Pittsburgh Kung Fu Center

Course Curriculum

  Course Curriculum

  Adults' Kung Fu
      Beginner Class
      Intermediate 1 Class
      Intermediate 2 Class
      Advanced Class
      Level Progression

  Children's Kung Fu
      Beginner Class
      Intermediate Class
      Level Progression

  Taiji Curriculum
      Level Progression

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Kung Fu Curriculum for Adults

The study of kung fu is divided into three areas: Basics, Routines and Applications. Within the category of basics, there are hand techniques such as striking and blocking, leg techniques like kicking and sweeping, and body motion such as stepping and turning. Routines are basic techniques arranged in a pre-set pattern. Applications are how techniques could be used in self-defense. Self defense is the basis for nearly every movement in kung fu.

Each Kung Fu class has a specific focus on either basics, routines, or applications. The subjects rotate daily, so when you attend class regularly, you will get to take each kind of class. Warm-up exercises for all of the body's joints and major muscles are performed at the beginning of every class.

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Adult Beginner Level Class Content

Basics:   In a basics class you'll learn the basic hand techniques: punching, palm-striking and blocking, and the basic kicks: the front-snap kick and the side-snap kick. Basic body motions include forward stepping and turning the waist to generate power. Hand techniques are then combined with body motion in various combinations such as turning then punching, or stepping forward and palm striking. Practice of these techniques increases the strength of the arms, waist and legs, and helps a beginner acquire knowledge of basic kung fu movement.

Routines:   In a beginner routines class, you'll quickly review some basics, and then practice a section of the routine. The beginner routine consists of 4 sections, and contains most of the basics. The techniques from the basics class appear in the beginner routine, so the whole thing is integrated. Practicing this routine helps beginners memorize the basic techniques and gain endurance. 

Applications:   Beginners learn four applications--how to block a punch, a kick, how to defend against various grabs. For the beginner trying to learn the applications of kung fu techniques, it is enough to simply understand how to deflect an incoming punch. It isn't necessary to actually do it for real. Applications should be thought of as an aid in practice. If you understand what a movement does, you have a better chance of performing it correctly. In class, you'll work each application both alone and with a partner using a soft bag. 

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Adult Intermediate Level 1 Class Content

Intermediate 1 class consists of two student levels: purple sash and blue sash. Students at the purple level learn half of the intermediate routine Tan Tui and the basic sixteen-form staff routine, while students at the blue level learn the second half of Tan Tui and the basic sixteen-form broadsword set.

Basics:  At the intermediate level, there are still more basic hand techniques, kicks, and body motions to learn. Students learn that different kinds of punches exist in addition to the basic one. Along with stepping forward, stepping back and jumping are added to the basic body motions. There are more than twenty basic techniques in the intermediate curriculum involving striking with the palm and fist, and four different kicks. Trying to remember all these techniques would be difficult, if it weren't for the intermediate routine.

Routines:  The routine practiced at the intermediate level is called Tan Tui. This is a famous routine from northern China, divided into ten parts or rows, each row having a particular combination of techniques that repeat. Tan Tui is not difficult to learn, but it is challenging to perform from beginning to end because of its length and the demand for leg strength due to its stances. This routine is a perfect example of how much strength can be gained from the practice of kung fu. As in the beginner class, the techniques from the basic class appear in the routine.

At the intermediate level basic weaponry is introduced, the first weapon being the staff. The staff is taught in same way as the "empty hand" routines. First, basic methods of striking and blocking, and how the staff was used (many years ago) in classic Chinese fighting. A basic routine with the broadsword is also taught, following the same method as that of the staff.

Applications:  In the intermediate class, a set of ten block-strike drills forms the basis for the applications. Of course, the movements from the beginner routine are also used as applications, so although there are three different kinds of classes, students start to get the idea that when practicing a routine, they're practicing basics and applications simultaneously!

