, tendons, and joints. Advanced Long Fist techniques include qin na joint-locking techniques and shuai jiao throws and take downs.
The Long Fist style is considered to contain a good balance of hand and foot techniques, but in particular it is renowned for its impressive acrobatic kicks. In demonstration events, Long Fist techniques are most popular and memorable for their whirling, running, leaping, and acrobatics. Contemporary changquan moves are difficult to perform, requiring great flexibility and athleticism comparable to that of gymnastics.
Long Fist’s arsenal of kicks covers everything from a basic front toe-kick to a jumping back-kick, from a low sweep to a tornado-kick. Specifically, typical moves in modern Changquan include: xuanfengjiao (旋风脚; “whirlwind kick”), xuanzi (旋子; “butterfly jump”), cekongfan (侧空翻; “side somersault”), and tengkongfeijiao (腾空飞脚; “flying jump kick”).
Traditional Long Fist
The traditional Long Fist had a very small amount of techniques that were learned quickly once one had mastered the three common Long Fist stances of Horse, Dragon and Snake. With the Winding Roundhouse Punch, Meteor Fist Punch, Long Uppercutting Punch, Reverse Fist Punch and the Twin Gorilla Punch all the hand techniques were covered. Adding the Winding or Whirling Roundhouse Kick the original style was complete. The only variation on this allowed Long Fist practitioners to also strike with their fore-arm and shins, not just feet and fists, though still using the same techniques and movements. There are no blocks in Long Fist, although the execution of Long Fist techniques allowed the ‘brushing’ aside of attacks whilst delivery the powerful techniques.
Practitioners of the Long Fist trained their style on live trees, hardening their limbs, improving their foundation and stances; and practicing to break bones.
History of Long Fist
The core of Changquan / Long Fist was developed in the 10th century by Zhao Kuangyin, founding Emperor of the Song Dynasty (960–1279). His style was called Tàizǔ Chángquán, which means “the Long Fist style of Emperor Taizu.” In semi-legendary “classic” writings transmitted by Taijiquan’s Yang family, their martial art is referred to by the name Chángquán in one of the received texts. These texts can only be reliably dated to the second half of the 19th century. The Long Fist of contemporary wǔshù draws on Chāquán, “flower fist” Huāquán, Pào Chuí, and “red fist” (Hóngquán).
Widely perceived to have a strong Shaolin influence, traditional Long Fist was promoted at the Nanjing Guoshu Institute by Han Qing-Tang (韓慶堂）, a famous Long Fist and qin na expert. After the defeat of Chiang Kai-Shek and subsequent closing of the institute, the new People’s Republic of China created contemporary wushu, a popular artistic sport inspired largely by traditional Long Fist. However, this new evolution of changquan differed from the old style in that it was exhibition-focused. Higher, more elaborate jump kicks and lower stances were adopted, in order to create more aesthetically pleasing forms. Applications were then reserved for the sport of sanshou, which was kept somewhat separate from the taolu (forms).