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Adult Intermediate Level 2 Class Content

In the Intermediate 2 class, there are also two student levels: green sash and brown sash. At the green sash level, the required empty-hand routine is Gongli Quan (Power Boxing), and the weapon routine is called Qunyang Gun (Sheep-herding Staff). Students at the level of brown sash learn a routine called Jie Quan (Intercepting Boxing), and a weapon routine known as Bagua Dao (8- Trigram Broadsword).

Basics:  A basic class for intermediate 2 students is rather rigorous. Rather than practicing a single element such as a punch, a typical class exercise will consist of sequences of movements. For example, the beginner will practice punching or kicking while remaining stationary; the intermediate student may be required to punch while simultaneously kicking, then jump high into the air, land, and execute yet another hand technique! 

Routine:  The routines of Gongli Quan and Jie Quan are also famous sets from northern China. Gongli Quan builds on the foundation given by Tan Tui, but is difficult to perform because it is not entirely linear, as is Tan Tui. Jie Quan is harder still, because of its many combinations involving jumping while kicking and punching. A student who can perform Jie Quan flawlessly must be in excellent physical shape. 

Weapon training continues with Qunyang Gun and Bagua Dao. Each of these routines is a catalog of classic Chinese weaponry. Both make use of the body motions of stepping forward, back, jumping and turning, and build on the techniques in the intermediate routines. These sets are wonderful tools for building upper body strength and concentration. 

Applications:  Applications in this class take on two forms: those derived from the routines, and combinations of the intermediate 10 block and strike drills. Applications from the routines are practiced in order to understand how defense movements are contained in a routine, while combinations of the 10 punch techniques are practiced for defense against a random attack. Although the word "random" is used, students still practice under highly controlled conditions. 

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Adult Advanced Level Class Content

You might think that the need for basic practice is over at the advanced level. This is true in part, but an advanced student will need to practice the basics and routines of northern eagle claw, one of the oldest and most famous of the northern Chinese fighting arts.

Basics:  In addition to all of the techniques in all of the previously mentioned routines, eagle claw has it's own basic movements and applications. Eagle claw is very dependent on grabbing, so special exercises to strengthen the hands, fingers, wrists and arms are done. Jumping is common in routines, as is skipping, sitting, twisting and tumbling. Because the combinations of eagle claw are so numerous, advanced students spend hours memorizing the many different methods of grabbing, punching, kicking, locking, and throwing.

Routines:  Advanced students learning an eagle claw routine differently than beginners or intermediate students. While beginners usually learn small sections of a routine, advanced students learn large sections, and complete the learning of a routine in a matter of days. The majority of time is then spent working on details so the routine can be performed perfectly.

Weapons for the advanced student include the spear, straight sword, great knife (guan dao), double hook swords and chain whip. Although the weapons are advance, the method of learning is the same--basic movements are practiced, then the routine is learned.

Applications:  At this point, a student who is interested may practice free-sparring. In contrast to the beginners, advanced students practice catching punches, avoiding kicks, and using the techniques they've learned in previous routines. This situation is random because a student may do any technique to attack or counter, but controlled because full-power strikes are not allowed, and other rules must also be observed to prevent injury.

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Adult Kung Fu Class Requirements for Promotion

Class Level Barehand Routines Weapon Routines Applications
Beginner White Sash Xiao Bu Quan
Small Step Form
4 Basic Applications
Intermediate 1 Purple Sash Tan Tui 1-5
Spring Leg Rows 1-5
Shiliu-shi Gun
16-Form Staff
Eagle Claw Ten Punches
Blue Sash Tan Tui 6-10
Spring Leg Rows 6-10
Shiliu-shi Dao
16-Form Broadsword
Intermediate 2 Green Sash Gongli Quan
Power Boxing
Qunyang Gun
Sheep Herding Staff
Partner Ten Punches
Brown Sash Jie Quan
Intercepting Boxing
Bagua Dao
Eight Trigram Broadsword
Advanced Black Sash 1 Xiao Mian Zhang
Small Cotton Palm
Mei Hua Quan
Plum Flower Boxing
Wu Hu Jiang
Five Tiger Spear
Lian Huan Jian
Connecting Circle Sword
Eagle Claw Principles
Dui Mian Zhang
Partner Cotton Palm
Black Sash 2 At this level, each student's curriculum will be chosen separately to suit the individual.

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Kung Fu Curriculum for Children

Children's Beginner Level Class Content

Beginner class consists of two student levels: white sash and purple sash.

Routines:  Children in the beginner class will learn the routine known as Tan Tui, a ten part routine that contains all of the basic hand and leg techniques needed to progress in the study of kung fu. Students at the white level learn four rows of Tan Tui; students at the purple level learn the remaining six rows. In the children's class, a single section of Tan Tuiwill be studied for 2-3 weeks so children can assimilate the movements.

Basics:   In the beginner's class, children will acquire motor skills and coordination through the performance of various exercises. By performing motions such as jumping, the various types of punching and kicking and turning the waist, children will also build strength and achieve flexibility. Some basic exercise include jumping and slapping the knees, touching the toes, and back arching.

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Children's Intermediate Level Class Content

In the children's intermediate class there are three student levels: blue sash, green sash, and brown sash. Children in the Intermediate level will learn several routines, some of which are rather difficult and consist of many intricate movements. Weapon training is introduced as a means of focusing mental concentration. When children are proficient in the intermediate course content they will move into the Advanced class.

Basics:  The basic exercises for intermediate children are rather rigorous. We will build on the basic skills learned in the beginner class and apply them to advanced movements. For example: jumping and slapping the knees will be combined with kicking to form a running jump kick. Routine practice is also different. Rather than practicing a single row of the basic routine for 2-3 weeks, the entire routine is often done as part of warm up.  

Routines:  Students at the blue level learn the basic sixteen-form staff routine and the required empty-hand routine is Gongli Quan (Power Boxing). At the green sash level, the weapon routine is the basic sixteen-form broadsword and the barehand routine is called Jie Quan (Intercepting Boxing). Students at the level of brown sash learn two additional longer weapon routines, first is Bagua Dao (8- Trigram Broadsword), followed by Qunyang Gun (Sheep-herding Staff).

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Children's Kung Fu Class Requirements for Promotion

Class Level Barehand Routines Weapon Routines
Beginner White Sash Tan Tui 1-4
Spring Leg Rows 1-4
Purple Sash Tan Tui 5-10
Spring Leg Rows 5-10
Intermediate Blue Sash Gongli Quan
Power Boxing
Shiliu-shi Gun
16-Form Staff
Green Sash Jie Quan
Intercepting Boxing
Shiliu-shi Dao
16-Form Broadsword
Brown Sash Qunyang Gun
Sheep Herding Staff
Bagua Dao
Eight Trigram Broadsword

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Taiji Quan Class Content

Basics:  Taiji class follows the same format as that of external kung fu, with a few differences. A taiji class will start with light warm-up exercises, followed by basic footwork and body motion practice. A beginning taiji student will practice turning, stepping forward and backward, weight shifting, and the hand techniques of the 24 step taiji routine.

Routines:  The first routine a student learns is the international 24 step taiji routine. This routine is learned in sections, in the same way kung fu students learn Tan Tui or Gongli Quan. Intermediate students learn a longer routine, with 88 movements, and later a taiji sword routine.

Applications:  The applications for taiji can be practiced when a student is thoroughly familiar with the 24 move routine. The most popular way to practice taiji applications is through "pushing hands", which is done with a partner. Pushing hands helps students use the weight shifting and unbalancing principles of taiji movements they've learned in their routines in order to achieve an understanding of how the highly refined movements of taiji work against an incoming force.

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Taiji Class Requirements for Progression

Class Bare Hand Routines Weapon Routines Applications
Beginner 24-Form Simplifed Routine   Basic Applications
Intermediate 108 Form Yang Taiji Yang Taiji Sword Push Hands

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